Categoryswarm convenience

Cognitive Cities Conference: An Update

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Cognitive Cities Conference LogoWith Cognitive Cities Conference (#CoCities) being less than three weeks out (yikes!) it’s a good moment to take a step back and see where we stand now.

And let me start with a bit of a spoiler: I’m very, very happy how all the pieces have been falling into place.

We love our speakers. At the core of any good conference are, of course, the speakers. And boy, have we been blessed with great speakers who kindly agreed to join us at CoCities despite our obviously limited resources. (CoCities is organized on a non-profit basis.) With Adam Greenfield, Dannie Jost, Georgina Voss, Juha Van’t Zelfde, Matt Biddulph, Sami Niemalä, Ton Zijlstra and Warren Ellis, plus our moderator for the day Ben Hammersley, it’s a dream line-up as far as I’m concerned.

For the second day, which is open for free to the public, we’ve also been getting a plethora of great talks, workshop ideas and some exhibitions – give us some more days to sort it all out, we’ll announce details soon.

This week, we’ll also announce a sponsor, which is a big relief as it gives us a bit of wriggle room that allows us to treat our speakers and participants with the respect they deserve.

Media: It’s all about social. What I find remarkable is the role that media outreach has played for us: virtually none. Almost all of our outreach, publicity, ticket sales, even speaker recruitment has been done via our blogs, on Twitter and Facebook, or by good old email. The other day I considered putting together a press kit in the last minute, but the response was unambiguous: “Never mind the press kit, it’s all about the schwag bags!” So, no press kits. (Alas, also no schwag bags.) We have some banners (like the one in this post), but that’s about it. I’m not sure if the lack of importance of traditional media coverage is just an aspect of the topics we touch on at CoCities, or the core audience there, or simply our personal networks, but it seems to be working. (See what Twitter has to say about Cognitive Cities Conference.)

CoCities is international. Another aspect that makes me very happy is that – according to our ticketing service Amiando – less than 60% of participants are from Germany. This means that we’ve certainly succeeded in bringing the discussion about the future of cities to Berlin, on a global level. (Last time I checked tickets had been bought from 15 or 16 countries.)

Now all we have to do (ahem!) is to keep polishing until the event weekend.

If you haven’t yet, register now for Cognitive Cities Conference.

I’m looking forward to seeing you in Berlin!

Our company name: Third Wave

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Bonanza Coffee Heroes

We thought long and hard about a name for our new company, and I think we found a good one – it certainly resonates with us, if that’s any indicator. The name is “Third Wave“. Why that name?

Third Wave

In coffee culture, Third Wave is the philosophy that says the very best coffee comes from focusing on simplicity, best ingredients and letting the coffee speak for itself.

We at Third Wave believe that great coffee and digital strategy have a lot in common. A good strategy is as pure as possible, based on in-depth knowledge, experience and craftsmanship. And in the end it should spark great conversations, just like coffee.

That is why we work closely with you to develop strategies for digital communication and beyond, provide trend scouting and research, and create inspirational events.

There are a number of other things referred to as “third wave” (Wikipedia). Our inspiration, though, was clearly third wave coffee, as it’s celebrated in spectacularly good coffee shops like Bonanza’s.

It’ll be a few weeks before we launch our website. Feel free to talk to any of us directly, though, if you’d like to work with us or bounce some ideas. You’ll find our email addresses on the temporary website or you can just ping me directly.

brief intro: my two partners

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meet the crew, igor schwarzmann, johannes kleske, peter bihr

Just to get everybody up to speed on the new boutique agency I’m setting up with two friends: We can now officially announce all names involved.

So besides me it’s going to be two close friends of mine:

Igor Schwarzmann (at the moment still at KetchumPleon‘s Düsseldorf office). Some links to introduce him:

Johannes Kleske is currently at Neue Digitale/Razorfish Frankfurt. Some might have seen him recently on a BrandEins cover or in the German Apple ad. Some links to introduce him:

Not only are they two close friends of mine, they are also two of the fittest people I know in the industry. Needless to say, I can tell you: I can’t wait to get this thing rollin’.

Images (not to be taken too seriously): Rajue, myself

Tech year 2009 wrap up: cloud computing, Android, privacy discussions

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retro future

A couple of days ago I’ve given a short look back at the year 2009 from a personal point of view. Right after, I realized there were a couple more things with a wider tech perspective that I’d like to include – again, more for personal documentation than anything else. So here goes.

Everything went to the cloud We had been talking about cloud computing for a few years, but for me, 2009 clearly was the year The Cloud took off. I moved practically everything to the cloud, and cloud often equals Google these days. My email has been living inside gMail for years, but in 2009 I’ve ditched my email client altogether. Now I’m IMAP-ing browser-based between my computers and my phone.

Everything but my most sensitive documents live in the cloud, especially most collaborative docs. (Again, Google Docs or Etherpad, but Etherpad has also been acquired by Google recently.) My calendars are 100% up in Google Calendar.

Am I happy about this focus on Google? Far from it. But at this point, I see no equally well-executed alternative. For an overview of just how googley 2009 was, head over to Gina Trapani. Also, I recommend This Week In Google, a great weekly podcast with Leo Laporte, Jeff Jarvis and, again, Gina Trapani.

Still all this is clearly just the beginning. It should be interesting to watch where cloud computing goes in 2010.

Android killed the iPhone (for me) Ok, ok, Android may not have killed the iPhone officially. But ever since I switched to an Android-based phone (HTC Hero), I haven’t felt the urge to get an iPhone. Not a single time. Before I had been playing with the idea, and had always restrained. (I really don’t like the product policy behond the iPhone.) Android is a gorgeous, stable, powerful platform, and it’s all open source. It’s clear to me that while I might change phones a few times over the next couple of years, it’s not likely I’ll be leaving Android anytime soon.

Speaking of open source, 2009 is also the year I ditched Windows for good. I now live a Windows-free live (with a mix of Mac OSX, Ubuntu and Android), and boy, it’s feeling good.

The fight for our data 2009 has also been a year of intense battles in the digital realm, although certainly it’s not the last (or worst) to come. These fights have been along many different fronts, and not all have been going well at all.

In politics, Europe has been covered in conflicts regarding data retention. (German government introduced excessive data retention laws which are now under court review as far as I know.) Also in Germany, the basis for government-run censorship was laid under the pretense of fighting child abuse, search for #zensursula for details. The best German-language resource for these topics is certainly netzpolitik.org, so check them out for more details and updates. Good news, if not a solution to the problem: President Köhler has so far refused to sign the law.

In the corporate world, the conflict lines have been a lot more fragmented and twisted. However, one thing has become clear: Internet consumers will have to make a clear point regarding their expectations in terms of privacy and data control in digital contexts. Be it Facebook and its privacy settings, be it data ownership in other social networks. Important keywords in this field are: Data Portability identification systems like OAuth, microformats or the decentralized social web. (Like so often, Chris Messina is right in the middle of it. Check out the DiSo Project.) The same goes for End User License Agreements (EULA for short). Everybody is so used to just clicking those pages upon pages of legalese away that we’re bound to have a discussion about their use and legitimacy sometime soon. This isn’t new, but hasn’t been solved either, so maybe 2010 will bring some news there.

But worry not, it’s not all lost – these topics seemed to be very niche, and maybe still are. However, everybody in their right mind will come to the conclusion that there’s a line to what consumers have to bear before just moving on to another brand or product. (Even my mom was asking about the insanity of DRM the other day!) It looks like these topics, obscure as they may seem, are getting more publicity and more people to help out. Hopefully we can all collaboratively take some of the load off of the few individuals that have been doing such a tremendous job of raising awareness so far. (You know who you are.)

Obviously I’m happy to be able to end this post on a happy note.

So, again in short: the tech year of 2009 the way I perceived it = year of privacy discussions, cloud computing, Android.

Did I forget anything important? Let me know…

(image source)

Likemind Berlin Wrap-Up

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Earlier today I had the pleasure of hosting Likemind Berlin along with Thomas Praus of my office neighbors Panorama3000. Great coffee and even better conversations – if you get a chance to go to your next local Likemind, make sure not to miss out. From my experience with the last Likeminds, the crowd is mostly a mix of web and music folks, and those working on the intersections of both. In other words: a real fun crowd, and always a great international mix.

This was the third installment of Likemind Berlin. As Henrik Berggren of SoundCloud told me, in Stockholm Likemind has been around for more than two years, and it has been quite a global phenomenon. So if you’re in a new place, check for Likemind every third Friday of the month.

Thanks a lot to Soundcloud for setting up everything!

Sidenote: Patrick Rathke, also of Panorama3000, was wearing a brand new I Work For The Internets shirt (which I’ve been printing through Spreadshirt in cooperation with M.T.), and boy did we get feedback on those. (Four people ordered them: Maybe we should have those thingies produced professionally?*) Good fun indeed!

Alex Ljung, also of Soundcloud, also kindly gave me a quick rundown of what Soundcloud does – after all, they went out of beta last week, I’ll post the video here in a little while, and their service seems to be a great tool for music professionals. (Apologies for the sound quality and the typo in Alex’s family name: It’s Ljung, of course, not Jung.)


What’s Soundcloud? from thewavingcat on Vimeo.

  • Just for clarification, my wording here was very awkward indeed. The shirts we’ve had printed through Spreadshirt were great so far. What I meant was: Maybe we should print them in bulk. Sorry if that caused confusion.

Berlinblase summarized in one Moo card

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Berlinblase is back. But as of now, we have a Moo card that says it all:

berlinblase.de. live, raw and uncut by Flickr user dotdean Image by dotdean, licensed under Creative Commons (by-nc)

Not enough info? There’s (a bit… work in progress…) more on Berlinblase > About, as well as a brief intro to the crew.