Why I backed the Shoreditch Village Hall


There’s a huge, active & still-growing startup and tech scene in London’s Shoreditch area. But a scene is one thing, a community is yet another – and communities grow, among other things, around spaces.

I’m not based in London, but I’m there frequently, and usually try to spend some time meeting people and hanging out there. Mostly, this happens either in cafés that don’t mind laptop warriors (Look Mum, No Hands!), or I stay with friends who can offer me a desk for the day. The latter is particularly nice, but it also means imposing on friends.

That’s why I back the Shoreditch Village Hall on Kickstarter with at least a small amount: It’s going to be a true community space run by lovely and very capable people from the Shoreditch community, in fact the same who are also behind Shoreditch Works. A space both for Shoreditch and of Shoreditch, so to speak.

For me, it’s going to be something like a home-away-from-home during the days I spend in London, a place to meet old and new friends and a meeting place that doesn’t mean I have to impose on friends or hog a café table all day.

So if you’re based in London, or happen to be there regularly, or just like to help foster a strong community of smart and ambitious people, consider supporting the Shoreditch Village Hall.

UIKonf – What to expect?


UIKonf logo

Since last time I posted an update here on UIKonf – our independent conference of iOS developers and Berlin’s first English-language iOS dev conference – plenty has happened. We’ve really come along way. And by we I mean our small crew of just four people: My two friends, office coworkers and developers Matt Patterson and Chris Eidhof, our event manager Max Krüger, and I. That’s really all there is. There’s no backers, no investors, hardly any sponsors (we’re really, really picky there and want it to be financially self-sufficient).

And as is normal for independent conferences, it’s a lot of hustle and a lot of tearing our hair and a lot of fun. And boy, is it different from the bigger, more established events I’ve been involved in, in lots of interesting ways. But I digress, as I’m writing this post to give you an update on UIKonf and what’s happening there.

The big picture

We build UIKonf for serious iOS developers. So it’s all about in-depth talks, an intimate setting, and plenty of time to connect and talk and make.

And we put a particular focus on getting all the details right to make it the best event possible.

What does that mean concretely?

We also have a student discount & volunteer program, about half of our talks were vetted in an anonymous peer review process to foster diversity and help unknown speakers get the attention they deserve, we set up the first NSHipster pub quiz, and we’ll of course record the talks somehow to make them shareable.

The program in detail

We’re super psyched about the speaker line-up (and equally bummed that we actually had to turn away some kickass speakers, which is one of the hardest things to do as an organizer). Instead of embedding the full program here, let me just link to the program page that we’ll update along the way.

So what’s next?

It’s just a few more weeks to UIKonf, and oh my, it’s going to be some hectic weeks for me – before UIKonf, NEXT Berlin is at the top of my agenda as I’m program director there, and I’m also trying to find the time to get Makers Make up and running. But multi tasking under pressure is something I very much enjoy in some twisted way, so this isn’t a complaint. I’m excited for the next few weeks.

Help spread the word

If there’s one thing I’d ask you to do, it’d be great if you could help spread the word about UIKonf to people you think it’s relevant for. Any tweet, message or conversation helps. Thanks!

The best way to follow updates on UIKonf is by the way Twitter or, of course, UIKonf.com.

Online PR is all about community


Spot on. PR firms and brands, please watch this this. Then watch it again, and internalize it. With no further comment:

Online PR is all about Community from RealWire on Vimeo.


Update: A great way to get involved in the community is by the way – in all bluntness – to sponsor a community event. Like the one we’re putting together for late September, atoms&bits Festival. Feel free to drop me a line or read more about it here.

Music 2.0 Dinner in Berlin


Last Friday, I was very happy to get the chance to attend the first Berlin Music 2.0 dinner. (Thanks a lot to David of Hobnox for organizing it!) Over yummy pasta & wine a fun crowd of people discussed where online music is going (and how sad it is to see the RIAA shooting down another great service, Muxtape).

So who was there? At the table were Eric of Soundcloud (Soundcloud also sponsored the first Berlin Likemind recently), Anthony and Taylor of the HypeMachine, Thomas of P3000, and EJ, the head behind The Next Web. More folks and friends joined in later.

Three things connected all of us there: We love music; we work for the internets; and we share a passion for Berlin. Make sure to check out EJ’s post about why Berlin is one rocking start-up city. (Hint: Low rents are one point, but not the most important one.)

It was good fun, and showed me again that there’s so much going on in Berlin, we just need to meet up more often. So I’m looking forward to round two of both Likemind and the Music 2.0 dinner. If you’re in town, make sure to drop by.

Berlin couple share their pregnancy: RealBirthTV


RealBirthTV.comWhen I was pointed to RealBirthTV first a couple of days ago, I have to admit I didn’t know what to think. Over-sharing or a logical thing to do? RealBirthTV is Berlin-based couple Erik and Jodi, who share the journey of their pregnancy, starting a few days ago in their third month.

Today I met up with Erik and he told me a few bits and pieces, good fun. The idea is to really take the audience along and share the whole experience, and use the whole range of social media tools: Blog, video podcast, Flickr galleries, you can leave video messages for them via Trombiblog. Also, it’s a deeply, inherently human and very personal topic, so it should be great for an online community.

I haven’t heard of another project catering to this particular niche: totally long tail in a way, but then again, also totally mainstream. And as I said: This one I have a hard time making a clear judgement about. But one thing is certain, it’s a very ambitious & innovative* project, and I wish Erik & Jodi all the best. So I’m curious what you think about the project!

ps. Also, we agreed to a brief introduction of RealBirthTV on blogpiloten.de. Expect it before the end of the week. (Full disclosure: I’m project managing blogpiloten.de.)

  • Update: innovative, I thought after posting this, isn’t the right term here. It’s more a logical next step, the application of a certain set of rules, mechanisms and ideas to a particular niche: Here, total transparency during pregnancy.

Social cooperation & music distribution


In the Commons Research wiki, I stumbled upon this Free Culture paper (PDF abstract). In the paper, Yochai Benkler (Harvard Law School, author of The Wealth of Networks and also seen in the video below), Leah Belsky and Byron Kahr (both of Yale Law School) analyze “social cooperation and the production and distribution of creative works” (which is also the title of the paper). In short: How can artists make a living off working with their fans, and without major labels?

Video: Yochai Benkler’s TED Talk on open source economics

How can artists make a living?

Benkler, Belsky and Kahr looked into cooperative models, i.e. models that allow (and depend on) active participation by fans:

Cooperative models—approaches to the sale and distribution of media that rely on voluntary contributions and other pro-social fan behavior—are beginning to appear in many different forms among a diverse range of artists. (…) Generally, cooperative approaches explicitly authorize fans to download their music without paying for it (or after paying an unusually low price), but appeal to fans’ sense of obligation in asking for discretionary contributions. Beyond seeking monetary compensation for digital downloads, some artists have appealed directly to fans accomplish a variety of goals, including: raising funds necessary for recording and distributing new material, planning and promoting of live concerts, developing videos and other promotional tools, and remixing previously released material. (…) Indeed, the basic logic of the tip jar is emerging in myriad iterations, with models evincing a wide range of sophistication and ambition.

Now except for donations, what models are there? I could imagine all kinds of ways to get your fans involved. One point raised in the quote above that resonated particularly with me is the part about involving your fans in planning and promoting live concerts. Promotion, sure, that’s fairly straightforward.

But what about the planning of concerts? It seems to me like this could be tricky, but also really compelling for both fans and artists. Just imagine a small, relatively unknown band. (Obviously they need to have played some concerts before to have at least a small fan base outside their own circle of friends.) They decide to go on tour, no matter if it’s through Europe or the United States. They announce their plans on their blog and plan just the first two or three stops of their tour, which they also feed into event planning websites like Upcoming. Of course, they blog and twitter the whole planning process. Then they just take it from there – no further planning beyond, say, the first three concerts. It’s all played by ear from that point on, by word of mouth, recommendations, invitations.

Could that work? Would the band get an email or phone call after their second concert and be invited to come to Austin, Texas in two weeks time, find fans to house them and maybe get some catering sponsoring? Through their blog and PayPal, could they ask their fans for the travel budget they need, or maybe a ride? Every step could be coordinated, planned, organized, and of course documented, online.

This seems chaotic and insecure at first, but I would imagine this kind of trip would create a very deep relationship with the fan base, it’s very unmediated and direct. It sure isn’t easy. But who says being a musician needs to be easier than other jobs?

Do you know any artists that have tried something similar?

Forrester: Online Community Best Practices


Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang shares this great presentation about Online Community Best Practices. It’s 51 slides packed with useful advices for those of you who are planning to launch an online community of any kind. Note that this presentation won’t save you proper consulting and/or experimenting. But it contains excellent guidelines and is a good point to start from.

Looking into social networks, forums and blogs and other ways of communication to leverage the power of your community? Look no further, or at least have a look at this presentation first.

(Thanks for sharing, Jeremiah!)