Thanks & Happy Holidays: That was 2014


This is end-of-year post #7 (all prior ones here). Slowly I’m getting into the habit.

What happened in 2014? A lot. Let’s dive in!

The theme for 2014

In hindsight, I’d describe 2014 as a year of building foundations. Much more than ever before did I focus on creating a stable basis for future things rather than pushing ahead first. This goes both for personal and professional life, like the way I set up my new company as an umbrella for all new projects and signing a long term office lease.

That, and strong presence of both Japan and Finland (in the form of trips, client work and collaborations) which I very much welcome.


Thanks & Happy Holidays: That was 2013


This is my sixth end-of-year post (all prior ones here). Stunned!

So what happened?

Friends & Family


In the spring, I married M, and couldn’t possibly be happier. This alone would have made my year perfect.

I’m very happy that more friends married, and that some had babies, and that my goddaughter is growing up nicely, and that my family is healthy & happy & overall very well. So that part’s all good.

That alone would make for a (very happy, but also) really boring post, so here goes.


Once more, I feel very lucky in that I got to travel a lot. Destinations include (in alphabetical order) Bad Herrenalb, Bad Kreuznach, Belgrade, Brighton, Buenos Aires, Hamburg, India, Karlsruhe, Kassel, London, Portugal, Rijeka and Scotland and Wales, spread out over about 15 trips and about 102 days total. Among other things, I got to spend about a month each in Buenos Aires and India, and got to hike in Scotland, Wales and England.

In this order: India, England, Buenos Aires.

A year of experimentation & learning

Even more than in many previous years I got to experiment and learn a lot. I got to dig into a whole slew of tech & business ideas, work with old and new collaborators, and generally just opened up the possibility space really wide before slowly starting to narrow it down again. Maybe the biggest change for me in terms of business thinking was to slowly adjust away from the mental model of client work (which is all about billable days) and into product/dev work (which is all about progress first and cashflow/billable time second). If, like me, you’ve worked almost always for clients (ie. sold services) this is a big change, and one that takes some getting used to. It does feel great, though, to invest time into building something new.

Along the way, I started and subsequently pulled the plug on one company and one service, started two conferences that are going strong (UIKonf, ThingsCon), and am in the early stages of launching another thing with a much-esteemed partner. Long-time collaborator and office mate Matt and I also built several prototypes of digital-to-physical print things, one of which hasn’t made it past the “print-out-a-test-dummy” phase, one of which is about to go into production. All of these also serve as an example for my previous point – it’s a mental shift from billing hours to investing into product development.

ThingsCon & UIKonf & Ignite Berlin & NEXT Berlin

If anything, chairing or programming (and sometimes initiating) conferences has taken on a whole new quality for me this year.

There’s NEXT Berlin of course, where like the last years I’m a curator and program director along with the fantastic Monique van Dusseldorp. (Disclosure: SinnerSchrader/NEXT Berlin are clients of mine.)

Then there’s Ignite Berlin, which has now been going strong since 2010 I believe – we just had #4 a few months ago.

UIKonf was such a resounding success that Chris, Matt and I aren’t just continuing it into 2014, but also incorporated to make it easier to run sustainably.

And then of course there’s Things, which started out with a harmless conversation with Max & Simon and then took on such a life of its own – my mind’s blown. We’re just getting started, and already we’ve been getting so much fantastic feedback on all the backchannels that I can’t wait for the day.

Wrote some stuff

I got to write a few things, and give some talks (actually, mostly panels this year).

Wrote the cover story for this issue on T3N.

Didn’t actually write for this second issue of The Alpine Review, but did manage to contribute at least some content, interviews & contacts. Here, the copy doubles as backdrop for a planning call for UIKonf.

Oh yeah, over at KANT, we also expermimented with a topic sprint, aka five people in a room for a day cranking out a report that will be published come night-time, no matter what. Super interested time constraints to work with. Curious to refine this process some more.

Firsts & some things I learned along the way

Along the way, I learned some things and did some things for the first time.

I take enough steps every day. I should sleep a little more. Standing desks are great, but improvised standing desks are only so-so. Getting funding for a product is both harder and easier than expected. Kindles break easily if you twist their display. Built a lamp, and poured something out of concrete. Well-made shoes are awesome. It’s worth locking the door all the way. Travel is good and productive. Went to Argentina, Croatia, India, Serbia, Wales for the first time.

Some things I’ll try to do (read: resolutions!)

Policy input. For quite a while I’ve been wondering how to best make a contribution to how we can get Berlin/Germany/Europe ready for the 21st century on a policy level, namely what a digital agenda for Europe should look like. It’s a super relevant issue (rather, a whole slew of issues) that I feel a certain obligation to contribute my part in. How? Not sure yet.

Learn more languages. In terms of actual languages, I was lucky to attend a school that gave me a very solid prep. And even though I lost most of my fluency due to inactivity in French and Latin and stuck mostly to English (and my native German of course), it gave me a broad base to build on. So, no more excuses not to learn Spanish. I’ve been training a bit via Duolingo, and want to intensify it. But also I feel like brushing up on my meager coding skills. Codecademy & Co to the rescue!

Figure out how to best consolidate all the roles and hats I wear professionally depending on context. Most likely, I’ll just roll them all into one company to make it easier for others to understand, and to minimize administration.

More family visits. Been getting better about this over the last year or two, and I’ll try to make a point of seeing both my parents and my sister more often. Neither of us is getting any younger, so there’s really no good reason not to make the effort.

So what’s next?

I’m typing this on my way to a brief holiday trip to my family and later to see some friends. Back in Berlin, I’m looking forward to a pretty intense 2014. Between three conferences more or less back-to-back in May that will need quite some preparation in the first months of the year, a talk in January in Amsterdam, client work, a new venture and quite a few upcoming work-related trips, I won’t be bored anytime soon.

Happy Holidays

On that note, I got nothing more to say than Happy Holidays. I hope you’ll have a great start in 2014. See you on the other side.

Thanks & Happy Holidays: That was 2012


So that was the year – time for a brief look back at what happened, as I’ve been doing for the last few years. (This is the fifth year in a row – crazy, eh? Here are numbers one to four.)

So what happened? Lots and lots and lots, actually, and mostly good stuff, too.

Raygun Gothic Rocketship


Another year of crazy travel, both work-related and personal. Like many of you, this puts me in an odd position: I enjoy traveling tremendously, yet I’m haunted by the horrible carbon footprint I produce. I’ll need to find a way to get better at this, but have no idea yet how.

Mostly I organize and track my trips through Tripit, which is fantastic but has certain weaknesses on multi-stop trips, so I might be missing a couple here. Anyway, according to Tripit, and unfiltered, I went on 23 trips totaling 91 days and close to 66.000km, which brought me to 28 cities in 11 countries. Chronologically, this would looks something like this:

Bad Schandau & Bad Kreuznach & Bad Orb & Münster & Hamburg & Münster & Cologne & Bonn & Japan & Hamburg & Westerland & Dublin & Hamburg & San Francisco & Sebastopol & London & Osterstedt & Casekow & Istanbul & Hamburg & Kassel & Paris & Karlsruhe & Dublin & Tel Aviv & London & Zurich. And I’m about to leave for another trip to Boston & Karlsruhe to visit both our families as I’m writing this.

Some of these trips brought me, unsurprisingly, to conferences. So I got the chance to attend Republica, Next (as curator), Foo Camp, Open IoT Assembly, Digitale Selbstvermessung (as organizer), Tech Open Air, Next Service Design (as curator), DLD Tel Aviv, Dublin Web Summit, WIRED London, TED Salon London and Mozilla Festival. Among quite a few others. (Phew!)


The trickiest part for me to sum up in a few sentences this year is certainly this section on about my work. For the first half year, I worked on lots of stuff at Third Wave, then left the company in late summer/fall to switch tracks. So I became a freelancer for the second time and am working on new stuff. One is that I’m serving as Program Director for Next Conference. (Disclosure: Next are clients.) At the same time, I have some other gigs going, and am working on something new. As of a few weeks ago, I’m also sharing an office with Matt, and we’ve been working on a few projects as well.

Not to try and be all mysterious here, but some things need honing before I feel comfortable talking about them, so give me some time before expecting any announcements.


Had a few media appearances in (to me, at least) very unlikely outlets like Forbes, Fit For Fun and Apotheken Umschau (shown below, shooting iPhones out of my Android phone), as well as some radio interviews.

Apotheken Umschau Courtesy of Apotheken Umschau, I can now shoot phones out of my phone.


Speaking of media, I was (and still am) super excited to be part of the team behind The Alpine Review. It feels like in some small way this allows me to be part of something much bigger and very, very relevant.

The Alpine Review The Alpine Review


Friends and family

As these things go, it’s all good in the family. In fact, I’ll be meeting a big chunk of the new family for the first time in a few days, so that’s exciting. Otherwise nothing new to report. (Which is usually a good thing!)


Back in May, I asked the fantastic M. to marry me in front of Mount Fuji (and she said yes.) Am a happy man indeed. This was the view:



Some things I believe I did the first time in 2012: Visited Japan. Got engaged. Bought a painting. Left a company I co-founded. Bought a really good office chair. (Chairman Bruce might be proud.) Took coding classes online. Installed a developer version of an operating system on a phone. Printed a flip book from an animated gif.

So what’s next?

First, I’m about to leave for a series of short trips to Boston and southern Germany to visits friends & family. Starting around mid-January, M. and I will be doing something that I used to do more regularly before and hadn’t been able to make happen as often recently: We’ll be moving to a city we both don’t know to work from there for a bit. Concretely, we’ll be living and working in Buenos Aires for a month. If you want to meet up or have any recommendations, please share (in the comments, on Twitter, or here.)

Happy Holidays

On that note, I got nothing more to say than Happy Holidays, I hope you have a great start in 2013. See you on the other side.


Former annual wrap-ups here.

Betapitch 2012: Congratulations to Go Europe & Solarbrush


Betapitch 2012

Last night at the People in Beta Festival we had another Betapitch, where I was honored and delighted to be part of the jury along with Fadi Bishara, Jörg Rheinboldt, Thomas Mygdal and Philipp von Bieberstein.

And boy, was that a series of excellent and sometimes hilarious pitches – the best lineup of pitches I’ve seen at Betapitch yet.

We saw everything from a B2B marketplace for photovoltaics; a social event planning app; an app suite for conference organizers; a much more efficient database processor; and plenty more. Keep an eye on the Betapitch website for details and links.

In the end, we settled for two winners as our scores tied both at the #1 spot:

Go Europe (not web presence yet as far as I can tell) boasts a top notch team, and a big vision: Easily plan your trip across Europe. It’s a huge undertaking given the fragmented European market of rail, bus, air and other transportation.

Solarbrush is a very engineering-focused company with a simple, but powerful vision: Increasing the efficiency of solar panels in dusty and sandy regions (where solar power is biggest) through a robot that autonomously brushes the sand of the solar panels – cheaper and less dangerous than human cleaners, and because it’s dry cleaning it doesn’t waste any water. It’s a clear cut problem and solution, and if they manage to just increase solar power efficiency by a couple of percentage points, it makes a huge difference.

As one participant pointed out at the party afterwards as his unified theory of pitches, “Robots always win”. But even accounting for the robot factor, I never expected to hear a crowd cheering like this for a solar panel cleaning solution.

I’m sure we’ll hear quite a bit about both of them in the near future.

Quantified Self on dradio – now in CC


A little while ago, Christian Grasse did a radio feature for dradio on the Quantified Self. There, he included interviews with Johannes Kleske and me.

That was really neat. What’s even neater, though, is this.

This morning, Christian emailed everybody included in his Quantified Self feature to let us know that he had also cut a version of his piece that is fit to release under Creative Commons (“CC by” to be specific), and uploaded it on Soundcloud. His reasoning was that sharing is good, and that dradio is publicly funded, and as such as much of its content should be available to share and remix.

This is awesome. Dradio is excellent with sharing their stuff online, pretty barrier-free, anyway. But this allows for remixing, too. So here it is, the new, CC-licensed version of Christian’s QS feature:

I wish more journalists thought and acted that way. It’s really a best practice scenario. Thanks, Chris!

No New Year’s Resolutions



I don’t like New Year’s resolutions, and I don’t believe in them. Not because they don’t make sense. They might. But because I don’t think that tying goals to a date is the best way to go about plans. However, the holidays are a good time to set some goals and make some plans, so here they are, some things I’m planning to do in 2012.

Channel The Sterling

Ever since I head Bruce Sterling’s Reboot talk a few years back, I’ve been trying to rid my life of stuff I don’t need, and instead upgrade the things I actually use. What Sterling talked about there is obvious in hindsight, but at the time, and by the way he went through his ideas, it was a real eye opener for me. I’ll keep doing that. Wherever I can, I’ll channel The Sterling.

More blogging

After a bit of a lull (or a series of lulls, really) I’ve been rediscovering the joy of blogging. Partly that’s because now that I have one “professional” blog over at Third Wave and this personal blog here, I feel I can use this one even more freely than before. And partly it’s due to a small change in my blogging environment. Ever since I’ve started writing my blogposts in Markdown inside iA Writer before dumping it into WordPress (where a Markdown plugin parses my draft into HTML), I’ve been writing more, and more easily. It’s a great, simple, powerful setup, and it has completely changed the way and speed I write. Also, I joined Iron Blogger Berlin, a fun group effort to either write regularly or – in case I fail – have drinks with friends. Either way, it’s a WIN.

Late for Work / Tarde pa'l trabajo

Travel lighter

For years I’ve been very lucky and got to travel a lot. I love the chance to explore new places and find my way around, to poke into backyards and cafés and castles and whatnot. More recently, more and more of my trips have been work-related, which changes the way you travel quite a bit. For example, you need to schlepp things you wouldn’t necessarily take on a personal trip, like laptop, a plethora of cables and chargers, and decent shoes. In other words, you need to schlepp more.

It doesn’t have to be that way. I want to get better at taking less stuff on trips, particularly on business trips, and I want to make better choices about what I’m bringing. Over this last year I’ve been improving quite a bit already, and I’m going to continue that way. Shoes that work for both private and business context are a simple way of cutting down a bit. Running shoes that are more easily compressed are another – Nike Free Run have been working well for me. A Kindle replaces one or two books at the least, which is easily a pound or two spared. Let’s see what else I can find. Time to dig through Technomads once more.

Also, last year was so busy I traveled a lot less for personal reasons. I’ll try and see if I can up that a little bit this year – maybe by more short trips, maybe one longer one, maybe by just tacking on a day or two on business trips. It’s a good and healthy thing to do, and I find there’s not many things that increase quality of life as much as traveling. It’s the best way to keep your mind fresh and full of ideas.

Friends, Family & Work

Then there’s a whole chunk of partly vaguely defined goals that I’ll be putting some conscious effort into. Some are work-related, and this isn’t the place to discuss them. Let’s just say I have a few ideas that Igor, Johannes and I will try to put to life. Others are more social in nature. Concretely, over the last year when I was working heads-down most of the time, I didn’t spend nearly enough time with friends and family – while at the same time, I received tons of support. We all know crunch time, and what it can do to us, and it’s that kind of support that lets us get through intense times. Thanks, all of you, I really appreciate it. And I’ll do my best to make up for it this year.

Have a great 2012, everybody. Forget your New Year’s resolutions, and rather make some good plans for the year.