Monthnotes for July 2015


Wow, what a month. So much stuff. So here’s a run down of what’s been happening to keep everyone in the loop and for future reference.

While everywhere around things seemed to slow down for the summer break, my month was quite busy – not least because during the prior months a few things had been piling up, there was admin to take care of for ThingsCon an other projects, etc. Also, it was a month with lots of travel: Hamburg & Stuttgart for client work; Frankfurt for a family event; Turin for a visit to Casa Jasmina, and as I’m typing this I’m headed to Sebastopol, CA for Foo Camp. It’s a little more airport time than is desirable, but it’s all super interesting stuff, so I’m certainly not going to complain.


Weeknotes #188


Das Fest 2007: Skateboard-Miniatur

It’s Tuesday and that means: it’s late weeknotes time!

Bioplastics, wallet, vinegar

Jay showed us how to make our own bioplastic wallets. Now I have one too, and apart from my own bad stitching I like it a lot. If only it didn’t smell so strongly of vinegar… but I did realized that I really like the very compact form factor. Forces me to cut down on stuff in my wallet, and that’s a good thing. Make sure to check out all the different workshops offered at Open Design City. (You can ask for different workshops, too!)


We’ve had the first event of the Google-initiated Collaboratory “Internet & Society” with politicians to discuss the initial results of a survey we conducted. Quite an impressive and stimulating event actually: After an initial presentation of survey results by Google and the research team, the topic cluster “godparents” gave some insights into the wide range of answers we got. (All topic clusters hat one or two members of the expert groups as so-called godparents to split up the work. Yours truly was responsible for Anonymity On The Web.) Then we all split up into group discussions for an hour and had some in-depth discussions. Good stuff. We’ll be chewing the results to write up a final report.

Geek dinner

I was told one is random, two’s a trend, three’s a tradition. Or something. So I won’t hesitate calling our geek dinners at Kimchi Princess a tradition now. Lovely, inspiring dinner with Michelle, Igor, Johannes, Caroline, Matt, Ronen, Jan, Boris and plenty others. Nothing beats inspiring conversations with great folks over yummy dinner and cold drinks.

More speaking

Seems like there’ll be a number of speaking gigs coming up, both at smaller conferences and in-house client workshops. Also seems like this always comes in waves. One day I’m sure I’ll discover a pattern there so I’ll be able to line up a more coherent travel plan.


I’ve been trying to root my HTC Hero to update to at least Android 2.1 (or even Android 2.2?) without much success so far. (No damage either!) Hints are very welcome!


If you had to describe weeknotes in one word, which would it be: a) annoying b) useful c) don’t matter ? Feel free to let me know in the comments or any other channel. Turns out it takes more discipline than expected, and there’s only so many things I can write about at any given time while others I cannot discuss for awhile. So I’m not sure if I should keep sending them out or if you’d prefer not having them in this place. Thanks for your feedback!

Image: Das Fest 2007: Skateboard-Miniatur, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (2.0) image from leralle’s photostream

Weeknotes #187


You Too Can Be Like Us

Still trying to get the hang of writing weeknotes. I’ve been blogging more regularly recently, which makes it harder to tell anything new in the weeknotes. So here’s some of what’s been on my mind last week:

Collaboratory Prep

At the Google-initated Collaboratory on internet and society where I was kindly invited as an expert we’ve wrapped up the analysis of the first round of survey data we gathered. This Wednesday we’ll discuss the data with politicians. Should be interesting. Will report.

Ersatz Conference

There’s sadly no reboot conference this year since Thomas is taking some (very much deserved) time off to reboot. Reboot is one of my all-time favorite conferences. (See here.) Turns out that there are some great folks out there who appreciate reboot just as much and stepped up to run an ersatz conference called: Ersatz Conference. It’s 18/19 June. I booked my flight right away. Can’t wait to go.

Cognitive Cities

No formal announcement yet as we haven’t figured out the details. But we’ll run an event of sorts this fall, too, around the topic of smart cities. Details soon. Also, the good folks and friends behind the Cognitive Cities blog invited me to join them as a contributor to the blog, which I’m excited about. Thanks Igor, Johannes, Axel, Welf!

Conference Wishlist 2010

With Cognitive Cities, an offspring of sorts of atoms&bits, and Ersatz conference mentioned above, I’m getting close to making my conference wishlist 2010.

Open Design Wallet on Boingboing

I already mentioned it: After Jay Cousins showed me the wallet he made from self-produced bioplastic I was blown away; I posted some photos and submitted them to boingboing, who ran them. I was quite surprised to see the post, but of course excited. What I hadn’t thought of was providing a better link. Nonetheless, it seems like there’s quite some interest in this kind of stuff. So Jay volunteered to run a workshop this Thursday. It’ll be at Open Design City (Betahaus Berlin), check Jay’s tweets for updates & details.

What else? Random notes.

I’m re-reading Pattern Recognition (.de link). Even in the third round I’m discovering new stuff. I found out that internet access in some Dubai hotels is about US$45/hour. WTF? The Homesense project tries to make real sense out of smart housing, should be interesting. Facebook keeps freaking me out, particularly with their ever-present “I like” pop ups. Diaspora, a planned distributed social network with a focus on openness and privacy, has been overwhelmed by support and raised $174,007 (instead of the $15,000 they asked for). I still wish I really understood what exactly they are aiming for (An alternative to Facebook? A way to get your data out of Facebook? Something else entirely?) or if they’re are capable of doing it. (I most certainly hope so!) It shows two things very clearly though: There is a huge demand for a more privacy-conscious alternative to Facebook as many of us are pissed off by Facebook’s behavior. And if you have a good idea you can easily get the support you need from the community. Both of those are great to know!

And with that I wish you a great week!

Image: You Too Can Be Like Us, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from atomsandbits’s photostream

Weeknotes #186


olafur eliasson

The paperwork up front: As J. pointed out, weeknotes aren’t supposed to start at number #001 necessarily but rather at the first week of whatever it is you’re making notes on. I had a bit of a hard time finding a good starting point, but now figured one out: So from now on I’ll count from the first week after I decided not to stay in my job as an editor for a political magazine-slash-think tank, but rather went freelance to do web stuff on my own. It’s somewhat misleading as I had worked freelance for years before as a student, and would still be writing my masters thesis afterwards, but that’s as symbolic a starting point as there is. So, dating back to the first day after my brief editing stint, 17 October 2006, today it’s week #186.

It’s been a pretty productive week, and there’s just three things I’d like to highlight:

Betahaus study

We did a brief study on social security among the coworkers at Betahaus. I won’t go into the details (executive summary), but rather at how we got there, as I think it’s a good example of how quickly you can get something off the ground, particularly in a coworking context: Christoph Fahle of Betahaus and I talked about all the journalists checking out Betahaus and how the majority seems to expect coworkers to be there because they’re poor they can’t afford a “real office”. Since we had a gut feeling that they might – like ourselves – be at Betahaus voluntarily we decided to just ask and do this mini study. That was a couple of weeks ago. The first draft of the form was online hardly 48h later, then it took us a few hours over a span of maybe a week to tweak the details. Two emails (to invite and remind the potential participants) and 16 days later we closed the online form again to sit down and crunch the data. That, plus writing up the report, took about two full days. Idea, a few emails to coordinate, then just get it done: that’s the agile coworking way. Or at least it felt pretty good.

Mozilla Drumbeat

Mozilla organized a Berlin event (also at Betahaus) to spread the Drumbeat love. This deserves its own blog post, but allow me to summarize: It rocked.

Olafur Eliasson

There’s a new exhibition in town. Olafur Eliasson (Wikipedia) is a Danish-Icelandic artist living in Berlin these days. With major exhibitions at Tate Modern and the MoMa he certainly doesn’t need introduction, but if you’re in town, do not (NOT!) miss his exhibition at Martin Gropius Bau Innen Stadt Außen. (Don’t let the boring website turn you off.) In fact, go there now.

Image: Olafur Eliasson

Weeknotes #1


So, taking inspiration from some good friends, it’s time I give it a shot: I’m starting weeknotes as a way of both keeping track and reflecting what’s going on in my life, and of sharing it with those it might be relevant for. Depending on what I can share, I’ll included either personal or business-related things, or maybe just what I’ve been thinking about. Think of them as status updates for both you and myself. Feel free to ignore them. Also, I’ll try to get a regular rhythm into the week notes, but I’ll kick it off on a Thursday just because enough has piled up it seems.

media attention

I’ve been baffled by the media attention we’ve been getting recently. I’m saying “we” as most of the time it wasn’t like I was the only person interviewed, but just happened to be where the action was and was thus also interviewed or filmed. (I think six interviews in about four weeks even though nothing of note was released or announced…) Certainly there is a strong and still-growing interest in coworking and the future of work, italic here because it’s of course not the future of work but rather the state of work as it is for many of us. But that’s mainstream media framing for you, and it’s part of the deal, so “future of work” it is if you use a laptop and like good coffee.

future of work and social security (mini study)

As both journalists and politicians have hinted, there’s quite a bit of interest regarding the social security of us knowledge workers, or “digital nomads”. Since data seems rare and we seem to be seen as those living said future of work, Christoph Fahle of Betahaus and I noticed that some data to back any claims about social security might be useful and conducted a mini study within Betahaus. We’ll crunch the numbers and publish the results very soon. I’m really curious about the results myself. After all, if the Betahaus is any indication we should be able to draw quite a few conclusions and recommendations from this data, even though the data set is limited and drawn from a very particular sample.

planning a conference

Too early to really announce, but we’ve been hinting at it before: This fall there will be a conference in relation to the topic “smart cities” and all that might entail; we’ve been talking a lot about this recently, so it seems only logical to have an event as a point to focus the discussion. More soon.

taxes, clients, time management

Over the last couple of months I’ve come to realize more and more how important it is as a freelancer to plan ahead. Like seriously plan ahead, as in: when do I want to meet which revenue, when do I have to pay which taxes, when do I finalize projects with clients etc. I tend to be very relaxed about this kind of stuff, but it certainly pays to keep a close eye on both your financial planning and your schedule as projects tend to be drawn out towards the end, and you’ll want to write your bills in time etc. Also important in that regard, I think, is to keep track of how much time you’re spending on what. It’s important to be able to show to clients when the time you can invest is up. After all you can’t really blame them for asking for more of your time, and it’s part of your job to draw the line at some point. This is the way to go. I’ve been trying recently to track that even for not-for-profit projects just to get a better feeling for the amount of time I should be planning on for the future.

slow week

Besides – and despite – all of the above, it feels like a kind of slow week, even though it’s been kind of hectic. Doesn’t really make sense, but that’s what it feels like. I guess it’s a side effect of having quite a few small side projects. Hopefully have some more announcements to make soon. Plenty of stuff happening.