Week 129

Lots of work, moving to Mitte and some updates on recent talks in this Week Note.

Spring Awakening

We have a theory: it was the sun. January and February made for a quiet start to this year. It felt like most of our clients used the darkest winter on record to keep it chill and hibernated for just a little longer. Then came March and the sun for just a couple of days and business inquiries exploded. We always joke how in our industry with a company of our size, we can worry about how to pay our salaries in one moment, then receive two phone calls and all of a sudden we worry about how we should manage all this work. This is what it feels like right now, only that we don’t worry but are really excited. Tons of new projects with existing clients and new clients with projects that bring just the right amount of challenge.

We recently came to the realization, looking back on the last couple years, that we work best with a certain momentum going. Usually, you’d think that when business slows down, it would be a good time to focus on planning and all the stuff that one usually doesn’t have time for. But somehow, we don’t behave like that. When business slows down, it feels like our brains and our output slow down, too. We need the momentum of a lot of things going on at the same time to get even more stuff done. So hurray for the sun that brought us the spring awakening for our business.

Moving to Mitte

After 2.5 years in Kreuzberg, we were ready for a change of scenery. It also was time to find our own little place, and we did. From April we will be working from the heart of Mitte at Rosenthaler Straße. It’s a beautiful place on the second floor of a backyard building with large windows to the south. Although the craziness of Kotti can wear you out, we’re going to miss Kreuzberg for sure. All the restaurants and bars around Oranienstraße make for the best lunch area we know of. We’re also sad to leave our friends at Companion Coffee behind. It’s kind of ironic that now, when we can get the best coffee in Berlin right around the corner from our office, we’re moving away. But we’re also looking forward to running into all our friends in Mitte more often. As fans of change, a new place is always a good opportunity to stir things up, even if it is just where you go for lunch and coffee. Nevertheless, we’re tremendously grateful to our friends at Gidsy for letting us stay with them for 2.5 years. All the best, guys.

Recent talks

After we mostly focussed on client work last year, we’re doing more public speaking this year again. I’ve been to Switzerland and Brussels in the last two weeks and already the calendar is filling up for the rest of spring and summer. In Switzerland, I filled in for Caroline Drucker, and gave the keynote on the second day of the X.DAYS 2013, the biggest ICT industry conference in Switzerland. You can watch the talk (in German) online. In Brussels, I was part of a seminar about public communication and emerging media. I presented some insights from German politics and social media, involving the German Privacy Schizophrenia and the Pirate Party. Next up is a panel on the future of publishing in London and a workshop about digital work at Next.

The Social Layer: Next11 Presentations

The videos of all Next Conference 2011 presentations are available online now. Here we collected the talks from the Social Layer track that we curated this year. Enjoy!

Check out all Next11 videos here.

Uncomfortable Talk

Our friends at LHBS invited us to Vienna to give an Uncomfortable Talk. It was the second in a series of provocative and inspirational speeches about marketing & innovation and curated by LHBS.

Uncomfortable Talk #2: Digital Disruption – Third Wave Berlin from LHBS Consulting GmbH on Vimeo.

Our friends at LHBS invited us to give an Uncomfortable Talk. It was the second in a series of provocative and inspirational speeches about marketing & innovation and curated by LHBS.

On politicians and social media

Toute L’Europe and the Goethe Institute in Paris invited me to be part of a panel about the affect of social media on politics. While the topic in itself is certainly not new, I decided to go, because it was a good opportunity to dive into the French debate.

As you would expect, the Goethe Institute is a very gracious host and the organization is just as good. Still, the setup of the panel was … shall we say, ambitious? Six people is too many for every panel and for me it was especially interesting, since I was the only one who doesn’t speak any French. But first things first, here is the list of all the panelists:

  • Estelle Grelier, EU-Delegate (Faction S & D / EP)
  • Sandrine Bélier, EU-Delegate (Faction The Greens / EP)
  • Jan Philipp Albrecht, EU-Delegate (Faction The Greens / EP)
  • Alain Girod, Professor at the University Lyon II, Director of the Instituts for Communication Lyon II (ICOM)
  • Benoît Thieulin, Co-founder of Netscouade (Internet Agency, specialized on Social Web and Community)
  • Igor Schwarzmann, Co-founder of Third Wave in Berlin

Together with the moderator, we ended up being eight people on stage, since I could only participate in the discussion with the help of a translator. A new experience for me, but it worked out just fine. At least for the important parts of the discussions. Obviously, I couldn’t catch the small nuances, which made it a bit difficult to get into a real discussion. Then again, on a panel with so many people there isn’t much room for debate anyhow.

What discourages me to accept further invitations to panels about social media and politics is the lack of progress in the discussion. France – in this particular case at least – not different from Germany. The whole premise of the discussion is based on the wrong questions. It’s definitely not about the tools, services and platforms that a politician uses and it’s not about how those politicians need to find the exactly right tone without giving up too much privacy. That’s the boring part of the discussion.

We are living in a time, where we can watch revolutions unfold on the internet while our policy makers still struggle to understand the impact of it all. And more often than not, they seem not only very reluctant to dive into the topic, but actually are part of the problem. By making decision without any appreciation what has developed without their involvement, they only increase the overall impressions that most of them aren’t prepared to govern in the 21st century.

I ended up saying something that I read a couple of years on a blog of a social media consultant (imagine that!):

If your product is shit, it will still be shit on social media.

Same goes for politics, dear politicians. It’s moot to discuss if it’s important to be clueless on Television or Twitter, in the end you are still clueless. Start listening to what is being said and stop planing your next campaign and how you might or might not use Facebook for it.

P.S.: While I’m rather harshly generalizing the discussion, there are of course exceptions with a deep understanding. One of which was on the panel: Jan Philipp Albrecht.