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22 Apr

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A family of Good Night Lamps

April 22, 2015 | By |

Yesterday I received a box I had been very much looking forward to: My family of Good Night Lamps (GNLamp for short).

If you’re not familiar with GNLamp, it’s a family of connected lamps – if you switch on the big one, the little one(s) light up, no matter where in the world they are. It’s social lighting, and it’s lovely.

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06 Jan

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Notes on PADI digital services

January 6, 2015 | By |

For just about 10 years now, I’ve been a certified scuba diver. The certification is from the kindasorta industry standard certification organization PADI, who certified me as a so-called Open Water Diver.

In practice this means dive centers are allowed to rent me out diving equipment and services, and I’m allowed to go on dives by myself (or with a buddy) up to depths of 18 meters. It’s what most scuba divers start with. Then later on, you can build on that basis and add on modules – and hence certifications – for things like diving at night or in caves, or go on to become a trainer.

The badge model

For those of us in the web & tech world, this is a familiar model. It’s basically badges: Certain activities earn you a badge, a certain combination of badges level you up. It’s no coincidence this might sound familiar – the Mozilla Open Badges project has drawn inspiration from this model, and Joi Ito has very explicitly and extensively written about how his scuba diving experiences influence his thinking on badges and certification, starting here. (Alas, I can’t quite share his enthusiasm about the tools, but as I said, they didn’t age well. Add to that the bandwidth restrictions we are operating under on this trip, and it explains the different experience.)

It’s a good model. It works. But not all’s well in PADI Land.

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02 Jan

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Splitting off my personal blog

January 2, 2015 | By |

As of today, I’ll be separating company-related blog posts from personal ones a bit more. For the last eight, nine years or so, this domain (thewavingcat.com) has been my main blog, and as such main outlet. For the most part, a sort of personal one, but it also covered lots of work-related topics and thoughts. Over the years, this has related to some jobs, several companies, lots of events, and a whole range of emerging tech topics like social media, digitization, cognitive cities, IoT, 3D printing and many more.

In 2014, I founded my new company, named (and subsequently renamed, because reasons) it, and settled for the name The Waving Cat GmbH. This meant, of course, that the domain thewavingcat.com would also become the company site.

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18 Dec

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Thanks & Happy Holidays: That was 2014

December 18, 2014 | By |

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.

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27 Dec

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Thanks & Happy Holidays: That was 2013

December 27, 2013 | By |

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.

Travel

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.

29 May

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So this happened…

May 29, 2013 | By |

wedding ceremony

 

…over the weekend. So happy. Thanks, M!

07 Feb

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Announcing Makers Make

February 7, 2013 | By |

Makers Make

As my time in Buenos Aires comes to a close, it’s time to shine a little light on a thing I’ve been working on with the brilliant Natasha Carolan:

We just started a company called Makers Make. The idea is simple: We believe that making should be easier.

How we work towards that goal is explained – at least in rough strokes – over on the new website, makersmake.net.

Feel free to poke around the (still pretty scarce) site and let me know if you find any loose ends (there are many).

Suffice to say for now that it’s an incredibly exciting space as we get to the point where there’s enough production capacity around to open up industrial 3D printers to external designers – or so we think. This, in turn, means that a whole new league of designers will emerge that takes advantage of new production capacities. We don’t just want to 3D-print tchotchkes, but take it to the next level by allowing specifically for hybrid designs. Think 3D print plus X.

A few personal notes, after all this is my personal blog:

Natasha and I approach this as a project to grow organically, starting off doing this as a side-project. This also means that of course I’ll keep working on all my client projects, as well the major side projects – namely The Alpine Review and UIKonf – as well as a couple that are still in various stages of prototyping. The company is registered in London – we shift stuff (including ourselves and our attention) between London and Berlin as we need it, and if things work out as we hope we’ll take it to other places as well.

For now, we’re at a very early stage and things are still pretty fluid, the way I like it until more formal structures emerge.

Also, a big, big thank you – not just to Natasha, but also to Alexandra, Alice, Ronen and all the others who’ve shared their insights and encouragement.

Exciting times!