Week 160

Johannes and Igor went for a strategy weekend to Amsterdam, attended the Dread Exhibition the accommodating symposium.

Johannes and I left for Amsterdam for our strategy retreat on Friday. We used to do this more often. But being only two people makes it easier to have a common vision for what we are trying to accomplish.

We usually tend to pick places for these retreats that are significantly more remote and calmer than Amsterdam. Nature can be a gracious guide when it comes to finding a pace to do some long-term thinking. This time, we just couldn’t resist attending the Dread Exhibition Symposium (just look at this lineup) and the exhibition that sparked the need for a symposium in the first place. Juha, the curator, might be a friend, but I’m certain that anyone who will get to see the exhibition in Haarlem will be able to affirm for themselves that it’s an exceptional testament to many current conversations. If you have the chance, please consider going.

photo

Stimulating your brain as prep for a strategy retreat is a contrarian approach to what we have been practicing so far. Nevertheless, it helped us, although clearly in a different way. Immersing one self in the incredible work of people who are able to grasp, understand and explain the more complex structures of todays world jolts you right back on the track and into the realization of how many exciting things there are still to be done.

We decided to adjust some of the things that we have been practicing in the last year.

  1. We decided to automate the weekly reads. We are still reading a lot and we will still share those findings, but we will just let the machines do what they are good at and aggregate those things more or less automatically for us. It didn’t took us too much time to add some context for the five articles that we always have selected so far, but it was one of currently many things to be done.
  2. The input day will become the input/output day. Instead of having to separate days, in which we can lean back and read, consume information, we decided to have Friday as a non-client work related day, in which we focus on not only consuming important information, but also making something with it. We accomplished a few things in the last few month, but we want do dive deeper into things like creating an Onion Pi, migrate away from some cloud services or polish our coding skills. Those are just some examples of topics that we discuss often, but don’t get do. We hope that tinkering away together on a Friday will get us closer to learning by doing.

Week 101

Igor continues the line of thought about change, unpredictability and the attempt to deal with those situations.

For the first time since we launched Third Wave, I wasn’t involved in daily business for more than two weeks. Going on vacation after the changes of the last few months seemed at first to be bad timing, but also very necessary. Being exhausted helped plenty – I had very little trouble disconnecting. This works the other way around as well. After ten days, I couldn’t keep myself from checking mails regularly. In the future, I might iterate a bit and just go on two shorter vacations instead of a long one.

Floating around a new territory, as we do these days, is and can be challenging. It is also a nice way to change the pace, adjust the focus and just do things differently. Being so close to our second birthday, it is actually quite fun to see that none of the excitement of actually running a company faded away. We learned many things – I’m falling in love with looking at finance sheets and data. But, if our work taught us anything, it’s that we don’t know what we’re going to face next. Acknowledging this is hard and most people struggle with that. If we choose our vision with wisdom, gravitas and the ambition to make things just a little bit better every day, it will still be very unexpected and hard, but it will also be manageable and gratifying.

Looking for new office space

With that, we can also announce that we are looking for new office space. We had a great run with our friends from Gidsy and the Makers Loft is an amazing space, but it’s time for a change in that regard as well. We are not completely sure what we are looking for, but if something for us comes to mind, please reach out and let us know.

Travel plans

While Johannes is on his well deserved vacation in Portugal, I will be mostly spending my time here in Berlin on picking up where I left off before my vacation. While it’s almost bothersome, it’s really quite good to see that nothing actually stops working when one is not around the office. With that knowledge, I will leave on Sunday for Amsterdam where I will be attending the PICNIC conference. If you are around, let me know and let’s catch up.

Week 50

Last week was very good to us. Very good indeed. In Amsterdam, we gave a prototyping workshop on Quantified Self at PICNIC with our co-conspirator David Bausola, and on the way there we got some fantastic news.

Last week was very good to us. Very good indeed.

While Johannes stayed in Berlin, Peter and I went to Amsterdam for PICNIC11. Together with David Bausola we gave a workshop on Quantified Cities. We introduced the audience to city and quantified self based data, gave them our perspective on it and let people prototype services that would improve life in a city. Since time was an issue – we could give every group only 30 minutes to develop an idea and write it down – it was very important to us not only to get everybody in the room on the same page, but also give a very accessible toolset. So we handed out different data sources on paper – be it Foursquare data, Runkeeper data or Governmental data – and let people come up with ideas. You can take a look on our tumblr for the results.

Needless to say we had fun and happy that our workshop approach worked so well. The Quantified Self Conference, which will happen in November in Amsterdam, invited us to do something similar. Don’t miss to sign up and join us there.

While we were boarding the plane on our way to Amsterdam, we got great news. I would love to tell you all about it in detail, but unfortunately this will have to wait a bit longer. But let me put it this way: We worked hard and it paid out. Big time. A big client coming our way with work for at least 18 months. We have been hired to do research, develop a strategy and do some re-organization. It’s a nice present to ourselves for the upcoming first anniversary of Third Wave.

PICNIC Festival 2011

PICNIC Festival is an annual three-day event that blurs the lines between creativity, science, technology and business to explore new solutions in the spirit of co- creation. And we got a 20%-off-code for you.

PICNIC Festival 2011

As we mentioned in our week notes, we’re going back to Amsterdam (after our CoCities Salon) to give a workshop at the great PICNIC Festival 2011. We’re getting really excited about this. Not only about the topic, but also about the festival in general. This is shaping up to be a great get-together of smart minds thinking about the future of cities and connected topics. Among the line-up are such people as:

  • Media artist Scott Snibbe, lead developer of Bjork’s ground-breaking app album Biophilia
  • Doc filmmaker Lucy Walker (“Wasteland”)
  • Leading authority on urbanization Saskia Sassen
  • Benoit Jacob, head of BMW-i Design, looking at emission-free mobility
  • Journalist and technologist Ben Hammersley
  • Robin Chase of BuzzCar, leading the car-sharing revolution
  • Lemz co-founder Mark Woerde, how brands can be a force for good

Here’s the skinny:

PICNIC Festival is an annual three-day event that blurs the lines between creativity, science, technology and business to explore new solutions in the spirit of co- creation. This year’s theme is Urban Futures, with a focus on sustainability, infrastructure, society, design and media. PICNIC Festival 2011 takes place from 14 to 16 September at NDSM Wharf in Amsterdam.

We’ve joined forces with David Bausola (@zeroinfluencer) for our workshop on Quantified Cities, which will be held on Wednesday, the 14th at 1:30pm. We’re collecting material for our workshop on this tumblr. Here’s the official description:

There are two bodies of data in a city: the physicality and the people. Both are generating huge amounts of data that is being shared publicly. For example, buildings broadcast their energy efficiency much as a human records their sporting achievements.
But where these data dimensions overlap produces a space that could be a cause for concern or an opportunity to sculpt.
Who and what is an occupant of a city of data? Are we facing the creation of data ghosts in the city of data?
Using methodologies from the Quantified Self community and City Planning to examine this phenomena, we will blend the self and city together in a special hands-on workshop to produce a working model of this situation.
Three 10-minute introductions to the topics will be made by the team at the start of the session and then we dive into the workshop for an hour. We’ll be recording the process as a video – so come an be part of the exploration in the new frontier of urban living.

We would love you to join us in Amsterdam. If you haven’t bought a ticket yet, use the coupon code 3rdWPIC20 at check out.

Disclosure: Igor is on the advisory board of PICNIC.

Cognitive Cities, Amsterdam

Sometimes, in a quiet moment, when nobody is watching, I do ask myself: why are we so successful with Cognitive Cities?

It has been months since we organized the conference and still, wherever we go, this at-one-time little project that became an international conference, seems to open all kinds of doors for us. It became a brand in itself. It can be a bigger brand than Third Wave, potentially.

Which is fine. We are encouraging it, too. That is one of the reasons why we decided to diversify and, instead of sticking to a once-a-year conference format, do a few smaller events that are scattered around the world. We at Third Wave are perfectly comfortable with the idea of creating things that will be more recognizable than our company brand.

Alas, the first Salon. The decision to go to Amsterdam for the first iteration was an easy one. It is a city full of dedicated people in this field, many, many bright minds. On top of that, we loved the idea of working more closely with Juha from VURB (he is involved in many other projects as well). He was one of the speakers at the main conference and he has an almost intimidating infrastructure in place. So, in essence our investment – time wise – was very limited. Everything was just … there, waiting for an event to take place.

Touw

Every new event format is an experiment. The main conference was one and the Salon as well. We knew from others that Salons usually work very well, but we never organized one ourselves. But as always, the main receipe is: curate the best possible speakers and you will do just fine.

While we didn’t record the talks of Kars Alfrink (Hubbub), Katalin Gallyas (City of Amsterdam), James Burke (VURB) and Edwin Gardner (Volume Magazine) on video this time, we’re happy to point towards some reviews of the event. And if you ever get the chance to see them speak live – Kars for example will be at dconstruct -, do use it.

In that sense, we continue our journey with Cognitive Cities, it has been a smooth run so far. For now, thank you Amsterdam for being so kind to us.

Week 39

A frustrating pitch experience and a great time in Amsterdam with the first CoCities Salon and fine coffee.

Pitch Frustrations

The last two weeks have been frustrating for me when they should have been the opposite. I was supposed to work on a pitch with some of my favorite people from an agency. I knew the client pretty good as I’ve already worked with them. It could have been a great project with a good chance for the agency to win that pitch.

Unfortunately, the client had another idea. First some disagreement with the agency delayed the pitch which gave me some strange “in-between” time where I all of a sudden had nothing to do but also knew that I could be thrown back into full pitch hassle anytime. I’ve learned from these days that I should always keep a list of little tasks that I can do wherever and whenever I find the time for them. As the pitch was finally about the start, the client canceled the whole thing one day before as they had already decided to go with agencies they already knew. Classic.

For a super-small company like us, the cancelation of a full-paid 14-days-project is a big deal. Hopefully, I can make the best of the time that is all of a sudden available and pick up all the inquiries that I had to put off until the end of July. And fortunately, we’re also involved in another pitch that feels much better from the start. It’s well paid, with a decent amount of time and a proper pitch briefing. I’ve not given up hope that just once, after 4 years in this industry, I will experience a nice pitch with a fair end.

Amsterdam

#cocities salon #cocities salon by Johannes Kleske / (CC) BY-NC-SA

The good part about last week was our trip to Amsterdam. We were there for our first Cognitive Cities Salon and had an amazing time. Fortunate for us, our CoCities speaker Juha van’t Zelfde was our local support and did a fantastic job setting the whole thing up. We were happy guests of Trouw Amsterdam, a location introduced to us as the “Berghain of Amsterdam” in an abandoned newspaper printing facility. We didn’t have much time to promote the event as our main sponsor took until the last minute for their decision before they jumped ship, so we had around 40 people attending which made for a cozy atmosphere and enabled a nice round of discussions.

James Burke James Burke by Igor Schwarzmann / (CC) BY-SA

The best part for us was that this time, there was nothing to do through the evening so we could listen to our speakers Kars Alfrink, Katalin Galayas, James Burke and Edwin Gardner. And boy, did they deliver. If you have the chance to see any of them speak, make sure you can attend.

Photo by Johannes Kleske / (CC) BY-NC-SA

We spend most of the next day in our new favorite café (very careful here to avoid calling it coffeeshop when in the Amsterdam context), the Two For Joy Coffee Roastery at Frederiksplein. Super friendly staff, a very “gezellig” atmosphere with comfy sofas and free wifi and decent freshly made food. But the best (and for us most important part, obviously) is their coffee. They have it all Australian-coffee-culture-based Espresso beverages, all the pour-over hype stuff like the Chemex. And they take the time to teach you how to prepare and enjoy the coffee. A place after our heart.

After the travel craziness of the last weeks, it looks like we’re going to spend some more time in Berlin in the next weeks. Good to be home for a change. See you on Friday at #FatSIX.