What we read this week (28 Sept)

This week we read about the new things we are not seeing, how to beat a community of hackers, the potential last resort for journalism and Etsy’s new policy adjustments.

Quote of the week

As soon as you declare something a movement, everyone either wants to be a part of it or wants to destroy it.

James Bridle

Articles of the week

  • aeon: The machine gaze
    Will Wiles, having interviewed James Bridle on the New Aesthetic, draws some interesting conclusions about what it’s all about – “the new things we are not seeing,” because just as we are noticing these artifacts, they are becoming ordinary and unquestioned.
  • superflux: Design for the New Normal
    Anab Jain asks how you operate as a design company when your competitor is an open source community of hackers – selling 3d printed objects from virtual environments like Minecraft for a profit. In this presentation, she shows how superflux is approaching this challenge.
  • The Guardian: A £2-a-month levy on broadband could save our newspapers
    The Guardian’s David Leigh proposes a £2 levy – a tax, if you will – to save journalism. The tax could be collected through ISPs and regulated by an agency. That’s certainly a fresh edition to the discussion and we’re happy to promote it a bit while not necessarily agreeing with the proposal.
  • The Atlantic: A Conversation With Randall Munroe, the Creator of XKCD
    Megan Garber interviews Randall Munroe about the stories behind XKCD and its spinoff What If, as well as general ideas about work and staying creative and interesting. Some useful information in there for anyone who regularly creates content.
  • Wired: Can Etsy Go Pro Without Losing Its Soul?
    Good product sells itself. But what to do if our hands are tied by strict polies and orders keep coming in in large numbers? Being confronted with that, Etsy implemented a set of changes which hopefully will allow it to find a solution for those sought-after users who would like to expand their businesses.

Interview with Caroline Drucker

The first instalment of a series in which we interview people whose work we admire. This round’s subject: Caroline Drucker, Etsy Germany’s Country Manager.

We’re starting a new project. We’re interviewing some people in fields either directly or tangentially related to ours, and whose work we admire. We hope to glean something from these interviews that will be helpful for ourselves and others working in the digital sphere, and for your inspiration.

First up: Caroline Drucker, a friend of ours who now works just down the road.

Caroline Drucker (@bougie on Twitter) is the Country Manager for Etsy Germany. Prior to Etsy she worked as Product Manager and Partner Marketing Manager for SoundCloud, the world’s leading social sound platform. Caroline also has significant experience in media publishing – playing a key role in establishing VICE magazine in the German market; managing the business development for the leading literary and creative quarterly DUMMY and spearheading the digital strategy behind the re-launch of der Freitag, a left-leaning weekly newspaper.

Caroline graduated Magna Cum Laude from Bryn Mawr College with a double major in German and The Growth and Structure of Cities. Born in Canada, she currently resides in Berlin.

What are the issues you’re currently fascinated with, or problems you’re currently trying to solve?

How to communicate passion. Simply the word passion is so overused, it sounds a bit precious. But at Etsy, I can’t think of another word to describe what we do. Our vision is to fundamentally change the world by building a people-powered economy that is sustainable, responsible and profitable, all while increasing the wellbeing for those involved. To demonstrate that dedication, we’ve been certified as a B-Corporation. Everything at the company, from the lowest level of code to the handmade desks in our office, is executed with a poignant level of craftsmanship. The passion for what we do every day and what we believe the world can be, sets us apart. We need to show, not tell this passion. So, how do we do this for a mass audience within Germany?

You’ve been working with creative communities for a while. What have you learned so far about working in this setting that you can apply in your new position at Etsy?

Tools are by far the most important thing for any craftsperson. Just like they may need a soldering iron to make a circuit board, they also need a way to share or monetize that work. Offering simple tools that create value is key.

Etsy has been around since 2005 (profitable since 2009), has over 15 million community members globally and is often regarded as a benchmark for quality in the start-up world. In other words, there’s more than just a great foundation for exceptional tools, there’s a skyscraper already. At Etsy I’ll work with the team to continue to refine the product for Germany, amongst many, many other things.

You’ve worked with makers of both digital and physical things. What tips do you have for working with these communities?

  • People’s ingenuity will never cease to surprise, or even at times, slightly terrify you.
  • A great support team is the best way to turn a bad situation into a good one. With the right internal tools, this is possible at scale!
  • Community building means knowing and loving your community. You have to engage and excite them. The only way you can do this is to know them, well.
  • Support your community by teaching them the skills to support themselves.
  • Have fun!

What’s the next big craft project you’ve got in the pipeline?

A corkboard made out of wine bottle corks. I’m currently working on collecting the needed materials.

What’s your coffee setup at home?

A Dualit Coffee System and a grinder. We buy our beans from the Barn primarily. My partner makes the coffee because before a coffee I can’t bear to work the coffee machine. He says he makes me coffee out of love, but I’m pretty sure it’s fear.

Interviews in this series:

  1. Caroline Drucker
  2. Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino