Week 174

A report on a new, long-term client relationship and a few comments about this years Transmediale.

While we are not specialized on a specific industry, we do have preferred ones, in which we apply our services. Beside the finance and the automotive industries, it is the publishing business that is both plentiful in new commissions and close to our heart.

Over the years, we have worked for various players in the field. Newspapers, Magazines, huge B2B publishing conglomerates, both nationally and internationally. Both from conversations with the clients, at conferences and with peers, we know that we have gathered significant experience in this field over time.

It still came somewhat as a surprise to us when our friend Caroline pinged us about an intro that she wanted to make between somebody she knows who is looking for some high-level consulting to start a new venture.

Little did we know what we where getting into when we said “sure, lets do it”.

Unfortunately, yet again, I can’t name the client just yet. The setup is fresh, preparations and companies are being formalized. It would be premature to go into detail, but I can lay out a comprehensive outline of our scope of operations.

What is exactly that we do?

The client – who is a known, public figure in the German publishing world – wanted high-level, strategic consulting to setup various businesses. One, the core business, is up and running and has a traditional, well prevailed business model that doesn’t need much of our attention. The second business is still in the formalization phase and one where we help shape it from the ground up.

It is both fascinating and feels pertinent to be charged with shaping the business model, working together to find an aesthetic language and the people who might be able to execute it, consulting on potential business partners and deliberate whether or not this should be rolled out nationally or internationally first.

We are fortunate in that regard and we are looking forward to being in a position to contribute something of consequence and impact onto the German publishing business.

A few notes about Transmediale

Last Wednesday, this years Transmediale started. So far, both Johannes and I only attended single events at previous ones. This time, we decided early on that we wanted to dive in deeper and bought early-bird tickets for the whole conference. The theme of the conference – afterglow – and the exceptional curation of speakers hit close to home.

At times, the conference program didn’t seem too connected to the rest of the event and to be honest, I didn’t care for much of the media-art installations that I have seen. They seem outdated, too unequipped to significantly deal with a world in which nothing anymore is absurd. We know that we passed the Rubicon without knowing where to now. In that sense, maybe the installations indeed managed to express just that.

That being said, we mostly focused on the conference program and been rewarded for it, too. The Benjamin Bratton / Metahaven Black Stack keynote has been a cognitive fireworks, one which gave us a lot to chew on for the months to come. I’d have liked to say that I understood more of it than I did, but at least now I know which way to look further. Also, there Bratton’s book that is coming out soon and that will be on top of our digital book shelves.

Than there was the Art as Evidence keynote. It was a privilege and an honor to see Trevor Paglen and Laura Poitras speak about their work. Both in what they do and how they express themselves, they differed strongly from Jacob Appelbaum who’s contribution to the panel seemed out of place and a bit self-involved.1

On the last day, William Binney, Alexa O’Brien and Annie Machon spoke about their extraordinary work and contribution to society. While I was mesmerized by their contribution, I left the panel with a feeling that I only can contribute something to resolving an unmeasurable conflict by following Assange’s and Applebaum’s plea to join the government with one goal in mind: become a whistleblower. Not because this is actually an option, but because everything else pales in comparison with the sacrifice that whistleblowers bring.

At first glance, it felt amazingly out of place to have Sputniko! be the closing speaker of this year’s event, but it might have been deliberately and a strike of genius. To be sure, her presentation felt in many regards as exactly the kind of thing that Ben Bratton critisized in his TED talk on what was wrong with TED, but after many days of charged, emotional and heavy-weight thinking, we were exposed to a character – I’m not sure where the character ends and her true self begins – that strives to understand the complex world with all the tools at her disposal in a naive, truly playful way while being fully aware that reaching out is the key to affect and change people. In that sense, Bratton and Sputniko! are as far away on one spectrum as they can be, but something tells me that they do what they do to achieve similar outcomes for us all.

  1. I like to describe what he does this days as Assange-ing it. Make of it what you will, this is my personal opinion. That is not to intended to marginalize the tremendous work that he does in various positions and occasions. It’s the public speaking that is slowly evolving into something unfavorable…