Coffeeshophilosophy!

The Blog-entry: “How Starbucks might kill freelancing – or the other way around” inspired me to set coffeeshops in a larger frame and constitute a coffeeshopcentric-worldimage, just as some other guys did in a different way (whose names I forgot).

Anyway: Let’ start with that well-known Globalization-everywhere thesis: Just as people are travelling more, national and cultural borders erode, goods are shipped from any place to your house, so is a working place not a local place anymore. And it doesn’t need to be: communication is possible via phone, blackberry, skype, mail, (corporate-) wikis, video-conferences. Information isn’t even anymore local on your notebook’s harddrive: Data is stored and edited on servers around the world — cloud computing, driven by Google-Documents, for example.

Skimming several centuries: Agriculture, Industry, Service, and now the Information age. And information is not bound to any place, they are in, with and between people, not in shabby offices.

And now you have the decision to work where?

Yes, in a coffeeshop.

Coffeeshops are cosy, nicely decorated, and if not so, they draw at least interesting people. The TAZ-Café in Berlin with the proximity of the editorial office is a good example for that: Cool, self-considered-“somehow”-left-wing people are just sitting around. With or without notebook. People, definitely with notebook, are what you meet in St. Oberholz, also in Berlin (picture says everything). The most important thing is, that there is a current influx of people. And W-Lan.

Starbucks is out! It is extremely expensive. But they probably were the first with reliable W-Lan-connection, years ago. I think that Starbucks today draws rather established businessmen- and women. And tourists.

But working in a café is nothing new, although the hippy trendy terms “coffeeshop” and “freelancing” suggest so. Also, this is not a new phenomenon of the information age.

Philosopher Jürgen Habermas wrote in” The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere” that coffee-houses are a sign of a new openess, bringing forth enlightnment. This characterizes the 18th century — No W-LAN and Starbucks around, can you imagine that?

Around the same time (18th cent.) the Tatler-Magazine (still existing today in a modern form) even had categories such as White’s chocolate-house (for gallantry, pleasure, entertainment) and Will’s coffee-house (poetry). Of course, the 18th century allowed only elitist groups to be in the coffee-houses that often.

Coffehouses, not yet coffeeshops were basically places for an exchange of ideas. A social place, that constantly remind us of the world outside, and isn’t this important for a constant flow of ideas? On the other hand, you are observed and need to look at least a bit busy. Seeing and to be seen! I guess this was extremely important for intellectuals and writers: Influence — giving and taking — and self-positioning among elitist circles. Networking and Self-marketing, as we call it today.

Let’s jump to newer times: Harry Potter was written in The Elephant House I once visited in Edinburgh. As I remember from a JK Rowling documentation, she just flet from her massive problems at home. This is the escapist-notion of coffee-houses: fleeing from problems, being among coffee-drinking, chatting people with the illusion that live goes on in a coffee-drinking-way.

So, would we have great literature such as Harry Potter or older books, whithout Coffee-houses? Or the other way around, are there coffee-houses because of creatives like JK Rowling? The HerrHorn.com Blog asks, what was first, the person or the institution:

“I’m wondering how it actually happened that freelancing is now so closely associated with coffee shops? Was it coffee shops first and suddenly everyone thought, “Oh, brilliant… let me freelance, now that I can hang out at this coffee shop all day and night”. Or was it freelancers first until one morning over a cup of coffee some business school graduate thought “Oh, brilliant… all those freelancers want to hang out at a coffee shop all day and night”. Hen and egg thingy, I guess.”

My answer: If we translate freelancers with free-thinkers and coffeeshops with coffee-houses there is a clear answer: Free-thinking within the enlightnment period allowed for coffee-houses. People just wanted to have an exchange with other people and not to read alone in their bedroom. Thoughts kindle things, not reverse. Coffee-houses then promoted free-thinking further and further. A transformation of the public sphere, speaking in the terms of Habermas ,was taking place.

In the W-LAN-coffeeshop-era there is no barrier anymore to communicate worldwide. Interestingly people seem to feel isolated in their rooms, even though facebook, skype and twitter allow for a communication overdose. No, people still want to got to coffeehouses or special Webmeetings (I blogged about Webmonday Hannover or SocialBar for example.) Being physically at a communicative place and being simultaneously virtual around the world; this needs training, otherwise it is extremely exhausting, as I myself figured out when doing everything but fulfilling nothing.

“Wir nennen es Arbeit” (We are calling it work) describes how the digital Bohème challenges a new formulation of what work actually is. The French term “Bohème” also stresses the fact, that this “class” of people was and is still a minority that live excentrically and financially insecure.

Working with the absolute need of W-LAN in coffeeshops is just the consequence of the extremely flexible We-are-calling-it-work in connection with the instant possibility of real-life as well as virtual communication. This new Bohème also hopes to find new projects to work on and to connect worldwide. Or to rephrase an old slogan “Bohèmians unite!”

To come to a point: Freelancing and coffeshops with W-LAN are a great supplementation. Coffeeshops will search for the audience of the creative class, this is just a free-market mechanism. Otherwise competitors will attract the creative class.

Dear HerrHorn.com, there is no reason to think that freelancing will die without coffee-shops with W-LAN (As this WallStreetJournal story suggests). And yes, I think the consequences of a — however improbable — dying of coffeehouses with W-LAN would be extremely severe in a creative and cultural sense.

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August 14, 2009 at 1:53 am 1 comment

CouchsurfingStories#1

I have several drafts of couchsurfing stories saved in wordpress. It’s this travelling, non-commercial website I also mention in my About section.

But I could never decide on writing further. The story about the British movie freak where I watched Lola runs in Manchester for the first time. Or the story about the former employee of the old German Parliament in Bonn in the 80s, that I met (or: “couchsurfed”) in Berlin. He: living lonely, sorrounded by all his cats and his massive flat-screen. Second occupation: Former tax-advisor for tax havens.  I just arrived, we drank wine, I had my own room, he told me about his cats and his live in London, his witnessing of 9/11 in NY. The greatness of conversation corresponded to the luxurious room, bath towel on bed — just like in a hotel. I just couldn’t decide.

Which story is worth writing down? Or is this senseless, because all these stories are worth nothing without the mental images you personally collected at your journey? Maybe you know the situation, when people tell you about a travelling story, but you are just not interested, because they don’t  mean anything to you.

So I won’t write down any of my stories, but a different one;

In a park here in Hannover, I met a British guy who is into literature and travelling around with almost nothing. No plans where to go next. “I don’t plan” he said.

Some months ago, he just came from a faraway country into London. What a coincidence: G-20 Summit. Big thing. Financial crisis. Estimated 20.000 protesters that pilgrimaged to a rather small square just around the Bank of England.

He could decide on which group to join: Autonomous ones, anarchists, ecological groups, tourists, handy-cam ones, undecided ones, people with a Bank-of-England coffin, having the picure of the BoE-executive printed on it. Or just follow a man on a bike made up like a pirate ship, himself wearing a pirate costume?

He didn’t decide to join a group, he just walked alone with his script among the crowd to detect literary essence. He wasn’t present, but just documenting what was going on. But was anyone present actually? Everybody filming everybody: The police filming the protesters, the protesters filming the police with handy cams. Journalists filming the filming people. Helicopters filming the people filming the people. And he noting it down. So who was present?

This is the Youtube-Age. Anyway, there were agressive protests, just as expected; People throwing stones into the Bank, even trying to burn it, but being stopped by other protesters because bankers where upstairs. Computers being smashed, drum n’ bass music played in the background from sound systems in shopping-carts. A japanese girl with platform shoes dancing to rave music, sorrounded by helicopters.

I could listen even longer…but the protests had its end, so his story does. Later the evening, I saw him vanishing, just around the corner at Hannover’s federal bank, walking home with his host carrying his bike. He is on the road again, never seen again, but stories that stay.

A story like a journey. No youtube, no picures. Just words. And an internet plattform like couchsurfing.com that gives you the opportunity for such acquaintances. Sometimes that’s all you need.

August 11, 2009 at 1:47 am 1 comment

featuring: SocialBar Hannover

Gerade von der ersten SocialBar aus Hannover zurück: Immer noch begeistert von dem städteweiten Konzept. Klar, es könnten mehr Mitmacher da sein, aber 12 Web-Begeisterte/Unternehmenslustige Geister ist für den Anfang sicherlich nicht schlecht.

Und wir sind hier ja in Hannover, und nicht in Berlin (50-100 Besucher). Aber vielleicht macht ja gerade das den Reiz aus.

Ich hielt als kleinen Aufwärmer eine Präsentation über den HUB Berlin, mit dem Tool Prezi, das mich immer noch schwer begeistert, seitdem ich es im März 2009 in Berlin gesehen habe. Kann mir garnicht mehr vorstellen, mit einem anderen Tool Präsentationen zu machen. Schaut’s euch an:

http://prezi.com/138561/
prezi-lookIn diesem Blog wurde schon viel zu dem HUB-Co-Working Konzept gesagt, aber bei der anschließenden Diskussion und schon in der Vorbereitung ist mir noch folgendes deutlich geworden:

Die weltweite HUB Plattform wird erst dann vollkommen, wenn ein soziales Netzwerk für Synergien (sowas wie deepametha — es war mal in der Diskussion) verfügbar ist. Und wenn ich als interessierter Co-Worker auch einen Tarif buchen kann, mit dem ich mich einfach in andere HUBs setzen kann. Diese Woche London, dann Berlin. Ob das zur Zeit arbeitsmarkpolitisch sinnvoll ist, ist eine andere Diskussion. Aber es gibt sicherlich bald Projekte und Initiativen, die in etlichen Städten sitzen, und dann viel reisendes Personal haben. Der größte Vorteil bleibt: Im HUB gibt es nicht nur die technische Infrastruktur, sondern auch die kreative Umgebung. Aber: Weltweit, unter Kollegen — Digitale Bourgoisie global, der HUB als Home, noch ist das Zukunftsluft.

Zurück nach Hannover: Zwei Inititiativen sind mir im Kopf geblieben. Die erste war “Deine Stimme gegen Armut” . Unter Twitter ist sie unter kimgordonc zu erreichen. Sie arbeitet bei der Trägerorganisation Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung.

Zweitens hat A.H. aus Flensburg ihr Küstenpop Festival vorgestellt. Ein junges Festival, das in diesem Jahr das erste Mal stattfand. In der anschließenden Diskussion bei matschiger Lasagne tauschten einige SocialBar-ler dann Hinweise aus, wie man die Projektplanung und das Marketing (Website etc.) bei einem Festival besser bewältigen könne (z.B. mit WordPress/Google-Documents). Also genau das, wofür eine SocialBar da ist; Netzwerken, nett reden.

Beim nächsten Mal bitte ich um Präsentationen mit vielen bunten Bildern…oder gleich Prezi :).

Wie geht es weiter mit der SocialBar in Hannover? Ich habe mir sagen lassen, dass es die pl0gBar in Hannover gibt, und den WebMontag. Erstere ist alle zwei Wochen, also vielzu oft, um neues Publikum anzuziehen. Der WebMontag findet wohl alle paar Monate statt, dieses Jahr nur zwei Mal. Im Mai waren viele Leute da, ich fand ihn aber bei meinem ersten Mal irgendwie ungemütlich: Zu groß, schlechte Location (muffiges Vereinsheim), irgendwie unpersönlich.

Für die nächste SocialBar würde ich vorschlagen, dass sich mindestens zwei Präsentatoren finden sollten. Und der Veranstaltungsrythmus sollte bei 2 Monaten liegen.

Auf die nächste SocialBar! Danke an alle Zuhörer! Danke an Jörn für die Organisation!

Anbei noch ein Foto von der SocialBar in Berlin im grandiosen TAZ-Café (Als Vorbild sozusagen)

August 7, 2009 at 1:08 am 9 comments

featuring: Social Business

I already wrote about the HUB-Berlin on this Blog, but as I want this personal Blog to be about the ideas that drive me, I want to add another important topic: Social Business. And starting with a very basic question: What is this?

I read a good example of Social Business genius Muhammad Yunus (Nobel Peace Prize Winner) in his autobiographical accounts “Banker to the Poor.” To keep it short:

Imagine a bridge that is needed in a very poor, underdeveloped place.  A bridge, that is extremely necessary for the rural population to transport goods and earn a living. How can you run this? Old way: An investor builds it, runs it, makes profits through the toll, wants to make more and more profits. Or the investor brings the money to a different place.

This is the old way. The new way, it’ s Social Business: The ownership of the bridge is given in the hands of the actual population in the form of shares. Micro-credits can make it affordable to poorer people. Money made out of the bridge-tolls will be reinvested; either in similar projects or a higer share-value can be realized and it definitely goes to people that need it.

I wrote: The ownership is given. But who gives it into the hands of people that really need it? A company that is founded by a passionate  person (e.g. Yunus), but also makes sure, that ordinary people can own shares, that need the services of the company and also are willing to contribute to the company in more than a material sense. Investors should have an emotional association, more than the abstract worth of the share.

And here we are in Berlin, in the HUB Berlin. It is a cooperative, run by the self eG, shares are mainly owned by people who are either experienced in projects/initiatives that are not neccessarily Social Business, but new and creative. And these people also want to be sorrounded by people that think about making the world a better place in an entrepreneurial sense or in a private sense (LOHAS –  Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability). This is the difference of sitting with a Notebook in Starbucks and pretending to work.

As it is with the bridge, which seems to be a totally different example: People can invest money and their ideas (look at the HUB’s events on the Blog) and earn later on in a material as well as immaterial sense (There is nothing more worth than seeing positive change in your immediate environment!).

Of course, Social Business also sounds like a marketing idea, and lots of people want a softer definition of Social Business, because some think, it is social enough to employ people. Which is wrong because if people don’t see the sensibleness of their work and their impact, might become alienated (see Marx) or less motivated and productive (see Adam Smith). However, there is still this idea that Social Business is just a new formulation of the old CSR/Corporate Social Responsibility. I organized an event for the self eG in March and here is a report:

_____________________________________

Article: Social Business is hot in the HUB

With about 40 participants on the “Social Business” dialogue evening in the HUB, the self eG proved its power to bring together people from various fields. Norbert Kunz and Ralf Weiß introduced the topic “Social Business” with their expertise. With iq-consult, Kunz enables young people to found their own business.

The second speaker, Ralf Weiß from akzente advises large companies on Corporate-Social-Responsibility (CSR). Clear is: it is not clear what Social Business is, and whether there even needs to be a definition. Ralf Weiß presented the example of BASF chemicals working together with Noble-Peace-Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus in a joint venture. He referred to a broad variety of CSR concepts and pointed out that CSR and social business may contribute to a further development of social market economy. Norbert Kunz stated clearly, that a Social Business’ main aim is improving social aspects of society. It is not creating profit from clever and innovative products. “Bill Gates’ Microsoft is not a Social Business, because Software avoids much waste.”

However, Kunz stressed that he cannot coin the term Social Business, but that arbitrariness must be avoided in order to distinguish between charity and CSR: “It’s on Social Businesses to fulfil society’ s needs, whereas demands are fulfilled by the “regular” profit-driven market economy.”

Afterwards, the “Social Business Café” allowed for a dialogue and sharing of the experience of all participants. Hans Jürgen Döring, a new member of the self eG, shared the following on his table group: “The importance of a Social Business definition was stressed, but I think of a seal, maybe also a legal Social Business status for companies in the future”. Julia Homilius from stratum GmbH, a CSR-research and consultancy company, is sure that CSR and Social Business belongs together. In her table group, she brought the topic of a CSR-seal forward, to ensure sustainability. She does not see a clear separation of CSR and Social Business: “The aims are basically the same.”

There are two lines of argumentation: Some see a strict separation from Charity and CSR, others see Social Business as an inbetween solution of Charity and CSR. The self eG looks forward to another dialogue, to bring forward the Social Business idea in society, or as Döring says: “Social Business is not a short termtopic, no trend. There needs to be more dialogue among different groups of society.”

_____________________________________

If anyone wants to hear abot the HUB Berlin life, come to Social Bar Hannover on 6 August. I think the Social Bar is also a HUB in its literal sense, because it offers almost no restraints on what you want to present or hear about, and is therefore very good to connect to people with ideas of any kind.

Join here: http://socialbar.de/wiki/Hannover

July 20, 2009 at 12:11 am Leave a comment

Self-censorship…

…that I needed to do on one post almost two months ago. I simply deleted the blog-entry.

I was walking around the last days with a bad conscience, that what I wrote might not be appropriate. But by reading the entry again tonight for just some seconds,  I quickly decided to flush it.

Thus: WARNING to all prospective bloggers: Blogging does not necessarily bear clear thoughts, but can bring out the very worst in you. Blogging is not thinking, but more sports (as ironically a German left-wing blog-provider blogsport.de calls their plattform).

Stats were fine the last days, so probably some people read the bulls*** I published. Forgive me — thank you.

July 9, 2009 at 11:14 pm Leave a comment

Dear Twitter!

It happened to me that I registered to your service in January 2008. I didn’t like you then, and I have been quoted on a different Twitter-Account, that you are “a fart in the landscape”.

I was wrong, I noticed a year later. You are a waste of time, a tiring disussion topic (people keep on asking me about you…and unfortunately, I like to respond). A party spoiler. That’s Luhmann’s self-referenciality: Communication becomes a topic itself.

Anyway, with the TweetDeck-Software, you allow me to filter interesting tweets. Going to Bristol soon, I see that people are quite passionate about the Banksy exhibition and that they are twittering like hell: 1 new message Bristol, 1 new message Bristol, 1 new message Bristol…(btw: Hell must have a twitter account I guess…)

Connecting to the world becomes easier, for sure. But at which costs and with which superficiality are topics dealt with?

I have a conspiracy theory, Twitter: Maybe you are only allowing to talk about yourself (as Blogs mostly do, Blogs talk about Twitter and reverse), and you avoid people having talks about real life or serious matters. You are the matrix, the machine for fiction, and the “old reality” is only surface…the real world is you, stupid 140-signs messages. The Twitter rabbit hole.

But: Iran. Yeah, I should not forget to talk about this, because you did a great job here. You are great for mobilizing masses, you are not that easy to censor. But maybe there comes the time, you are abused for evil-purposes, because people twittered too much might not think carefully and informed anymore.

Maybe I just need the blue-matrix pill: The good old reality. I am waiting for your Tweet.

BTW: Supernews! Also check out the other series…they made me quite addicted.

July 2, 2009 at 11:32 pm 1 comment

promoting: HUB Berlin Sustainability Week

I gonna try it for the 1.000.000 time. This is just one sentence, straightly typed into my notebook to describe the HUB-idea:

The HUB is an international connection of passionate people, working professionally or semi-professionaly on innovative projects. The HUB provides new people with new ideas almost every day.

Yeah,  sounds like the usual-fluffy, exuberant marketing sentence. But it’s really that way in the HUB.

Have a look at the programme a former colleague is responsible for. It’s about the sustainability week, consisting of discussions, guests, thematic lunches, a movie screening. A week all about sustainability to protect the environment. In the HUB, which is a larg, open workspace, also whithin the sutainability week.

I participated in several sustainability events when I worked in the HUB and — being honest — I didn’t become much more sustainable. Only slightly more. But I definitely became more aware of the topic and the need of sustainability. One doesn’t change from one day to the other. There’s firstly an awareness and questioning-yourself-process.

Maybe it’s not that good to eat meat every da (apart from diet issues), maybe I should take the bike? Maybe I should buy bio-coffee? Maybe I should take a bio- internet-service-provider? Maybe bio-products aren’t that expensice? Maybe, maybe, maybe…

So, if you want to search for the right questions on how to act sustainable, attend this event in the stylish Berlin-Kreuzberg Loft.

I am sure (and this is hopefully also right for me), the actions will follow the questions.
Link to the HUB Berlin Blog

June 22, 2009 at 1:06 am 1 comment

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About jannesr.wordpress.com Blog

This Blog has no real mission, but it is just a place for me to publish stories.
I like to have the pressure to simply write something down for an abstract audience. Bristrouble.wordpress.com was another attempt of me to do this when I was in Bristol. See below.

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