Posts tagged ‘Politik’

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

Das Alter ist unausweichlich – Liebe möglich!

…mit diesem Titel möchte ich eine Buchdeckel-Phrase des Roman-Pornographen Michel Houellebecq umschreiben. Da heißt es in Die Möglichkeit einer Insel:

Das Alter ist unausweichlich — Liebe unmöglich

Und in der Tat: In Houellebecqs Distopie begehen alte Menschen Selbstmord, weil sie, so beschreibt es der Roman in all seiner zynischen Widerwärtigkeit, keinen Nutzen mehr haben.  Menschen werden in diesem Roman künstlich reproduziert, und wiedergeboren. So können sie dem hohen unästhetischem, sexuell-wertlosen, da lustlosen Alter entgehen (Das ist zumindest Houellebecqs Darstellung).

Glücklicherweise ist es in der realen Welt nicht so: Alt sein hat Konjunktur, befindet sich  vielleicht gerade in einem Prozess der ästhetischen Umdeutung. Marginalisierte und diskriminierte Gruppen haben in der Vergangenheit oft versucht, durch offensiven Umgang mit Ihren Stereotypen versucht, aus der gesellschaftlichen Deckung zu kommen (So z.B in der Feministen- und Homosexuellenbewegung).

Geschieht vielleicht gerade das gleiche mit alten Menschen (ich behaupte, das sind pensionierte Menschen ab 60)?

In Hannover fällt mir gerade eine große Plakataktion eine Pharmakonzerns auf “Helden der Liebe” in der U-Bahn auf. Erst nach einer Recherche erkannte ich, dass diese Serie für pharmazeutische Produkte gegen Erektionsstürungen wirbt. Dennoch ist im Zentrum der Plakatserie eine glückliche Liebe von alten Menschen offensiv dargestellt. Ein interessanter Gegensatz zu dem vorherschenden Jugenddogma in der Werbung.

Zur Zeit wird auch der DVD-Release des Films Wolke 9 mit Anzeigen beworben. So offensiv wurde noch nie mit alter Sexualität und Liebe umgegangen. Auf Youtube finden sich schon auf der ersten Suchseite auch italienische- und spanische Varianten von Trailern — ein Zeichen des Erfolgs dieses deutschen Films im Ausland.

Nein, Houellebecq, Altern ist zwar unausweichlich, aber Liebe möglich! Sicherlich geht es in meinem ersten Beispiel auch um die Profitinteressen eines Pharma-Herstellers, aber immerhin weisen diese darauf hin, dass in dieser Generation noch was geschieht, und die Bedürfnisse dieser Altersklasse auch beworben werden dürfen und müssen — in einer offensiven Art und Weise, wie es auch für junge Produkte geschieht.

UPDATE: Ich habe ganz vergessen, das Foto einzubinden, das mich zu diesem Blogeintrag inspiriert hat:alte-menschenDanke an Steffi, die das Foto auf  Durchfahrt nach Rinteln geschossen hat.

June 1, 2009 at 9:09 pm Leave a comment

Becoming Obama — Workshop report

I had the chance to host a workshop this weekend. The title “Becoming Obama” just came into my mind like two weeks ago. And i finally presented was in a cloister in Rinteln — worth enough to mention. For intro look at my blogentry before.

We started “Becoming Obama” (unexpectedly) on a sunday morning — the last of the 2,5 conference days. So I was concerned about the 10 participants being exhausted. Plus there was another workshop on the “Grundeinkommen” (Basic income)  following mine, but they were flexible so that i could present the fully intented 2 hours.

So there was a tight last-day schedule and a freezy cloister: But under these circumstances, thanks to good preparation,  i still could change some agenda points (without the participants noticing it), created a mindmap less and could come to the points quicker. The participants worked out their flipchart-paper outside in the sun, in the cloister yard.

I got positive “quality feedback” from people I considered to be quite critical in the sessions before and I still feel energized by this (look at this entries posting time…). Really: There’s no better motivation than participants doing the tasks you thought about, working concentrated and had great output. Niko, host of the whole “Wissen 2.0” weekend said:

“It’s fascinating with all the influences — i may read the biography of Obama.”

This is the best compliment you can make on a workshop, as the design of a workshop should always make people want more — besides the secondary or tertiary aim to inform the participants. 

So what was the concept like? The workshop was introduced by a video and a Powerpoint-Karaoke. Then I facilitated a brainstorm what people connect personally to Obama (Agenda-Point “You and Obama”). Critics would call this method Rorschaching, thus projecting own personality on a different subject/person. But this method was intendet to introduce this workshop not on Obama facts but rather on a biography in general (s.b. “closing”)

After the warming-up, the core of the workshop lasted 45 minutes: Particpants read excerpts of various stations in Obamas career (In the room I created a spatial connection to Kenya, Chicago, Washington, Hawai, Indonesia).  I called it an “Obama Village”. If participants were already experienced, they could skim through the 2 Obama autobiographies or the full Wikipedia-entry on Obama’s policy and create a flipchart at the “freestyle-station”. Excerps from the autobiography were chosen by me on the criteria of being easy to read, as well as providing a good mixture of private stories and political ones (…the unpolitical is political!). Then, Participants presented them in drawn tag-clouds on flipcharts or mind-maps.

Closing: We relaxed with a Simpsons-Clip. I continued with a model on how to look on a biography — with the metaphor of a tree: The ant on top-branches can easily walk to the ground again. But it’s nearly impossible for an ant to go to a certain branch through the maze-like tree structure. Coincidentially a similar metaphor was used some hours after my workshop in the ending assembly of all 30 conference-attendants in an emotional video by Steve Jobs;

“Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

I closed my workshop with another emotional video, comprising the backwards/forwards idea in a biography, but also a “change message”.

If you wanna have the concept, please mail me. I am also opening a facebookgroup concerning the further development of “Wissen 2.0” workshop lines. Simply join it, if you want to know more.

The excerpts read in “Obama Village” part of the workshop were:

Washington: S. 46-49 (The Audacity…), S. 189 – 193 (TA)

Chicago: 348-352 (TA), S. 207-211 (Dreams from…)

Hawai: 23-27 (Dreams from…)

Indonesien: 271-276 (TA)

Kenya: 304 – 309 (Dreams from…)

May 12, 2009 at 1:29 am Leave a comment

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