I love Germany. I don’t know how many times I’ve said that over the course of the last 21 years and I’m pretty sure that I’ll be saying it for many years to come because I really do love living here. I love the people. I love the cities. I love the language (sort of) and I love the food and the beer.
Liebes Netzgemeinde, I love you too but MEINE FRESSE, you’re bringing me down.
Don’t you realise what you’ve got going for you? Don’t you realise that it’s OK to try things out, get them wrong, dust yourself down and try again? Or not try again if the idea was rubbish? Don’t you realise that you have things like the re:publica are rough precious stones that you need to look after and polish and that krautreporter is a good thing? They may not be perfect but they are good things.
I’m sick to the back teeth of the moaning and the groaning that happens every time somebody in this country (or German bit of the Internet) takes a stance and actually tries to do something. I’m sick of the trolls; the mundane whining about how everybody else is doing it wrong, from people who have never tried to do something themselves.
You think re:publica is rubbish? Then do something else, make something else and do something better.
One of the key statements from this year’s re:publica was the fact that we’re locked in a room with Tyrannosaurus rex on crack (the NSA) but we don’t really notice it because we keep getting distracted by a pretty poodle doing funny tricks. There’s something else in that room, though. Something far more dangerous; it’s dark, gloomy and terrifyingly mundane. It’s the shadowy form of The Netzgemeinde Ego and it’s sucking out the very soul out of everything that it loves.
Update: Felix Schwenzel has a point of view. You can read it here (it’s in German). I’d just like to point out that there is a massive difference between constructive criticism and whining like spoilt children. Felix seems to think that this post is about krautreporter. It isn’t. It’s about taking two steps forward only to be dragged three steps backwards. It’s about going nowhere fast. Good morning.
As Simon points out in his wonderful post, there has a been a fundamental shift in who is cool in business. People who worked in advertising were once magnificent and cool but now people who work in technology are cool. Bankers were never cool. Bankers are shit.
This isn’t a post about advertising, it is a post about the fact that you look like a massive anus when you put on a pair of Google-Glass(es), and I believe that this has something to do with this shift in coolness.
As Simon rightly says advertising folk should pop over to the SXSW and learn lots of new things like programming, smoking pulled pork and finding out what cosplay is and, from what I’ve seen, most of these things (except for programming) have been going on. Well done everyone. It is however, hugely amusing to watch formally(this spelling mistake was corrected by Sebastian per Snapchat. Thank you.) formerly cool people assume the posture of currently cool people and I’m rather enjoying the awkwardness of advertising folk engaging in Oscar-Selfie mode and trying to build a business model around it. Other highlights include bewildered advertising executives starring at dancing cosplay characters and 99% of the people who had their photograph taken next to grumpy cat.
Some Germans sat in a house and waffled on about something. Live. Every morning.
All this is fine. All this is good. Hell, even I’ve been messing around with technology (actually I just wrote some filth and the technologists with photshopped finger nails did all the coding) and we put the Internet up the backside of a Teddie Ruxpin. Yes, messing around is fine but there are a few cultural crimes you can commit whilst making the move from one cool to the other. The biggest crime of all is wearing Google-Glass and letting someone take a photograph of you. There is just no excuse for it. You look like a massive anus. You don’t look cool and you don’t look dangerous. Big Bang Theory shouldn’t be your benchmark. One of the most remarkable comments from that ridiculously dull Edward Snowden livestream yesterday (did you notice that, of all the live streaming technologies they could have chosen, they went with Google Hangout? Think about that.) was the statement that “the cryptographers are pissed”. That’s breaking bad for you right there.
As I mentioned yesterday over on the Facebook channel, it might be pertinent to step back and take a good, long hard look at your life if you let someone take a photograph of you wearing Google-Glass. The gentleman who was wearing the fake Google Glass at the re:publica last year really needs to get a good hard bloody purchase on his life.
This, it would appear, is a nasty little side effect of the paradigm shift in coolness: another is the fact that artists, art historians and thespians will need to start to learn how to program algorithms.
I’m standing in room with about 150 other people. I know most of them. I don’t really need to to read the names on the name tags, as I’ve met most of them before. At the same event but on a different first Tuesday of the month. The name tags have little coloured dots on them: red dots mean that the person is an investor, green dots means that the person works for something called a start-up and yellow dots means that the person works for an agency or is some kind of consultant. Both yellow and green dots are on the look out for money. I’m wearing both.
The room we’re standing in is something called a “lab”. Or an incubator or something. It’s situated in the grimmer part of Frankfurt but the city seems to be pumping cash into this particular street, a street which a slightly over zealous PR “expert” has called “Silicon Alley”. This particular “lab” is home to three or four start-ups and their mentor, a gentleman named “Frank”, is skipping around from person to person, doing something which has come to be known as “doing what Frank does”. Nobody seems to know what that actually is, least of all the people employing Frank.
The version of me standing in this room has hair, is much younger and is insanely arrogant. This version of me has no idea that the bubble is about to burst, that within the next 12 months all this will be gone, that Frank will be selling tickets to pink slip parties and that most of the people in this room will end up with a well paid job in some business consultancy somewhere. This version of me doesn’t know that he is about to become very ill and has already created irreparable cracks in the foundation of his marriage.
I finish my beer, leave the building and cycle home.
That was all 14 years ago. I’d forgotten about most of it. A couple of weeks ago someone asked me to put together a list of 5 books that were really important to me, which I did, and then Sascha had a diva moment because I’d not included any of his books (he’s written some). So I bought one. On Amazon. The novel. His first one. It was odd reading something written by someone you kind of know. I was worried that it might be a tiny bit shit. It wasn’t. It is actually brilliant. It includes marbles, putting shiny conkers in your mouth and a piglet. It is also about the Internet and the start-up bubble. The first one. I find it truly startling how accurate the book is and how close it was to my experience of this time in Germany. It also made me look at the old version of myself (the one with hair) and who I am today and I’m pleased with how the middle aged version how turned out – regardless (or maybe because) of the hiccups along the way. I’m still arrogant, I’ve just lost the insanity (and the hair).
“In many esoteric systems of interpretation, the Fool is usually interpreted as the protagonist of a story, and the Major Arcana is the path the Fool takes through the great mysteries of life and the main human archetypes. This path is known traditionally in Tarot as the Fool´s Journey, and is frequently used to introduce the meaning of Major Arcana cards to beginners.
In his Manual of Cartomancy, Grand Orient has a curious suggestion of the office of Mystic Fool, as a part of his process in higher divination. The conventional explanations say that The Fool signifies the flesh, the sensitive life, depicting folly at the most insensate stage. When The Fool appears in a spread, he is a signal to strip down to the irreducible core, and interrogate whether the Querant’s self-vision is obscured. It may also be a warning that significant change is coming. Another interpretation of the card is that of taking action where the circumstances are unknown, confronting one’s fears, taking risks, and so on.”
So, you know, I left. I liked google plus a lot but the real name policy is such a bloody farce that I decided I couldn’t stay anymore. Which is a shame. Because I really liked it.
I’m hearing rumours that the argument is still going on, it may even be picking up a little bit of momentum. I get emails and things that tell me so, which feels odd – like I’m some kind of dissident or something. I asked people on Diaspora to say hi to people on g+ too, which is really odd and probably silly but I miss them.
That was the thing I liked most about it over on google+. The people. The new people, who funnily enough, were mostly German. There was that Sixtus chap, Kathrin Passig, Markus Angermeier, Christoph Kappes, Torrid Luna and many, many more that I had never heard of before and thoroughly enjoyed following. There were of course a lot of old chums (you know who you are). There was, of course, Herr Breitenbach. There was, of course, Sascha. Many thanks, hello and much love to you all. I’m alright. I’m not dead. There is a life after google+. Logun’s run, etc.
So, I’ll be blogging again. I’ll probably be writing more about this kind of stuff for a while. About identity. About the way of the web. About me and probably about you.