Today I wandered over to the rent increase protest camp on Kottbusser Tor. Some initial unformed thoughts.
It seems that the occupy style encampment has become quite a popular way of making a point. The crop of professional protesters and squatters that congregate around these camps are not very inviting towards deeper engagement. If you have no deep interest in the issues at hand, you might go over and read a couple of the pamphlets, but probably not much more.
The creative workers I know who like myself work and/or live in Kreuzberg are not very concerned with the issues plaguing these people. Most of them are in fact in direct competition with these people whose home rents are being spiked and liberalized. As soon as the renters are moved out, their houses are very rapidly turned around, sold on the overheated Berlin real-estate market to investors and then rented out at several times inflated prices.
This agrees with my personal experience that rents in Kreuzberg are on the rise and not at all slowly (they may be the only thing in Germany that indeed does change rapidly). The urban tides are shifting and most of these people have no footholds to stay in what was their home for the past decades. Those that know how and why things are changing closely guard that knowledge. The housing corporations have refused talks with afflicted renters and their organizations. In Germany knowledge translates quite directly into power and those that possess it are usually not very squeamish about employing it for personal gain.
Update: Just to support some of the writing here with this quote I came upon from Tagesspiegel (via Slow Travel Berlin):
“It is not the fault of foreign artists or party tourists; they too would prefer to pay less rent. It is caused by the mass sell-off of publicly-owned apartments, combined with the deregulation of rent prices.” —Joel Alas
Quickly this last week. Work on our own iPhone transit application is progressing nicely. The iPhone has an exquisite palette of operations to work with.
I met the great people from Campus Party who are going to hold an event in Berlin at the end of August. More to follow in the light of hacking, programming and opening up the things that should be open.
Tuesday Eric Zimerman and Nathalie Pozzie gave a lecture at the Universität der Kunsten as an introduction to their residency here. It is very nice to have them over for the summer and I’m curious what will come out of it.
Work is revving up for the next Hack de Overheid event on June 16th which is going to be a lot of fun. Wednesday we saw Ignite Berlin which had a very nice line-up of talks.
Thursday I met Julianne from Social Media Week Berlin and went to the School of Data meetup by the Open Knowledge Foundation.
Friday I met up with Chris Eidhof, fellow Dutchman and iOS developer here in Berlin. Always a pleasure, and then it was off to the massive Karneval der Kulturen street festival.
Last week was a week for some work in the Netherlands and some much deserved catchup with friends and colleagues over there.
On monday the protocol of the meeting we had in the Berlin parliament about open transit data was published. It contains all the proceedings and slides.
On Tuesday I went to Hilversum to give a workshop on journalistic data visualization over there. It’s always fun to give these and it’s going to be even more fun to see the results coming out of it.
After that I bounced over to Utrecht to relax a bit in the Village. It had been too long ago and it’s still the best coffee store in the Netherlands. After that I went to Hubbub headquarters for some future planning with Kars Alfrink.
On Wednesday we had a lot of stuff to do with the (Open State) foundation (more on which later). That same evening we had a board meeting.
On Thursday I had a nice lunch with Tim de Gier and finished my next game review for the paper.
This is the view from the Amsterdam office. Pure luxury for that city.
Also I had to buy the new book “Koorddansen in de Kaukasus” by Olaf Koens about his adventures in the Caucasus. It is a fast paced collection of stories in this very bizarre part of the world.
I also managed to visit the newly opened EYE movie institute on the IJ shore. A beautiful building with a stunning view, heralding in a new era for this part of Amsterdam.
Next it was the train back to Berlin and prototypes for some new applications.
The Hybrid Talk I gave the week before is up on Soundcloud. You can listen to it here and see if you agree with our ideas about how a client driven organization can operate without being rubbish.
The rest of the week was spent preparing the presentation for NEXT Berlin about Love in Times of Gamification. It went well (1, 2, 3, 4) and should be online shortly. It was an honour to be invited and to share the stage with James Bridle, David Bausola and the many others present at the event.
After that it was time to unwind and meet a lot of nice people and go for a nice dinner.
Next came the recovery part of the week. Also Iskander Smit wrote a nice recap of NEXT.
This week was marked by a massive sprint on saba which made me miss this year’s Myfest in Kreuzberg, which is annoying but survivable. I did manage to see Ryoji Ikeda’s Data Anatomy on its last day in Tresor. A visually spectacular but thematically flat affair.
The next day Stefan Wehrmeyer and I went to the Abgeordnetenhaus Berlin to present on the subject of open transit data.
The situation here when it comes to opening up data is rather shameful. It seems hard for transit operators to realize that information about their services is an intrinsic part of their services. People who don’t know how to get somewhere, will also not buy any tickets.
This seems counter productive if you assume that transit operators actually want to transport people which it seems they do not. They want to serve the terms of their contract as cheaply as possible and as long as open transit information is not stipulated within that contract they will not do it. Thankfully Berlin politics is moving on the subjects (because the next tender is not due for many years).
On Thursday I prepared and gave my talk for Hybrid Talks at the Berlin University of the Arts on the Heist Model which went quite well. I am going to write that particular presentation up on the Hubbub blog soon because I think it has a lot of mileage still. Most of the ways of organizing work that are doing the rounds assume you are a company selling a product, not a company doing work for clients.
On Friday I went to re:publica with a familiar theme. In any case it was a good opportunity to meet some people I hadn’t talked to in a while and to see the narratives being told in German about the internet.
After the keynote by the Vice President of the European Commission Neelie Kroes, I got the opportunity to meet with her and discuss pressing issues when it comes to the digital agenda. I decided to step out of my immediate day to day worries and speak out for programming education for all school children (more on this soon, I hope). This struck a cord with her, but somewhat confused many of the other attendants who were more keen to push their pet agendas.
After that I rushed over to Markthalle IX for the book launch of A Smart Guide to Utopia.
Most of the weekend after that was spent preparing my presentation for NEXT this week.
I got a bunch of accessories for the office among which a bike stand:
On Monday I also finished the Thinkup hack I wanted to present at the Berlin Hack ‘n Tell.
Tuesday was another long sprint on saba and then off to the event. The presentation went quite well and I think I managed to hit both the technical rationale behind the hack as well as its longer term implications.
On Wednesday I wrote up the Thinkup thing over at Monster Swell: “A full Twitter index in your Thinkup” and requested my full history from Twitter.
More saba. On Thursday I went to a book presentation by Jonas Westphal at the FES about the society amidst digital change. It is good that these kind of books are being written to make palatable the socio-technical changes to people not so well versed in these developments. I have several similar reports like this at the studio by the WRR, RMO and by Rathenau.
I also embarked on my first experiment in Taobao shopping (inspired by Jan Chipchase). If this is succesful, I’m quite sure this will be the first of many more.
And finally on the weekend it was the gallery weekend here in Berlin and I took the chance to visit half a dozen in half an hour.
A long week sprinting on saba. On Monday I got a nice desk chair:
On Tuesday I went to the Django meetup which was a lot of fun:
On Wednesday I spent the whole day hacking Thinkup and after went to see Brecht in the Schaubühne.
On Thursday I went to a lecture by Quentin Meillassoux which was terse but interesting. Meillassoux circumvents the problem of the correlational circle to access the absolute by taking the circle itself to be the absolute. That absolute is the contingent nature of everything (contingent, to fact to artifact). What there is is only discoverable by experience. Meillassoux wants to demonstrate that the empiricist is absolutely right.
And I spent most of the weekend writing: