After a rather hectic week and day last Friday I went to see Only God Forgives in Central cinema. The movie is rather excellent if you like extreme violence or Ryan Gosling or both.
The stylized violence and disjunct story telling reminded me remotely of This Is How You Will Disappear. Probably not because any real visual similarity but because I am anxious for somebody in theater to produce something that good and ballsy again. And as this Guardian critic says, the Asian setting and lighting are reminiscent of Noé’s Enter the Void which I would recommend if you can stomach it.
But the violence and the characters in essence are Shakespearian and ‘Only God Forgives’ is how you actually should do a modern day Shakespeare adaptation. The movie is a post-modern mix of Macbeth and King Lear without a hint of slavish following. I lost count of how many bloodless—in all meanings of the word— Shakespeares I have seen on the stage. With this movie Winding Refn has also just schooled all theatre directors.
Travel is making it hard to keep up writing these notes weekly (or write anything for that matter). So this blog is turning into an expensive affair.
Way back when this happened I was in the Netherlands for an appointment that was cancelled and because of that I had to fly to Munich from Amsterdam for a day of workshopping. The next night I flew back to Amsterdam to spend the rest of the week at Hubbub HQ in the Netherlands.
We did our strategic sessions about which I probably have written elsewhere already but this was as good a time as any to revisit this brilliant interview with Jack Schulze. They don’t make them like that anymore.
No one cares about what you think, unless you do what you think. No one cares what you do, unless you think about what you do. No one ever really cares what you say.
Advice to frame and put above your desk.
The last day I did a coffee tour of Amsterdam, which is in utter bloom at this moment with Third Wave coffee places opening up literally left and right. I paid a duty visit to BrunsNiks which is one of the best up and coming design firms of that city where most stuff is bullshit.
What is also brilliant are the new Hackers and Founders offices of the eponymous meetup group. My old office in the Volkskrantgebouw got evicted because they are turning that into a hotel (like pretty much everything in Amsterdam) so they got together with the neighbors of Bottlenose and some other friends and rented a nice floor smack in Amsterdam city centre. I can’t take any credit for what they did but still I’m half proud of what that turned into.
And that segued nicely into the speaker’s dinner for our Hack de Overheid event (which got a nice press release drop over at Wired thanks to Bruce). The event, the next day in City Hall, was one where all of the founders were present at one and the same location. That already was amazing. After the day was finished I spent the evening talking philosophy with Simeon.
And the next day it was back in the train to Berlin which has added a whole hour because the flooding has damaged a bridge and caused a large stretch of tracks to be dislodged. Deutsche Bahn says that reconstruction will take until December. That may be just in time for next year’s flooding.
This was the week that Kars returned from his honeymoon on Bali. And all for the better as well, because I had worked through most of our stack —we didn’t have any running projects at the time— and I was getting so annoyed by Dopplr’s performance that I was about to write a clean implementation of its trip model to store my upcoming travels in.
That week I also attended a meetup by Autofreies Kreuzberg and wrote that up. One additional note that I want to place is that Oranienstraße is a total traffic clusterfuck and I am amazed that nobody is fixing that. There is a clear political majority in Kreuzberg, the shopkeepers could use more space and removing the cars would improve the quality of life for everybody. Why not just do it then?
I drove to MLOVE that week to present in our Dutch Quantified Self block. The block turned into a party of the sort Dutch people are good at and the Q&A session afterwards was one of the best I’ve either seen or given. The sharpness of the audience also had a lot to do with it. The questions were sharp, fast and on point like you rarely see at events.
I drove back the next day and by some fluke where I lost half an hour in Halle I got stuck behind massive car crash on the highway with three hours of barely moving cars to the next exit towards Dessau. It took the radio at least two hours to figure out that there had been a major car crash on this bit of road which I found stunning. After I finally got out of the traffic jam where there were several more Eastern European trucks simply broken down on the road blocking even more traffic. And finally I got trapped in a major summer storm with heavy thunder and rain. It got to the point several times where I barely could see the marking on the road so I decided to stop two times and wait out the rain instead of trying my luck with the rental car. All in all a trip that should have taken me two and a half hours, took me over ten and this experience of pure time-wasting ruined driving for me altogether.
The fabled German Autobahn proved to be a disappointment as well. It has been a fiction for me anyway. The last time I’ve ever actually driven 180 for a stretch is probably six years ago. The rest of the time there are either too many cars to drive really fast or they are busy doing constructions works. The actual bits where you are allowed to go infinite speed are also being chipped away at bit by bit so at some point this may become a thing of the past.
The odd part of the traffic jam and the rain after was how primitive the German highways are compared to the Dutch ones. In the Netherlands almost all main and provincial roads are sensored so you can get real-time traffic flow information, most major highways have matrix displays above and beside them to actuate traffic and most of the critical sections and exits are surveilled by cctv cameras to see what is actually happening. There also is this thing called ZOAB which works wonders when it is raining.
The primitiveness stems from the fact that in Germany all roads from main roads in the city up to the A level highways are under the authority of the Länder. So if your highway is in the rather backward Sachsen-Anhalt province it means that you can’t really expect anything. This is also the reason that the Green/Red majority in Kreuzberg can’t decide to close down Oranienstraße for traffic because they don’t have that majority in the Land Berlin.
As I said compared to the Netherlands the roads themselves are already rather primitive, but the administrative organization also does not seem to make a lot of sense. In the Netherlands the provinces (analogous to the Länder) control the secundary roads between the cities, the so called ‘Provinciale Wegen’. On the map in that Wikipedia page you can very clearly see the division with the main arteries ‘Rijkswegen’ being maintained by the central government and for instance the roads within Amsterdam being the purvey of the municipality of Amsterdam. This is a method of organization that is clear and never will be implemented in Germany. Putting the main highways under federal control and the city streets under that of the city (though with Berlin that might coincide with the province of Berlin) would take money and power away from the Länder and will therefore be fought tooth and nail like these things always are.
The week after this one was a bit idiotic.
As my work based weeknotes are being catered for rather nicely both at Hubbub and KANT, I’m going to keep writing weeknotes here, but instead of making an overview of the week’s work, I’ll do some more long form reflecting on stuff that happened. A bit more casual and personal than we are used to.
I see I marked a picture of this ridge in the newly opened Park am Gleisdreieck as a cycling nuisance. I find it stunning how poorly designed that particular park is. It is a given that the location and the shape of the various pieces of land and already existing functions do not make for an easy mix, but the result should not have been quite that bad in my opinion. Especially the newly opened North Eastern part is a total jumble of functions and feels oddly cramped for a park of a reasonable size.
One of the biggest problem from my perspective is that a large park in the city is an ideal shortcut for cyclists and will be used as such. Just take a look at the myriads of people cycling through the Vondelpark on any given day. The Gleisdreieckpark has no functional separation to indicate where cyclists should cycle and pedestrians should walk. Not that pedestrians in Berlin will adhere to such indicators, but that is a different issue. The most logical cycle paths are also littered with trash cans and benches, which add to the confusion. The connections to the park from the city are also a massive inconvenience and horrible to get in or out of with no connections to major arteries in the city.
The park is a ‘success’ in so far that it is being used quite enthusiastically by a large number of people. There is also a notable shortage of drug dealers which is a nice change. This only serves to show that parks are vital to Berlin and there are not enough of them already. It is not a testament to the design of this park which is a failure like most of the urban planning happening in Berlin.
We released Cuppings to the app store somewhere this week which has taken some work to get going but we are at a point now that the app sells by itself (modestly) so anything we do on top of that are welcome extras. We are planning a bunch of updates to the guide app and are right now prototyping a game (more about which over at Hubbub). Coffee remains a lasting passion of ours, so working on apps and games about coffee and documenting our habits as a form of marketing cannot really be called work. Fun may be a better word for it.
I also sunk a lot of time preparing a presentation that week. Something that I’m resolved not to do anymore. I’m going to try some other ways of doing presentations that offer different min/max outcomes when it comes to the time spent giving a presentation and the eventual result. More on that later.
Hij staat ook bij Niels op de site in het blokje paid alpha’s wat erg leuk geworden is. Prison Architect is een curieus spel en ik heb er een tijdje op gezeten om te kijken of ze het nu af gingen maken of niet en uiteindelijk heb ik dit korte stukje ervan gemaakt:
Het lijkt een perverse fantasie: in een game een gevangenis ontwerpen, inclusief cellen, recreatiefaciliteiten en een elektrische stoel, om de constante stroom van gedetineerden het hoofd te bieden. Maar de setting blijkt decoratie bij dit soort simulatiespellen, of het nu een gevangenis, stad, ziekenhuis of pretpark betreft. Waar het werkelijk om gaat is de balans tussen inkomsten en uitgaven, het blij houden van je onderdanen en het managen van incidenten. Waarom zou je dan per se een gevangenis willen besturen? Voor mensen die daar prat op gaan is Prison Architect geslaagd. Veel van hen hebben het spel al gekocht en denken in de online community mee met de ontwikkeling. Dat maakt het spel niet makkelijker, maar zorgt wel dat het des te meer aansluit op de wensen van gevangenisfans.
Recensie door Alper Çuğun
Van: Introversion Software
Voor: Windows, OS X, Linux
Ik ben bang dat het niet een heel leuk spel is omdat degenen die het spel nu al gekocht hebben en inspraak hebben op de ontwikkeling redelijke die-hard prison-sim mensen zijn. De kans dat een spelontwikkelaar dan nog genoeg auteurschap kan toepassen om er een gebalanceerd en interessant spel van te maken, schat ik niet heel hoog.