Besides our well known web solution we also spend some of our research resources on hydro-mobility-devices. The latest brainstorm created this highly successful river-floating-belt: Components: 8 x 1.5 liter pet bottles (Body floaters), 2 x 0.5 liter pet bottles (Leg floaters) and lots of Duct Tape. Together with our air-matress-equipped friends from Supertext we did the proof of concept - about 10 km from Hardbrücke down to Dietikon (Glanzenberg)! Highly recommended - you probably can't get closer to the feeling of floating in the Dead Sea.
I know, it's yet another TED video, but they're just worth the watch. This time it's Clay Shirky arguing that the media landscape that we knew (professionals broadcast messages to amateurs) is busy slipping. Mature use of the new medium (where the former audience has become a full participant) means: don't craft messages you want to be consumed, but create an environment for convening and supporting groups. For example like mybarackobama.com did.
Dania's MacBook crashed, Luci's is showing the first symptoms - good to have an Apple doctor inhouse. Dr. Danny preparing for the surgery. Operation in progess. Oh, ohhh, operation still in progress...
(above: Still confident Dr. Danny shortly before the Mc heart attack)
Bobby McFerrin, who most of you might remember for his epic hit "Don't Worry Be Happy" (which due to its one-hit-wonderness sort of overshadowed the true genius of McFerrin as a gifted musician and awesome entertainer, but that's a totally different story), recently appeared at a panel during the World Science Festival in New York City. Without prior explanation, it seems, he animates the audience to sing with him (and boy can they sing!). They have to guess the melody by certain movements he does, and it works! A nice impromptu experiment which shows how certain behavioral patterns are the same everywhere and how they can shape what we like to call social collaboration. Enjoy!
No, we have not decided to branch out into another field of business. We just have found a twin company (by name, almost) on the Web. Amazy is operating from Germany and they sell wicked designs to pimp your trash can. The idea is pretty easy: Most outdoor trash cans which one keeps in one's yard in Germany are one shape and either grey, brown or green. Not a pretty sight? Thanks to the guys at Amazy, you can add a little color to your junk. The price seems reasonable although we cannot comment on the quality of the product. Anyway. Designer trash can enhancements!
We're happy to have the 5-time European Champion in Sport Stacking Elias Ramstein (who is Luci's Cousin) in our office with us today. He's here for a trial apprenticeship to learn about the web business.
Don't miss to watch his skills in the video embedded below. Can't believe your eyes? Well, watch again! No time lapse, it's real!
Here's a thought: Punk Rock was 1976, now it's Social Media. This video seems to be some sort of viral for the consultancy firm Engage ORM, but nevertheless, it draws some thought-provoking parallels. Punk Rock was about raising your voice to be heard, about change and altering the establishment. Same goes for Social Media. Of course this leaves out certain developments in Punk Rock (e.g. the likes of bands like The Sex Pistols being rather a-political and concentrating on showing anti-social behavior) as well as it takes a probably overly positive approach towards Social Media (too many people are still content with poking superfriends or throwing sheep). But, they still have a point. Enjoy!
(Hat tip to Germany's Blogpiloten.)
In Zurich, today was a day of joy and celebration for those who follow the Apple. The company and producer of such ubiquitous gadgets like the iPhone, the iPod or the iBook, in short, all things i, opened its own store on the fancy downtown Bahnhofstrasse. Since we, just like Apple, are an international corporate giant (well, almost), we'd like to welcome Apple to our lovely city. We sent two representatives with salt and bread (traditional gifts for new neighbors) to the store, one of them almost first in line to get into the store, the other taking a couple of pictures along the way.
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Twice a year we take a time-out from the busy day-to-day work at the office, for various reasons. And upon coming back from our spring retraite, as the French say, I can highly recommend this practice. Let me point out, why.
1. Team building. Okay, this may sound cheesy and a bit old-company-goes-wannabe-modern, but the team building aspect of such an off-site event must not be underestimated. I don't think a company needs to organize over the top high-adrenaline action events like indoor climbing, where one has to support the other. First of all, the psychological aspects of this are all too obvious, secondly you always run the risk of embarassing. I, myself, with my very prominent vertigo, wouldn't feel well at all hanging from a rope by the hands of one of my colleagues. And thirdly, something like this can backfire. What if I drop somebody, what if I let the gang down? Team deconstruction rather than team building. Nevertheless, I think, we found a very good way. We were in Gstaad in the Bernese Oberland, so, naturally, we went for a hike on Sunday. Nothing special, but suddenly the path ended and we were faced with a little river and a torn-down bridge. So, what did we do? Some went to look for a place to cross while others brought wood and stones to build a tentative bridge. Okay, not everybody worked on this, but everybody gave moral support and good opinions. After all, we went across the river safe and dry. Nice one, bridge and team built.
2. Getting to know your co-workers. This maybe only works in small teams, but one of the true benefits of getting out of the office with your co-workers is that you get the chance to talk about private stuff. Nevermind, this must be alright with everybody, there is no sense imposing a talk-about-intimate-things-rule during off-site events. There are still things one doesn't want to know about the other and most of us tend to respect that. But when you work together and you have amicable feelings for your co-workers (which for me has become a must over the years, I must admit, and I find it hard to work in an environment where there is no personal relation with each other), you can sometimes talk about other stuff than just beer, football and the occasional politic rant. Which we did. And it doesn't put anybody in a position where he or she can use that given information against one self. At least I hope so. And it is of course not only just the conversations, it is the daily habits – coffee or tea?, who reads, who's on the computer all the time? and such.
3. The Work. Of course we also went to the mountains to put our collective foot down and tighten the screws on that little business called Amazee. Working off-site brings a lot of benefits. First of all, there are certain strategic decisions which can't be made between writing a news post and replying to an email. Especially as a startup team, you have to stay flexible. At random intervals you have to be able to step back, look at your masterpiece and maybe re-evaluate, re-design, re-shape. Even if it's only about fixing minor tweaks, it is utterly important to do this thorough. And if you are working on this as a whole team, two hours on a Thursday afternoon in the office just won't do. I've been on two off-site workshops with Amazee now and both times I was amazed at how much work we did get down and how intense (in a positive way) the atmosphere was. In a well-running team any idea can be voiced, but this tends to be more easy in a two or three day workshop than in a team meeting after lunch. This year again, no cow was too sacred to be at least reconsidered, and I think we made a few pretty good decisions.
4. The scope. As I've said before, it is important to take a step or two back every now and then and to look at what you and your team have done over the last months. This is not possible when your are in the midst of running a new project at work. Taking a few days off the everyday office hustle and bustle helps to put things into perspective, to draw new breath and motivation in order to get running again. Taking your mind off the little things and look at your business as a whole helps.
Just a few random thoughts on doing off-site events. What are your experiences? What do you think?
What a great first fundraising event we had on Friday night! The Amazee Booster Party went down well in every aspect. There were loads of people, everybody was having a good time, the collaborative wine-cooler worked well and we raised quite a bit of money for four projects on Amazee. An all-out success, in other words, and certainly not the last party we had!
To be honest, when the first guests arrived, we weren't quite sure if the collaborative wine-cooler would work. We had asked the Ladies to bring cut fruit and the Gentlemen to supply us with the alcoholic ingredients. But soon we had a nice wine-cooler going which actually tasted quite well. Only that it turned into more of a vodka-cooler as the party proceeded.
The fundraising part, the centerpiece and primary reason for our party, also worked very well. We had asked everybody to leave a few quid for a project of their liking. Four projects were selected by us before the party and they received quite nice amounts of donations: Water for Dixie, Abolish The Death Penalty, Mosquito Nets To Fight Malaria! and Mission Moonbear.
We thank everybody for showing up and hope you had a good time. We woke up with slight headaches and our office looked like it was fun the night before. After cleaning up we took the chance and rearranged our workplaces. Come by and have a look! Or just visit the project and enjoy Danny's nice party pics we posted there.