36 hours in Berlin

Sitting bleary-eyed in the Web 2.0 Expo Europe auditorium at the Berlin Congress Centre, listening to JP Rangaswami talk about how Web 2.0 is changing the way we communicate at work.

Yesterday, I got up at 3.10am to get a taxi to Luton Airport to then spend an hour tired and disorientated, standing in lines and being officiated with hundreds of other tired and disorientated adults and children. It was a real-life enactment of a Brueghel painting.

Once I got on the Easyjet flight to Berlin, things improved slightly, partly because of a particularly cheerful and polite air steward but mostly because I got some sleep.

When I actually arrived in Berlin, things improved tenfold, because this is a great city, everything is nicely designed, well-organised and people are helpful. True, there is graffiti everywhere but it is colourful and generally un-threatening.

Yesterday I interviewed Gina Poole from IBM and Stowe Boyd. Both great, very interesting people. One a maverick from the outside, the other a maverick from within.

Then went out for Chinese with Lloyd Davis, Ian Forrester and a few others, before heading off to the official Expo party at groovy Week-End, which was like a designer squat-party, on the 12th floor of a former East Berlin housing block. Great views over towards sprawling Alexanderplatz and the wide, ostentatious Karl Marx Alle.

Sadly I only got to spend about ten minutes with my hosts, developer Sean Treadway (SoundCloud) and his partner Dorit Weber. I was lucky enough to get to stay in their spacious apartment on the edge of Friedrichshain, a former working-class district of East Berlin, now being gentrified. The streets there have a nice energy about them with little bars humming techno, and some cool murals.

JP keeps referring to William Gibson’s quote about the future being here but not evenly distributed. How very true. We are living in information-rich times. In the past, says JP, nobody bothered to set early video cameras because it was such a hassle to set them, and certainly nobody bothered to tag their videos. Today, you get information about everything – the type of camera, the time, the place etc. And then, it’s not just the ability to post the video online and have a persistent record but you can share it with the community, so that record gets enriched.

Sharing a work conversation, for example, and moving it around becomes valuable today, JP is saying. Embedding that within your workflow becomes immensely valuable: “it’s a malleable object you can do beautiful things with – that’s the future and it’s today”.

I’m looking forward to speaking to JP later today, and also Tariq Krim. I’m sure both of them will come up with some insightful stuff about how Web 2.0 is influencing the way we do business.

Then at 2 ish it’s off back to Berlin airport. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to get a peek at the Brandenburg Gate before I go.