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What happened at Third Wave last month:

Work Note: We’re starting a podcast

By Johannes on 26 Aug 2014 03:21 pm


Podcasts are back

We’ve been fascinated by the rise and fall and now rise again of podcasting. I remember my first experiments with the format almost ten years ago. And now with the smartphones allowing a much easier consumption of podcasts, it seems like it’s taking off again.

I think it’s a good sign that ideas, which can’t build enough moment right away when they emerge, are still able to have a second coming once the context from a technological and a behavioral point of view is right. It means we’re not discarding everything straightaway that fails on the first try. There’s still room to let ideas ripen.

So, podcasts. I’ve been involved with two podcasts throughout the last 12 to 18 months. I Grow Digital is a podcast about the Quantified Self, wearables and connected topics like transhumanism that I’ve been doing with Christian Grasse and Florian Schumacher. I also am a regular guest on Marcel Weiss’ neunetzcast where we talk about Facebook buying things and similar topics. Both podcasts are in German.

And so will be the podcast that Igor and I are starting. We’ve been enjoying the format ourselves for some time now and want to use it to talk to an audience that might get turned off by all our English writing.

The Third Wave Podcast is coming soon

The development of the concept will be an on-going process but we want to make sure to not add YetAnotherPodcastWithTwoDudesTalkingTechNews(TM) to the field. The idea we’re starting with is to pick a broader topic behind recent news and look at it from all sides. Less discussion, more explanation. The rest will be based on the feedback we’ll get.

The main reason for this blog post is to set ourselves a public deadline. So here we go: on September 1, 2014 we will release the first episode.
As always, we do this as an experiment to find out if the format works for us and if we can actually produce some content with value for an audience. So far, we got all the hardware we need (thanks to Jan for lending us his usb-microphone). I need to figure out some details around hosting and publishing. But that should be doable until next Monday. Until then…

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Work Note: Talk from the #ebf14 (German)

By Johannes on 20 Aug 2014 01:15 pm

The Electric Book Fair in Berlin was an event for the independent publishing scene. Together with our client Elisabeth Ruge, I gave a talk (in German) about reading in the 21st century. Elisabeth and I used our different backgrounds to look at three possible trends from the perspective of literature (Elisabeth) and technology (me). We believe that these two perspectives most come together for the future of publishing.

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Work Note: Why and how we use Slack

By Johannes on 19 Aug 2014 05:47 pm

It’s not like there’s a lack of solutions for teams and companies to communicate internally. Without even getting into email this time, there are plenty solutions for chatting between coworkers. From Skype group-chats to IRC channels to IM. There’s also dedicated professional chat app like Campfire and HipChat. Let’s just say that “Somebody needs to fix group chats for teams,” wasn’t uttered a lot.

Searching for an internal chat tool

As a 2-person company, Igor and I didn’t need much for the part of our daily communication when we are not in the same room. We tried out IRC with an encrypted room, guarded by a bot, mostly out of nostalgia for The Web We Lost. It didn’t stick because IRC is not the best protocol for the mobile age. Neither is Jabber/Instant Messaging. Going back and forth between different devices is hard for these protocols. And Skype wasn’t an option after various leaks put a lot of Microsoft’s security for the service in question.

We settled on iMessage. It works across macs and iphones, is comparatively secure and it’s free. So when the hype around a new chat app for teams called Slack started to build up, we didn’t see the need for us. But after friends kept praising it, curiosity won.

Execution makes the difference

Slack is a startup, founded by the flickr co-founders Stewart Butterfield and Cal Henderson. Once more (just like flickr), it emerged as a side project while Butterfield was developing a game. Check out this extensive portrait from Wired for a detailed story how Slack came to be.

There’s a lot of typical Silicon-Valley rhetoric around Slack about big product visions. But where Slack shines for us is in execution. This is app feels like the developers and designers keep asking: “if this feature was invented today, how would it be done right?”

Here are some of the features:

  • Its notification system is smart. It will ping you when there is a new messages. If you don’t react within a certain time, it will send you an email, informing you about the latest activities in your chat rooms. If you get a notification on your phone and check the chat room on your computer, it will take the notification away on your phone.
  • It tries to display some details about links that you put into a chat. Put in a Soundcloud link and it will show the player for that track. Same for videos, tweets etc.
  • Slack understands that not everyone is a full-time employee of one company anymore. More and more people freelance or need to work with several teams and companies. So they made switching between different Slack accounts easy. A practice I hope to see taken on by a lot more app developers.

More than just a chat tool

Where Slack really shows its strength is in the integration of other tools, services and platforms. For example: we use Asana to coordinate our tasks. In Slack, I can see when Igor has added a task and I get a special notification if he delegated the task to me. I can even add tasks from the chat room.
We also get pings when someone subscribes to our newsletter or when one of us has send a tweet with the company Twitter account. This is where Slack’s vision of being the central hub for your company’s communication is starting to make sense.

There’s also some fun stuff you can do with that. We have created a chat room called #fav and are using it with Slack’s integration of IFTTT. Now whenever one of us is faving a tweet or an article in Instapaper, a message is send to that chat room. We have another one for music that is connected to our Soundcloud accounts. I’ve turned off notifications for these chat rooms to not be bothered every time Igor (or Martin or Jens, our office mates) favs something. But I like going in there from time to time to see what got Igor’s attention.

We’re sold

All these features and how they are implemented convinced us to use Slack as our main communication tool. We think it’s worth it, even for a 2-person company. Using it with our office mates also offers us a glimpse at the benefits it can have for larger teams. And so far we haven’t used features like search and document exchange (with connection to Dropbox etc.). Let’s hope that Slack won’t be bought too soon.

The post Work Note: Why and how we use Slack appeared first on Third Wave GmbH.

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Recent Articles:

Work Note – Literature and Technology at the Electric Book Fair 2014
Work Note – Back in the writing business
Work Note – A Desk Update
Changes to our blogging
Week 180
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