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September 26, 2017

“Tech has won – now what?”: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Copenhagen Letter

Betahaus co-founders, Madeleine von Mohl and Max von der Ahé, on the creation of the Copenhagen Letter at Techfestival Copenhagen.

What happens when curious minds of all ages and backgrounds come together to explore how technology impacts our lives? This year at Techfestival in Copenhagen, 150 tech-thought leaders from more than 30 different countries were given two days to answer the question “Tech has won – now what?”. 

In the form of an experiment, select participants of Techfestival were locked on Refshaleøen for 24 hours to discuss the future of technologies. On the 9th of September the results — a manifesto called The Copenhagen Letter — were presented by a group of participants. 

In their letter, the authors declared that as “a community, which exerts great influence” they take responsibility for the direction in which the world is changing every day. They aim to set a new discourse, which will prioritize people over businesses. Instead of having big tech companies define people’s lives, they want to define and shape technology, designing it for empowerment of the users and not for addiction or any kind of repression. One of their main goals detailed in the letter, is the shift from a human-centered design into a humanity-centered design. Two of the betahaus founders — Madeleine von Mohl and Max Von der Ahe — participated in this groundbreaking event. We asked them to share a behind-the-scenes look at the drafting of the Copenhagen Letter, and here’s what they had to say.

We can only imagine the creative flow that comes from putting so many great minds together to work towards a common goal. What was the process of working together like? Can you describe the experience of collaborating over this 48 hour period?

“Those 48 hours were very intense. Thomas and Aydo (the founders of the Techfestival) literally locked us up to focus on the letter. At the end of the first day, I thought we would never ever make it. We started so many sub-discussions and almost got lost, but our facilitator made the magic happen. By the end of 48hrs we had a “Manifesto”. The moment that Aydo read it to us for the first time was very moving!”

It could be very difficult for 150 people to come to a unanimous conclusion. Were there any difficulties that arose during the experiment?

“The hardest part was trying to narrow it down and come up with a final paper, with which we could work in the future. I actually really enjoyed spending so much time with those 150 incredible minds — I learned a lot from them!”

This manifesto is of a significant importance for entrepreneurs and specialists from all over the world. How do you plan to ensure the values listed in this letter reach broader audience?

“Now all 150 of the participants are using our channels to spread the word. The aim is that as many people as possible sign the Copenhagen Letter. As of today, 2,950 people have signed it.

We promised ourselves that we would keep the conversation going about our responsibility for the future as well as holding ourselves (and each other) accountable for putting these ideas into practice. That is a strong commitment! We will find ways that we can implement the main purpose of the letter into our daily work at betahaus.

 

To debate and draft The Copenhagen Letter, 150 practitioners came together for 48 hours during Techfestival in 2017. They include technologists, designers, philosophers, educators, and artists. This letter mirrors their commitment, starting a conversation on the values and principles that guide technology. You can sign or answer The Copenhagen Letter here.

"Love is the secret ingredient to success’’

The 10 Years in beta party was also the official opening of betahaus | Neukölln. Spring was the perfect time for our new project to start growing. The Club Lounge started filling, amazing new teams joined the community such as LAUDO, Obst Digital, Wonderwerk, Trybe and The Zeitsprung Project. Our Gil became the Lord of the house, giving hugs to everybody, fixing all kinds of problems in the ‘haus and keeping it run smoothly with the rest of the Front Desk team. This was also the month when we launched our beloved weekly yoga classes guided by our dear Cynthia from Arrive Yoga.

Club Lounge in betahaus | Neukölln
Team Room in betahaus | Neukölln

" People matter! Community was always what we were all about. ‘’

In June we launched #PeopleInbeta - our monthly blog post series in which our Content Manager - Vihra interviewed teams and freelancers from the betahaus community to present the variety of creatives we have in ‘haus, to understand their missions and get some useful advice for our audience. We talked on topics such as sustainability (with PlanA) , decentralized digital identity (with JOLOCOM), curated music experiences (with Bespoke Sounds), freelance photography (with Sara Herrlander), full-stack development (with Obst Digital), design (with LAUDO) and much more.

Interview with LAUDO at betahaus | Neukölln
Interview with Obst.Digital at betahaus | Neukölln

"The Summer is the best time to host Backyard sessions and BBQ’s’’

In the summer, we launched a couple of new events in Neukölln like Freelancers, Unite!, The Backyard Sessions and My friend’s BBQ. 

Freelancers, Unite! developed as our productive coworking session with freelancers from in and outside the ‘haus. Once a month, we picked an important freelance topic (such as taxes, time-management, etc) and invited experts to give us insights on the topic. We saw so many new faces and had the chance to come back closer to where we started from - the freelance, grassroots culture. 

Freelancers, Unite! at betahaus | Neukölln

Another event, which started in July (and turned out to be our favourite events) were The Backyard Sessions. Organised by our queen of Neukölln - Robbin – the Backyard Sessions are our creative evenings with live music jams, movie screenings and cocktails. 

The Backyard Sessions at basement.berlin
Movie Screening at basement.berlin

This last event was hilarious because for quite some time, nobody knew exactly who organised it or invited them. The friend was throwing a BBQ for the community in the garden and this led to all our members joining and staying after for a beer or two with us.

‘’My favourite moment this year was the second friends bbq which was actually cancelled because of the rain forecast. But despite the bad weather, people show up and it turned into a super nice intimate evening with Elizaveta and Paul giving a garden concert.’’ - Robbin (Community Manager, betahaus)

''In July, it was great how the casual after-work BBQ turned into an impromptu acoustic blues jam session with Elizavetta Barsegova and Paul, who have the voice of an angel. Actually, all of the My Friend's BBQ's and Backyard Sessions were AWESOME.’’
- Paige (Head of Marketing, betahaus) 

The Garden at betahaus | Neukölln
My Friend's BBQ at betahaus | Neukölln



"As a coworking space, you have to give stage to important topics.’’

This year we released a new event format in Kreuzberg called ‘’The betaSalon’’. It's an open panel discussion which aims to give stage to important topics and give free speech on them. The fist one we did on the EU elections, last month we talked about changemakers, but our favourite one for this season stays ‘’Mother + Founder’’ where we partnered with FemGems podcast and recorded a live podcast episode for them having Madeleine Gummer von Mohl (betahaus co-founder), Kristine Zeller (co-creater of ooshi period underwear) and Luisa Hoffman on the stage.

betaSalon at betahaus | Kreuzberg

"We should fight for a more human-centered tech development’’

Every September, our co-founders take part in the Techfestival. in Copenhagen, spending a few days disconnecting from the daily life and focusing on creating a better, more human-centered tech future. This year the think tank which included our co-founders Madeleine and Max came up with the TechPledge. The Tech Pledge was made to emphasize the need for a new direction in tech. Similar to the Hippocratic oath for doctors, the Tech Pledge is a promise to make tech a force for good and ensure responsible and sustainable tech leadership. It’s a commitment to driving a new direction in technology.

Techfestival. 2019 in Copenhagen


"Startups are transforming European football as we know it.’’

One of the most exciting projects for betahausX this year (which is also continuing in 2020) is their new startup challenge called The Werder Lab - a global startup competition that aims to reimagine the way clubs like Werder work with athletes, fans and partners.



"You should leave time for the things you love most’’ 

This year couldn’t end without us having our favourite events - the end-of-the-year holiday party and the BETAPITCH Global Finals. On the 6th of December we saw the 9 finalists of the regional BETAPITCH competitions pitching in front of our jury. Congrats to Troy from Hamburg for winning the big prize.

We finished the year at our Holiday Party celebrating anything and everything at betahaus | Neukölln together with our members, friends of friends and our favourite artists from Passiflora LIVE, Tapete and Kotoe.

Love at The betahaus Holiday Party 2019


Thank you for being with us in 2019. It's been a crazy big year for us and it wouldn't been possible without your support, trust and the hard work of our amazing team. Have an amazing holiday time and we'll see you again in 2020.

With love,
betahaus

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