September 11, 2014
"Let me introduce myself: My name is Ron, I’ve been a betahaus | member for almost five years. Christoph asked me to come up with some words of praise for betahaus’ 5th birthday. I said I couldn’t do this and that I’d tell the real truth about betahaus. I work as a writer. It’s a tough job and I have to invent silly stuff every day, but today I feel obliged to show you what’s really going on. In my years at betahaus I discovered there’s certain kinds of people in the coworking scene you meet over and over again. You could call them the coworking archetypes. I want to introduce you to seven archetypes I know.
He is the most obvious one - almost too much of a cliché to even mention him. What does he do? He sits quietly in front of his screen and writes code. What does he look like? Ponytail and lot’s of facial hair. Casually dressed, some may say sloppily. Little or no sexual activity. I call this archetype the „Vanilla Guy“. Why? It’s like Vanilla ice-cream in an ice-cream pallor. It’s your standard flavor. The Vanilla Guys have an almost erotic relationship with their laptop. You know in ancient times the Aboriniges in Australia carved weird icons into their Digeridoos as a sign of worship for their instruments. Serving the same purpose the Vanilla Guy puts stickers on his laptop screen. The more the better! There’s a food chain among the Vanilla Guys. At the bottom: users of standard windows-PC. scum! A little better: Mac users. A lot better: Mac users testing the betaversion of the new Mac operating System. Who knows its name? Yosemeti. There was this one guy across my desk beaming with pride - he’s testing Yosemite. He couldn’t get out emails anymore. But who cares: You have to sacrifice something for progress, am I right? And then, at the very top of the food chain the Vanilla Rebels. The chosen ones who do not feel bound to the same rules as the rest of us do. They don’t need to use commercial software. The use Linux and Ubuntu. Ubuntu: I always thought that was some weird sexual act practiced by Japanse - until I found out: it’s a Debian based Linux operating system. That sound even kinkier.
Start-uppers always move in packs of 3 to 5, mostly guys. They are like a mini cult. Like the Manson family or Jesus back in the day. You know: what’s the difference? 2000 years ago Jesus said: Hey, let’s share our money with the poor. That’s how we’ll make the world a better place. These days it’s the entrepreneurs who want to revolutionize people’s lives forever: Let’s start an app that allows you to use people’s private bathrooms when you’re in a foreign town and have to go. Let’s call it: Shitsurfer. The start-upper never stay long at betahaus. After a year their fate is sealed: Either they’ve grown so fast that they need their own space or they are part of the 90 % that go bust. The good thing is: A start-upper never fails. A start-upper only changes it’s original million dollars idea into an even bigger idea: „You know we’ve found out that people do not want to let foreigners use their private bathroom in their homes ... That’s why we will put up dixie toilets in their gardens that Shitsurfers can use“
For reasons I haven’t quite figured out, betahaus attracts lots of young, attractive women bristling with cheerfulness and confidence. You know there’s a clever start-upper who try to tap into this reservoir. „I am going to offer you a position as an intern in my start-up that’s already valued at 15 Million Euro. Unfortunately I can’t pay you at all right now.“
On the surface similar to the Vanilla Guy. Typing stuff into his laptop. But while the Vanilla guy loves to talk about his work the secret agent doesn’t tell anybody what he’s up to. He types, looks around like a conspirator, giggles, types some more stuff. Is he hacking the Bundesbank? Or secretly chatting with Edward Snowden? Or is he just plain crazy? Nobody knows.
I have a special relationship with them, even though I have never met one before. As a writer I really need silence when I work. And I expect the betahaus | members to appreciate silence as well. After all this is a place for people to get stuff done. There’s always one running around and you hear his loud crazy whistling echoing through betahaus.There’s different types of whistling though they have one thing in common: They are very, very annoying. One day I will catch one, I haven’t given up hope. And I have to admit: I’m prejudiced. I have a mental image in my mind’s eye, what he looks like, the whistler: It’s one of the guys working in the open design city, having a pencil stuck to the back of his ear, wearing a cool overall self made of plastic bags, walking around constructing phone booths made of table tennis balls, enjoying work and life in general, whistling.
There’s an ongoing economic crisis in Europe, so millions of young Spanish, French, Greek, have made their way to betahaus with their waxed mustaches, in hope of a better future. These days at betahaus I feel wierd asking new coworkers something in German. The other week I spoke with some random guy for five minutes in English, even though we were both Germans. After five minutes I asked him: „Why are we talking English“ – „You started it.“ – „No, you started it.“ Last archetype concerns people who don’t really work at betahaus, but visit us.
They are usually old. They earn a lot of money in their old economy companies, but are looking for the fountain of youth. So they come by to get a whiff of the new economy, wandering around betahaus in their suits and ties, marveling at the dirty walls and unfurnished rooms, the ridiculously bad light drizzling of the naked bulbs and the shaky desks that were hastily thrown together by some South European hipster - and then they inhale: „This is the digital era! Yeah, this is the future.“ This is how they get in touch with their inner digital native hoping that they’ll finally understand what’s it all about and maybe finally even someday they’ll understand what a „hashtag“ is. So now you know the 7 archetypes.
You see: this is a very special place. And that’s probably the reason why - despite the shaky desks - I sincerely love this place and probably will here for the next 20 years, one day turning into a new economy wannabe myself. I also forgot to mention one archetyp – the betahaus | staff: I really like them, so I didn’t want to make fun of them. Thanks!! And happy happy birthday!"
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