Harry Keller

December 4, 2022

↬ November 2022: Octavia, Ursula and Marlen, plus the fediverse and a Christmas musical I actually liked

Hey y’all,
welcome back, another month has passed and I’m not gonna lie, the last two weeks have been rough: Our dog Freddy has been sick and we haven’t slept properly in 1.5 weeks, plus I’m coming down with a cold. Not the best overall conditions to write a newsletter, maybe I should just ask ChatGPT to step in? Anyhow, I’ll try, the old fashioned way, human fingers on a keyboard, here we go!

🚨 What’s new
Finished my co-ops course at the Cooperative College: Five remote sessions, ~10 people, learned a lot about the history and current state of the cooperative movement. Generally speaking it felt really good to be studying something again, reminiscent of uni days long past. Good for the brain!

Suddenly winter is here and it’s snowing outside. Wasn’t it summer just yet? Did autumn even happen?

We’re hiring a designer at Village One and the position is pretty unique, if I may say so myself: Become part of a cooperative, work without bosses, all-remote with worldwide employment, async and calm communication, 4 day work week, 6+ weeks of PTO, deliberately small team, nice clients + purposeful projects, lots of flexibility, autonomy and trust, in a democratic workplace with self-set salaries! It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s okay, but there should be at least a few people out there for whom this could be their dream job. Take a look or pass it on to your design friends? Thank you!

What’s good
Speaking of Village One: I currently work with the TypeMates again and oh boy, it’s such a joy to team up with nice, dedicated and considerate people who are excellent at what they do. Huge shout-out!

Okay, so November was the month that Twitter disintegrated. I won’t delete my account, because it’s part of my internet history… I’ve found love, friendship and work there, relied on it for news and inspiration, often it was the first and last thing I looked at in any given day. But under it’s new ownership it’s finally time to move on and maybe that’s a good thing. I’ve been spending a lot of time on Mastodon this month (mastodon.social/@harryfk) and it’s been such a different experience: People are kinder, helpful, curious. Lots of my twitter friends have made the jump, but there are also so many new people. There’s #Mosstodon, of all things. For me it represents a shift away from VC-funded, engagement-farming, centralized social media: Mastodon (and the larger fediverse) isn’t run by a single for-profit company, trying to get you addicted to reward investors and tweaking their algorithms for maximum enragement, rather it’s mostly individuals running and moderating servers, which then all connect into a larger network. That means you can find a corner you like (or run your own), but you’re not locked into it. Being on Mastodon has really been a journey of old internet rediscovery: Caring about who runs your software and what their values are, building decentralized/resilient solutions. Mastodon can feel boring in comparison to Twitter, but that’s because there is no algorithm manipulating my attention – you see what you subscribe to, not more, not less and that’s just refreshingly calm. I also started using RSS for following news again, who would have thought? Centralized social media suddenly feels extremely weak, desperate and corporate to me. Joshua Topolsky puts it more eloquently than me. This essay is also good. New Public_ has apt observations, especially around digital migration being a privilege.
I was invited to give a short talk about Village One at The Friday Club recently and it brought up the dreaded “how do I present this?” question again. I started building a slide deck in Keynote, it felt like a waste of time. I tried iA Presenter (and also Deckset again), the slides turned too generic and lifeless. In the end I threw the whole talk onto a Figjam board: Super fluid, very interactive, no need to artificially separate the talk into slides, it felt extremely natural while preparing AND presenting. Will definitely do this again, thank you for having me, Florida!

👀 What’s recommended
I really liked 1899 on Netflix, an intricate mystery series in a cool setting! I love how the series brings people from all corners of the world together on a ship and then completely embraces all the different languages. In the second half it becomes pretty clear where it’s headed though and I wasn’t too thrilled about how the season concluded. Still recommended, also don’t miss the excellent making of!

Avid readers of this newsletter will know that Octavia E. Butler is my favorite author and the New York Times published a wonderful piece about her.

I read two novels by Ursula K. LeGuin this month and really appreciated both of them: The Left Hand of Darkness has been on my shelf for years and I finally got through it – took me a while to warm up to the characters, but the way the book talks about totalitarianism and gender fluidity is fascinating. Personally I preferred The Lathe of Heaven though, which is a somewhat simpler story, but it had a stronger pull for me.

Look, I’m not especially keen on Christmas movies and I generally don’t like musicals and I know very little about Ryan Reynolds, but Spirited on Apple TV was surprisingly wonderful. Very self-aware, very funny, felt refreshingly new. Recommended!

🔮 What’s next
Umm, not much really. Our next book club is coming up on December 13th and we’re reading The Wall by Marlen Haushofer. I’m halfway through and in awe of how fleshed the main character is; she’s so believable, it all feels so extremely real, despite not all that much actually happening in the story. Keeps me up at night, somehow I can’t put it down!

DHH, one of the founders of Basecamp (which also makes HEY, the tool I’m writing this newsletter from), published an absolutely unhinged blog post, again. Not gonna link to it, nobody needs to read that garbage. Anyhow, I used to enjoy reading Basecamp’s books and blog, but man, over the years DDH has been turning ever more obnoxious, libertarian and moving far-right, at this point I feel embarrassed to use HEY, associating myself publicly with them. Your email address is part of your digital identity after all, and mine ends in hey.com. Sigh. I guess there’s my project for the holidays then, migrating this newsletter to either Button Down or a self-hosted solution and switching email providers.

📷 What’s in the camera roll

Same general area, different weathers

Spending a lot of time on the couch with Freddy

Alright, that’s all I got this time! Hope your December is not too hectic and you can relax over the holidays! Catch you at the end of December!

Harry Keller | harryfk.com
Berliner, co-operativist, works at Village One
Writing a newsletter, running a book club
Elsewhere: Mastodon | Pixelfed | Twitter

About Harry Keller

Heya, I’m Harry, a software developer in Berlin/Germany—he/him, *351ppm, feminist, cooperativist, dogfather. I recently co-founded the somewhat utopian design+tech cooperative Village One and also diesdas.digital before that. You can learn more about me on harryfk.com and we can connect on Mastodon, Twitter, BeReal, PixelfedInstagram. Or you can simply read my newsletter below! 💁