Harry Keller

October 22, 2023

↬ September 2023 (and most of October)

Heya, it’s been a while! The last newsletter was sent on *checks archive* Sept 6—that makes it more than six weeks since the last mailing! Four of those weeks were spent in the UK countryside (again) and work at Village One has been hectic, so I was ping-ponging between relaxation and agitation. In this issue: Personal and professional updates, some (hopefully) interesting links and a peek at my camera roll. The usual stuff. Let’s go!


  • Once more my girlfriend and I decided to escape the city for a month, drove to Yorkshire in England and spent four weeks in Addingham, a small village close to the Yorkshire Dales national park. It rained more than on previous trips, we went on many long hikes anyways, Freddy wanted to make friends with all the sheep (alas, we didn’t let him) and we had a really lovely cottage. After a month, we very much felt at home, so naturally it was quite sad to leave again… returning to Berlin is always bittersweet these days. Still no idea where to move next and when, but the topic is still swirling around.
  • I’ve been thinking a lot about my job as a software developer, wondering what will crush our industry first: “AI”, by automating most of the work away, or the climate crisis, making us all worry more about food and safe housing than computers. Either way: The outlook isn’t great. I know the usual and somewhat comforting counter-arguments, but I think they’re too often high-horse talk, unwilling to admit that much time spent doing these digital media jobs is repetitive cookie-cutter stuff. “AI” doesn’t need to do be better than us at our jobs, it just needs to be good enough. More nuanced thoughts here, with a spotlight on Hollywood.
  • As you might know I’ve been organizing a book club for years, focused on online discussions via Zoom (here’s our next event). Recently we did something new and hosted two in-person book swaps in Berlin—the last one was especially wholesome, with 25 people showing up, in a non-commercial setting, simply to exchange books and chat. No monetization, no growth ambitions, no hustling, no competition, no capitalism, just an evening of curious people coming together to have a good time, from all over the world (we had folks from the US, the UK, Russia, India, Brazil, Bulgaria, Germany, probably even a couple more, most of them living in Berlin, some just passing through). We’ve been calling the book club “mostly utopian” and originally that referred to the kinds of books we intended to read, but quite possibly gatherings like these are the real utopia in it. Currently pondering whether we should do another one this year or if the weather is gonna be too gnarly.

Village One

  • At Village One we’ve had our hands full with exciting projects, working with the Sovereign Tech Fund, Publix and Youth Policy Labs (among others), on their branding, websites and digital infrastructure. Most of it hasn’t launched yet, but some current projects are nearing completion, which means we will likely have capacity for new partnerships from December onwards. If you’ve got an itch to scratch yourself or hear of somebody in need of design/tech services: We’d love an introduction! The reality of working with clients is that nine out of ten projects find you via personal recommendations, so please pass on the word if you appreciate our ethical tech/design + democratic cooperative approach. Thank you!
  • We did participate in an open call for proposals recently, but unfortunately someone else won the project. Bummer, absolute dream of a client… but oh well, you win some, you lose some, it’s just how it is.
  • When we were in England, I visited Rochdale with my colleague Sev. Rochdale is often called the birthplace of modern cooperativism, because it was there that the Rochdale Pioneers set up shop in 1844. The very place is now a small museum and it was awe-inspiring to visit, for a cooperatives nerd like myself. Village One also got a lovely social media shout-out from the Cooperative Heritage Trust.
  • We have a co-working week coming up very soon, all six of us working together in one location. Exciting. Usually we’re operating as a distributed team, across Germany and the UK, but for a week we’ll mingle together in one place, workshopping our most pressing internal topics.

Some worthwhile links

  • These two articles are both singing the same song: The age of social media as we know it is coming to an end, the internet is generally less fun these days and we’re not talking to each other anymore. Sad, but true, I’ve also been a lurker for years. Somewhat related, on a more hopeful note: 404 Media is doing an incredible job since its recent inception and they just published a great article about Mastodon—if you still haven’t decided whether you should join the fediverse, this is a good primer from a former skeptic.
  • A lot of articles about the back-to-office debate focus on dubious concepts such as “serendipitous encounters” and “easier collaboration”, mostly peddled by bosses and managers, so here’s a counter-point for once (in German): „In Firmen mit Präsenzpflicht sind Mitarbeitende weniger loyal“. Most of it is just common sense, really.
  • Cool deep-dive on Nintendo’s Mii characters… my neighbor and I had so much fun creating those whacky characters circa 2007. Fond memories.
  • Important research: “How AI reduces the world to stereotypes” (also top-notch presentation of the results—simple, but highly effective)
  • What an absolute gut punch of an article: “Earth ‘well outside safe operating space for humanity’, scientists find”
  • Stumbled upon this blog post by Evan Prodromou, about his first 20.000 days on planet Earth and found it quite touching. I’m ~13.200 days into my life and I shall reach my 20.000th in March 2042 (given I get to stick around for that long).

Alright, enough of those heavy links for today, on to a few photos!

👆 A bunch of Yorkshire impressions: Gotta love that landscape; so green, those rolling hills, sheep everywhere, so eerie in the fog. Freddy approves!

👆 Two shots from Rochdale—me in front of the museum and a photo of the original Rochdale principles. Today’s principles (put forth by the International Cooperative Alliance) are heavily influenced by them.

👆 First photo is from the recent book swap at Jockel beer garden. The second one was taken at Admiralbrücke in Kreuzberg where Emma Hartmann used to sell newspapers for as long as I can remember. Here’s a profile (a few years old, in German, no paywall). Rest in peace.

👆 Back in Berlin on the couch, first leaves falling outside

And that’s it! As always: Thank you for being here. In case you’ve got any comments or thoughts, you know how to reach me. Wishing you a happy autumn and talk soon!

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

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! 💁