After 1 year working with us at Copass, Michael goes back to “normal” life and continues his Phd in Anthropology. Before leaving, he wrote a small piece about what copassing meant for him and how he came to record a Hip Hop Album in NYC while copassing. You can check his music here !
For me, it’s been a winding, fast-paced, extraordinarily exciting year to be a part of this thing called Copass.
Over the course of these 12 months, I’ve spoken with people in New York, San Francisco, London, Lisbon, Edinburgh, Paris, Brussels, Sofia and elsewhere, on the topic of global coworking, and what exactly Copass is. Sure it’s a membership, it’s a network, yes you can have access to all of these communities, definitely it’s an element of the sharing economy – but in these kinds of conversation something gets lost in the mix.
Because, while Copass is definitely about all of these things and more, we endeavour to make it an efficient service and thorough network, to make it accessible and easy-to-use, to make it full of features and flexible as can be – in order that it allows people to connect without getting in the way. The functionality is cool, but we want “Copass” to get out of the way as soon as possible.
Where do you imagine to go when you need to escape from the daily routines of work and technology? To get a real digital detox? Maybe you’d head for some sun on an isolated beach on some far-off coast, or fresh air in the pine-covered mountains of some distant mountain range. Maybe you’d go to sea, take a road trip or cycling journey.
Well… how about detoxing at a coworking space?
There’s no doubt that the GCUC 2015 coworking (un)conference was a smashing success. Bringing together around 300 people from across the USA and further afield, it was a meeting of the minds to discuss the intricacies, challenges and opportunities that coworking faces today.
A gathering of independent projects and visions, GCUC brought us together under one common project, one shared mission: coworking. This ambiguous and open word is exactly what gave it strength at GCUC this year, where everyone’s own work could be conceived of as under one umbrella, within one superstructure.
Let’s take coworking from the springboard of GCUC to the next level. There are only open skies.
To be correct, many of us who do most of our productive work on a laptop are going to be “digital nomads.” But not nomads in the way we usually picture it. Not always on the go, with no homebase, minimalistic with all of our belongings in one bag, no family, no friends to have for more than 6 months.
The story of the digital nomad makes us dream. It’s something that I often call “lifestyle porn” or “freedom porn.”
Those people exist and there will be more of them for sure, but they are an extreme version of what many of us will become.
The value that serendipity brings you is often best understood looking backward, asking ourselves the question: “Where would I be if I did not go through this door?”
I can’t tell you what’s going to happen if you travel and Copass. It all depends on you, after all. But let me tell you what’s not gonna happen if you don’t do it.
Disclaimer: I am stealing this quote from Fernando Mendes, founder of CoworkLisboa.
Fernando said this sentence as a response to the recent Time article titled “Why Coworking Is Hot“. I think it’s a very valid point. After all, something hyped is something fashionable. It’s something people do by imitating other people. It’s ephemeral – as temporary as the next hype will destroy the old one. It’s exactly the opposite of how coworking developed. Coworking spread because it was just right. Let me explain a bit.
Last Friday, we had the surprise and pleasure to be featured on Product Hunt. For those who don’t know this platform yet, it’s essentially a community board where people can upvote tech products.
Basically, every day a few new and cool products are selected and upvoted by the community. In very little time, Product Hunt became a very important player in the tech community. Hundreds of companies that have been featured on it have raised money afterwards.
Let us share with you our key learnings.
There have been debates recently about “proworkers” vs “coworkers” in the coworking world. It appeared in some panel discussions during the Coworking Europe Conference in Lisbon this year, and it left several coworking players in a kind of doubt.
We don’t like this concept of proworkers. Let us explain why.
A “proworker” would be a kind of coworker that allegedly just wants to “get his work done”. He is described as somebody often coming from the corporate world. Some people have been urging coworking spaces to address this new audience. Well, to be honest, we don’t really get it… First, what does it even mean to be a proworker? Does it mean that coworkers are just not “professional” – that they’re like silly kids doing insignificant stuff, who don’t need any kind of professional facilities? Does it mean that coworking spaces don’t offer real, “pro” infrastructure (whatever that might be)?
This is the only word that came to our mind after this first Copass Camp that was beyond even our already high expectations. The only word that remained when we where kind of passed out on our planes back home.
Wow for the people attending. We had so many interesting talks with each of you guys. It was hard to believe that everyone was so cool and interesting.
And that ravine over there, […] Its name is Naagosch’id tú hayigeedé (Badger Scoops Up Water). Badger lived there a long time ago, next to a spring where he went to drink. There was no daylight then and the people were having a hard time. Badger and Bear wanted to keep it that way – they liked the darkness – but Coyote outsmarted them. He gambled with them and won daylight for the people. -Dudley Patterson (Western Apache horseman)
Lots of funny things happen here, a good example is the haircut. One of my coworkers […] asked me if her friend could come to Mutinerie to give haircuts. I needed a haircut at the time, so I said OK and told everyone about it. The atmosphere was funny because it happened just here in the bathroom, the door was open so everybody saw us getting our hair cut. -Antoine van den Broek (Founder of Mutinerie coworking)
So, what on earth do Western Apache Indians and coworkers have in common?
I’d like to suggest a very peculiar answer: wisdom. Wisdom gained from the formation of communities through places, and the formation of places through communities.
A federation of coworking spaces could revolutionize the way we work in a similar way cloud computing did. Cloud computing allowed anyone to rely on a global, cheap and reliable server infrastructure without any technical hassles. Copass will let us rely on a global, convenient and powerful network of spaces and communities wherever we go. Here is a small comparison between the two phenomenons.
When we first started building things for the web, there was a huge amount of work required. Launching a web service meant establishing, managing and maintaining our own server farm and hiring a bunch of engineers to prevent service outages. Or to limit the effects of crashes when they did happen.
Then came shared-hosting, we could effectively outsource server maintenance and responsibility for downtime. Yet when opportunity struck and someone like TechCrunch waxed lyrical about our work, a sudden influx of traffic to our site made it painfully slow. Shared servers were just too inflexible to cope with increased demand.
Developments in server infrastructure for web applications have introduced cloud services, such as Heroku, AWS or Google App Engine, and made the idea of releasing a web app accessible to anyone. We now have the flexibility to seamlessly expand or reduce server capacity to meet the needs of our service, with the click of a button.
Interestingly, we see a similar pattern developing in workspaces.
Every good project starts with a vision. The vision behind Copass has been clear from the very beginning. We’re all about designing lifestyles. Or more precisely, about letting people design their own lifestyle by providing them with tools that would enable a completely new way to live and work. A lifestyle that would be more fulfilling, more efficient, more collaborative. We’ve been discussing it for the last few years with the people we met. We refined it through the projects we’ve been working on so far and thanks to the people we had passionate discussions with.