Tag Archives: Starbucks

A blog is not a baby album and never should be

Baby's Blog

First of all, a big ‘thank you’ for everybody who commented on my previous post. The interest in freelancing and coffee shops goes to show what a prominent role these two seem to play in the lives of bloggers and blog readers. Just for the record, my post wasn’t written from a coffee shop, but I do recommend the Fleet River Bakery as a fabulous example of a local independent (I think?!) coffee shop with free Wi-Fi, and also Lori’s blog as a fabulous source of many more musings on the topic of coffee and culture.

Not sure how to make the transition to today’s topic. How about… there’s a day in each freelancer’s life when he/she sits in a local independent coffee shop and suddenly decides, “Let me become a parent”. No more 3-months contracts and moving from one flat to the next, but rather taking on that 9-5 position in a PR department and investing in some Zone 6 property. I can’t say ‘been there, done that’, but I image that’s how it goes down.

Now, the point is, when you become a parent, there is one thing I would kindly ask you not to do, ever. Do not put up a public blog about your little offspring, no matter how cute it is. Some web 2.0-embracing parents may think that a blog is just the 21st-century form of keeping a baby album, but it’s not. Neither is the baby’s own Facebook profile, before it can even stand up by itself. Just to be clear, I completely understand the parents’ pride and the relatives’ unceasing interest in the toddler’s latest advancements. But don’t put it out there on the web.

I’m saying this in the interests of the child. In its early years, it’s fairly incapable of letting the outside world know whether it wants its pictures on Flickr and Facebook or not. Just in case it doesn’t want that shot of him playing in the sandbox up on the web, parents shouldn’t put it there. And that’s not just because the kid might feel embarrassed about its baby fat some 10 years down the road, but because you never know who looks at public web content. So until the little thing can actually move around the mouse himself, keep it private.

Apart from such privacy issues, there’s of course the chance of baby-promotion-overkill. Again, I cannot being to image how proud parents are of their baby, but I feel that there’s a limit to how much you should show it on a public blog. Something nice and simple with a few family pictures or first walking attempts for grandma to see is fine. But creating some 24/7 live stream of the child is not. My favorite so far: a blog written from the point of view of the baby: “Today, I took my parents out for shopping and cried so loud that they bought me the candy I wanted…” Incredible.

How Starbucks might kill freelancing – or the other way around

Coffee shops and laptops

Rumor has it that Obama’s inauguration speech was written by his gifted young speech writer at a Starbucks. That may well be the most famous piece of work ever produced in a coffee shop, but it’s by far not the only one. When I think about coffee shops, I think of freelancers. And when I think about freelancers, I think of Starbucks. But how much longer will this happy symbiosis last?

What triggered my worries was a story in the Wall Street Journal the other day (sorry, took me a few days to sit down and write this). Some coffee shops in New York have started to limit the availability of WiFi or restricted the hours in which you can have a laptop on your desk.

The reasons for this backlash aren’t that hard to guess. Tons of people come to coffee shops to have one cup of tea, no sugar, and then spend the rest of their visit working on whatever they’re working on as freelancers. Hence, other people have no place to sit and enjoy their double chocolate muffin and vanilla latte. The recession may have made the situation worse, as some freelancers probably canceled their home broadband connection for good (if not their entire rental agreement). Ironically enough, the same coffee shops that now suffer the burden of too many freelancing, space-wasting customers once invited them in as a nice strategy to attract business.

I’m wondering how it actually happened that freelancing is now so closely associated with coffee shops? Was it coffee shops first and suddenly everyone thought, “Oh, brilliant… let me freelance, now that I can hang out at this coffee shop all day and night”. Or was it freelancers first until one morning over a cup of coffee some business school graduate thought “Oh, brilliant… all those freelancers want to hang out at a coffee shop all day and night”. Hen and egg thingy, I guess.

Now that coffee shops are restricting the use of laptops, will freelancing die? And without freelancing, will coffee shops die? The consequences will probably not be that severe, I must admit. But let me close with some cultural studies snobbery by saying that what we are is what we drink is what we write is what we are… right?!