1% done - Angela Zäh on Hacker Culture at Facebook

Facebook’s hacker culture is what has helped to company grow and reinvent itself through unexpected solutions over and over again. There is no guarantee that this will still be the right recipe for success in the future, but for now it works…

What do you do when you are faced by a problem that calls for an unconventional solution? You hack it! 

Hacker culture is a phenomenon that has helped open doors for many start-ups and their employees, but nowhere has the approach had greater impact than Facebook.

"Hacker culture is about finding solutions that are new, with low cost and innovative," says Angelas Zäh, International Growth Manager at Facebook. She has come to offer a public lecture on hacker culture to a number of students and other listeners, most of whom are hackers themselves.

Her lecture at the second DLDL Open Campus begins after a brief introduction by partners from CDTM and IBC, and a couple of welcoming words from Hubert Burda Digital’s own Chief Scientist, Jean-Paul Schmetz.

Zäh takes the audience on a virtual trip around Facebook headquarters, showing off a handful of motivational posters that embody the company culture. 

"What would you do if you weren’t afraid?" says one. "Done is better than perfect" says another. 

"Hacker culture is a lifestyle, it can be applied to things outside code," Zäh says as she describes how employees "hacked" their office space to gain more space. At Facebook, these things are normal, she says. 

Hackathons - all-night sessions of hacking, coding and project building at the company offices - have paved the way for unforeseen innovations. Like the “Translate post” function, which came almost by coincidence from the hands of intern during a hackathon. 

The audience tunes in with questions about Facebook’s role in a mediatized world, its ambitions and outlook for the future. Zäh answers by showing a number of big yellow poster, saying “This journey is 1% finished!” 

A participant wants to know whether this attitude will still be there in 20 years, as the company grows. “Will hacker culture still be relevant? Or will you be 99% finished then?”

Zäh smiles and shrugs as she gives her answer.

"We’ll see."

The Power of Women

Only a few days after a woman has been brutally executed in Afghanistan for alleged adultery the last panel at DLDwomen conference addresses issues like gender equality, power and the role of women in the 21st century.

Today’s women are enjoying rights that only a couple of generations ago were unthinkable. However, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Paley Centre for Media, Pat Mitchell, claims: “the world is changing, but there are still many places where being a woman is dangerous.  When I was born women’s life aspiration in the US  was to marry a man and have 2’5 children. Actually I didn’t care, I had my dreams and I knew I was meant to do something else”

Mitchell made a really touching introduction to Catalina Escobar, founder of Juan Felipe Gómez Escobar Foundation (Cartagena, Colombia). “Catalina is one of a kind, a woman who turned the tragedy of loosing a son into the strongest working passion”.

When her son Juanfe (Juan Felipe) passed away, Catalina realized that children’s mortality was way to high in Colombia. From that moment on her goal in life became to save as many Colombian children as possible from an early death. “Juanfe’s death is the saddest story of my live, but this is also a love story. Now I have many sons. All those under the protection of Juan Felipe Gómez Escobar Foundation are my Juanfes”, confesses Catalina Escobar with glassy eyes. 

Catalina’s commitment with children has become an obsession, “when you work in this field, every single night, before going to sleep, you think: you better come up with something else because these children deserve better”.

Women are extremely involved in humanitarian work today. Catalina is not the only example of a woman whose main target in life is to help others. Edit Schlaffer, founder of Women without Borders, explains how the organisation tries to help women in troubled areas of the word.

“There are no women in top security-political positions, but I can tell you that women have a special skill when it comes to conflict solving. Unlike what we see on the Western press, most Afghan mothers are horrified with the idea of her sons joining terrorist cells, they just need support so they can put an end to this violent situation.

Women without Borders operates in nine countries where they explore the potential of women to reduce violence. “We actually believe that women are security experts”, adds Schlaffer. 

Mitchell, who is moderating the panel, cannot avoid but to intervene and remind the audience that power is still a male concept. “Women stay away from power because it is a male invention. We, women, should change the concept of power; we think that power is ‘a bad-guys-business’, but the reality is that power allows change.

Cairo-based political strategist and CEO of Karama, Hibaaq Oman, stresses that, as far the Arab Spring is concerned, there’s still a lot of hard work to do: “if a government leaves women behind they are not respecting one of the key pillars of the democratic Arab movements”.

But women are not just misrepresented in the Arab world, sexism is very much alive, specially on TV and advertising. Filmmaker, actress, and advocate for women Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who joins the talk via Skype from California, talks about the misrepresentation of females on TV.

“We have an enormous power as media consumers, however we are still often portrayed as objects. My job is to remind everyone our role as citizens and consumers. Bear in mind that, despite accounting for 51% of the US population, only 17% of the Congress are women”.

Newsom’s inspiring movie “MissRepresentation” is already out, you can check out the trailer here.  

Do Good with Social Entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship has the potential to improve our world and accelerate opportunities for women - this is the mantra promoted by the Womanity Foundation and its Changemakers project

Womanity, represented by Antonella Vischer, works to empower women and girls around the world though further their contribution in economic, political, communities. The organization focuses on projects in Brazil, Palestine and India for the moment, but ambitions are high and expansions just around the corner. 

Social entrepreneurship is a commercial business, a private initiative, Antonella clarifies. It has to be sustainable, viable and sometimes even attractive to investors to be really successful. 

Through Changemakers, Womanity has encouraged women and girls to reach out to their dreams while doing the common good in the process. The organization goes way beyond concerns about funding and instead provides contact with professionals, consultants, networks, other social entrepreneurs.  

The return is growth, empowerment and added social value to the communities of their collaborators. 

Social retailer Asta in Brazil is one such project. The start-up was founded by young Rio de Janeiro native Alice Freitas, who joins the conversation via Skype. 

She is a firm believer that the model can succeed. Under her helm, Asta has experienced a growth of more than 300% since its start in 2008. Freites started out with 5 salesladies of crafts and goods. Now she has more than 800. 

And there is potential for others too, both directly and indirectly. 

"Studies show in data that social entrepreneurs do make an impact," Vischer says.

This can happen for instance through pushing policy change, promoting awareness and pushing the common perceptions of gender boundaries.  

In terms of cold cash, “there is a very interesting opportunity in the relationship between businesses and social businesses,” she insists. 

But investment is not necessarily for those who only look for profit. Supporters of social entrepreneurship can build strong brands, and expect a social return on investment. 

It’s a journey towards the greater good, with a myriad of opportunities for partners and actors in all corners of the industry. 

Another musical interlude, this time from the wonderfully talented Marlon Roudette.

Towards A Cosmic Society - Let Nancy Abrams Blow Your Mind

Cosmologist Nancy Abram takes center stage with an ambition to thrill. “What is the biggest question faced by the human race?” she asks, as the crowd wakes up from their delayed lunch. 

It would not take long for everyone’s eyes to be wide open in amazement, laughter and awe. 

Abrams represents a school of scientists that are occupied with the study of the universe as a whole. And what they have found is that we - the human race - is not coincidental, random or in any way insignificant. This approach, she says, is “1700-year science.”

We are in fact central to everything. New evidence shows that we are central in form, time and space.

"Humans are made from stardust" Abrams educates, and goes on to show how we are intimately connected to the very fabrics of the universe, dark matter. As it turns out, we are also central in terms of size. From the biggest known scale of the universe to the smallest particles, the size of the human being is proportionally to be found in the middle. 

Most importantly, however, we are central in time. Our generation is the first to fully understand the concept of space and time, and by that we are also handed a piece of motivation to act and solve the problems we face. 

"Since the 1800s, CO2 levels in the atmosphere have doubled every 30 years. This will need to stop," Abrams says. Now, as we understand where we belong to a pivotal moment in time, we can motivate ourselves to act in the face of our challenges. 

"You can’t just tell people scary facts. They will run away," Abrams says. "Real change comes from finding a whole new reality. This how we fall in love, how alcoholics recover. It’s change through a new identity, the real way to spiritual awakening."

"Who we are is the sum total of our history. How far back we claim that history, is up to us. We are the first generation to realize this history. And realizing this story may be what is needed to impose the change."

We may be the most significant generation ever to have existed, is the claim, and that in itself is an awe-inspiring thought. 

But wait! There’s more!

Abrams is not entirely done yet! To make sure the message sinks in, she jumps to her laptop, microphone in hand, and burst out singing a sexy, catchy tune about corrupt scientists, lobbyists and the political malaise that sours our efforts towards creating a better earth.

It’s a wonderful, inspirational, abrupt moment - and one that triggers standing ovations as the last tunes run out. A superb performance from Abrams and a true DLD moment. 

Well done, Abrams - you truly rocked the house! 

See much more about Abrams work in cosmology here. And if you missed the song, do not worry, because we have a link right here… (Thanks to @PHenriettaK).

Mens Sana in Corpore Sano

Stress is possibly one the most common diseases in the Western world. Stressed individuals go the hospital much more often than healthy ones and according to numerous studies women tend to be more depressed than men.

“Traditionally if you were stressed they ‘d send you to the psychologist to fill questioners for hours. We’re actually starting to use blood tests to measure stress”, claims Hermona Soreq, professor of Molecular Neuroscience at the Hebrew University’s Edmond and Safra Centre for Brain Sciences.

Scientific studies show that women are more depressed than men, however life expectancy is higher when talking about females. “Stress is not necessarily a bad thing, the problem is when you cannot cope with it”, adds professor Soreq.  

“In recent years it has been proven that stress is a direct consequence of inflammation”, she says. But how come inflammation can cause depression? The answer to this question is actually simpler than we may think.

According her “inflammation leads to an over production of blood cells and proteins, and this is what eventually causes stress and depression”,

In fact Soreq and her colleagues have proven that people with chronic pain are more stressed than anybody else. Their innovative study proves again that brain and body are highly interlinked.

Today more than ever: mens sana in corpore sano

Touching tunes and beautiful voices of iLive2Lead girls yodeling alongside old DLD friend Klaus Altmann.
Here you see the pipeline for the next generation of global women leaders.Around 3.10 pm this afternoon these bright young women between the age of 15 and 22 will host an interactive workshop to examine the core qualities of leadership.
Which values are shared by all cultures today? Does Generation X value the same qualities as baby boomers or are they seeking a new style of leadership? The girls of the non-profit organization iLive2Lead, founded by Laura Bode, have trained their high-level leadership skills six days before the conference.
On stage they will show off what they’ve learned.

Touching tunes and beautiful voices of iLive2Lead girls yodeling alongside old DLD friend Klaus Altmann.

Here you see the pipeline for the next generation of global women leaders.Around 3.10 pm this afternoon these bright young women between the age of 15 and 22 will host an interactive workshop to examine the core qualities of leadership.

Which values are shared by all cultures today? Does Generation X value the same qualities as baby boomers or are they seeking a new style of leadership? The girls of the non-profit organization iLive2Lead, founded by Laura Bode, have trained their high-level leadership skills six days before the conference.

On stage they will show off what they’ve learned.

An Intimate Story of Success

Sung-Joo Kim is the first Asian women to acquire a luxury brand after taking over MCM Holding AG. Being a rebel and a fighter helped her to her enormous success, she says as she rushes to the stage after arriving to Munich just an hour ago. 

Kim is a remarkable woman. She is a Young Global Leader and was named one of Fast Company’s most Creative People in 2010. She speaks a clear impeccable English that oozes of thoughtfulness and consideration, as she shares an intimate story of an unlike success.

No wonder. As a student, she decided against her family’s will and “married her sweetheart” instead. 

Facing an arranged marriage, the decision drew the family apart. She was disowned by her father, a rich industrial tycoon in South Korea, and was removed from the family tree. 

The incident, however, didn’t stop her. On the contrary. “I was motivated, and began working my way to the top,” she says with a big smile. 

She now holds a top position as a CEO of a successful fashion company, employing 830 people from 15 different countries. A position that she agrees is “rare for women to reach in the industry, sadly.”

She compares the way to the top as a mixture of “hard work and suffering” using an analogy from the world of dance. 

"Everyone wants to be the ballerina in the Swan Lake. But very few realize how much that dancer, that person, suffered on her way to the role, how much it takes and how painful it can be. In fashion, it’s no different. There is a lot of work involved."

Beware of the Youth-Quake!

Farah Pandith is the first ever Special Representative for muslims to the US government. Her role is to engage in dialogue and handle complicated muslim global issues - a job which is both demanding and rewarding at the same time.

Pandith has served three US presidents, but her works crosses party lines, cultures and religious backgrounds. An American Muslim born in India, she was raised in the US, but for the past two-and-a-half years, she has spent time traveling to more than 65 countries to reach out to muslim communities.  

What she tries to do, she tells moderator Edith Schaff of Women without Borders, is to attack the issue of identity and the question of navigating between being young and muslim in a globalized world. 

And this is no small task. There are 1.4 billion muslims today, about one third of the world’s population. What is perhaps even more challenging is that 65% of them are under 30, with many battling the divides between culture and religion.  

"They grow up seeing the words ‘islam’ and ‘Muslim’ on the front pages of newspapers every day. We need to listen to these young people and learn."

"There is a youth-quake going on in the world. Young people’s opinions matter. And that’s across genders."

"They are really interested in building and giving back to communities. But we have to listen to solve their problems."

With regards to women, one of the biggest challenges is to “find more voices that give alternative narratives for young muslim women.” 

"In this regard, literacy is incredibly important." 

A big part of this battle can be won by moving beyond stereotypes and look for genuine grassroots engagement, she says. It’s a bottom-up approach that can help move mountains.

Artists, local community leaders, social networkers, rappers - every little bid on what it means to be young and muslim today can prove an invaluable help in the fight for better understanding. 

Extremism is “real” and needs to be thought careful about in the name and progress and peace, Pandith ends. 

"But we need to understand the many versions of Islam that is out there today, and not just the stereotypes. It is critically important that we think about the multifaceted ways we can push back." 

Molecular Art and Digital Disortion

Photo: Biota by Suzanne Anker - ”Sea sponges, they look like brains and are 70% identical to the human genetic structure.”

Photo: MRI Butterfly by Suzanne Anker 

"The speed of thought is what we are currently working on to fully understand ourselves," says Suzanne Anker, a visual artist and theorist working at the intersection of art and the biological sciences. She explores the ways in which concepts in neuroscience research have been incorporated into visual art practice and contemporary culture. In a vivid tour through neuroculture, she follows the status of the brain in the art world. She shows that technological changes and biomedical sciences influence our social, ethical and cultural values in society.

Introduced as a very communicative person who is heavily influencing the art world, DLD’s own art curator and long-time friend Hans Ulrich Obrist brought next to Anker another unique artist along, Aleksandra Domanović who shares her thoughts on statues and which effect they can have on small communities. Her own work pieces can be downloaded on her website and printed out. Boundaries blur between digital and real world, and the art scene is the one daring enough to change our perceptions before it enters our everyday lives.

"First the idea comes, and then the material," both artists agree. Domanović seems to have a preference for sculptures, but is also heavily involved in digital art works. Anker works in a variety of mediums ranging from digital sculpture and installation to large-scale photography. She puts the process like this:

"It’s like picking up the imagination and then holding it in your hand."

DLD2011 - The Big Picture DLD (Digital-Life-Design) is a global conference network on innovation, digital media, science and culture which connects business, creative and social leaders, opinion-formers and investors for crossover conversation and inspiration. Chairmen of DLD are publisher Hubert Burda and serial digital investor Yossi Vardi. DLD has been founded by Stephanie Czerny and Marcel Reichart in 2005.


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