Read in Het Parool of 20 May 2015:
I was asked to give a lecture on open planning for a team of politicians from Bavaria, Germany. They were visiting Amsterdam, hoping to learn more about local policies on biking. After my speech on globalization, information technology and planning (!), the team would make a bike tour through the inner city of Amsterdam. The weather was excellent. We were waiting for a laptop. When I told the president I had come to the hotel on my bike, he almost could not believe me. Could I prove it? I showed him my iPhone and opened the app. Wow! Human had registered all my bike trips: a total of more than one and a half hour already, just that morning. He said he never had heard of the app. Is it popular? I told him using the app is fun. It is stimulating. Human is only two years old but popular already: almost 2.000 citizens are tracking their activities in Amsterdam. I took the real time city map, showing a spatial pattern of all those acitivities. Human, I added proudly, is an Amsterdam invention. But later, having reread an interview with the director of Human, I’m not so sure anymore.
Paul Veugen (30) and his team developed Human. Human was awarded a Webby in New York last year. The Webby is the Oscar for the Internet. Human measures your activities. Veugen is from Tilburg. After having finished his study he moved to Amsterdam, “because here is the ecosystem of people doing the same things.” His dream was to develop an app that would be used by millions of people. Human is an Amsterdam based company, but the company has no office here: the developer of the mobile application lives in Sweden, the app-builder works in Canada, one of te marketeers is based in London. The team, some six young people, moved to San Francisco in 2013. There, at the kitchen table in an appartment near the Golden Gate bridge, they invented Human. Since then Veugen travels between Amsterdam and Silicon Valley. He calls himself a ‘remote worker’, a worker who has no steady workplace. So is Human really an Amsterdam app? Manuel Castells should tell.