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“Elf, hacker, strictly moneyless and stateless for over three years”

elf Pavlik

Strictly Moneyless

Video #1 - elf Pavlik

“Money only exists in the human imagination, in an abstract sphere. It’s a human creation !”
His backpack is like home to him. As he lives everywhere and anywhere, all his life can be found inside… A computer to work on, some clothes to keep warm, a mattress to sleep on, some bathroom stuff, among others, an electric razor he carries along and that’s lasted all these years… Years without money. Yet, Pavlik Elf isn’t unhappy. If he lives without money, it’s by choice. At 30 years old, he hasn’t used any money at all for almost four years.
Everything changed about five years ago. Back then, Pavlik lived in San Francisco. He was working as a web developer in a start-up company. His company was focusing on the luxury market (yacht holidays, clubs, private jets). He already didn’t feel very comfortable with his company’s orientations. “They weren’t trying to improve the customers service quality, they only wanted to do business”, Pavlik remembers. As he has always been passionate about the web and new technologies, he felt in opposition to his company. For he has a strong desire to improve people’s everyday life. Financial drifts, competition, lack of ethics…

All these things that he witnesses daily made him feel deeply ill-at-ease… Until the day he refused to do something he considered dishonest. On that day, he got fired.

And that was the beginning of his moneyless adventures. No plans for him, everything began spontaneously. “I had some savings, I thought I would find a job to pay for the minimum : the bills of the room I was renting and food”, explains the young man. Little by little, he started a quest for a job but the idea of earning a living didn’t attract him anymore. As he wished to invest himself in some way to help people out, he decided to leave the money system behind…

At that time, I was discovering all over again what I really needed :
air to breathe, water, food and a place to rest
Pavlik then reconnected with some friends, crashed at different places, moved around. He always slept in parks. It was summer in San Francisco. The Golden Gate Park became his headquarters. He then hung out in shelters for homeless people, committed places. “At that time, I was discovering all over again what I really needed : air to breathe, water, food and a place to rest.” And Pavlik was then able to look back on his life : “As a child, I was conditioned : all my needs were associated with money. Now, if I manage to get food without money, it means I don’t need it.” Progressively, Pavlik found systems to get food, to find places to stay, to take a shower… Always without having a penny in his pocket. He multiplied the efforts and became an expert on tricks to manage.
“At first, it was complicated… Because I’ve made this decision in a spontaneous and personal way, I’ve had to learn to live like this…”
A hacker devoted to… improving social ties
Passionate about computer science in general, and more specifically about the web, he decided to place his skills at the service of his ideology, so that people coordinate better and can take distance with money. “If we develop alternative systems, money will become obsolete !”, Pavlik sums up. “I don’t see money existing, it’s something virtual. We can’t touch it, we can’t taste it, smell it, see it, feel it or even hear it, because it only exists in the human imagination, in an abstract sphere. It’s a human creation”.
Human relationships…
…more sincere
According to the young man, money changes relationships between men. They are often more superficial. Money is a source of manipulation. We don’t sell food to people for them to be happy to eat it, or because they are hungry. Most of the time, we don’t care about what people think. If we sell it, it’s to make money and to pay the bills. “Myself, by not using money, I affect the decisions of others. I trigger deeper emotions that come from deep within”. Indeed, his experience of working has been turned upside down.
From now on, Pavlik is moved by meaningful projects and shares a common vision with people. He doesn't kowtow to a boss but collaborates with others instead. And ever since he’s dumped his paid job, he has probably been working more than he used to ! A hacker, that’s how he defines himself. He programs new apps in order to create more solidarity in the world. As an enthusiastic partisan for collective intelligence, he strives for the Creative Commons licences. He regularly takes part in hackathons and organizes meetings with the Ouishare collective. These events present and honor innovative projects of collaborative economy.
Another way to work
“Using my personal experience and my lifestyle, my main goal in what I do is allowing as many people as possible to live and work in more participative, more committed and more involved ways. Not just work to earn money without really knowing what you’re doing, but on the contrary, make things that you believe in happen, make your work meaningful”

Numerous collaborations…
Pavlik collaborates on many projects. He has prepared small cards, “just like the Pokemon ones”, he jokes, on which are written down different Open Source projects. Whenever he meets someone with whom he wishes to work, he takes out his cards, talks about this or that project, so that they debate together and decide which one inspires them most. Pavlik mainly uses javascript because it’s a functional language in web navigators.

Here… or elsewhere !
His projects are the things that keep him going, from city to city. Indeed, if Pavlik goes somewhere, it’s never a random choice. His goal : working on a beautiful collaborative project which makes sense and promotes the general interest.

His backpack is never too far off… Always ready to hit the road again… When travelling long distances for a project that sends him to another capital city, he hitch-hikes. “I consider that with or without me, the car will do this journey. And my added weight won’t make a big difference in terms of energy consumption”, he explains.

And it works ! Or, to put it another way, it runs smoothly… “I’ve hitch-hiked to Amsterdam, Vienna, Oslo, Barcelona and Paris…” And Pavlik always makes it in the end, or almost ! Like last January for the Ouishare meeting day in Berlin… As he was supposed to host the exchanges, he ended up stuck in Munich the day before the gathering. And still, at 7pm sharp, he was where he was supposed to be, ready to start the debates.

The elf of nature…
“No need of money or material exchanges, I find my reward in the happiness I bring to people”
For two years, he’s been coming regularly to Berlin where he’s made a life for himself. He can now rely on quite a good number of friends ready to host him.

“A few weeks ago in Rome, I was heading to a Ouishare summit” he remembers. Everything happened so quickly that none of his friends was able to offer him a couch. So he spent the night in a nature reserve. “It wasn’t cold, 15 or 16°C, I put down my mattress and sleeping bag. It was an incredible moment of peace and serenity with birds, enjoying starry sky !”

Pavlik quickly feels in touch with nature. Nothing surprising about that, since he sees and describes himself as an elf. It has even become his name. He has stopped using his old family name, from now on his name is Elf Pavlik.

Why an elf ? It’s a being that participates in life on Earth, as if it were a game. “I respect its environment and other participants so that we all live in harmony”. Let’s not forget the other symbol : the Christmas leprechaun. “I work in order to make people happier, and to make them smile”. A mission similar to the one of the leprechauns who make gifts in order to bring joy to children. “No need of money or material exchanges, I find my reward in the happiness I bring to people”, smiles the elf.

In order to wrap up that first episode, many people have collaborated to its realisation. Benoit (@webreporters) and Anaëlle (@anaelle) have gone to Berlin to film, take photos, record the sound. Meanwhile in Paris, Alexandra supervised the work.

A small team then quickly came into being. Sylvain (@ChauxSylvain) indeed came to support Benoit during the editing phase, Timothy (@timothyduquesne) and Nicolas participated in the voice-over writing of the second version. Anaëlle took care of writing the article, and Elie came to put the finishing touches to the Sideways website codes.

Let’s not forget our favorite composer, Looping ! The translation into other languages ​​was made by various contributors, especially Taïs and Elise for English, Julie, Haissa and María Jesús for Spanish and Deborah for Italian.


La Fabric @Berlin, Pavlik (@elfpavlik) and his friends, Le Labo de l’Edition (, Nicolas Rodelet, Artefacts ( and Emmanuel Doudat


This episode was entirely auto-financed. It was our pilot episode for working on the style of writing that we want to give to this series.

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