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02 Oct

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ThingsCon 2015: new website!

October 2, 2014 | By |

ThingsCon 2015 website

 

We just relaunched the ThingsCon website to kick off preparations for ThingsCon 2015. Emanuel has once more done a gorgeous job with the design. As of now, the site will be the best way to stay up to date. Early Bird ticket sales are starting, content proposals can be submitted and there’s information for potential sponsors as well.

 

ThingsCon is Europe’s leading conference about the future of hardware, connected devices and the Internet of Things. Berlin, 8/9 May 2015. Learn more at thingscon.com and on Twitter @thingscon.

19 Sep

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Is there going to be a UIKonf 2015?

September 19, 2014 | By |

portfolio_uikonfBig news regarding UIKonf: We’re looking for a team or company to take it over from us. Crossposting this from the UIKonf blog:

It’s hard to believe that UIKonf happened just a few months ago. Thinking back to it, we’re still thrilled.
However, the summer break is over now and it’s time to look ahead. When we started talking about plans for next year one thing became increasingly obvious: Each of us will have plenty on their plates. So much so, that we don’t think we will find the time to run another full-blown UIKonf in 2015. In order to make it live up to our standards, we all would need to invest more time than we have during the next nine or ten months. Read More

16 Jul

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Just launched: TICOH, The Indie Conference Organizer Handbook

July 16, 2014 | By |

Cover: The Indie Conference Organizer Handbook

 

Max Kr├╝ger and I teamed up to write a handbook for indie conference organizers. In fact, that’s the name of the book: The Indie Conference Organizer Handbook – A practical guide to running your very own indie conference.

 

It’s available for free under a Creative Commons (by-nc-sa) license as a PDF (TICOH, 5.2MB PDF), and in a more e-reader friendly format for a small fee (aka The Support Us Financially Version) in the Kindle store.

 

The book clocks in at some 13.450 words or 43 pages.

 

All details over on the book page.

11 Jun

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The magic of tribal events

June 11, 2014 | By |

This year, more than ever before, I’ve been thinking a lot about types of events. Strengths and weaknesses, formats, logistics, resources, what have you.

One notion has come up over and over again, in conversations at ThingsCon, at UIKonf, and years before at smaller events like Cognitive Cities and even atoms&bits: That there is a certain kind of event that allows, maybe for the first time, for a certain group to gather. To meet in person, put faces to Twitter handles, and to discuss ideas much more eloquently and deeply than your average web-based discussion allows.

A magical moment

When a group like this meets, it can be an almost magical moment. It can also feel very tribal in the sense that a group emerges with strong ties, that feels like finding the peers – the people who understand you – you should have met forever ago. It can trigger sentiments such as “We have never met before, but it feels like coming home to my family”, or “At last I found my people.” You will leave a different, better person.

 

A brilliant description of what makes a truly great meeting, event or conference, found in Katie Hafner’s highly recommended book Where Wizards Stay Up Late.

 

Personally, I fondly remember this from Reboot, and maybe a barcamp or two. I owe these conferences so much.

This type of event is hard to create, and they are far and few between. It’s almost impossible to predict which conference or meetup will have the special sauce that makes this effect possible.

 

Speakers dinner at ThingsCon, everyone deeply engaged in conversation.

 

I feel personally humbled by the folks who have attended one of my events and mentioned feeling anything like that. I heard a few mentions like this at ThingsCon; and even now, four years after the fact, I vividly remember words to the same effect at Cognitive Cities Conference. It’s the biggest compliment to receive, and maybe the most undeserved one, too: What makes a tribal event like that is the people attending, and that’s a group that is largely self-selecting.

Yet, it’s something to inspire to, and so it’s worth exploring how an event can be tweaked to nudge the odds of it becoming a magical event up just a notch or two.

What makes a tribal event?

I think there are a few characteristics that I believe many of these events share:

  1. They are scrappy & small(ish), yet are very ambitious and have a strangely large, maybe even global footprint.
  2. They are tribal in structure, effect and mental model: Recruiting participants from one or many strong communities.
  3. They are the event equivalent of what Bruce Sterling calls favela chic: minimum resources, but “wired to the gills and really big on Facebook”, in other words, highly networked and connected.
  4. They draw their particular creative friction from connecting the dots between interrelated, but largely unconnected communities. By mixing it up in interesting ways that spark debate and exchange, finding strong, organic connections hidden between the noise.

It’s a kind of mental model that resonates strongly with me. It’s very different than large, highly professional and sophisticated productions like NEXT Berlin or some other conferences I’ve been involved in. But at the same time, it’s something that (in hindsight, I believe) I’ve implicitly applied in events like atoms&bits, Cognitive Cities, and to some degree ThingsCon.

For now, these are just vague ideas forming in my mind, notions I’m trying to figure out and analyze further. If you have been thinking about this, please share your insights, I’d love to hear about them. There’s much to be done. Let’s get right to it.