For quite a while I haven’t managed to write regular #weeknotes. However, I do like writing regular updates and they tend to turn out to be quite useful as a reference. Well, turns out that a lot happens in one month, so here’s part 1 of this month’s notes.
June, so far, has been all about #iot in its various forms (connectivity in cities, in farms, in homes…), and it has seen a surge in conference-ish stuff – if such a thing is even possible compared to months of ThingsCon-related work. Also, I’ve spent most of the month on the road, mostly in Portland and – as of now – San Francisco, where I am to attend SolidCon and catch up with a bunch of folks. So lots of interesting conversations throughout the month.
Over in Helsinki, the team has been working tirelessly to launch a new website for Interaction16, the annual global gathering of the IxDA community which I’m humbled to remotely co-chair with Sami Niemelä.
We just had the second edition of ThingsCon in Berlin a few weeks ago, and are still busy wrapping up lots of loose ends. We’re also getting to the point where it’s time to take a step back and look at where we stand. This is the first of (most likely) a longer series of snapshots of exploring these questions.
Before going any further, I’d like to stress that the following are just some of my personal thoughts to help me structure and keep them for later. This blog post is not a preview of what we’re currently planning, nor does it necessarily reflect the team’s thinking. The four of us – Max, Emu, Simon and I – are thinking hard about where to take ThingsCon, but we haven’t made any decisions yet, and all relevant announcements are going to happen over at ThingsCon.com (which is about to get a little relaunch, too). This, right here, is a snapshot of my mental #thingscon notepad, and nothing more.
We always want to learn what works for you at ThingsCon and what could be improved. We hear so through many channels, from more formal emails to quick off-the-cuff remarks during the event. After the conference, we emailed the participants asking to fill out an evaluation form.
By now, the results are in, and they are overwhelmingly positive.
It was great to see how the whole field around #iot, connected services and hardware evolved and matured within just the year. ThingsCon reflected this by moving the debate from “what can we build & how” to “what should we build, and how can we make a positive impact”.
Once more, the diverse mix of people from all kinds of backgrounds (both professionally and regionally) was truly humbling. That said, this time ’round there were certainly more designers than last year among both the speakers and the participants: Are more designers getting into this field? Are more roles re-framed under the label “design”?
I found countless moments of inspiration, provocation, or fresh thinking: Bruce Sterling’s and Warren Ellis’ keynotes come to mind, the moment several people improvised tiny (purposefully crappy) robots for a competition, debates of how to utilize tech for development cooperation for communities in poor countries. The serious debates around impact next to light jokes and playful interactions, learning by making next to more conceptual experimentation.
As so often, the truly priceless moments happened during smaller group conversations on the edges, in the hallways, in the beer harden or a bar. This is where bonds are forged, collaborations come to life, friendships start. Contributing to this even in the tiniest of ways is a hugely rewarding experience.
Thanks for everything. The team is working on some proper write-ups, videos of talks are being prepared for release online. I think it’s safe to say this won’t be the last you heard of ThingsCon.