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.
Eighteen days to the event. And even though there are still (always) tons of loose ends, we’re now down to the polish. The program kicks ass, the speaker lineup is truly humbling, the team is well organized.
It is so much easier this year. Almost indescribably so. Last year, same time, I was heavily involved in not one but three events that would all go down almost back to back: NEXT, which I curate; UIKonf, which I co-chaired that year; and on top of that, ThingsCon, which we had just launched that year on short notice ]and completely bootstrapped.
SinnerSchrader, the good folks behind the conference NEXT Berlin (where I’m a program director), just published a bit of an outlook for some of the most relevant emerging technologies for the coming year.
BrandEins is one of these rare publications that – starting the moment it appeared – made the media landscape a little better just by virtue of being there. Strictly speaking, it’s a German economics magazine, but that doesn’t do it justice. It’s more like the stories behind economic notions, entrepreneurs, ideas, all told and explained with core values and a bit of an attitude.
Hi, I'm Peter Bihr. As founder and managing director of The Waving Cat GmbH, I explore how emerging technologies change the world we live in, and help spread the insights of innovators through consulting and conferences.
Concretely, I'm a strategic advisor for hire; chair & co-founder of several conferences on emerging technologies including ThingsCon, UIKonf, Cognitive Cities Conference, and serve as co-chair of Interaction16. I'm based in Berlin and like to travel. [read more]
Occasionally, my projects or thoughts appear in media outlets including Alpine Review, DRadio, Forbes, Guardian, New York Times, ZDF and ZEIT. (more)
Events & speaking
I frequently initiate or chair conferences about emerging technologies and the digital world. This includes Things, Cognitive Cities Conference, Ignite Berlin, NEXT Berlin, TEDxKreuzberg and UIKonf. Sometimes I'm a speaker or panelist, too, at events like Picnic, SXSW, O'Reilly Solid or the OpenIOT Assembly. (past and future events)