Tagconference

Speaking about responsible IoT & user rights

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Happy to announce that I’ll be speaking at not one, but two excellent conferences this fall about a topic I care deeply about: A responsible IoT and users’ rights. In other words, how we can make sure the Internet of Things works for everyone?

Das ist Netzpolitik!
On 1 September 2017 I’ll be speaking at Netzpolitik‘s annual conference Das ist Netzpolitik! (program), in German, about tensions inherent in the power dynamics of IoT as well as the regulatory environment: Das Internet der Dinge: Rechte, Regulierung und Spannungsfelder.

Underexposed
On 9 November 2017, also in Berlin, I’ll be at SimplySecure‘s conference Underexposed (program). My talk there is called The Internet of Sneaky Things. I’ll be exploring how IoT security, funding and business models, centralization and data mining, and some larger challenges around the language we use to consider the impact of data-driven systems combined all form a substantial challenge for all things related to IoT. But it’s not all bleak. There are measures we can—and through ThingsCon, we do—take.

I’m very much looking forward to both events, and to chatting with the other participants there. These are some great communities. If you’re there, please don’t be shy, so come and say hi!

ThingsCon Amsterdam 2016 is a wrap

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ThingsCon Amsterdam 2016 aftermovie from ThingsConAMS on Vimeo.

Last week I had the chance to go to Amsterdam for the best reason: It was ThingsCon Amsterdam time. The Amsterdam event has not just grown to be the biggest local ThingsCon event—it’s now the biggest total! It’s mind blowing for me to see how much this all is taking off. And with the Amsterdam team around Monique van Dusseldorp, Iskander Smit & Marcel Schouwenaar, ThingsCon is in the best hands I could possibly imagine. I couldn’t be happier.

Monique
Fabulous Monique was the guide through the packed program

But enough of my happy rambling. What actually happened? A lot! In fact, much more than I could have possibly attended or even remembered. With 1.5 days full of talks, workshops and exhibitions there was always something going in inside funky Volkshotel.

Some highlights and shout-outs

So let’s look at some highlights and some documentary to follow up online on what went down. (The event was also live streamed and the videos will be available soon at ThingsCon.nl.)

Marcel & Iskander opened the event wearing freshly printed “Make IoT Great Again” hats—a reference of course to the fact that IoT never has been great, but still is politically charged terrain. (Personally I loved them, but I did hear quite a few “too soon” on Twitter.)

"Make the IoT Great Again"
“Make the IoT Great Again”

Talking to an audience that skewed a bit more intensely to the design crowd than other ThingsCon events (we’re in Amsterdam, after all), there were a lot of calls to action for designers throughout the event.

Ame
Ame Elliott spoke about better UX for security

For example, Ame Elliott of Simply Secure gave a fantastic talk about how to design for better security. I highly recommend all her work, but maybe the most hands-on starting point might be the Simply Secure resources on Github.

Michelle
Michelle’s talk focused on the role of openness & community for IoT

Michelle Thorne tackled the open research she’s doing with her team at Mozilla for the Open IoT Studio.

Alper
Alper explored conversational interfaces for IoT

Alper Çu?un, author of Designing Conversational Interfaces, spoke about exactly that: How to design conversational interfaces, especially in the context of IoT.

Usman
Usman took us on a roller coaster ride from bleak dystopia to a hopeful silver lining

In a gripping closing keynote, Usman Haque explored participatory infrastructure.

Along the way—and tied into the program through workshops and demos—participants could get hands-on with projects in an exhibition. They ranged from artistic explorations to commercial. Here, for example, Vai Kai‘s ready-to-ship final prototypes, which are absolutely gorgeous:

Vai Kai at ThingsCon Amsterdam
Vai Kai is ready to ship their lovely connected wooden toys

The Amsterdam team kindly invited me to do the opening keynote. I explored where we are today in the world of design and responsible IoT. Here are my slides (the video of this and the other talks should be available online soon, too):

Want to read some more?

For some more impressions, among other places I recommend this Storify from the Amsterdam team, Simon’s notes from the ThingsCon Labs session, and this very personal write-up by Max. For photos, check out this Flickr set.

Which also brings us to something we spontaneously launched while in Amsterdam: A new ThingsCon Medium channel that will serve to highlight and amplify great projects and ideas around a human-centric & responsible IoT. It’ll include some write-ups from ThingsCon events around the globe, and also contributions from guest authors and ourselves. Finally, it’ll serve as the content pool from which we’re planning to draw heavily for a publication later in the year.

Monique also infected us with a great idea: How great would it be to have a quick overview of what’s brewing in responsible IoT and empowering tech around the world? (Hint: very cool.) So we’ll try a little experiment: A monthly newsletter with curated recommendations from our extended network.

More ThingsCon in more places

It was so great to see the community gathered in Amsterdam. And that community is growing! We’re also working on making it even easier to run local events by setting up a Github repository and some other supporting structures. We came out of the event with potentially several more local ThingsCon events in new places. As of today, it looks like ThingsCon events in 2017 will be happening (among others!) in Amsterdam, Berlin, Cologne, Copenhagen, Darmstadt, London, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Milan, Shanghai, Shenzhen and, quite possibly, many other places! As always, thingscon.com/events is the place for up-to-date information.

Many things are still up in the air, but it looks like the heavyweights among these events are most likely going to be Amsterdam (Dec), Shenzhen (April), and London (June).

Mind = blown!

IoT Communities & modes of production

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For Retune Festival 2016, I gave a quick overview of IoT communities and their modes of production. Heads-up, this is quite subjective: The IoT communities featured here are the ones I personally find most interesting and/or am most fond of.

The extra short version is this: Exploring IoT in its various facets can be done in many ways, from the often un- or under-funded (art) to the often highly funded (startup) and everything in between. I argue that startups, while currently a hugely popular vehicle to explore ideas, aren’t for everyone: There are some things and contexts that I think are better explored outside a startup context, through self-funding, third party funding, or as a sustainable independent business.

Hope it’s useful for you.

Interaction 16 is a wrap

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Interaction 16 opening session, photo by MJ Broadbent Interaction 16 kickoff. (Photo by MJ Broadbent)

Headed back from co-chairing Interaction 16 in Helsinki, my head is still spinning with all the conversations, talks and experiences of the last week.

The UX community is great: Welcoming, inclusive, interested in a huge range of topics. It was like being adopted by a whole new family.

Ever since Sami Niemelä invited me to co-chair this gathering, one thing I’ve been particularly interested in was to see how the more emerging tech-focused topics we included in the program would resonate with this design-focused community.

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First ThingsCon Satellite Event of 2016 in Brussels

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Early in January we shared our plans on how to grow ThingsCon in 2016 and beyond. One key point was to run more events in and with local communities to grow the reach of the network and learn more about what the most relevant issues are for each of these communities.

So it’s with great pleasure that we can share news that the first ThingsCon satellite event of 2016 is going to happen in Brussels in February thanks to Dries de Roeck, Rob van Kranenburg, and Tom Collins.

Read all about it over on the ThingsCon blog and if you’re in Brussels, make sure to sign up!