Monthnotes for June 2015

For quite a while I haven’t managed to write regular . 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 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.

In self-directed work…

  • Claudia, Yasmina and I are bringing back IgniteBerlin on July 30th. Tell us what you’re passionate about in the call for proposals!

  • Alex, Patrick and I are working on The Imaginary Unit v2, tweaking the format. More on that soon.

  • ThingsCon videos are almost ready. I know many of you have been waiting for them (rightfully) impatiently. Please just believe me when I say they’ve been delayed for reasons. Almost there!

  • Also in ThingsCon news, we’ve been thinking hard what’s next for ThingsCon. Early plans are beginning to take shape, but we’re still taking a bit of time to take a step back and look at the big picture before zooming in again and rolling up our sleeves… Since I like to structure my thinking and explore ideas by writing blog posts, here’s a snapshot of what I’m thinking about the ThingsCon ecosystem.

  • Over in a recent installment of my newsletter, I’ve been thinking & rambling (Is ramble-thinking a thing? It should be.) about some questions around venture capital v sustainability, the role of gov, and how much we’re influenced in our thinking and approach by the phase of the web we randomly were born into, as it were: Dotcom boom/bust? Post-crash? Early Web 2.0 days? Recent billion-dollar Silicon Valley? Subscribe to the newsletter here.

  • Interaction16: Head on over to the Interaction16 website to register as an Early Bird while tix are available, to apply as a volunteer, and to follow general updates.

In client work…

  • My part of a smart city research project came to a close. It’s one I particularly enjoyed and think will stay really interesting and relevant for a while to come. I hope the results of will be accessible publicly soon.

  • More “white label” (read: in the background) research around IoT, connected cars & homes, smart agriculture.

In miscellaneous…

  • Reviewed a ton of proposals for SolidCon in Amsterdam this fall, many of which were excellent. It’s great to see SolidCon come to Europe.

  • The German federal government was looking for expertise and (research) policy input around a number of (vaguely) smart city-ish questions in a public RfP. I had been tempted to submit something. But public RfPs are a bit on the intimidating side in terms of time commitment for paperwork and the application process, and we couldn’t get the right group together for now. However, it’s great to see that the administration is seeking out this kind of policy input. It’s direly needed – not because the folks inside the administration don’t know what they’re doing (they very much do), but because sometimes the process requires input to come from the outside, from third parties. Identifying the right ones and inputing their perspective can shape the process and outcomes just so…

  • Swapped out my Mac Air battery for a new one. Thanks to ifixit for the kit that allowed me to do that myself, as it seems that the Apple Store takes five days to do it. I have no idea what was wrong with the old battery; it was down to about 2/3 capacity, but wouldn’t last more than an hour or two. Now it’s back to lasting A Long Time. The swap was super easy, highly recommended. Only once you break the warranty does a gadget feel like its truly yours.

  • Wondering: When – in which specific cycle of the development of the internet – would you say you’ve cut your teeth? I’ve been wondering about how differently those who build things on the web today think and work, and specifically how much of it is influenced, and how, depending on if they cut their teeth during the dotcom boom/bust cycle, the post-crash years, the early web 2.0 years and today’s billion-dollar-company Silicon Valley. The more I think about it the more I think the influence of this pretty random context in which each person in our industry was thrown into the mix must be huge. What I mean is, how much did the when & where influence the way a person tackles internet projects/companies/etc. they would like to see exist? To paint a picture with extremely broad strokes, how does someone who happened to launch & IPO a web service on the height of the 2000 dot com boom – constantly wooed by banks and investors – approach something new compared to someone who built their first services in the mid-2000s, with essentially no funding and bootstrapped and (coincidentally?) Social Software driven? How different again is that from someone coming in today who’s almost expected to aim for Y-Combinator and a billion-dollar company?

  • In July, we’re making a road trip to Turin to check out Casa Jasmina and probably host an meetup, too. What’s Casa Jasmina, you ask? A brilliant initiative by Arduino, Massimo Banzi, Jasmina Tesanovic, Bruce Sterling and Lorenzo Romagnoli to build a live-in lab for an as-open-source-as-possible smart home. In their own words: “Casa Jasmina is not merely a kitchen, library, bedroom, and bathroom. It’s a public interface for a larger Internet-of-Things process of building things, acquiring installing things, removing things, repairing and maintaining things, storing things, recording and linking to things, and, last but very importantly, getting rid of things.” Or as Bruce framed it once, a place to live with the smart home future and see if it kills us, or helps us, and how we can improve it.

  • This week O’Reilly’s SolidCon brings me to San Francisco (more on that soon). I took a long weekend and made a road trip out of it, driving along the scenic coastal route from Portland, some 1.400 km or so of beautiful coast, redwoods, beaches, rocks and views.


  • Scout is a really interesting looking journalism/futures/sci-fi/design type publication I happily backed on Kickstarter. Looks like at the very least it’ll be an interesting noteworthy experiment, in the best case it’ll establish itself as a great new platform.
  • Speaking of futures and publications, Warren Ellis has published a whole bunch of his talks as an ebook (Cunning Plans, $1.12). Always lots of ideas worth considering in Warren’s talk.
  • Matt Webb’s piece on conversational UIs is full of interesting remarks, comments, links. Recommended!
  • Scott Smith‘s new initiative Thingclash looks really good. He talked about it a bit at ThingsCon, and his output as been consistently (scarily, really) great. This framework + hands-on tools for exploring & avoiding potential “clashes” brought about by -ish things is one to watch.
  • XOXO, the one conference I really regret not having been to because it seems excellent (but which is just a little too far away at dates I can’t usually justify being elsewhere) gets a little sibling, so to speak. The seemingly unstoppable Andy Baio (in fact, the unstoppable Andy & Andy tag team) just announced that they’re opening up a space in Portland, too, to keep the community and energy alive outside the XOXO festival dates. Excellent!

Update: Read part 2 of June’s monthnotes here.

Leave a Reply