Monthnotes for June 2016

June was a monster travel month with almost 3 weeks of travel, all wrapped up into one big trip: Rotterdam and Amsterdam for two events back to back and lots of conversations, then London for Good Home, then Scotland for Mozilla’s Open IoT design sprint. It was delightful and interesting in a great number of ways as I got to work with several groups, all of which are extremely smart and nice and deep in fields I normally don’t get to learn about as much as I’d like to: Space exploration, philosophy, bio tech, ethnography and many more.

But before even hitting that trip we also published a second edition of our book Understanding the Connected Home.

Understanding the Connected Home: We just launched the second edition of our book, fully revised and updated. It’s about designing connected homes in a way that’s great to live in. (Hint: There’s more to it than automatically switch on and off lights.) It’s a quick read of around 100 pages (depending on the format), and written with practitioners in mind. It’s available online at If you want to support this and future books, there’s also a Kindle-formatted version on the Kindle store.


Dearsouvenir: As we’re getting ready to produce issue #3 of our travel-explored-through-the-stories-behind-souvenirs magazine, issue keeps picking up steam. Grab a copy—it’s free!— in English or German. (You can also win a trip to Berlin on the German Dearsouvenir site.)

dearsouvenir 2 cover

ThingsCon: The ThingsCon Amsterdam crew kindly invited Michelle and me to speak at a salon on IoT and ethics on June 10th. With a workshop by the (brand new) Just Things Foundation that works around IoT and ethics and three talks it was a great day indeed.

ThingsCon Salon Amsterdam
Workshopping, aka applied ethics.

Best of Charming IoT at Iskander's lab
Best of charming IoT at Iskander’s IoT lab at

Marcel and Harm were the nicest hosts imaginable, and Rotterdam delivered! For more upcoming local ThingsCon events, keep an eye on @thingscon as well as the ThingsCon events page.

The Stairs
The Stairs, a temporary installation in Rotterdam

We’re also starting to plan for ThingsCon 2017 and have some ideas on how to shake things up a little. More soon!

IoT Design Process Patterns: As part of Dries de Roeck‘s research into design processes and patterns we hosted a workshop in Berlin. With practitioners from various Berlin-based organizations of all sizes we explored how connected services and products are design and implemented. Follow Dries’ Twitter account for more insights as his research progresses.

Museum of the Future: The Museum of the Future is a Dubai initiative that’s all about designing solutions for a changing landscape—in this case, exploring ways to fight and deal with climate change—with a long-term outlook of maybe 30-50 years. Hosted by Tellart, this was one smart group to explore future scenarios and come up with ways of making interventions and exhibitions towards a more positive, sustainable future more graspable.

quintessential 'dam
Quintessential ‘dam

Museum of the Future workshop
Great time at Tellart

changing landscape
Designing for a changing global landscape

Bucky's everywhere
Bucky’s back!

The Good Home: Then off to London for a Good Home and planning for London Design Festival in September. We worked with a number of UK companies large and small to see what the potential is for rolling out some of our ideas to a larger public.

London -013 Good Home workshop
Alex moderating a discussion of Good Home values

London -018 Good Home workshop
Resilience as a value for the Good Home

Mozilla OpenIoT Design Sprint, Anstruther, Scotland Scotland for a Mozilla Open IoT gathering hosted by the lovely Jon Rogers of Dundee University at the beautiful tiny village of Anstruther, Scotland.

Werewolf in Cellardyke
Out on the harbor walls, playing a game at the end of the day.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the prototypes, and a Flickr pool of that week. Our little research group (Holly Robbins, Leonardo Amico and I) looked into traditional fishing vessels and what we might learn from their technology and practices for IoT. We called it Fisherman’s IoT.

Fisherman's IoT
Fisherman’s IoT

What was a little bizarre was the experience to be in Scotland when the Brexit results rolled in. Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, and we were a group of around 35 people from all over Europe and the rest of the globe. It felt like a bad political hangover. Fingers crossed we get to sort out this mess.

To round things off, some lightweight ongoing engagements with Google and Bosch.

Ignite Berlin: We’re preparing for another installment of Ignite Berlin. This time we’re trying something new: We’re working with ViewSource, Mozilla’s developer community conference, to have an Ignite as part of their large event. Should be fun—again, more soon over on the Ignite and ViewSource websites.

So what’s next? First, it’s good to be back and to catch up on a bunch of admin and meetings. For ThingsCon 2017 we have some thinking to do, so we can turn some rough ideas into action. I think we have some aces up our sleeves. The Good Home is getting ready for London Design Festival. There’s a number of client gigs in the pipeline that look quite promising and very interesting. And we’ll see where our ebook Understanding the Connected Home might get us, too. On top of that, Dearsouvenir #3 production should kick off soon.

In other words it doesn’t look like a quiet summer but a really engaging one.

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