Monthnotes for October & November 2016

First of all, apologies: It seems I skipped the monthnotes for October without even noticing. It certainly wasn’t for lack of stuff to write about. More likely the contrary: It was a crazy busy couple of months. So without further ado, let’s get right to it.

Shopping for 2016 ThingsCon lanyards in Shenzhen from ThingsConAMS on Vimeo.

A quick teaser video from our trip to Shenzhen, China.

China: Shanghai & Shenzhen The biggest thing in terms of both time spent and mindshare occupied is certainly a research trip to China to learn more about the ecosystem that produces some 90% or so of global electronics.

What started as a conversation after last year’s Mozfest with Marcel Schouwenaar & Harm van Beek (of The Incredible Machine, IoT Design Manifesto, Just Things Foundation, and ThingsCon Amsterdam and Michelle Thorne (of Mozilla Open IoT Studio) turned into a two week fact finding trip where we talked to many of the major players in the Shenzhen hardware ecosystem, visited factories and design studios, hosted a ThingsCon Salon in Shanghai (the very first in Asia!) and filmed a documentary along the way. It was incredible.

Here’s a good start to dig into the whole thing:

  • To read all blog posts I note along the way (some 7.5K words or so), peruse the viewsource tag.
  • The first ThingsCon Salon Shanghai was kindly hosted by Simone Rebaudengo ( & crew. Here’s a quick write-up. A bit thank you to Simone for breaking ground with our very first event in Asia!
  • We’ll be talking China & Shenzhen at ThingsCon Amsterdam, too: David Li of the Shenzhen Open Innovation Lab will be speaking about it (and so will I), we’ll have a brief documentary to show, and we’ll be hosting some discussions around the topic, too. There are still a very few tickets left, I believe, and you don’t want to miss this—so sign up today!

This trip gave me a lot of input and lots to think about, especially considering what role ThingsCon can play in promoting a human-centric & responsible IoT within that framework and ecosystem of Shenzhen and global production.

Speaking of ThingsCon, I’m personally particularly excited that ThingsCon will also come to London this coming summer thanks to Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino!

Retune Festival Berlin
At Retune Festival, I spoke about IoT communities and how the different modes of production (and funding) you choose shape the impact of your work. Here’s my presentation.

The Good Home at Mozfest London
At Mozfest we hosted a day of programming around the Good Home. Briefly putting on my ThingsCon hat we also used the time for some alliance building around IoT and consumer rights. More on that soon, hopefully.

Zephyr Berlin
We successfully finished the Kickstarter for Zephyr Berlin. As mentioned before, this is a total outlier project for us as well in that it is textiles: We’re making a small batch of pants (or trousers for our UK friends) that travel really well. It’s a learning experience, and a reasonably simple product to be learning about the logistics involved in a physical product while solving a real (if admittedly very first world) problem: To make it easy to travel with no more than 2 pairs of pants, however long you’re on the road and whatever your contexts might be, from work to leisure. We’re making 100 pairs of pants, they’re in production as I’m typing this, and will be shipped just before the holidays.

Client work

  • A lightweight engagement with Bosch human resources wrapped up.
  • A super interesting engagement with Google around IoT kicked off properly in October and is about to wrap up before the end of the year.
  • I’ll be hosting a two-day workshop for Boell Stiftung about the future of work, and how it’s shaped by emerging technology like internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI). Should be good!

Smart Home Projects index
Started building an index of smart home projects. Help us find projects, please? It only takes a minute.

Prototype Fund
Very happy to serve in the jury for the first round of applications for Prototype Fund, an excellent initiative to promote and support the development of community-driven open source and civic tech projects. (My blog post)

For Netzpiloten I’m starting a regular column on IoT (in German). First piece should go live soon.

What’s on the horizon?
In loosely chronological order: ThingsCon Amsterdam. Lots of ThingsCon activity planning for 2017. Lots of small bits and pieces of work and writing. A holiday.

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