Announcing the SPECIAL PROJECTS Membership (and a book)

I’m delighted to announce a new membership program, SPECIAL PROJECTS and, at the end of this post, a book project.


SPECIAL PROJECTS is my independent, self-directed work.

In the past, this has produced things like…

  • ThingsCon, a conference-turned-non-profit that I co-founded in 2013/14 that explores responsible IoT.
  • Zephyr Berlin was the name of pants that travel extremely well and were built to last. (The pants are still going strong, we just don’t produce them anymore.) Successfully kickstarted and shipped.
  • The Good Home was a series of exhibitions exploring ideas for 21st century homes (with Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino).
  • Two (short, self-published) books include View Source: Shenzhen an exploration of the Shenzhen hardware ecosystem, and Understanding the Connected Home (with Michelle Thorne).
  • The Trustable Technology Mark is a ThingsCon initiative I led to create a consumer trust mark for connected products.

There have been many more, but this gives you a rough idea.

Again, you can read more in detail over at the SPECIAL PROJECTS page.


To kick off SPECIAL PROJECTS I thought it would be good to have something concrete at hand: A project idea, something to dig right in.

So I’m delighted to announce that I’ll write a short guide about responsible tech. The working title is Responsible Tech – A Pragmatist’s Guide.

In it, I’d try to distill in the most accessible way what I’ve learned from the last decade or so of working with designers, developers, entrepreneurs, policy makers, foundations and others and give some guidance as to how to approach responsible tech.

What do I mean by that? Well. We’ve been seeing a bona fide surge in talk about responsible tech (or ethical tech; choose your adjective as you see fit). But all too often, these discussions are side tracked into the all-too-abstract by questions of definitions. Also, different groups use vastly different language: Designers, foundations and policy makers each look at different aspects of the issue, act on different stages, using different terminology and tools. Some look at the input side, all the way upstream, others at the outcomes downstream. Even the best meaning actors in that space have a hard time navigating the bigger picture.

So, in this book I’ll distill the advice I’ve gathered over the years of working in this space. There’ll be advice in here for those who want to make more responsible tech, like companies and designers and entrepreneurs. And also for those who work with responsible tech in other roles: advocates and activists, foundations and policy makers and researchers.

It’ll be getting some of the definition issues out of the way, give some concrete advice in terms of approaches and methods, some clarifying language to discuss these things, some analytical lenses to work with. And also lots and lots of sources and references to the research already out there for those who choose to dig deeper.

In the end, this needs to be extremely accessible: As jargon-free as possible, and short enough for a busy professional to actually read. A classic brief primer. I plan to release this as part of the unlocked commons, meaning that you help put this out into the world for those who could not otherwise access it; and possibly make it available in alternative formats (like print on demand, or formatted for MOBI or EPUB) for a fee, released under Creative Commons.

Update: Edited to remove references to a discontinued membership program.

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