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#TGIF! Dearsouvenir 2 is out

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Issue number 2 of Dearsouvenir magazine is out! Titled #TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday), this time our lovely quarterly travel-explored-through-the-stories-behind-souvenirs mag is all about weekend getaways.

Dearsouvenir 2 cover German
German version of the cover of Dearsouvenir #2.

As always the magazine is available in full, for free, in English and German, with about 350 pages each, on iOS, Android and online. You’ll find links to all versions over on dearsouvenir.com.

Grab a coffee, lean back and dig in!

Launching Dearsouvenir, a digital travel magazine

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dearsouvenir cover

The biggest news for me this month: We launched a magazine.

Dearsouvenir has officially launched So happy about this! The magazine explores travel through the stories behind souvenirs. I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out, too.

Issue one clocks in at more than 280 pages of travel & souvenir goodness and explores three destinations: Berlin, Mexico City and the Italian region Veneto.

Did I mention that there are two full language versions, one in English and one German – and that it’s free? You’re welcome. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

A big thank you to all collaborators and contributors. Especially Wolfgang, with whom every project is pure joy, the most excellent and energetic Carry-On crew around Theresa, Antonia and Alex, as well as Will for his massive help building the iOS app and his incredible patience with me.

Dearsouvenir is a project Wolfgang and I have been working on – on and off – for years, and it’s gone through a lot of iterations before we got to where it is today: A tablet-first magazine combined with an iOS app that lets you find souvenirs near you.

What are you waiting for? Download the magazine from Google Play (EN / DE) or the Apple app store (search for Dearsouvenir Magazine). If you’re on iOS, I highly recommend also picking up the complementary “to go” iOS Dearsouvenir app to discover the best souvenirs in our launch destinations Berlin, Mexico City and Veneto.

Slashing extra curriculars

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This article is part of 20in20, a series of 20 blog posts in 20 days to kick off the blogging year 2020. This is 20in20:09.

For years now — really, throughout my whole career — I’ve always had a whole range of side projects: Sometimes prototypes or experimental explorations, sometimes something akin to professional hobbies.

It’s fair to say that to a degree, I’ve kind of built my career from or around those extra curricular activities. The things I learned through these, the people I’ve had the opportunity to meet — this has been priceless. And mostly a joy, too!

Over the years, many things fell into this category. Some stayed, others emerged and evolved into more serious projects. To name just a few that come to mind:

  • Events, like Atoms&Bits Festival, Cognitive Cities Conference, TEDxKreuzberg, UIKonf, Ignite Berlin, and ThingsCon.
  • Written things, like The Indie Conference Organizer Handbook (with Max Krüger), Understanding the Connected Home (with Michelle Thorne), and View Source: Shenzhen.
  • Research-y things, like The Good Home.
  • Product-ish things, like Zephyr Berlin pants, The Alpine Review, and the Dearsouvenir magazine.

Some of these, I did by myself; others I got involved in after the fact. But really, most were true collaborations that I co-founded, and those are what I tend to enjoy the most. Over the years, I’ve also been on juries and in a number of unpaid advisory situations.

Together, that’s about a decade worth of extra curriculars: Yes, that was my version of the infamous 20% projects, though in reality, probably a much bigger chunk of my time.

I’ve enjoyed every minute of those, and benefitted greatly from most. Some of them are still thriving, with or without my involvement, which makes me very happy indeed.

But every now and then, it’s time for a culling because a day’s only that long. And especially now with a kid that takes up all slack really I prefer spending time with over yet another Slack channel, that time has come. (However rewarding those Slack channels and side projects might be, they don’t hold a candle to this kid of ours, obviously.)

So it’s with a tear and a smile that I’ll be stepping away from a few more extra curriculars. I’ll be stepping back from being involved in Ignite Berlin, our local chapter of Ignite lightning talks (the project had been sitting there idly for a while anyway by now). I’ll be stepping down from my jury duties. Probably more has to go, but what and how exactly I’m still trying to figure out.

Time to reclaim some slack in the system, lest it all break down.

Oh right, I should add that ThingsCon is explicitly not part of that culling: I’ll be as involved in ThingsCon as ever for the foreseeable future.

So onward and upward, light as a feather.

Monthnotes for March 2019

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This installment of monthnotes features the wrap-up of a fellowship, updates on a PhD program I’ll be supervising for, a ThingsCon event, and an anniversary. Enjoy.

If you’d like to work with me in the upcoming months, I have limited availability but am always happy to have a chat. I’m currently doing the planning for Q3 and Q4 2019.

The Waving Cat turns 5

The Waving Cat just turned 5 officially. Which is still mind blowing to me. It’s been quite the ride, and 5 incredibly productive years.

In this time I’ve written 3 book-ish things and many reports, co-published multiple magazine-ish things and a proper academic paper. Co-chaired some amazing conferences like ThingsCon, Interaction16, UIKonf and more. Worked on strategy, policy and research across a pretty wide range of industries and clients from global tech to non-profit to governments. Was on a number of juries, and mentored a bunch of teams. Was a Mozilla Fellow. Launched a consumer trustmark. Helped kickstart a number of exciting projects including ThingsCon, Zephyr Berlin, Dearsouvenir and the Trustable Technology Mark. Spoke at about 40 events. Wrote, contributed or was quoted in about 60 articles.

So yeah, it’s been a good 5 years run. On to the next round of adventures.

(By the way, that anniversary is the company’s; the website & blog go way, way further back. All the way to like 2005.)

Wrapping up my Mozilla Fellowship

With the end of February, my Mozilla Fellowship officially wrapped up. (That is, the active part of the fellowship; Mozilla makes a point of the affiliation being for life.)

Technically this fellowship was about launching ThingsCon’s Trustable Technology Mark (which got so much great media coverage!) but it was so much more.

I’m glad and grateful for the opportunity to be warmly welcomed into this fantastic community and to meet and work with so many ambitious, smart, caring and overall awesome people.

Nothing could symbolize this better than the lovely ceremony the team put together for Julia Kloiber’s and my farewell. Unicorn gavels and flower crowns and laminated “for life” cards and bubbly were all involved. Thank you! ?

OpenDott is nearly ready

The collaboration with Mozilla isn’t ending anytime soon. OpenDott.org is a paid PhD program in responsible tech that is hosted by University of Dundee in collaboration with Mozilla and a host of smaller orgs including ThingsCon, and that I’ll supervising a PhD for.

I’m not logistically involved in this stage but my understanding is that the final paperwork is being worked out with the 5 future PhDs right now: The last YES’s collected, the last forms being signed, etc. Can’t wait for this to kick off for real, even though I’ll be only marginally involved. I mean, come on – a PhD in responsible tech? How awesome is that.

ThingsCon

The new ThingsCon website, thingscon.org, is by now more or less up and running and complete. Just in time for a (for ThingsCon somewhat unusual) event in May: A small and intimate unconference in Berlin about responsible paths in tech, economy, and beyond. Details and how to apply here.

Zephyrs: going fast

We’ve been making our ultimate travel pants under the Zephyr Berlin brand for about 2 years now. I’m not sure what happened but we must have landed on a relevant recommendations list or two as we’ve been getting a pretty sharp spike in orders these last few weeks. This is fantastic and a lot of fun. But the women’s cut is almost out now. We don’t know if/when we’ll produce the next batch, so if you’re looking to score one of those, don’t wait too long.

The Newsletter Experiment, continued

As I’ve mentioned in the last monthnotes, over in my personal(ish) newsletter Connection Problem I started an experiment with memberships. The gist of it is, I publish about 100K words a year, most of which are critical-but-constructive takes about tech industry and how we can maximize responsible tech rather than exploitation. You can support this independent writing by joining the membership.

It’s all happening under the principle of “unlocked commons”, meaning members support writing that will be available in the commons, for free, continuously. You can learn more in the newsletter archive or on this page. It’s an exciting experiment for me, and hopefully the output is something that’s useful and enjoyable for you, too.

AI, ethics, smart cities

I was invited to Aspen Institute’s annual conference on artificial intelligence, Humanity Defined: Politics and Ethics in the AI Age. It’s a good event, bringing (mostly US based) AI experts to Germany and putting them onstage with (mostly German) policy experts to spark some debate. I’ve been to this since it started last year and enjoyed it. This time, my highlight was some background on the European High Level Group on AI Ethics Guidelines shared there by one of the group’s ethicists, Thomas Metzinger. He made a convincing case that this might be the best AI ethics doc currently, globally (it’s going to be published next week); and that it has glaring, painful shortcomings, especially as far as red lines are concerned – areas or types of AI applications that Europe would not engage in. These red lines are notably absent in the final document. Which seems… a shame? More on that soon.

I’m just mentioning this here because there are a few exciting projects coming up that will give me an opportunity to explore the intersection of smart cities, policy, AI/machine decision learning and how insights from creating the Trustable Technology Mark can lead to better, more responsible smart cities, tech governance, and applied AI ethics. More on that soon.

What’s next?

This week I’ll be at the Internet Freedom Festival (IFF) in Valencia, Spain. Then later in the month I’ll be teaching for a day about trustable tech at Hochschule Darmstadt at the kind invitation of Prof. Andrea Krajewski. Otherwise it’s drafting outlines, writing some project proposals, and lots of meetings and writing.

If you’d like to work with me in the upcoming months, I have limited availability but am always happy to have a chat. I’m currently doing the planning for Q3 and Q4 2019.

Have a great April!

Yours truly,
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Monthnotes for April 2018

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Media & Trustmark

Some nice media action in April around the ThingsCon trustmark for IoT.

Offscreen Magazine kindly invited me to contribute a piece about IoT and how we can create IoT in a more responsible way. (Also, trustmark shout-out!)

The Wall Street Journal‘s cybersecurity newsletter (paywalled) did an indepth interview with me about the trustmark. Some more info about that interview over on thingscon.com.

Mozilla’s Internet Health Report featured our trustmark report from last fall.

And if you read German, I started a column over on Netzpiloten.de with a piece on risks and chances of IoT, and the role a trustmark has to play: Das IoT—Gefahren und Chancen im Internet of Things. (Full disclosure: I was project lead at Netzpiloten from 2007 to 2010, and Dearsouvenir GmbH is a joint venture between The Waving Cat GmbH and Netzpiloten AG.)

In an effort to make it easier to follow the trustmark project’s progress I also started a regular trustmark update over on ThingsCon.com (ThingsCon Trustmark Update 04/2018).

And last but not least, my co-fellows Julia Kloiber, Jon Rogers and I are also listed in the Mozilla Fellowship directory—Mozilla supports the development of the trustmark through my fellowship. (Full disclosure: My partner works for Mozilla.)

Miscellaneous ThingsCon

Also, ThingsCon is part of an EU grant proposal consortium which required a lot of paperwork. (That’s a good sign, right?)

We also had two ThingsCon Salons in Germany and some more action over in the Netherlands, both of which are easier to follow over on ThingsCon.com.

What’s next?

Between these things and lots and lots of research and conversations that will be shaping the development of the trustmark for the next few months, April was pretty packed.

I’ll be heading to Antwerp for a ThingsCon Salon and a workshop with Dries de Roeck tomorrow, and to first NYC then Toronto in June for conferences and meetings.

If you’d like to work with me in the upcoming months, I have very limited availability but happy to have a chat.

And on that note, I’m off for a last round of calls and off to the airport in the morning.

Have a great May!

Experience

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Our work is split between client engagements and self-initiated projects which are sometimes commercial, sometimes of an exploratory nature.

If you’d like to explore working together, please get in touch.

A selection of projects from the last few years:

2019

  • Worked with a range of foundations and think tanks and other non-for-profit organizations, exploring things like smart city policy, a European digital agenda, and the AI & Society ecosystem.
  • Co-chaired the annual ThingsCon conference.
  • Co-published The State of Responsible IoT, a ThingsCon essay collection.
  • Was an Edgeryders Fellow, exploring citizen-centric smart city policy
  • Taught a class on Trustable Technology at Hochschule Darmstadt.
  • Was on the jury for Prototype Fund.
  • Started as an industry supervisor at the OpenDoTT PhD program around responsible technology.
  • Did quite a bit of public speaking, and wrote and got quoted/interviewed a fair bit.

2018

2017

  • Researched and explored the potentials of a consumer trustmark for IoT for Mozilla.
  • Wrote an ebook about the Shenzhen hardware and IoT ecosystem (View Source: Shenzhen)
  • Co-published The State of Responsible IoT, a ThingsCon essay collection.
  • Participated in #iotmark, an international community-led effort to build a certification mark for IoT, initiated by Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino & Usman Haque.
  • Gave talks or help workshops at numerous conferences incl. ThingsCon Shenzhen, Das ist Netzpolitik, DevOpsCon and Transatlantic Digital Debates.

2016

  • Co-chaired Interaction 16, IxDA’s annual global interaction design conference, with Sami Niemelä.
  • Wrote an ebook exploring living in tomorrow’s connected home (Understanding the Connected Home), with Michelle Thorne.
  • Started scaling ThingsCon from a single conference to an event platform and global community of professional IoT practitioners.
  • Worked with Google’s Mountain View public policy team on a number of emerging tech related questions & projects.
  • Co-authored a research report & policy recommendations for the German government about citizen-centric smart cities, with Prof. Dr. Christoph Bieber.
  • Curated Bosch’s first internet of things developer event in Berlin, with Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino.
  • Launched Zephyr Berlin, a fashion brand built around highly versatile performance fashion, with a successful Kickstarter.
  • Collaborated with Designswarm to produce a global analysis of the smart city landscape for Nominet R&D.
  • Served as jury member for Prototype Fund.
  • As an external reviewer, evaluated applicants for ODINE, the Open Data Incubator Network Europe.
  • Exhibited at the V&A for London Design Festival, and spoke or ran workshops at numerous conferences incl. Mozilla Festival, Retune Festival, ThingsCon Amsterdam.

2015

  • Co-founded ThingsCon, a conference exploring responsible IoT practices.
  • Co-curated NEXT Conference with Monique van Dusseldorp.
  • Started The Good Home, an events-driven collaborative exploration of the future of home living, with Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino.
  • Co-founded Dearsouvenir, a digital travel magazine that explores destinations through the stories behind souvenirs.
  • Advised an automotive client on product and R&D strategy around connected mobility.