Categoryi (heart) nerdism

Re:publica 2010 Wrap Up


Bonanza coffee heroes

Below, in short, you’ll find: Thanks! International geeks! Interview! Party photos! Food! Smart cities! Drumbeat!

#Thanks! Wow, what a week. Big thanks and props to the team behind re:publica 2010. Like the last few years, it’s been a blast and incredibly well organized.

#International geeks! Yet something has changed over the last years it seems – to the better in my point of view – and that is: more international geeks. It might just be my personal perception, but I think the number of talks in English back it up: More international geeks have shown up this year. Republica has managed to become the most important geek (“geek” as in “non-corporate”) conference in Germany, and the folks outside Germany started noticing. For me that’s always a good sign, as the web scene here is pretty fragmented and really needs focal points like this. (Small side note: Lots of talks had English titles but were in German which led to some confusion.) So: If you want to get to know the German geeks, republica is the place to go.

#Interview! Speaking of change in the conference scene – and again, this is just a personal feeling – it seems to me that the less marketing and PR and agency focused conferences (republica, SXSW, barcamps and what not) keep getting more and more important. Of course, they’re each aimed at different audiences and different kinds of exchanges take place at these very different event categories (geek vs corporate event, conference vs trade fair etc). To over-simplify: On one, knowledge and personal respect are exchanged; on the other, financial deals are made. Yet, to me it seems like the lower-profile events that are aimed at those that do cool stuff will be giving the much more expensive, agency-centered conferences a run for their money. Let’s see how that plays out. Markus Richter of Trackback kindly interviewed me briefly about the role of web conferences (in German), here. (There’s also a bunch of great CC-licensed music to be found there.)

#Party photos! Also this week, my friends Igor, Caroline and I organized a party with the support of Tumblr, Tribaspace and Ketchum Pleon. Check out the photos!

#Food! Having two foodies visiting, the whole week we were out looking for great food and coffee. If you’re visiting, don’t miss out on: Bonanza Coffee Heroes and Espresso Ambulanz, Korean BBQ at Kimchi Princess and a tea time at Chen Che. Unlike will show you the way.

#Smart cities! Igor Schwarzmann and Johannes Kleske gave a talk on smart cities and how cities can be discovered in more playful manners by using technology. Their talk “Playful Urbanism” will be is up on video soon. (I’ll be posting it here, too.) You can watch their talk “Playful Urbanism” on video below and read up on the whole thing here. Igor had already talked about Smart Cities at Ignite Berlin, and they also write the blog So along with a few others, we decided to have an event this fall around the same topic. Updates and more details soon.

Update: The video is posted below, and here’s the write-up with all the links.


#Drumbeat! Mozilla Drumbeat is all about keeping/making the web open. Drumbeat will be coming to Berlin with a full-day event on 8 May. You should be there. (I certainly will.)

While I’ll catch up on a bunch of links, I might be updating this post to include some videos or more links. But first it’s time to catch some rays.

Update: The good folks over at pl0g asked participants to tag the conference (in German):

Open Design & Tinkering in Berlin


Lately so much has been going on in Berlin that has to do with the whole field of open design, tinkering, DIY – and last week was another highlight. I had the chance to drop in at the Open Design Workshop at Betahaus. (Sadly I could only pop in for a few minutes, but that was enough to see – among many other things – Jay Cousins cooking up bioplastics from some starch and Martin Bauer doing some serious laser cutting. Awesome stuff, all of it!) It was the latest, but certainly not the last congregation of the whole cluster of tinkerers and makers and builders in Berlin. It’s a trend that has been going on for awhile, and all over the world, but it seems that Berlin is a very fertile ground for this kind of maker culture. (We also noticed that by the massive positive feedback as we were putting together the atoms&bits Festival last year.)

The Open Design workshop was a part of Social Media Week and organized and attended by a very diverse and cool group of people, all of which are extremely fine folks (and some of which are close friends of mine, so I’m totally biased here).

These two videos emerged from the workshop:

Delivered in Beta from KS12 on Vimeo.

I can’t find a good link except a Facebook page, so here’s the list of organizers taken off the Facebook page:

  • Michelle Thorne (, free culture advocate, works for Creative Commons, where she coordinates international CC activities.
  • Ronen Kadushin ( is a designer and educator pioneering “Open Design” as a concept and also as a company.
  • Luis Berríos-Negrón ( is an artist/architect and will contribute thoughts on his ongoing project ‘The anxious prop’
  • Jay Cousins, Mendel Heit, Chris Doering ( are part of the palomar5 network, material specialists and upcycling pros.
  • Martin Bauer ( is an expert at the lasercutting machine. He has used it to produce nearly everything imagineabe.
  • Philip Steffan ( is the founder of Bausteln, a network and platform for tinkers to meet, exchange ideas, and build things.
  • Nadine Freischlad is community manager at jovoto and involved in the open_sailing network (
  • Gabriel Shalom is a filmmaker and founder of KS12 studio, currently working on the collaborative (film)project (
  • Erik Nap and Arne Hendriks ( are representatives of Waag Society who’s hosting Amsterdam’s Fablab. Bas van Abel is representing Creative Commons Nederland, where he coordinates the open design program.

This is great stuff indeed. Props to the organizers, and thanks for the videos!

Impressions of ITP Springshow


ITP is a program at NYU’s Tisch School of Arts, and it looks simply awesome. Taken directly from their own mission statement, the ITP’s mission is “to explore the imaginative use of communications technologies — how they might augment, improve, and bring delight and art into people’s lives. Perhaps the best way to describe us is as a Center for the Recently Possible.”

Twice a year, the students showcase their works, most recently (yesterday) it was ITP Springshow 2009. I’m very glad I could make it there. The vibe is just great, it’s creative and it oozes innovation. The folks studying there are a mix of artists, tinkerers & hardware hackers, it seems.

When I walked in, I saw Clay Shirky hugging a needy object. (Which, if you ask me, is a great start to any show. Also gives you an idea about the kind of stuff you get to see here.) Other projects I found noteworthy or just cool were The Gotham Guide, a QR code based mobile tour guide; a visualization of the rat and bedbug populations in New York City; A Simple Mug, a project to visualize the impact a re-usable coffee mug can have on our environment; an iPhone app that lets you travel back in time through maps; The Mud Tub (seen in the video below), an experimental organic interface that lets users control a computer by digging through mud; a cheap water-testing device for UNICEF & Africa; a service that broadcasts the public Twitter timeline in audio format; a gorgeous wind-sensitive LED light show; a hybrid of Andean textile Art & 8-bit aesthetics; International finance data interpreted as fish; a digital underwater creature that reacts to being watched; Flowzilla, a mobile rapping app; a Greasemonkey script to play Wikipaths like we did when I studied in Sydney; a modified Altoids box to channel women’s frustration; Root Boots that allow you to re-connect to nature; A service for phone calls from the past; A hug measuring jacket; A micro-locative game about heights in the city; a social light switch (which reminded me of the Good Night Lamp, which I also love); a jacket for those who need long-term intravenous injections; and many others.

The Mud Tub, an experimental organic interface

I had a blast. If you have a chance, go see the next show.

There’s also a complete list of projects shown.

Seven Things You Don’t Know About Me


The Seven Things You Don’t Know About Me meme has been around for quite a while (it’s fairly old, really), but it’s good fun, and a charming way to get to know each other better. So here we go. I was tagged by Stuart Brown (Social Communications), so here are seven not-so-well known facts about me. (Thanks, Stuart!)

The Seven Things

  1. When I was a little kid, I wanted to make it my job to take things apart. I had no interest in putting them back together (or maybe I lacked the skills). I just wanted to take them apart, piece by piece.
  2. Watching Road Trip always puts me in a good mood. I’m not proud of it, and it’s not even a particularly good movie, but even five minutes and all grudges are gone.
  3. I got two masters degrees, almost by accident.
  4. The two tools that I found help me most to increase productivity are, in this order, a large second monitor and static-adhesive whiteboard sheets (like these).
  5. At home, I have a massive stack of chopsticks, and a glass from the Washington, DC, German Embassy’s basement bar. Both are completely unrelated.
  6. I don’t understand, and never have, what small glasses are for. Cups are a completely different matter.
  7. I’m writing this from a completely empty office because the rest of the crew won’t move in till tomorrow morning.

Who’s next? Nicole EbberZeitgeisty Patrick RathkePointkilla Michelle Thornethornet Ian ForresterCubic Garden Sebastian GrünwaldtBerlinblase Janetti ChonJanerri Alien TedAlien Ted

The Meme Rules

  • Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
  • Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
  • Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
  • Let them know they’ve been tagged.

I work for the Internets shirt now available in the U.S.


I work for the Internets, CC licensed by flickr user thewavingcatA little while ago, MT and I launched a little side project, a t-shirt series that says “I work for the Internets“. We’ve only sold a few, but we’ve also been asked a few times if we shipped outside Europe which had been quite expensive due to the way our German Spreadshirt shop was set up.

Good news: If you live in the U.S. or Canada, we can now print and ship the shirts to you much cheaper through our new U.S. Spreadshirt shop.

Nearly all of the shirts are American Apparel. (Except the German girl tee with black on black print: for some strange reason there seems to be no black American Apparel shirt for girls in the German store.) We stuck to American Apparel so you know what quality and cut to expect, and I’ve been quite happy with it.

On a side note, we were thrilled to see the shirt in the wild, too, as you can see in the picture below. It was taken at Communia Conference.

Photo by Juan Carlos De Martin, licensed under Creative Commons (by 2.0) Photo by Juan Carlos De Martin, (jdcm on Flickr), released under Creative Commons (by 2.0).

Berlinblase is back


Berlinblase.deWith Barcamps abound and the Web2Expo just around the corner, it’s time to once more kick off a few side projects. One I’m particularly fond of is Berlinblase. (I hinted at it here.) Johannes Kleske was so kind to write up a neat brief summary, so please allow me to simply quote at length:

Yep, we’re back! After our first attempts with rather spontaneous group-mashup blogging for the Berlin web week (Barcamp Berlin 2 and Web 2.0 Expo) last year, we intend to take it to a new level this time. Tumblr is awesome and helped us to get things started but we want more. And WordPress looked so damn hot … that’s why we set up this new group blog. Content-wise we will cover a lot more then last year, starting today with the Barcamp in Stuttgart. Look to the top right for a list of all the main events we will be bubbling from. We will still aggregate all the interesting articles, pics and media bits about these events. But we will also bring you a lot more original content and personal opinions from our crew, flavored with tasty podcasts, spicy interviews and of course, delicious live twittering. As you know, we are very passionate about the various spheres x.0. We have met some of the most amazing people and found truly mind blowing ideas in ‘this thing’ we affectionately call “the bubble 2.0”. We love to hype the cool stuff like crazy. But we will also call you out if you give us BS ;-) So, a hot new season of conferences and barcamps is upon us and we will try to be your inside source. But most of all we’re looking forward to meet as much of you guys as possible. Because in the end, we’re in this for the friendships and yes, the cold ones with old and hopefully many, many new friends. Keep on bubbling! Peace.

Little Brother: Protect Your Privacy To Protect Your Freedom


Cory Doctorow: Little BrotherPrivacy isn’t usually the most sexy topic. At least it isn’t usually treated that way, which is a shame. All the better: Cory Doctorow’s latest novel Little Brother (download for free, buy on Amazon) more than makes up: Little Brother is a passionate & compelling rant against government surveillance, and a rally cry to protect our privacy. More importantly, it makes a strong case for why replacing privacy with surveillance won’t protect our freedom and safety but destroy both.

Little Brother is, technically, aimed at young adults, but don’t let that put you off. (It certainly didn’t stop me!)

I just devoured the whole novel in a single swoop on my train ride back to Berlin, and it’s an absolute page-turner. Also, it’s so angry it’ll make you see your day-to-day world just that little differently, like it just inserted a dash of ARG (Alternate Reality Game) into your daily life.

Neat side feature: Instructibles explains how to built all the neat hacks and tools brought up in the novel.

Go hack away!

Here’s a few links to get started, largely taken from the Little Brother’s Afterword:



  • Reading

    • Reporters Without Borders: Freedom of the press & of expression is the basis for a stable, working, living democracy. Reporters Without Borders watch the freedom of press worldwide.
    • Center for Citizen Media. Call it citizen media, participatory journalism, or simply blogging: Don’t leave it to commercial media to report on abuse by authorities.
    • The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). THE fighters for our digital rights. If you have a few bucks to donate, this would be a good place.
    • An anonymous place to post confidential information. Think dissidents and whistleblowers.
    • For German speakers: Newspaper just started a new blog about privacy issues called CTRL. Full disclosure: I’m friends with one of the authors of CTRL.

  • Hacking

    • TOR, The Onion Router, allows for anonymous surfing. You really want that.
    • gpg encrypts your email. Like, pretty much unbreakable.