Weeknotes #187


You Too Can Be Like Us

Still trying to get the hang of writing weeknotes. I’ve been blogging more regularly recently, which makes it harder to tell anything new in the weeknotes. So here’s some of what’s been on my mind last week:

Collaboratory Prep

At the Google-initated Collaboratory on internet and society where I was kindly invited as an expert we’ve wrapped up the analysis of the first round of survey data we gathered. This Wednesday we’ll discuss the data with politicians. Should be interesting. Will report.

Ersatz Conference

There’s sadly no reboot conference this year since Thomas is taking some (very much deserved) time off to reboot. Reboot is one of my all-time favorite conferences. (See here.) Turns out that there are some great folks out there who appreciate reboot just as much and stepped up to run an ersatz conference called: Ersatz Conference. It’s 18/19 June. I booked my flight right away. Can’t wait to go.

Cognitive Cities

No formal announcement yet as we haven’t figured out the details. But we’ll run an event of sorts this fall, too, around the topic of smart cities. Details soon. Also, the good folks and friends behind the Cognitive Cities blog invited me to join them as a contributor to the blog, which I’m excited about. Thanks Igor, Johannes, Axel, Welf!

Conference Wishlist 2010

With Cognitive Cities, an offspring of sorts of atoms&bits, and Ersatz conference mentioned above, I’m getting close to making my conference wishlist 2010.

Open Design Wallet on Boingboing

I already mentioned it: After Jay Cousins showed me the wallet he made from self-produced bioplastic I was blown away; I posted some photos and submitted them to boingboing, who ran them. I was quite surprised to see the post, but of course excited. What I hadn’t thought of was providing a better link. Nonetheless, it seems like there’s quite some interest in this kind of stuff. So Jay volunteered to run a workshop this Thursday. It’ll be at Open Design City (Betahaus Berlin), check Jay’s tweets for updates & details.

What else? Random notes.

I’m re-reading Pattern Recognition (.de link). Even in the third round I’m discovering new stuff. I found out that internet access in some Dubai hotels is about US$45/hour. WTF? The Homesense project tries to make real sense out of smart housing, should be interesting. Facebook keeps freaking me out, particularly with their ever-present “I like” pop ups. Diaspora, a planned distributed social network with a focus on openness and privacy, has been overwhelmed by support and raised $174,007 (instead of the $15,000 they asked for). I still wish I really understood what exactly they are aiming for (An alternative to Facebook? A way to get your data out of Facebook? Something else entirely?) or if they’re are capable of doing it. (I most certainly hope so!) It shows two things very clearly though: There is a huge demand for a more privacy-conscious alternative to Facebook as many of us are pissed off by Facebook’s behavior. And if you have a good idea you can easily get the support you need from the community. Both of those are great to know!

And with that I wish you a great week!

Image: You Too Can Be Like Us, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from atomsandbits’s photostream

Thanks & Happy Holidays: 2009 Wrap-Up


Happy Holidays!

It’s almost the end of the year, and that means it’s the time to take a minute to think back to what happened during the year, and remember the good stuff, so to speak.

As is always the nature with this kind of posts, it’s more interesting for the author than the readers, so like I said in last year’s post:

The longer version below will be more interesting for me than you, probably. If you skip this post I won’t be disappointed. I promise ;)

So, here’s my 2009. A year which I’m sure will always remember fondly. For me it was a year full of political campaigning, coworking and events galore.

Work-related, I had the chance to work with many new and old clients and partners, and it’s been great. Thank you all – I really feel privileged to be able to have the kind of live I have and get paid for doing stuff I love to do, and I’ve been having an awesome time working with you guys. Thanks, thanks and thanks!

One project I found particularly interesting, and I spent a good deal of time and energy on it: Together with Thomas Praus & Panorama3000 I helped Jusos (the youth organization of the Social Democratic Party, in short SPD) run their federal election campaign. It was, as far as I know, the first time that the Jusos ran their own campaign independently from the party. Even though the election results were disappointing in the end, we experienced a great community of politically engaged young adults and we all learned a tremendous deal.

What else? According to Dopplr, I went on 25 trips in six countries. One of them was to New York, where I spent the whole month of May, working from the great Brooklyn-based coworking space The Change You Want To See. (My friend Matthias, who designed the waving cat xmas motif above, also spent some time there.) The community at The Change inspired me so much that upon return to Berlin it didn’t take much convincing to be one of the first members of a new coworking space in the making in Berlin-Neukölln: When we were introduced to the location, it was a matter of weeks until Studio70 opened up.

At Studio70, a great crowd ranging from fashion designer to tinkerer to journalist and many more gathered, and it wasn’t long until it became clear that an event needed to be held to celebrate this mix. Atoms&Bits Festival was born, and within just a few months we pulled together the whole thing that in the end had reached out to some 30 locations in several cities. It was a lot of work, but also very rewarding to see all these different scenes and subcultures mix and mingle. Atoms&Bits culminated in a weekend of events the same day as the federal elections in Germany, so the weekend of the 26/27 September 2009 was kind of a big day for me. If I had a paper calendar, this weekend would have been circled in a thick, red circle. (But I don’t, and Google Calendar doesn’t do this kind of stuff, so it became just another weekend ;)

Right after Atoms&Bits and the elections, it was time for a little break, so off to a vacation I went. Luckily, a good friend and former housemate from my university time in Sydney happened to get married just then and I had the honor to be one of the brothers/best men, and even more luckily he lives in Singapore, so the destination of the trip was easily decided. After a blast of a time there and seeing many faces I hadn’t seen in years, I came back to Berlin, just in time to receive a notice from the TED crew, informing me that our request to run a TEDx event was approved. So we putTEDxKreuzberg on the map, to be held at, and more importantly with, Betahaus. Again, great fun, and we’re still processing all the things we heard and saw there. (And the videos, too.) And just like last year, we had a monthly Likemind kaffee klatsch at good ol’ St Oberholz. Thomas and I have been having a great time with this and we’ve both met so many cool folks, we’ll definitively going on doing this, so make sure to drop by (3rd Friday of the month, 9am).

To finish the year off, the most recent turn of events led me to Strasbourg, France, where I’ve been spending the last couple weeks (and until some point in January 2010) at Arte, a German-French public TV station, doing some behind-the-scenes concept work.

So that was my 2009. Definitively not bad. And since 2010 always has been the start of the future, we’re bound to see another cool year in just about a week. Hope to see you there.

Image: The lovely xmas motif was done for me by Matthias Pflügner. (Thanks!)



Just a brief personal note: I’ll be on vacation for a few weeks. The last few months were a blast, and also pretty exhausting, what with the German elections* and atoms&bits Festival (jump to my posts). It was a really interesting few weeks or months, and I learned a lot. But boy, am I looking forward to a bit of downtime. But not before a very brief and very subjective view back.

The election results, frankly, suck. We (Jusos, Panorama3000 and I) put a lot of effort into the campaign and I think we did a good job. But I can understand everyone who’s frustrated with the politics of the last four years, and voters have made it clear that they didn’t want politics to continue the same way for another four years. Both major parties got the worst results in 60 years, the three small parties got record highs: This clearly is a signal of changing times. Where exactly things are going we’ll need to see. I worked with the SPD (the equivalent of the US democrats) in the campaign because I believe that they’re a really important force in our society – and I’m saying that despite my total and utter disagreement with their recent internet politics. So of course I found it somewhat frustrating that the liberal FDP gained so many votes and Germany is going to be governed by a conservative-liberal coalition of CDU and FDP. (And no, I don’t believe it’s good for the economy either.) So now I’m hoping that the SPD will draw the right conclusions and regain both their strength and – in the next elections – also government power.

atoms&bits Festival on the other hand was a total success and I had a great time. We had planned on getting together the communities around coworking, DIY, OpenEverything, participatory politics and art, and it worked out great. We saw a lot of happy faces, inspired (and inspiring) talks, as well as connections being made across these topical boundaries. Also, I had a great time with the Geeks On A Plane, who kindly invited a few of us to join their dinner and in turn joined us at the atoms&bits party at Betahaus.

All that said, some great weeks. But now I’m off for a little while to marry off a friend and go on a little backpacking trip. So if I don’t respond to your calls or emails, you know why. See you in a few weeks!

  • Full disclosure: I was an adviser to the online youth election campaign of SPD/Jusos. That was a paid gig. This post expresses my personal views only.

atoms&bits Festival: Thanks everyone!



So last weekend was the highlight of atoms&bits Festival that we had put together in hardly 10 weeks. While we’re recovering from the weekend and also putting together the documentation (i.e. all the blogposts, photos, videos etc), I’d like to briefly say THANK YOU to everybody involved.

THANKS to the participants, who were super active and fun to have a camp with. THANKS to all the volunteers and helpers, who did a great job and who we can’t thank enough for going out of their way to support the event. THANKS to the sponsors and donors, without whom we couldn’t have realized atoms&bits. And my personal THANKS to the rest of the orga team, you guys rock.

We had planned with slightly more participants, but we all had a great time, and feedback has been excellent. (Now it’s time to catch up on some sleep.)

And while we’re still collecting the photos from all kinds of sources, I’d like to share these two pics which really tell a lot about the do-it-yourself culture of atoms&bits – they show a conference shirt being silkscreened by hand at a little booth by SDW.

printing an atoms&bits shirt Printing an atoms&bits shirt. (Photo by Just/Just.Ekosystem.org, Creative Commons BY NC SA 3.0)

atoms&bits shirt Printing an atoms&bits shirt. (Photo by Just/Just.Ekosystem.org, Creative Commons BY NC SA 3.0)

atoms&bits: some highlights


Atoms&bits has officially kicked off on Friday and will be going strong until Sunday, 27 Sept. Whenever I have a look at the event list, more cool stuff pops up. On the last count (Sunday, 8pm) the list showed 55 events in 32 locations in 11 cities in 3 countries. (And I’m seriously thinking a few events just aren’t listed yet.) This really blows my mind, taking into account how small this all started.

Time to sit down and pick some personal highlights to see what I really don’t want to miss out on. This list is, of course, just personal preference.

  • Reading of Cory Doctorow’s MAKERS (TUE 22 Sept, 8pm at Studio70)
    From the teaser: “What happens when hardware hackers get tangled up with microfinancing venture capitalists in the aftermath of the financial crisis? The answer: a fast-paced witty novel whose ending the public doesn’t even know.” Cory Doctorow, sci-fi author deluxe and co-author of BoingBoing, has been publishing bits and pieces of MAKERS first on Salon.com (in a series called “Themepunks” at the time). It’s a great story, and it gives a bit of a glimpse into where we might be headed, what with MakerBots and RepRaps and the net. Timewise it clashes a bit with the last of our a&b preparation meetings, so I’ll have to see how that works out. But I’ll try my best to see that.
  • Screening of RIP – A Remix Manifesto (THU, 24 Sept, 8pm at Betahaus)
    I love RIP – A Remix Manifesto. Had the chance to meet director Brett Gaylor at a screening in New York, and certainly won’t miss out on that one. It’s a celebration of remix culture and not to be missed, not just because of the great soundtrack featuring plenty of DJ Girl Talk.
  • Pecha Kucha (FRI 25 Sept, doors open at 7:30pm at IMA Design Village)
    At Pecha Kucha (what’s that?) a presenter shows 20 images for 20 seconds apiece, for a total time of 6 minutes, 40 seconds. It’s a great way to get inspired by the projects presented in a fun and quick way.
  • Rebike Workshop (SAT, 26 Sept, 10am-6pm at Betahaus)
    Chances are I won’t be able to really participate here because I’ll be at a&b Camp next door, but the Rebike is an awesome project, and here some will be built: The Rebike (debut at reboot11) is a bike pimped out with a solar energy source and wireless network, i.e. it’s a totally mobile, largely self-sustaining coworking module: transportation, energy and internet all wrapped up in one.
  • AMY – A Streetart Game (weekend 26/27 Sept, starting at Betahaus)
    I don’t really know anything about this beyond the teaser, but it sure sounds like some cool augmented reality project that’s played all over the city. Won’t be able to participate since I’ll spend my weekend around IMA Design Village for a&b Camp, but this is certainly worth checking out. (Make sure to check in advance if you can participate in English, too.)
  • Washing Machine: Reloaded (weekend 26/27 Sept at Betahaus)
    Sounds like fun and certainly is: A challenge to upcycle your washing machine. Tinkerers, geeks and designers are invited to take an old washing machine and build something cool out of it. I probably won’t be able to participate in this beyond the occasional glimpse, but I’m certainly stoked to see the results.
  • atoms&bits Camp (weekend 26/27 Sept at IMA Design Village
    This barcamp-style conference is where I’ll be spending most of the weekend. As one of the organizers, this is kind of my baby, so of course I’m very excited to see how it’ll work out.
  • Wahlsonntag (SUN 27 Sept, 4pm at Betahaus)
    Right after a&b Camp is finished we’ll quickly clean up and head over to join Wahlsonntag, where Tim Pritlove and Philip Bahnse will be hosting a live show all about the election day and the web: what’s being discussed online, what’s the parties take on the net, what’s relevant in terms of net politics? All that and more will be featured in this show. Perfect way to relax in a nice and interesting atmosphere.

Seriously, sleep dep or not, I can’t wait. And I can always sleep after the weekend, right? ;)

Ps. If you’re still planning sessions or events, drop any of us a line, you’ll find our contact data on the a&b website.