Arduino and Makers at atoms&bits


Help! Geekend!

Today I made an LED blink by pushing a button.

You might ask youself: Err, what? Why are you blogging this?

No, I haven’t turned crazy or bored, so no worries. What happened is that I eventually got around to getting out my Arduino:

Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.

I feel like I’m somewhat late to the game, and to unpacking the little Arduino starter kit (kind of like this one) I had sitting on my desk ever since I got it at a recent Art+Arduino workshop organized by Artuino and Tinkersoup in Berlin where a bunch of folks tinkered with low and high tech ranging from little fans to bubble machines to hacked music instruments. (Thanks a lot, Arnon & Anton for putting that together, as well as Alex for pointing me that way! Plenty of photos in this Flickr pool.)

But late or not, eventually I hooked up the Arduino to my computer and wrote the first few lines of code that first made a LED blink, then blink faster, then blink when I pushed a button. Three iterations within a few minutes, that’s enough to feel good.

More importantly though, it was one of these small things that nonetheless felt somehow significant. Like the first steps into something new tend to do. So however late to the game I am, I’m psyched to eventually start my tinkering.

“For the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things.”

The quote above is Cory Doctorow’s dedicated to in his new serialized novel Makers. And my little Arduino session reminded me very much of this story (parts of which were published a few years earlier on Salon.com, where I first read them). Makers is a declaration of love to tinkering, as well as a glimpse into an aspect of the near future that could very well change the world by quite a bit: How decentralized, open-sourced production of hardware – made possible by the net as well as 3d printing and related technologies – will lead to real innovation, and how the sharing economy will fuel all that.

Just like the Arduino hardware is open source and maybe produced and hacked by anyone, the novel Makers is released under Creative Commons license so that it maybe spread and remixed freely. Starting 27 October you can also buy the bound book (amazon.com, amazon.de).

To cut a long story short: There is plenty of fun in this kind of tinkering. “Do Epic Shit” is what it says on a sticker on my laptop. It’s a quote I found in some places on the web, origin unknown to me. This is where I first noticed it. (Feel free to google the real source here.) “Do Epic Shit” is also part of what motivated me to start (along with all these nice folks) atoms&bits Festival: If you want to attend awesome events, why not start one? (Obvious though that might be, it’s one of many things that became obvious to me when I attended reboot11, one of the most inspiring conferences I’ve ever been to.) Not coincidentally, there’ll be plenty of hands-on Arduino and tinker action, too, over at atoms&bits – particularly the weekend of 26/27 September in Berlin.

Today I made an LED blink by pushing a button. Who knows what’s next.

ps. Michelle is putting together a reading of Makers at our coworking space Studio70 for atoms&bits Festival. If you happen to be in town, make sure to drop by: 22 Sept, 8pm (official event link).

Bitte ein Atombit! Jetzt zum atoms&bits-Camp anmelden!


A rare German post, this is the official blurb for atoms&bits Festival and atoms&bits Camp. More details in English in my blogpost and over at Jay Cousins.

Das atoms&bits-Camp ist eine der zentralen Veranstaltungen des atoms&bits-Festivals. Dazu laden wir alle Interessierten am Samstag, den 26. und Sonntag, den 27. September ims ÏMA Design Village nach Berlin-Kreuzberg ein.


Um diese fünf Themen dreht sich auch das Camp:

  • neue Arbeitsformen (selbstbestimmte Arbeit, Coworking)
  • neue Lust am Bausteln (bauen, basteln, Do-it-yourself)
  • neue alte Kultur der Offenheit (OpenEverything, Creative Commons)
  • neue Formen politischen Engagements
  • neue Kunst, Kunst zu machen (the Art of Production of Art)

sowie das großartige, kleine, feine, schöne, private, öffentliche Netz, das alles verbindet und damit erst möglich macht. Beim Camp wird es neben einem offenen BarCamp/Web-Bereich eigens eingerichtete, kuratierte Räume geben, in denen die zentrale Themen des a&b-Festivals aufgegriffen und diskutiert werden.


Morgen abend werden wir im mixxt-Netzwerk die erste Runde der verfügbaren Plätze für das atoms&bits-Camp freigeben.

Um zu vermeiden, dass alle verfügbaren Plätze in kürzester Zeit ausgebucht sind, werden wir Menschen auch über andere Kanäle als das twitter– und mixxt-Universum einladen und ihnen eine Anmeldung über alternative Wege ermöglichen. Die Teilnehmerliste bei mixxt ist deswegen zunächst auf 150 Plätze begrenzt.

Link zur Anmeldung zum Camp bei mixxt: Camp – Samstag und Camp – Sonntag.

Ganz besonders freuen wir uns über Anmeldungen per Postkarte ans a&b-Camp, c/o Studio70, Kottbusser Damm 70, 10967 Berlin. Alternativ ist eine Anmeldung per E-Mail an camp [ätt] atomsandbits.net möglich. It’s up to you!


Alle Informationen zur Location, zum Inhalt und vor allem auch zum Festival findet ihr im mixxt-Netzwerk und auf unserer Website http://atomsandbits.net, die von Tag zu Tag bunter und voller wird :)


Wer sich am Gelingen von Festival und/oder Camp beteiligen möchte, ist natürlich herzlich willkommen! Freiwillige Helfer für Auf- und Abbau oder Empfang dürfen sich hier verewigen: Camp – Organisation. Informationen über eigene Veranstaltungen im Rahmen des Festivals, egal an welchem Ort der Welt, haben wir hier zusammengestellt: Mitmachen.

Wer sich zu einem Thema besonders einbringen oder Fragen im Vorfeld klären möchte, kann sich an die entsprechenden Themenverantworlichen (unter “Team – Tracks”) wenden. Diesen stehen darüber hinaus weitere Teilnehmerkontingente zur Verfügung.


Einige Sponsoren (wie T-Systems MMS, Blogpiloten, trabayo oder t3n – Herzlichen Dank an euch!) sind schon an Bord, wir suchen allerdings noch nach weiterer finanzieller, infrastruktureller und kulinarischer Unterstützung. Anfragen und Hinweise nehmen wir gerne unter sponsoring [ätt] atomsandbits.net entgegen.


Zur Bundestagswahl wird es am Sonntag im Anschluss an das Camp eine große Wahlparty mit Berichterstattung und Liveschaltungen in der Festivalzentrale “Betahaus” geben, die direkt neben der Camp-Location liegt.

Eine große Bitte: Wer am Tag der Wahl nicht in die Nähe seines Wahllokales kommt, möge doch bitte schon heute die erforderlichen Briefwahlunterlagen anfordern (geht prima online, für Berlin z.B. hier) und seine Stimme nicht an Horst Schlämmer verschenken!

Spread the word!

Eine Verbreitung dieses Texte ist ausdrücklich erwünscht! Eigene Berichte am Besten mit #anb oder #atomsandbits taggen, und auf der Berichte-Seite eintragen.

atoms&bits Festival is coming to Berlin!


atoms&bits festival

It’s official: atoms&bits Festival (a&b) is going to happen. It’s all confirmed and getting ready to go.

You may have read about it here, over at Nicole Ebber or on Hallenprojekt. You might have seen the pics on Flickr or read some tweets (see this link for a twitter search, @atomsandbits or @atomsandbits_de).

But all that doesn’t matter, since a lot has changed since the first blog posts and now we have all the info we need to really go public. Here’s the pitch:

What is atoms&bits? atoms&bits (a&b) are the smallest elements in our modern society. That’s what the atoms&bits Festival is all about: how we change society bit by bit, atom by atom – organized through the Internet and with real world results. a&b is a meet up for visionaries, tinkerers, activists, geeks, and artists – in short, everyone that celebrates a new culture of collective endeavor, and do-it-yourself. The five themes that everything revolves around are: (1) new forms of work (Coworking), (2) a fresh desire to tinker, (3) a new culture of openness (OpenEverything), (4) participatory politics, (5) the art of the production of art, as well as internet culture as the binding element that made all of this possible in the first place. a&b Festival is a decentralized event that stretches over 10 days (September 18-27th). Individual events are taking place in different locations from Berlin to Brooklyn, from Munich to Montreal. The festival will reach beyond the physical boundaries of the event, allowing participation throughout the world. Globally more than a thousand participants are expected. In order to foster sustainable networks and collaboration, we’re creating connections to other events that complement the idea of the a&b Festival: all2gethernow (Topic: music; Location: Berlin), Breakout (Topic: coworking; Location: global); OpenEverything (Topic: open source principles; Location: global); Transmediale (Topic: art & digital culture; Location: Berlin). a&b Camp is one of the central points of the a&b Festival. On the weekend of the German federal elections (September 26-27th) around 400 participants will meet at a&b Camp to discuss, plan projects, and to network. Borrowing from the Barcamp format, all participants will actively engage in the event; the presentations (“sessions”) are interactive and created by the participants themselves. In the open “Barcamp” area, participants will organize completely free sessions. Moreover, central themes of the a&b Festival will be addressed and discussed in several designated and curated rooms: Coworking, DIY, and OpenEverything. Spatial proximity and thematic ties will ensure intensive crossover among these topics. The highlight of the worldwide festival and the kick-off for atoms&bits affiliated projects will be the atoms&bits weekend on September 25-27th. In Berlin the a&b Camp around Moritzplatz and several nearby events will take place then. The program includes exhibitions, live screenings, the a&b party, tinkering workshops, live coverage of the elections online, as well as an election party and more.

I hope it all makes sense to you – if you have any questions, feel free to ask! Also, you can check out the progress on atomsandbits.net, where we’ll add info and the program step by step.

Next steps: We’ll publish the names of those who coordinate the five topical tracks. They will be able to invite a few people to the conference. The other seats will be open for registration, details about the best way to register will be up soon.

We’re also still looking for sponsors. The first bunch of sponsors is confirmed, but we need some more support. You won’t find a better audience than this. Please drop us a line at sponsoring@atomsandbits.net or get in touch with me directly and we’ll send you the sponsoring options.

Update 04 Sept: We put up a FAQ on the atoms&bits website that should answer a few of your questions. Otherwise feel free to drop me a line since a lot of the content is only available in German at this point. Email me at peter@thewavingcat.com