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Status update: 10 days to ThingsCon

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Cross-posting this from the ThingsCon blog.

 

It’s 10 days to ThingsCon. Time to take stock of where we stand!

Speakers & program

As far as we can tell, there will be 35 speakers. This may be hard to believe, but it’s actually kind of tricky to figure out the exact number as there’s lot of fluctuation and last minute tweaking. Including all workshops it’s even more.

The program is two days packed with goodness ranging from open source medical hardware to building a Rube Goldberg Machine, from maker 101 to robotics, from startup pitch to designing for large-scale manufacturing, from design to business models, from personal founders stories to ethics & sustainability. It’s going to be wild.

Participants

We don’t have easily accessible stats to the geographic distribution of all ThingsCon participants. From a quick scan, we know a few things, though: You are from all over Europe, plus quite a few from the US (including a solid contingent of West Coast folks).

We’re excited that through the Global Innovation Gathering program a group of over 40 entrepreneurs, makers and innovators from Africa, Latin America and Asia will join in. On top of that, it’s great that a large group of students will join, too.

As for professional backgrounds, that’s harder to tell without digging deeply into the company websites (which we did very superficially a while ago to show which organizations will be represented at the conference). We know of individual tinkerers, engineers and designers, entrepreneurs, startups, agencies, academics, researchers, software and hardware people, students, hackspace operators, investors and many, many more. It’s a great and very diverse group.

Supporters, partners & sponsors

With TinkerSoup, Github, Spark, Electric Imp, Postscapes, IotPedia, Capscovil, gestalten and Highway1 we have a great network of supporters across the board. A special shout out to our advisors, too: Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, Bethany Koby, Brady Forrest & Reto Wettach. Thank you all!

Specials

There’s plenty of stuff happening on the fringes of ThingsCon, and we expect lots more to pop up spontanteously. (Follow the #thingscon hashtag on Twitter!)

At this point, we’d like to mentioned particularly the pitch we’re setting up with Betahaus, Betapitch|Hardware. For the 40 fastest ticket holders to sign up, attending the pitch is free (please ping us if you haven’t received a ticket code), everyone else needs to register here. During and after the pitch, we’ll kick off the ThingsCon party at Betahaus, too.

Tickets

You haven’t signed up yet? Whaaaat? Do it. Do it now. You know you want it, too: thingscon.com/tickets.

Announcing Makers Make

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Makers Make

As my time in Buenos Aires comes to a close, it’s time to shine a little light on a thing I’ve been working on with the brilliant Natasha Carolan:

We just started a company called Makers Make. The idea is simple: We believe that making should be easier.

How we work towards that goal is explained – at least in rough strokes – over on the new website, makersmake.net.

Feel free to poke around the (still pretty scarce) site and let me know if you find any loose ends (there are many).

Suffice to say for now that it’s an incredibly exciting space as we get to the point where there’s enough production capacity around to open up industrial 3D printers to external designers – or so we think. This, in turn, means that a whole new league of designers will emerge that takes advantage of new production capacities. We don’t just want to 3D-print tchotchkes, but take it to the next level by allowing specifically for hybrid designs. Think 3D print plus X.

A few personal notes, after all this is my personal blog:

Natasha and I approach this as a project to grow organically, starting off doing this as a side-project. This also means that of course I’ll keep working on all my client projects, as well the major side projects – namely The Alpine Review and UIKonf – as well as a couple that are still in various stages of prototyping. The company is registered in London – we shift stuff (including ourselves and our attention) between London and Berlin as we need it, and if things work out as we hope we’ll take it to other places as well.

For now, we’re at a very early stage and things are still pretty fluid, the way I like it until more formal structures emerge.

Also, a big, big thank you – not just to Natasha, but also to Alexandra, Alice, Ronen and all the others who’ve shared their insights and encouragement.

Exciting times!

Mass customization vs DIY?

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Today I quickly stopped by Holy Shit Shopping, a medium-sized design and crafts fair that has been held in Berlin annually in the Christmas time for the last three or four years. The stuff I saw made me think a little, so here’s a few thoughts. (disclaimer: unfiltered and straight from the train.)

First of all, a few of the things I saw made me smile, in a way that reminded me of the first time I went to this market: A usb stick in concrete. a breakfast egg holder made from concrete but looking like a cushion. A kit to build lamps from used light bulbs. A lot of artsy and baby stuff that was pretty neat even though I’m not in the market for that.

But there was another feeling creeping up on me. Where I used to marvel at micro label apparel and wallets made from old bike tube rubber, I felt somewhat over-fed on most of this. Between dozens of silk screening tshirt labels and absolutely everything made from rubber (or its more recent offspring, firehose tube), the products lost their special appeal.

Now there’s two things to put this into perspective: where zu many small labels are clustered like this, perception changes, of course. In a different context their wares would still be more appealing. And also, I’ve been reading Cory Doctorow’s Makers, in which he also draws a picture of what mass customization and DIY might look like once the current (almost fetish-like) fascination wears off and we get more used to it all.

It feels like we’re in a transition period in which it’s being figured out what the rules and boundaries are in respect to maker culture, mass customization, home fabrication and (simple but creative) re-use of materials.

Or maybe I’m just making this up. You tell me.