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Opening up expert knowledge for social change

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tl;dr

How can we make traditionally expensive expert knowledge available for free for social causes and communities in need?

Sharing professional advice freely & openly

I make my living as a consultant, and as an organizer of conferences. Therefore I’m well aware of the prices that both organizations and individuals pay for advice, learning, and access to knowledge.

Yet, not all communities/organizations/individuals can afford to hire experts if they need input of some sort or another. Or worse, they have to resort to fake experts who seem to work more cheaply, but also deliver worse or the wrong kind of advice.

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So this happened in the first half of 2014

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Personally I always have a tendency to think that I’m not doing quite enough: Not pushing hard enough, not putting enough hours to learn new skills, not shipping enough. Partly that’s certainly true (especially the part about making time for structured learning). But partly it’s hard to see progress and get an overview while you’re working on something. You can’t see the forest for the trees.

A friend made that pretty clear to me in a recent conversation where we caught each other up on the things that had happened in our lives, both privately and in our work: As we talked, it surprised me when he asked how I could possibly have been involved in so many projects – a thought that had barely occurred to me before. To me it’s pretty much business as usual to be working on several things in parallel.

Looking at the first half year of 2014, though, he was right. It’d been unusually productive (and explains why I’m really feeling like a vacation). The list of things I did or (in most cases co-)created just earlier this year is longer than I had realized:

  • ThingsCon #1, a conference about the future of hardware businesses & the IOT
  • UIKonf #2, a conference for iOS developers
  • NEXT Berlin (as program director), a conference about the macrotrends that shape digital businesses
  • Connected, an printed essay collection about the Internet of Things
  • Dearsouvenir, a prototype for a souvenir finding service
  • The Indie Conference Organizer Handbook, a handbook for running an independent conference
  • Was invited as a speaker to six events or conferences, including biggies like O’Reilly Solid, in Berlin, Amsterdam, San Francisco and Tokyo, mostly about the Internet of Things, emerging technologies, the exchange of skills between startup land and the German Mittelstand, and Berlin as a tech hub
  • Contributed quite a few interviews & articles, mostly around the Internet of Things or 3D printing and other emerging technologies
  • Set up my new company as an umbrella for all these activities

Currently in the making: the next issue of Connected; the next steps for Dearsouvenir; a digital magazine about maker culture; ThingsCon 2015; and a few early stage ideas that might or might not materialize.

So that makes, what, three conferences, two publications, a prototype and a bunch of writing and talks. Seeing it like that I now know what my friend meant. And yet, this seems to me to be the default, if not the only way forward, for this industry and the model I choose to operate in, which is always about collaborative explorations of emerging technology.

What I find interesting (and what I’m a little proud of) is that besides NEXT Berlin – who I’ve enjoyed working with for a long, long time by now – these projects are all self-initiated stuff, in other words not client work but built from the ground up. This is something I’ve set out to do a while ago, and it’s great to see this working out so nicely.

So on that note, on to the second half of the year. Can’t wait!

 

PS. If you want to get occasional updates about projects I’m working on, often a little bit before they get announced here or elsewhere, why not sign up to my personal newsletter. Say hi if you do!

Weekly log: Projects I’ve worked on this week

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As an ongoing record for myself, I try to post a brief log of projects I actively worked on throughout the week. (UPPER CASE = code names for not-yet-announcables.)

Actively worked on:

Not actively worked on:

  • LAND EEL
  • COUNTING PINES
  • HERMIT ELEPHANT
  • ISELIN

Projects stopped or newly initiated:

  • No projects stopped or initiated.

Weekly log: Projects I’ve worked on this week

W

As an ongoing record for myself, I try to post a brief log of projects I actively worked on throughout the week. (UPPER CASE = code names for not-yet-announceables.)

Actively worked on:

Not actively worked on:

  • LAND EEL
  • COUNTING PINES
  • HERMIT ELEPHANT
  • ISELIN

Projects stopped or newly initiated:

  • No projecs stopped or initiated.

Weekly log: Projects I’ve worked on this week

W

As an ongoing record for myself, I try to post a brief log of projects I actively worked on throughout the week. (UPPER CASE = code names for not-yet-announcables.)

Actively worked on:

  • ThingsCon
  • UIKonf
  • NEXT Berlin
  • SALAMANDER
  • POINTLESS ALBATROSS
  • SAPIENT PEARWOOD

Not actively worked on:

  • LAND EEL
  • COUNTING PINES
  • HERMIT ELEPHANT
  • ISELIN

Projects stopped or newly initiated:

  • No projects stopped or initiated.

Weekly log: Projects I’ve worked on this week

W

As an ongoing record for myself, I try to post a brief log of projects I actively worked on throughout the week. (UPPER CASE = code names for not-yet-announcables.)

Actively worked on:

  • ThingsCon
  • UIKonf
  • NEXT Berlin
  • SALAMANDER
  • ISELIN
  • POINTLESS ALBATROSS
  • SAPIENT PEARWOOD

Not actively worked on:

  • LAND EEL
  • COUNTING PINES
  • HERMIT ELEPHANT

Projects stopped or newly initiated:

  • No projects stopped or initiated.

Weekly log: Projects I’ve worked on this week

W

Feel free to ignore.

As an ongoing record for myself, I’ll try to post a brief log of the projects I’m actively working on week over week. ALL UPPER CASE are project code names for not-yet-ready, exploration-phase things. (I’m using quite possible the nerdiest name space for project names, but I’m not going to link to it.) In the future I’m going to try to post these on Fridays.

Active/production:

  • NEXT Berlin
  • ThingsCon
  • UIKonf
  • SALAMANDER
  • ISELIN
  • POINTLESS ALBATROSS

Exploration/thinking/conception:

  • SAPIENT PEARWOOD
  • COUNTING PINES
  • LAND EEL
  • HERMIT ELEPHANT