Photos of our #paperwear workshop at London’s V&A


On Friday, the Connected team – Alex, Ana and I – were invited to run a workshop at London’s prestigious V&A museum as part of their Friday Late series. Needless to say I was thrilled – but more importantly, we’re all super happy with the results and feedback.



Being at a place as prestigious and as lovely as the V&A is fun in and of itself – but engaging there in an interactive workshop – and a discussion – about the future of technology and our relationship with wearable tech in particular is a whole different level. (More over on the Connected site.)

We have two sets of photos – a professional one as well as my own snapshops – and here are some impressions:


Poster for our workshop.

The reason we were at the V&A.

Setting up the workshop.

The calm before the storm.


Click here to see all the photos. (more…)

Palomar5 (some impressions)


Palomar5Even though a few friends of mine have been directly involved in the project, I had been watching Palomar5 from a distance. (Mostly because I was literally, physically far away.)

I spent most of the day there and came away with a lot of impressions, and also pretty impressed. Let me share a few things I noticed during the day.

But first, to get an idea what Palomar5 is, let me quote from their website:

Palomar5 is looking for creative young minds all over the world to propose new working environments fit for the skills and needs of a digital generation. Palomar5 and affiliate curators are currently giving 30 residents the possibility to stay for six weeks in an Innovation Camp in Berlin. This is a chance for collaboration as well as self-expression. This is an opportunity to network with leaders from economy, science, culture and politics and to meet experts at the forefront of their fields. The residents are passionate, eager and full of ideas, Palomar5 is a 2000sqm incubation-space that’ll make them blossom. They’ve got the ideas, and we have a place for them to make them real.

And furthermore:

Innovation has been increasingly popularized into becoming a trend and a commodity. There are numerous enterprises, think-tanks, and conferences solely devoted to the mass production of innovation. Unfortunately one can put wings on a shopping cart and sell it as Innovation at a high price. But when it comes to questioning and reforming prevailing paradigms there is too much talk and not enough action. Lot’s of coloured bubbles. Lot’s of profit. No real help. Palomar5 was established as a non-profit initiative seeking innovation outside of corporate structures. The founders of Palomar5 feel that “innovation” itself is in need of reformation.

The whole project is backed by Deutsche Telekom and a few smaller sponsors, and clearly those sponsors were serious about Palomar5. They rented an old industrial complex and refurbished the interior to house 30+ participants for six weeks, including some major workspace, today’s summit and to allow for the participants to prototype or build all kinds of stuff. It really all looked quite impressive and well done.

More than the location though I liked how clearly you could see the intense group dynamics going on between the Palomar5 folks. They had been locked up together for six weeks in this cool playground setting (that had the feel of some massive hacker space-meets-design school), and the effect was a group bonding that seemed to foster a lot of creativity, and it’s also clear that those 30 “youngsters” (as they are unfortunately called in the image trailer) will keep in touch with their fellow colleagues. No doubt, we’ll see some cool projects come out of these networks in the future.

To give you an idea of what kind of things the groups came up with (in completely random order): a massive hollow egg that serves as a room of peace and quite to retreat to in case of stress; an RFID-based set of screen and cards to transmit information in a haptic, physical way. And, what I personally found most intriguing, a network of 16 communications satellites that would provide broadband for rural areas all over the world – to be built under the premise that access to information is a human right.

The mindblowing part here: according to the team’s estimates this could be done with a mere 1.72 billion dollars. That’s quite a sum, but taking into account that the German cash-for-clunkers program (the so-called Abwrackprämie) is estimated to cost altogether $3.5b, while the US economic stimulus package was set at an even steeper $789b, it seems really doable. How awesome would that be?

There were, of course, a thing or two that weren’t perfect. For one, this project was clearly fueled by big money and a lot of adrenaline, both of which tend to burn quick and brief. How successful it really is will only become clear when we look back in six months or so and see how the projects and personal connections will have evolved.

And more concretely, almost every presentation given indicated that the young generation, the so-called digital natives, were smarter, better, and more in-the-know than the “old generation”. Everything was made to be the result of a generation gap, and that the “old corporations” would be losing this generation both as customers and employees. While the latter point certainly isn’t completely untrue, I don’t think at all that “getting” the web & digital culture with all their special characteristics like network effects, real-time communication and always-on culture is a matter of age or generation.

In fact, I believe that going down that path is a fairly dangerously wrong perception, it’s lying to yourself. I know many people (and I’m sure you do, too) who are way to old to fit the digital natives label, yet they really know their digital stuff. On the other hand, not everybody below 30 would fit that description either. So these labels are inaccurate and poorly stereotyped. What’s more, it’s arrogant, and that’s a danger in itself. (Not to mention that these 30 folks wouldn’t have gotten this opportunity without the older folks funding them because they do get it. By trying to erect that odd native/immigrant barrier no good is done to either side. (Which by the way goes for digital as well as other areas where this terminology is used.)

But be this as it may, while I don’t agree to this particular point in the arguments, what the organizers and the team of Palomar5 have put together here is a true feat, and something they can be proud of. It’s also a promising model for other corporations to get a bunch of good ideas while giving a hand full of young folks to gain experience. It’s a classical win/win. And I’m curious to hear more stories from inside the workshop over the next few weeks, once the participants are released back into the normal world…

ps. The Palomar5 Summit name badges are hands down the best I’ve ever seen at any conference. They are huge (roughly the size of my hands), well readable, and include all the information you’ll need at the conference: Participant’s name, company and URL and tags on the front. On the back you find program, floor map, hashtag, conference twitter account, wifi password, sponsor info and a reminder of the next day’s party. No more stupid flyers!

Palomar5 name badge

Palomar5 name badge

Workshop on social media in higher education (follow-up)


As mentioned before, earlier this week I had the chance to hold a workshop on social media in higher education at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC). (Slides below or on Slideshare). It was a great group, very active and engaged despite their completely different backgrounds and the language barrier. (Thanks guys!)

Special thanks, again, to Josep Maria Duart, who invited me and Carlos Albaladejo, who organized everything (including a lot of green cables) and blogged live from the workshop.

(This presentation is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike, so you can use it both non-commercially or commercially as long as you do two things: a) reference me as the author and b) share your stuff under the same license.)

The workshop was roughly divided into three parts: A bit of Web 2.0 theory, just the basics plus some case studies of social media use in higher education; Then a practice session where we’d split up and play around with blogs, Flickr, Twitter etc; And a final part where the audience would share their experiences and we’d develop new ideas for social media use in the classroom.

This structure seemed to work quite well; maybe a stronger focus on practical applications would have made sense, i.e. maybe I should have shown more tools & tricks. Altogether, though, I have a good feeling everybody learned a fair bit, including me:

1.) Twitter, it was agreed on, isn’t the primary choice for in-class teaching. Which totally makes sense here, given that UOC is a virtual university and everything is done online anyway. Also, Twitter tends to draw a lot of attention, so you want to factor in some extra time for discussion if you show Twitter (which worked fairly stable – no fail whale sightings at all!). Twitter, it was proposed, would make a good presentation tool: “Begin with twitter, use it for presenting tools, end with theory.” By the way, nothing beats the effect of discovering your colleagues posting live, it’s always a blast:

Twitter: First Post

2.) Blogs and Wikis are a great start for university courses to start using social media. Wikis are harder to maintain as the entry barrier (syntax and writing culture) is higher. Blogs are easy to start, and I was glad to hear that one department was afraid of enabling comments until they noticed that the comments were overwhelmingly constructive – now they’re open and not moderated. Great!

3.) Flickr can be useful, but it’s probably won’t be a key service for your classroom – unless you are looking for photos licensed under a Creative Commons license that allows you to use the photos for free as long as you link back to the source. You can search for those photos here.

4.) Etiquette in our times of digital social network is still evolving, and quickly. What do we post online, why and how do we post? Should teachers be Facebook friends of their students? How much of a role do cultural differences between the U.S. and Europe play when interacting online?

5.) One thing, however, clearly stood out. Everybody agreed there is one major issue with everything Web 2.0: Time. Time, time and time. Maintaining social web tools like wikis, Facebook or Twitter takes time, and a lot of it. Where should that extra time come from, or where else can we save it?

To wrap this post up, here’s a few more links.

Links & tools that might be useful:

  • Google Feedreader to follow many RSS feeds more easily
  • Summize.com to scan Twitter for interesting conversations about certain keywords
  • del.icio.us to collect your bookmarks and share them with friends and colleagues (my bookmarks for elearning)

Useful articles, posts and blogs:

Thanks again everybody for the great time, and please feel free to get in touch anytime via email or Twitter.

Workshop: Social Media in Higher Education


Next Tuesday, I’ll have the great chance to hold a workshop at UOC, Barcelona, on Social Media in Higher Education. UOC is a virtual university with students all over the world, so they’re very web-savvy to begin with. I’m very curious about their feedback on my two cents on Web 2.0 and social media. Also, I’d love to hear what you think about the presentation!

Thanks to the awesome folks at UOC who made this possible and have been giving me valuable feedback: Josep Maria Duart, Carlos Albaladejo and Ismael Peña-López , as well to Max Senges for introducing us.

Disclosure: A while ago, I’ve co-written a book on Second Life for UOC with Max Senges and Thomas Praus.

Update: Thanks also for the feedback regarding typos and slide structure to Tim Bonnemann, Jenna, Puja and meowmix. I included your suggestions and updated the files on Slideshare, even though right now it seems like Slideshare hasn’t updated the embed above. Here’s an up-to-date PDF-Version: Social Media for higher education (PDF).