ThingsCon v2: ThingsCamp recap & our ambitious roadmap

ThingsCamp Schloss by Andrea KThe Schloss (Photo by Andrea Krajewski)

Over the weekend, we gathered our core community—the local organizers plus a handful of key stakeholders, supporters and partners—for a weekend retreat out in the countryside. And over the course of the weekend, many things happened.

People worked hard, had time to think big thoughts, and made new friends. Meals were shared, IoT toolkits were tested, discussions went late into the night. The electric ukulele ran hot.

But most importantly, ThingsCon reached a new stage. It transformed to ThingsCon v2.

ThingsCamp-006 dinner Dinner in good company

ThingsCon has grown from 4 people on a sidewalk deciding that they'd like to see a conference of likeminded folks around IoT to a global community of practitioners and an event network. This weekend offered the chance for local organizers to swap notes, for partners to tie more closely into the community, and for all of us to take the whole thing to a new level.

As the "old" core team, we could not be more happy and grateful to everyone who participated and so graciously contributes their time and energy. Thank you, and welcome to the "new", much larger core team!

ThingsCamp: Formally adopting the mission Statement The ThingsCon community formally adopting our new mission statement at ThingsCamp (and a slightly glitched Iskander)

First, and maybe most importantly, the community has formulated and formally adopted a mission statement that will guide all our collective efforts:

ThingsCon fosters the creation of a human-centric & responsible IoT.

To this end we provide practitioners with an open environment for reflection & collaborative action.

As for formats, we'll be pretty much agnostic and consider activities including but not limited to toolkits, events, research, labs, publications…

From there, a pretty clear—if huge and ambitious—roadmap emerges. We'd like to share a few of the larger areas we'll focus our energy on:

  • ThingsCon Labs: We're working on establishing a distributed research collaboration around IoT, with a shared research program, knowledge sharing, and physical IoT labs.
  • Resources: We'll provide a range of resources to IoT practitioners, partially through curation, partially created by our network. This is likely to include resources for those designing the IoT, but also for policy makers, consumer rights organizations, and other key players in the larger IoT ecosystem.
  • Highlight best practices & best products: To champion and amplify those who produce great processes and outcomes, we're initiating a range of activities including a traveling exhibition of best IoT consumer products, publish peer reviews and recommendations, curate the best toolkits, etc.
  • Promote community projects: We'll use our channels (newsletter, social media, events) more intensely to promote and amplify projects that come out of the ThingsCon community. As a first step, it's now much easier to submit community projects.
  • Membership/network: We'll likely set up some sort of slightly more formalized membership structure, a professional association of sorts, to promote this community's interests. Details TBD.

There is a long list of smaller, more granular projects and activities (incl. a lightweight fund for student projects, various publications, and masterclasses for industry to just name a few) that we'll also consider. We'll be working closely with our friends over at the Just Things Foundation to minimize redundancies and maximize our collaborative impact.

ThingsCamp discussion 3 by Max K A beautiful garden is the perfect place to plan a future of responsible IoT.

We also collectively fell in love with the camp format. By leaving the city and disconnecting for a few days with a smaller group in an environment that promotes shared social activities over a lean-back experience, conversations unfolded in ways that are much more rare at conferences (even at high-energy ones such as ThingsCon).

So we'll look into expanding on the camp format over the next years rather than recreating a two-day conference experience in Berlin in 2017. The next big conference is the one at Amsterdam in December, and it's going to be a blast. We—as in Team Berlin—will throw our full support behind it. Additionally, we'll build better support mechanisms for local organizers who run ThingsCon events in their towns. Let's take it from 20 local ThingsCon events in 2016 to 100 in 2017!

Between all of these activities it won't get boring anytime soon. Time to change the world. Let's get right on it!