Last week Friday and Saturday the SHiFT conference took place in Lissabon, Portugal. I wasn’t able to post anything earlier, as we were busy rebooking our flights home due to the Iceland vulcano ash cloud, and I was without reliable internet for most of the time. Although I must say, being stuck here is far from unpleasant.

We can’t fly home before Friday, so now we are staying with Josien Kapma and her family on their dairy farm near Lisbon, and enjoying their great hospitality.
The theme of SHiFT was DIY, do it yourself. A rich theme, in the same vein as last year’s Reboot conference around ‘Action’. It seems to me we are finally but slowly moving out of the social media only focus of these internet/tech conferences, now that has become much more mainstream, and once again start spending time on exploring the outer fringe (dare I say, cutting edge?) of the new affordances that technology brings us.

The empowerment of social media lies mostly in being able to organize and form groups easily and effectively without most of the incumbent structures we used for that until now. The first wave of great effects (starting almost ten years ago with the advent of blogging) was in building bigger and more networks and communities of peers for learning, filtering and making sense of the world, as well as finding new ways to organize and co-create. We spent our time on building the apps and platforms to do that, which has now turned into a rich landscape that functions as infrastructure for the new wave of affordances it is now spawning.

That new wave of affordances focusses on using the knowledge and experience that has become available and accessible, to act, to do things, to put it to different and novel uses. (Where before we were learning new things and putting them to use in our still very much unchanged individual working routines)

On that outer fringe the availability of networks and access to all kinds of knowledge is now taken as given, and doing things yourself as well as acting upon the knowledge, both in the context of your own local communities comes to the fore. It is visible in the enormous attention on co-creation (which basically means letting go of the conveyor belt metaphor for task allocation, and organizing work in the way we organize everything else), as well as in what’s going on in Hacker-spaces and FabLabs.
My own contribution to the conference was very much meant to discuss just that. That’s why my closing key-note for SHiFT was titled ‘Maker Households‘ (synopsis), and trying to show how all the new digital possibilities should not be seen as separate things, but as a singular shift to a new level of activity. More on that in a subsequent posting.

I want to thank the whole SHiFT team for organizing this event. I know how it almost didn’t happen, and yet it did. It was fun and inspiring, and I was glad I could be part of it. The hospitality of Pedro, Andre, Joao and others in the team seems to know no boundaries. One of the participants remarked that she accepted my argument that internet creates more as well as faster connections between people, but that she didn’t believe it helped create deeper connections as I said. I completely disagree. Me being at SHiFT, and the origin of the relationships that brought me there, are a case in point.