Today Lane Becker is celebrating his 46th birthday. To mark the occasion he is organising a conference in Austin, Texas.

Bringing together a cool line-up of speakers, he asked us to do a live video conversation at the start. To explain a bit about the history of how Lane came to doing birthday conferences. A few months ago I described that some the ripples of our birthday unconferences are more birthday conferences, such as Peter’s last June, and that also includes Lane’s events.

We had a live conversation at the start of Lane’s birthday conference, and described the history of how we came to do our first unconference for Elmine’s birthday in 2008, and then the subsequent events. We also tried share some of the main things that stand out to us.

That doing an unconference at home, which started as a fluke, brings a special vibe to it all. Everyone behaves informally, you’re a guest in our home, but still get into deep conversations and do workshops and sessions. How we learned at Reboot that bringing kids makes everything more real, more human. People talk less bs on stage if their kids are around ๐Ÿ™‚

That it is quite amazing to bring together people from all our various networks, and see how well they hit it off.
There’s always a moment during an unconference when you look around you and see the energy and how everyone’s engaged, when it hits me how awesome it is to be the hosts to that. And how awesome it is that so many of our friends make the effort to travel to us.

That the 2014 Make Stuff That Matters was probably the best one yet, as it turned us from just doing sessions, to also letting participants learn new skills. And having a 14 meter mobile FabLab parked in front was pretty impressive too ๐Ÿ™‚

And we talked about how some participants feel a birthday unconference can be life changing, pivotal. We suspect it has a lot to do with that it’s rare to spend time together and have deep conversations, without pressing needs yet tied to things of importance to your own life.

Happy birthday Lane, we hope you and your friends have a great event!

As part of the Techfestival last week, the Copenhagen 150, which this time included me, came together to write a pledge for individual technologists and makers to commit their professional lives to. A bit like a Hippocratic oath, but for creators of all tech. Following up on the Copenhagen Letter, which was a signal, a letter of intent, and the Copenhagen Catalog which provide ‘white patterns’ for tech makers, this years Tech Pledge makes it even more personal.

I pledge

  • to take responsibility for what I create.
  • to only help create things I would want my loved ones to use.
  • to pause to consider all consequences of my work, intended as well as unintended.
  • to invite and act on criticism, even when it is painful.
  • to ask for help when I am uncertain if my work serves my community.
  • to always put humans before business, and to stand up against pressure to do otherwise, even at my own risk.
  • to never tolerate design for addiction, deception or control.
  • to help others understand and discuss the power and challenges of technology.
  • to participate in the democratic process of regulating technology, even though it is difficult.
  • to fight for democracy and human rights, and to improve the institutions that protect them.
  • to work towards a more equal, inclusive and sustainable future for us all, following the United Nations global goals.
  • to always take care of what I start, and to fix what we break.

I signed the pledge. I hope you will do to. If you have questions about what this means in practical ways, I’m happy to help you translate it to your practice. A first step likely is figuring out which questions to ask of yourself at the start of something new. In the coming days I plan to blog more from my notes on Techfestival and those postings will say more about various aspects of this. You are also still welcome to sign the Copenhagen Letter, as well as individual elements of the Copenhagen Catalog.

A year ago Arjen Kamphuis went missing in northern Norway. Given Arjen’s personal and professional history, various scenarios were all possible to his friends and family. As time went on without news, the question whatever happened morphed into dealing with the ever diminishing probability of his return.

When his belongings were found near and in the water shortly after he went missing, an accident seemed a logical conclusion, but then his phone was activated in the south of Norway. In the past year this has led to various conspiracy theories, who when rebuffed by Arjan’s family and friends, were extended to include them.

Norwegian police have now released a statement they consider his disappearance as a closed case (a machine translation of a Norwegian news article). They now announced that his phone and other belongings such as his laptop, were found and taken by two truck drivers who had been fishing near the spot Arjen went missing. The truck drivers are cleared from any suspicion, and a kajaking accident is the most likely explanation.

I’m sure the CTs will continue on (‘Why were the truck drivers never mentioned before? They were Eastern European, so likely Russian operatives!’). I do hope, even in the absence of absolute certainty, his family and friends can have some peace of mind over what happened.

I’ve know Arjen for a long time, and in our infrequent but regular interactions it was great to get a taste of his brilliant and active mind. Since his disappearance I’ve more actively taken up the topic of information security, paying what I learned from Arjen forward to those around me. There’s never much to learn from random tragedy itself, except what Arjen’s close friend Ancilla wrote late last year, to truly care and be curious about how those around you are doing, and to keep them close, to spend time with them.

As I said earlier, in relation to Elmine and I spending the effort to go to Canada for a few days of conversation and hanging out

The simple act of spending time together talking about life for a while [as Peter described it] is a rather rich and powerful thing to do, which packs the full complexity of being human.

Lunch conversationsIn conversation with Arjen during a roof top lunch 11 years ago. The oldest photo I can find of our conversations.

Early September the Copenhagen Techfestival will take place for the third time. It brings over 20.000 people together for over 200 events during three days, to together explore, discuss and create the future of technology.

Having had to decline invitations for the first two events, I’m joining the Techfestival 150 during this year’s event. Thank you to the organisers for their tenacity in asking me for the third year in a row. This time I was better prepared, having blocked my calendar as soon as the dates were announced.

The Copenhagen Techfestival 150 is a thinktank of 150 people that convenes during the festival. It created the The Copenhagen Letter in 2017, the Copenhagen Catalog in 2018, and this year the aim is to formulate the Copenhagen Pledge, a set of guidelines for anyone working in or with tech to commit to.

It’s been a good while since I was in Copenhagen last, I had wanted to join the previous Techfestivals already, so I look forward to getting back to CPH and fully submerge myself in the Techfestival (described to me as ‘Reboot at scale’).

Good to see how various strands combine here, apart from the topic which is governance of smart cities. The immediate trigger for Peter Bihr is Toronto’s smart city plan, on his radar as he was recently in Canada. We both were to visit Peter Rukavina’s unconference. He references how back in 2011 we already touched upon most of the key ingredients, at the Cognitive Cities conference in Berlin, which he organised, and where I spoke. And he mentions doing a fellowship on this very topic for the Edgeryders, my favourite community in Europe for these type of issues, and which I try to support where I can.

Read How to plan & govern a smart city? (The Waving Cat)

What does governance mean in a so-called smart city context. What is it thatโ€™s being governed and how, and maybe most importantly, by whom?