Reboot 7 in 2005 was a turning point for me and many others. How a large part of my professional as well as personal network looks today, that digital disruption now fully underpins most of my work, and that I took the freedom to operate on my own, all have Reboot 7 (and the editions after it) at its core.

10 years ago this week, Elmine and I were at our first Reboot conference in Copenhagen. It was the 7th such conference, and the first one that was more internationally oriented (the previous ones focussed more on the Nordic countries AFAIK). It was organized by Thomas Madsen-Mygdal with a team of volunteers. From the fact that you will see more ’10 years after Reboot’ postings you can gather it was inspiring, and fun, and that we have much to thank Thomas and his team for.

I went to Reboot as sort of the end point of a process. I started blogging about knowledge management and social media in 2002, and as a result of it my international professional network had exploded. I felt the growing need to meet some of them. So when BlogTalk was organized in 2003 in Vienna, I and many other bloggers used it as an opportunity to meet face to face for the first time. The next year, 2004, I returned, this time with Elmine, for the 2nd BlogTalk. I came away with two key things. One, I met a wide range of inspiring people, like Lee Bryant, Paolo Valdemarin, whom I definitely wanted to stay in touch with. Two, I felt the need for much stronger actual conversations and experience sharing.

In response to the first item, Elmine and I started looking for a conference to go to together in 2005 (as there would be no BlogTalk that year) where we could meet those people.
In response to the second thing, I wanted to organize something where the conversation was the actual program, cutting away the powerpoints. These were the BlogWalks, organized with Lilia Efimova and Sebastian Fiedler, originally thought to be in support of the BlogTalk conferences. There we used Open Space formats just before unconferences became more visible through the BarCamps.

Reboot promised to combine the two: a conference where I could meet inspiring people, that I already partly knew, and where the participants were the same people as on stage.

The iconic Doug Engelbart demo and video conversation at Reboot 7

I came away from Reboot feeling having turned a corner, and from now in 2015 it looks more like a starting point.
Reboot delivered upon my expectations, and so much more. It was a heady mix of inspiring people I knew, and many new faces and inspiring minds. It was in a venue (Kedelhallen) that made space for plenty informal interaction, where you could be human (people started bringing their kids!), and everyone on stage was also a participant. The program was fixed upfront but curated by the people who wanted to come. Good food and drinks. All that created an atmosphere where you were allowed to ask the awkward questions, dream the big ideas, build prototypes, and have them met with curious and critical questions and exchanges. Many times we saw someone suggest something, or try something at Reboot, that later turned into a book, an application, a start-up or a Google buy-out. And there was lots of fun. It was also a very European conference, where you could see that Europe, the idea, works beautifully.

Reboot’s iconic lawn chairs. We brought some home.

I think that meeting all those great people (e.g. how I met Peter Rukavina using the Foursquare precursor Plazes) at Reboot allowed me to incorporate a number of things, that normally made me feel like the village idiot, into my work and everyday routine. Asking the big questions, while doing the small things to bring it forward. To be a fish that works to notice the water, and to question the water. To bring a more entrepreneurial attitude to everything I do. To be ok with that I don’t really have a job description, but do the things I think are worth doing. To more purposefully enable others to do the same. The type of spirit Reboot conveyed, is something I and many others have been seeking to turn into our normal mode of operation.

Doing a session with Danish government in the locker room of Kedelhallen

We kept returning to Reboot every year, until the last one in 2009, creating many memories. By that last one I was working on my own, and had had a very good year. I became one of the main sponsors of that last Reboot conference, which I saw as a good way of making something possible that had been a source of so much learning for me. A tuition fee for what was my greatest source of learning for a number of years. Being a sponsor allowed me to bring a few others to the conference as well, providing free tickets. So I brought students who would not otherwise be able to afford to go.

Elmine and I did a workshop on ‘owning your learning path’ at one Reboot, and took it outside because of the beautiful weather

One of them I met last year, and he explained one of the large negative side effects of Reboot.
I met him at a different conference in Berlin, and he was sitting in the central space of the venue, sipping coffee and not going to any session. He looked a bit bored. So I asked him if he enjoyed the conference. “Not really” he said. Why not, I asked. “You spoilt me when you brought me to Reboot in 2009 as a student, now I cannot stand other conferences anymore.”
The same is true for me too. I can’t really stomach the blandness and pace of most other events.

Bring your kids to conferences! Reboot had a kindergarten

And we keep searching for and visiting events that try to bring the same spirit: SHiFT, Lift, SOTN, ThingsCon and others. Or try to organize events ourselves, like our Birthday Unconferences, Data Drinks and other. And every now and then my colleagues and I succeed in taking groups of clients through an event where everybody leaves on a similar natural high as Reboot created for me.
The lasting value of Reboot is of course in how it changed my attitude and showed me new pathways. And how it created a lasting network of relationships that are my core professional peer network, and in fact many of whom have become dear friends. If you ever wondered about the weirdly distributed social life Elmine and I have, I blame Reboot.

Lee proposing a new mythology (underneath the banner listing me as sponsor)

Will there ever be another Reboot? Not likely, at least not in this shape. Lee Bryant called for a new mythology at the last Reboot, a new narrative for meeting the global challenges. By now Reboot is part of that mythology, and a new conference might just spoil that. The Reboot spirit however very much deserves more channels of distribution. If Thomas ever plans to do something along those lines, I’d be happy to help. Because everyone deserves a regular reboot.

A key piece of advice and unofficial Reboot slogan

At last week’s Reboot 10 Thomas gave me the opportunity to give a presentation in the main hall (see proposal). I talked about internet and mobile communications as two infrastructures that have come of age recently. I wanted to provide a way to look at the macroscopic changes this is working in our societies and step away from rear guard fights, or discussions muddied in details that are only relevant to singular tools, causes or incidents. However, providing such a more macroscopic picture should still work when seen from the individual. So that each of us can decide how to respond. That is where Monstertheory comes in, and a discussion of the attitudes, skills and tools that go with our new infrastructures. Also, these new infrastructures themselves are geared towards individuals looking to influence macroscopic events. So we are actually in a good position to take on the monsters in our vicinity. Provided you are able to recognize them.
The slides of my talk are available. In a next posting I will go into my story in some more detail.

Management summary: I had a great time

Reboot of course is much more than just two days of conference. It was almost a week of intense and rich learning, meeting old and new friends, and going home with your mind spinning with all the new angles on things you thought you had a pretty good grasp on.

Reboot really started already on Tuesday, when we drove up to Copenhagen. Mark Wubben accompanied us in the car, together with all his stuff, as he was moving to Copenhagen. Wednesday was already filled with conversations. Starting with an early morning coffee with Peter Rukavina, talking about all kinds of Reboot-related themes, on change, on community, on networked attitudes, and life in general. Lunch I had with Jon Froda, of Hoist at Bang og Jensen, plotting our little piece of world domination and the path towards it. Then it was time to pick up Howard Rheingold at his hotel, who had just flew in minutes before that, and have a drink and some food at PH Caféen in the city’s old, now gentrified, slaughterhouses. We discussed teaching methods, learning paths, community of practice how-to’s, and the process of writing. In the early evening it was then time to go to Nyhavn harbour for the Reboat cruise. Enjoying champagne and beers, getting acquainted with other Reboot participants, and reconnecting to friends. And that was just a relaxed day before the conference!

Mark asking for a ride to Copenhagen Sunny Afternoon
Mark hitching a ride to CPH, Afternoon sun with Howard

Share your shit!

Share your Shit!

This call to arms by Tor Nørretranders, a Danish popular science writer, must be the tag-line for Reboot 10. It was picked up in a lot of the sessions. From a knowledge management point of view an important point to make: Explicit permission to share anything and everything, even if you’re not sure about its worth. One organisms shit, is another’s food. I spend my day walking in and out of different sessions, preparing my own presentation on day 2 in small chunks of time in between. It was good to see that a lot of presenters were making their presentation right on the spot. Creating new stories to share, trying out new ideas they had. It is precisely that vibe that makes Reboot work for me. Needless to say my own story was a new one as well. I finished my slides a full 20 minutes before I was planned to take the stage in the main hall. More on that in a second posting. Interesting things in the programme were around design issues, taking things out of the laptop screen, urban environments merging with the data-sphere, and recreating the world of fabrication in the same way digitalization recreated the world of publishing and sharing. More on that in other postings as well.

Me, presenting, photo by Elmine

After two days of conferencing it was party time. A nice Italian dinner was had in the city center, with even better table conversation with Paolo, David, Toby, Thomas, Siert, Elmine and Ernst. Between beers it was the birth place of my One Laptop Per Senior (OLPS) initiative, as complement to OLPC. At Vega, as tradition dictates, the party went on. After we already had returned to the hotel, the party at Vega carried outside to the sidewalks of Vesterbro, with 5 police cars joining in for good measure.

Saturday morning saw a collective breakfast at Pussy Galore’s (David, it really exists!), initiated by Nicole Simon. After which some shopping ensued with Elmine. Having shared a very nice dinner with Elmine and my brother in law Siert, whom we sort of pressured into coming to Reboot, and luckily really enjoyed it, Saturday evening then was spend at the house of Thomas and Rikke, playing host to Reboot-participants till the very last moment. It was nice and mellow, and much appreciated.

The drive back, with Siert now taking the seat Mark had on the way up, always allows enough time to let all the events of the past days sink in. So that today I could let fatigue take over 🙂 Tomorrow my routines will be back to normal, and the slow process of digesting Reboot will take its course in the coming weeks.

All my Reboot 10 photos at Flickr, naturally./p>

Last week at the PolitCamp Graz I had the pleasure to meet Keith Andrews, who’s a professor there, and attend his session on how to unlock and use general data that has been gathered and paid for with tax payers money. Our public data.
Hans Rosling has some pretty compelling examples of what you can do IF (and it really is a big if) you can get access to the data that is all there (and it really is all there), and if you succeed in presenting it in a way that is more enticing than tables with numbers.

Social software thrives on heaps of data and information, and here’s this mountain of data that hardly anybody has access too. This is the public parallel of what I see in corporations as well when it concerns business intelligence (BI). With huge amounts of money systems are put in place that collect insane amounts of data, and then only a handful of specialists create half a dozen management reports from that, leaving most of the data untouched. I remember an information manager who was surprised at the clever questions professionals in his corporation were able to ask the dataset, when he gave them access to it, which his own BI-people or higher management would never think of to ask. Having access to the data we collectively have made possible to gather therefore to me is not just a question of pursuing the ideal of ‘openness’ and transparancy in general, but a way to create so much more opportunties for people to act upon, based on the additional information available.

Making that access possible brings the need for a better presentation layer. Visualization aspects, and constructing queries etc. But it starts with convincing those who now manage the public databases to open up their data in RDF format so it can be used for web based mash-ups. This means a shift in attitude for these institutes/people, as usually their respons now to requests for data is one of suspicion: “What will you be using it for?”. Examples of this were abundant in the discussion at the PolitCamp session. I think this is one more type of gatekeeper we can do without.
In this light I am also looking forward to Reboot, where a session on Free Public Data is proposed.

There are only a few days left before we will be driving up to Copenhagen for this year’s Reboot conference.

Yesterday we worked out in more detail what we would like to do in the session Elmine and I proposed, called ‘Owning Your Own Learning Path‘. The proposal got a number of good comments, which we incorporated into the session.

For me the BlogWalk session of May 18th was also a preparatory step, as to me the Digital Bohemiens are a group of people that have formulated a different set of answers to the question of how to take your learning and development into your own hands. (about which another blog posting is due this weekend) Yesterday we took some more concrete examples and mapped them on the framework we have started to develop in the past months.

We did our preparations with Valeri Souchkov, a innovation and TRIZ expert. This session is really a session by the three of us, even though only Elmine and I will be there in Copenhagen. It was fun yesterday, digging into this topic deeper, developing our framework, as well as enjoy some nice food together.
Tomorrow our friend Jon Husband will arrive, and the day after Martin Roell as well. With the four of us we will drive to Copenhagen on Wednesday. So our trip up to Reboot will already be filled with inspiring conversation.

Yesterday I received an early invitation to Reboot 9 in Copenhagen. Today came a wider announcement by Thomas Madsen-Mygdal. Already looking forward to the conference!

The theme is ‘Human’, and that fits in very well with what Elmine and I have been discussing to bring to Reboot this year. Some of that will show up on the blog in the coming weeks I guess.
Meanwhile have a look at these impressions from earlier Reboot editions:

Reboot 8 Themes I-V, stuff I took away from last year’s conference.
Reboot 7: Doug Engelbart Demo, a goose bumps experience.
Reboot 7: Plazes works

Conversations, the life blood of society.

And of course there are pictures. Photos of Reboot 8 in 2006, and Reboot 7 in 2005.

Sun chairs after the coffee break outside Kedelhallen

See you at Reboot! (off hunting for a place to stay now)