Jun 27, 2013
During the last three weeks some things worth a post have happended:
In June we organized an Open Data Barcamp in Ulm. In discussions with people who aren’t familiar with the term Open Data I often get asked what people could do with publicly available data sets. To better answer this, I created the tumblr opendatashowcase.tumblr.com in order to collect nice applications, visualizations and journalistic projects which are based on open data. I find nice examples all the time either way, so why not take ten seconds to post them into a collection? The other outcome of the Barcamp was the “When do students submit assignments?” visualization, on which I already wrote.
I stayed in Karlsruhe for some days at meillo’s place. Amongst other things, we attended some talks at the GPN. Meillo also persuaded me to do a lightning talk. Looking back, I have to thank him for this. My Lightning Talk on the minimalistic-web project went well and I should probably do more (lightning?) talks.
We were both eager to listen to the Plan 9 talk. If you haven’t heard about Plan 9, it is probably worth to inform yourself (here, for example). Plan 9 is an operating system by the guys who brought you UNIX (and C, and UTF-8). They have learned some lessons along the way and did a complete redesign about 20 years ago. Unfortunately they were probably one or two decades too early for humanity. You will find many of their concepts within modern operating systems, though the Plan 9 project didn’t have it’s large breakthrough.
I stayed in Berlin for some days. Wanted to go there since quite some time. I have been to Berlin two times, but I was a teenager at that time and couldn’t really understand the city. However, this last visit was different and the days there were amazing. There are so many small communities, so many interesting people, so many cultural influences on so little place.
By chance, I met Amir, the developer of libbitcoin, the first complete Bitcoin implementation. I started to get into Bitcoin about two years ago. In my opinion, it is one of the most interesting, most underrated projects out there at the moment. In Berlin there are several facilities which accept Bitcoin, which I had to check out (of course). During my time there I made several transactions and am quite fascinated of the ease by which it is possible to pay in Bitcoins.
If you read about what financial researchers say about the currency, you will find that they mostly express that this “just can’t work”. Well…I don’t care. I ate some freaking awesome burgers and dinned like a king from them.
I also attended a Barcamp by the Human Factors group there. Alex, whom I got to know at the Informatiktage in Bonn earlier this year, had told me about the Humitec Barcamp. This was quite a nice event, the most interesting session for me was on Cyborgism. Enno, who gave the talk, is a Cyborg. He received a Cochlear implant a while ago. This enables him to not only have the “normal” human hearing functions, but also gives him features: his body is technically enhanced in a way that he for example can turn his hearing completely off. Quite nice when sleeping with a snorer or when living in a flat near a frequently used street. He is also able to directly plug an external audio device into his implant. This way he can “directly” listen to music, no acoustic noise is produced at all. The audio file is streamed into his nerves endings.
He can also switch his implant into a mode where he solely focuses on the sounds of a person directly in front of him. As he told us, this is a big advantage when talking in loud environments like clubs. At the moment he is about to found the German Cyborg Society. I find the Cyborg/Transhumanism community very fascinating and am quite eager for the next years. Check out this talk from the 27th CCCongress if you are further interested in this topic.
After Berlin I went to Cologne for two days in order to attend the Interactive Cologne, a barcamp/hackathon. Met some Open Data activists there. Some by the Open Knowledge Foundation, some by koelnAPI, a group of Open Data activists from Cologne who took on our ulmAPI naming scheme :-).
The event was held in an unused church. Electronical music was playing in the background the entire time, people with their laptops everywhere and quadcopters flying through the air. Quite a nice hacking atmosphere!
At all these events I noticed a clear improvement in gender balance. There were definitely more women attending than usually. This is quite a pleasant development.