Thinking Things Through


On Wednesday 9th November we brought our second ThingsCamp to London. This time around we worked with Ravensbourne’s MDes students to invite some design perspectives into the proceedings. Although we’ve always envisaged ThingsCamp as a space for the design and future implications of IoT as much as the technology itself, this second event pushed that into new territories.

The students pitched and ran sessions ranging from ethics to disaster relief and provoked some fascinating discussions. And of course, we had the technology there too; bringing open exploration together with hands-on tinkering is a key aim for our ThingsCamp events, but it’s not without its practical challenges and theoretical complications.

Depending on where you stand as a designer, technologist or interested observer you’ll have a particular perspective on how design relates to technology. At one end of the spectrum it may seem entirely reasonable to be driven by the possibilities. In many instances technology is a given—a newly available raw material—and it falls to those with the passion (or need) to see just what they can do with it.

At the other extreme technology becomes a minor player in the staging of a human-centred design project: human needs come first and the technology second. And if we’re talking about global sustainability the technology becomes a minor component at best or hindrance at worst in the considerably longer timescales of the planet.

ThingsCamp has always been intended to sit somewhere in the midst of all that because the reality is that technology is a raw material. Good design doesn’t ignore its raw materials, but more than this, a deeper understanding of those raw materials—where they come from, how we arrived at using them and where they’ll take us—connects us with something much more important than just disposable devices. So it isn’t just about devices as much as it isn’t just about human needs: it’s about those things and everything else in flux together.


So ThingsCamp is an open invitation to throw everything together and see what comes out. And this too was the brief for the students who pitched and ran sessions. They were invited to see where their explorations led them and reflect on what came out of it, together.

We’ve run two ThingsCamps now and we’re planning two or three more next year. We’ve learnt a lot from the first events and we’re keen to take it further. If you’d like to be involved in any way, from ideas and connections to venues and equipment then please add your name to this short form. We’ve become aware of some things we want to explore beyond the events so we’ll share these thoughts soon with anyone who’s interested. We hope to see you at ThingsCamp 3.

ThingsCamp was supported by Ravensbourne and UKGovcamp. You can see some of what we got up to on Twitter.




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