Last week in Berlin I was lucky enough to go to WhereCampEU – thanks to Gary and Chris for organising this wonderful unconference. The conference was held in a trendy hipster ish part of the city, but which had also, I heard, the highest number of young families and births. It was also in the former Eastern part of the city. It gave the area a nice appeal, overall.
photo by Chris Fleming
I did a couple of sessions, one on a preview of GeoCommons2.0 talked about in a previous post and the other a psychogeography session. For the psychogeography session I sent four teams out to explore the environs around the campus.
One team followed people around. They said “I’m amazed by how slowly some people moved” and “Well, often we followed someone and then they would wander into a book shop” – revealing the nature of the people and the type of area, bohem style cafes and shops, lazily people.
Another group were sent to ask people to point to were the centre of Berlin was. I asked some people where they thought was the centre, and most of them scratched their chins, and pointed to the Mitte area of the city, usually on the map, or waved southwards. Part of a consequence of being a split city, really. The western bit, someone said, “looks and feels more like a CBD” – that is, big shops, tall towers etc. I did venture to the former western CBD centre, and came across a mile long car show. This area was where the money was.
The other group was sent to walk around the area according to the Game of Life algorithm, Left left Right where you walk and take the first left, then the second left, then the next right, and so on. It’s impossible to predict where you will end up. I joined this group. We had a good explore over a small area, really, but encountering a lot of different environments. Shared (private) gardens / courtyards in the middle of apartment blocks, churches, cafes, and shops.
The fourth team were given a secret mission, and so I cannot reveal to you what they did. However, they are all in good health, and saw the city in a new light.
Photo by Chris Fleming
Back to the unconference, and some of the highlights were:
* Playing the Skobbler game, treasure hunting for addresses in the neighbourhood.
* Seeing offmaps evolve over the year. I’ve not got an iPhone, but that app looked very nice.
* Spatial databases, and in particular CouchDb – and their spatial bits
* CASA did a few talks – I’m getting more and more fond of their work – if anything they really seem to love the stuff they are doing – they share the same vision as me as giving GI tools and benefits to as many people as possible.
* Peter Batty wore an ipad t-shirt – and gave a great presentation about essentially putting utilities information onto a Gmaps like interface and mobile map.
* Gary Gale gave a compelling reason for standardizing place. And it makes sense.
* Meeting the NomadLabs guys for the first time, and being able to say “Thank You” for their work on Ruby on Rails GIS Hacks that I found very useful 4 years ago!
* Corridor talk, beer and food