Rounding up This happened UTC

Tonight (March 30) the last edition of This happened Utrecht will take place. I really regret I have to miss this edition, especially because I visited all previous eleven editions in Utrecht. The followers of my blog know I developed a routine in defining a theme for every edition in my blogposts. Maybe I will complete the series based on the videos, I will miss the IRL vibes that are important. For now I like to share some thoughts on the 11 previous editions of This Happened Utrecht and thank the organizing team – and Kars as initiator – for lots of inspiration the last 3 years.

Before sharing some overall learnings, let’s think of some talks that stood out for me and I remember well. And of course I miss a lot. See all my posts here.
One of the first editions had the makers of the Things app. I still remember my surprise in the unplanned way they developed the product, which was great, and still is with the new cloud version.
On the other hand the talk of Daan Roosegaarde was one of the best of all talks by the way he theorizes his work, he is thinking on the design and creating a factory of art.
Vlambeer stood with me as one of the youngest presenters with unmatched enthusiasm. The were one of the discoveries of This happened for sure and are stars now in the indie games scene I think.
The presentation of Elger Blitz I liked a lot on the way he was combining a huge amount of theoretical knowledge with experiment, playfulness and one of the key examples in creating effective open-ended play.
The presentation of Matt Cottam on its Wooden Logic was beautiful and above all the most poetic of all.

It This happened stands above all for me for a makers culture. Better do stuff than plan doing. Learn of the process of making.
This only can work with a good context. A context that is defined by the passion and vision of the makers. Making without a drive will not result into a good product. And secondly it important to be open for change. Be surprised and go for the learnings of the process. The recipe for open-ended products goes as much for the route.

This happened successfully proved how game design, product design and interactive art all are part to the modern interactive experiences where online feeling is default. Maybe not even explicit for everyone, but for me This happened defined and fundamented the new era of postdigital life as one exploratory research program. I’m sure this inspiration will last.

I wish Kars, Ianus, Alexander and all visitors a unforgettable evening!

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I am a design director at Structural. I curate and organize ThingsCon Netherlands and I am chairman of the Cities of Things Foundation. Before I was innovation and strategy director at tech and innovation agency INFO, visiting researcher and lab director at the Delft University of Technology coordinating Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.

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