Last weekend was IndieWebCamp Utrecht. I went along and had a great time learning, hacking, and seeing some parts of Holland.
IndieWebCamps are brainstorming and building events where IndieWeb creators gather semi-regularly to meet in person, share ideas, and collaborate on IndieWeb design, UX, & code for their own sites. — IndieWebCamps
They’re a great way to learn more about the IndieWeb and also a great excuse to visit a new place you’ve never been before.
I travelled over on a rail and sail ticket from London -> Utrecht with an overnight ferry. I went to IWC over the weekend, plus a day in Utrecht before, and a day in Rotterdam afterwards.
Arriving in Hoek van Holland and then getting the train via Rotterdam, I got to Utrecht around 11am on the Friday. Pretty tired from an obscenely early wake-up call on the ferry, I still had a good if somnolescent stomp around Utrecht, and made it on a walking tour too.
Fun fact – Holland has had only one Pope: Pope Adrian. Apparently he wasn’t very popular because he suggested the Sistine Chapel should be painted over in white.
Utrecht is a lovely city, with lots of picturesque canals, little independent shops and cafes, trees and plants all over the place, and bikes everywhere. Once you get out of the centre it gets a bit more industrial looking, but the central area is very pretty.
After checking in, and a quick nap, I headed out to a nice meal on Friday evening for IWC peeps who had arrived early into town. It was really nice to meet a new group of people and put some faces to names that I’d seen online. One of the things that I really like about the IndieWeb is the baked-in focus on reguarly getting together in real life with real people. You obviously don’t have to if you prefer not to, but for me it’s great because without a bit of cajoling I have a natural tendency to sit by myself behind a computer screen.
Day 1 of the IWC is intros and sessions and day. We had a great intro from Frank, then we all introduced ourselves, then we got down to planning the sessions in an unconference style with Ton.
I went to sessions on IW building blocks and WordPress; privacy and sharing of personal data; federated search; other projects like Solid and how they overlap; and discovering content. Lots of ideas and so many interesting people.
We had another fun meal in the evening, with some interesting chats about cybernetics, powdered food, and green politics!
Day 2 is hack day, where everywhere spends time working on something IndieWeb-related, whether it’s their own personal itch or helping out others. The weekend ends with demos of what people have worked on.
Thee was some great stuff – an indieweb search engine, an OPML to Microsub importer, a look at Yarns, lots of geo data stuff, actual blog post writing and book reading tracking.
For my own hack project, I installed Matthias’ WordPress ActivityPub plugin. I’ve since written a blog post about that.
We rounded the day off with drinks from a place with a brewery called Crooked Herring, and then those of us left had a nice Ethiopian meal and some Tej (honey wine). Yum!
IWC was organised by Frank and Ton. All kinds of help was provided by Rose, Martijn and Seb over the weekend. Johan hosted us at Shoppaggina HQ. Thanks so much to everyone for putting on such a great event!
On my last day, Monday, I travelled back to Rotterdam and had a look around this time. I really liked Rotterdam too. Quite a contrast to Utrecht, it has a much more urban feel to it. Rotterdam suffered the most during WWII, and has a lot of post-modern architecture as a result. It also has some fantastic street art.
On the tour I learned that Erasmus was from Rotterdam (although was only there for four years). He sounded like a pretty decent chap and an interesting character.
And back home on the ferry again. I like Holland.