Hey there. My name is Marc. Since 2011 I run beyond tellerrand, an event for the (web) community. I do this full-time and as a one-man-band ever since it started and I love it.
The Longer Story
The two lines above the photo of me pretty much describe, what I do and enjoy nowadays apart from being with my wonderful family. But maybe – I have no idea why – you are interested in what my background is. Then read on …
The C64, BBS Graphics, Demo Parties, and all this
When I was younger, I never really was interested in Computers. OK, games like Sid Meier's Pirates!, Defender of the Crown, or To be on Top were games I loved to play on the C64. But what I mean with interested is more to actively create something with and at a computer. One day my friend René from kindergarten days, asked if could do some graphics for his BBS as I was scribbling and drawing a lot. First I thought that the possibilities on a C64 are way too limited to really draw something on it. But somehow, when I found out that limitations for BBS’s had been even more limited with only 16 colours and pixel as big as a cursor or quarter cursor, my interest was definitely piqued.
What followed were years at demo and computer parties with a lot of people who became friends and still are. We attended events like The Party in Denmark (where I recently found out that David Heinemeier Hansson has been there as well – makes him sympathetic), the Radwar Party, Mekka & Symposium, Evoke, and the X-Party during the 90’s and still the X-Party nowadays if time allows. Some of you might already see the connection …
After a journey into the Ansi scene, caused by my friend Björn Odendahl and as it obviously had similarities to the BBS-graphics creation, I somehow lost interest in the computer again and started organising holiday camps for kids in France and in the Eifel from around 1994 on.
Flash, the Flashforum, and FFK
End of 1999 I, after quitting my job at an agency and going freelance, I met Sascha Wolter, who just had written the first German book about Flash by that time. The amount of questions he got about Flash led to the birth of the Flashforum, Germany’s biggest Forum about Flash with over 120,000 members. He was looking for help working wise and with the Forum and I joined, feeling that it was something I wanted to do. In 2007 roles flipped and I took the leading part for the Flashforum, while Sascha quietly stepped back more and more. Since 2011 I was running the Flashforum completely on my own.
One of the side effects was an event called Flashforum Konferenz (short: FFK) which was held as a yearly gathering for the Flashforum Community and turned into a hugely successful event held from 2001 to 2011 in Munich, Frankfurt, Offenbach, Düsseldorf, and Cologne and toured together with Macromedia through 6 cities in 2005 (Berlin, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Munich, Zurich, and Vienna).
The Conference Feeling
In 2001 I attended the first conference myself. This event was called Flashforward in Amsterdam and attending it, I suddenly felt like being home again. I met chaps like Joshua Davis, Brendan Dawes, James Paterson, Hoss Gifford, and many more whom I still friends with. When I said, I felt home again I mean, that the feeling I had, when attending the demo parties in the 90’s was back. I felt like these are the people driven by the same things as I am. People I could talk to and who enjoy exchanging ideas and sharing as much as I did. This also was one of the reasons why I directly loved the idea of running FFK (you see: all a big circle of connected things).
Since Flashforward in 2001 I attended hundreds of events. I take photos, write about them, and for me attending events – conferences, meet-ups, festivals or however you want to call it – is essential. At events like this I find time to exchange with like minded people, share ideas, listen to opinions, chat, to do what I think we call networking nowadays. I use the time to re-charge my creative batteries and get different views on things. As event organiser, I like to see how other people organise and run their events. Obviously I like to meet new people and old friends. But I felt, that wanted to give some of this back to other people …
During all what I describe above I was working as a freelance (web) designer, before I made the decision to stop all this in 2011 and to start beyond tellerrand, an event series where designers, developers, and other creative minds meet and exchange. The idea was to create an event with a wide mix of topics, not focusing on a certain field of business. There are many fabulous events happening and they often focus on one or a few topics – which is fantastic. I myself wanted to create an event, where inspiration and creativity in many ways, is more in the focus than a certain single topic. Therefore you’ll find technical topics as well as talks about type, graphic design and anything that is interesting really. It is hard to explain and even harder to sell if someone never heard the events name. But somehow people like the mix and the way I run beyond tellerrand.
The last edition just took place and it was a blast! 500+ people have been part of this and over 190 people were on the waiting list for a drop out to get the chance of attending. The success amazes me equally as it makes me proud. But it also creates a certain fear. Fear about this monster I am growing. But hey, I enjoy planning, organising, and running it so much, that I am willing to fight my fear.
After Vitaly Friedman has spoken on the first beyond tellerrand in 2011, he wanted to run an event for Smashing Magazine as well. He asked me, if I’d like the idea of starting this together with him and I did. Vitaly and I started SmashingConf with the first event 2012 in Freiburg and now it is taking place all around the world in cities like Barcelona, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles or Whistler. Since 2014 I am also part of the Supervisory Board of the Smashing Media AG, running Smashing Magazine and Smashing Events.
Open Device Lab
In 2013 I founded the Open Device Lab Düsseldorf, to help designers and developers testing their websites and apps on many devices, without having to buy all of them. The idea hit me, when Jeremy Keith wrote about a local mobile device lab. I directly was a huge fan of this and many other people had the same idea. Therefore the Open Device Lab (short: ODL) website was born, showing you the nearest ODL in your area. Oh and btw: if you have a device, which you don’t use anymore, why don’t you donate it?
In 2013 my friend Joschi Kuphal and I started border:none, a non-profit mini conference dedicated to find modern ways of thinking, designing and using the increasingly versatile mobile web. For only €30 entrance fee, 200+ attendees took part in this one-day event, but Joschi and I knew that, in this form, it would be a one-time event.
Joschi had fantastic ideas in which direction this event could evolve and how to take the idea one step further. In early 2014 we decided to try pushing the event into another direction. A creator conference for people who actively want to take part at an event and not “only” listen and consume. Sadly lack of time from my side led to me not being a great help for Joschi and underestimating time and work load, Joschi had to organise the 2014 edition more or less on his own. I think the two days have been great and there definitely is potential in the concept.
ODL Admin Meetup
With the first border:none, Joschi and I also decided to run the first ODL Admin Meetup for people who are running or who are interested in starting an Open Device Lab. Actually the ODL Admin Meetup was planned even before border:none and Joschi and I decided that this was not enough work. In 2014 the second ODL Admin Meetup took place and right now ideas for a third Meetup are in the making. Stay tuned for information about this.
IndieWebCamp, Decentralize Camp (and other Side Events)
In 2014 I introduced something called Side Events for beyond tellerrand. The idea was to have satellite events during and around beyond tellerrand to use the opportunity of 500 people being in town for an event anyways. Some of the events are organised by other people, like the Afternoon with Shopify and Friends by Keir Whitaker or Let’s Build by Frank Leue.
Sometimes I feel that a certain topic is so important, that I want to run an event as Side Event as well (if nobody else does). That made me organising and running the Decentralize Camp together with Bastian Allgeier in 2014 and an IndieWebCamp in 2015, led by Jeremy Keith and Aaron Parecki
I love taking photos. I never learned taking photos and I often don’t now what I am doing, but I really like that I am able to catch a moment and capture the time in my photos. Especially being at events as and event organiser helps me to take photos, that a photographer maybe would not take sometimes. You can have a look at my event photos on Flickr (and other photos as well). If you need someone to catch the spirit and feeling of your event in photos, please send me an email and we speak about it.
And here? While writing this, on
26 August 2015 19 November 2015, I am planning to simply run a blog about personal things, work related stuff, and everything that drives me and which I stumble upon. While listening to a podcast by Andy Clarke with Jeremy Keith and Jeffrey Zeldman, Jeremy mentioned …
[…] it’s still worth writing it down for you, as in the future you.
Why am I quoting this? Because I had exactly this fear. Are people interested in what I am going to write? Who is going to read what I write? You know what? It doesn't matter. I am writing this down for me. If you find something useful, something inspiring and/or enjoy reading: perfect!
Articles, Podcasts & Interviews
This is where you find a few interviews with me, stories and articles about/from me and/or beyond tellerrand and podcasts I have been a guest of. Constantly updated of course. Stay tuned …
- Über den Tellerrand – Interview with MOO (German) – Dec. 2015
- Vier Tage im Jahr arbeiten - vier.fm podcast episode 10 (German) – May 2015
- Fragen zum Aufschieben - Short interview with DesignMadeInGermany (German) – April 2015
- An Interview with Marc Thiele - An interview with Dosch Design for their magazine about beyond tellerrand and running it (English and German) – Oct. 2014
- Das nächste kleine Ding – Article about entrepreneurship/solopreneurship in t3n no. 37 (German) – Sep. 2014
- Über den Tellerrand 2 – Vier Diskussionen podcast episode 17 (German) – Jun. 2014
- On giving design conferences a 'family atmosphere' – Interview with Computer Arts Magazin – Sep. 2013
- Über den Tellerrand - Vier Diskussionen podcast episode 3 (German) – Jun. 2013
- On beyond tellerrand – Interview with net Magazine – Oct. 2011
- beyond tellerrand – Founder
- Smashing Media AG (Smashing Magazine & SmashingConf) – Board of Directors
- Smashing Conference – Co-Founder
- Open Device Lab Düsseldorf – Founder
- Flashforum – Co-Founder and Admin
- FFK (Flashforum Konferenz) – Co-Founder and Organiser