Hey there. My name is Marc. Since 2010 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, when writing this, 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.
In 2020, I added Stay Curious to the beyond tellerrand journey. A live online event series for curious minds.
When a world wide pandemic hit us in early 2020, I wanted to stay connected to the community I grew with beyond tellerrand and my other event activities during the past 20+ years. But I wanted to do this with a meaning and in a way, that I would be able to run an online event next to and in addition to beyond tellerrand, without cannibalising it. I have written a longer blog post here, if you are interested in the idea behind it. I now run Stay Curious every two weeks with a diverse range of speakers and topics and I enjoy the many different personalities and stories.
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.
Update: The ODL in DÜsseldorf is closed now. I simply did not have the time anymore and also visitors were less and less during the last year. Maybe the time where we need physical device labs is over.
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.
At the end of 2022 Joschi Kuphal and I thought it would be nice to bring back border:none. Exactly ten years after we ran the very first one, we run border:none again. Same venue. Same speakers. But with and extra day and new speakers added.
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 not existing.
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
In 2016 I started a podcast, where I wanted to invite people that interest me. Not only because of what they do, but also because of who they are. I titled the podcast neu•gierig as Neugier means curiosity which is always driving me to ask questions and learn new things in my life. The play with neu (new) and gierig (greedy or voracious) should refer to me hunger for the new, the curious. I decided to run this project mainly in German, but an definitely thinking of doing something in English as well.
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 past event photos on Flickr or my more recent photos here on this website (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 …
- ”#WWSIV No. 58” – Konferenzorganisation mit Marc Thiele (German) – June 2023
- ”Workingdraft Revision 564” – Behind the scenes of event organisation (German) – April 2023
- ”Digital Pacemaker” – A podcast by Vodafone’s CIO Ulrich Irnich and Markus Kuckertz (German – March 2023)
- ”Ohne den Hype Podcast” – A podcast by Sven Jürgensmeier about creative people (German) – March 2023
- ”Why We Create Podcast” – A podcast by Wacom, hosted by the Wacom Experience Center in Portland (English) – July 2022
- ”Workingdraft Revision 525” – Podcast edition about beyond tellerrand and events in times of Covid (German) – April 2022
- “Tell Your Story” – Die Zeit – Full page article in Die Zeit by Lexware (German) – October 2021
- “Tell Your Story” – Issue 4 of a magazine, published by Lexware and created by DOTS in (German) – December 2020
- Can't Sell This Podcast – A podcast hosted by Hugh Elliot and Stefan Grambart (English) – November 2020
- Presentable Podcast – “Why Do We Go to Design Conferences?” – Episode #82 of a podcast hosted by Jeff Veen (English) – February 2020
- Love, Peace & Technology – An article about beyond tellerrand and from beyond tellerrand 2019 in Düsseldorf (German) – June 2019
- Zu Tisch mit: Marc Thiele | beyond tellerrand – An interview by The Dorf about beyond tellerrand and my personal connection with it (German) – May 2019
- beyond tellerrand in Berlin – Announcement on DMIG, Design Made In Germany with a personal note on what it is (German) – September 2018
- Marc Thiele – beyond tellerrand – Interview with Gilles Vauvarin on and for his new Confdays Website (English) – April 2018
- Marc Thiele – beyond tellerrand – Interview with Gilles Vauvarin on and for his new Confdays Website (French) – April 2018
- Marc Thiele, the man behind beyond tellerrand – Interview with Thomas Dahm of Neon Moiré (English) – May 2017
- Backstories with Marc Thiele – Interview podcast with and by Keir Whitaker (English) – October 2016
- The Tito Profile Series – Marc Thiele – Interview with Tito (English) – July 2016
- Marc Thiele – Beyond Tellerrand – Interview with Host Europe (German) – July 2016
- Über den Tellerrand – Interview with MOO (German) – December 2015
- Me-Conomy – No Risk No Fun – Title story about entrepreneurship and setting up a business (German) – July 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 (PDF-Version) (English and German) – October 2014
- Das nächste kleine Ding – Title story about entrepreneurship/solopreneurship in t3n no. 37 (German) – September 2014
- Über den Tellerrand 2 – Vier Diskussionen podcast episode 17 (German) – June 2014
- On giving design conferences a 'family atmosphere' – Interview with Computer Arts Magazin – September 2013
- Über den Tellerrand - Vier Diskussionen podcast episode 3 (German) – Jun. 2013
- On beyond tellerrand – Interview with net Magazine – October 2011
I don’t speak a lot any more since organising beyond tellerrand. In the past it have been presentations about software and how to use certain tools etc. These days, if I speak, it is more about personal stuff and things I do nowadays and why I do them. Here a re a few examples.
- Adobe Influencer MeetUp – “Bin ich endlich offline?” – a presentation for an internal meetup with the Adobe Influencer members dealing with how to shift offline events successfully to the online world, the downsides and pitfalls concerning monetarisation and an outlook how to combine the online events with the in-person events in the future. (March 2021)
- CreativeMornings DUS – “Biophilia” – a presentation about 2020, Corona and the event landscape and its shift to online, a short presentation in company of two other lovel presenters. (December 2020)
- Webworker Ruhr Meetup – “Events, Events, Events” – a German presentation about all the tasks in the background. Anything next to the obvious tasks. (September 2019)
- Global Diversity CfP Day Cologne – “How to get in touch and speak to event organisers” – a presentation in English with tips and tricks and information about event proposals and content of emails to event organisers. (March 2019)
- Webworker Ruhr Meetup – “Über’m Tellerrand” – a German talk about running your own business with passion and love, how it started, what happens along the way and how to motivate yourself to keep going (September 2018)
- Pop-Up Studio Dortmund – “Veränderung” – an updated and longer version of my talk “Change”, given in German, spiced up with reasons for running your own business and which benefits and downsides selling you own product has (March 2018)
- CreativeMornings DUS – “beyond” – a presentation about motivation and things that inspire you to look beyond the obvious (April 2017)
- From The Front – “Change” – a talk to motivate and encourage people to listen to their inner voice and feeling a bit more (October 2016)
- ConfConf – “The Human Side of Event Organisation” – a presentation about the care in certain aspects of event organisation (May 2016)
- Behance Portfolio Review – “Community” – a talk about the importance of community (November 2013)
- beyond tellerrand – Founder
- Stay Curious – Founder and Host
- neu•gierig (formerly TWUMBLE) – Host
- Smashing Media AG (Smashing Magazine & SmashingConf) – Chairman of the supervisory board
- Smashing Conference – Co-Founder
- border:none Conference – Co-Founder
- Better by Design Events – Co-Founder and Organiser
- Open Device Lab Düsseldorf – Founder
- Flashforum – Co-Founder and Admin
- FFK (Flashforum Konferenz) – Co-Founder and Organiser
Photos of and text about me. Just in case you asked for it …
Photos Above (From Left to Right)
- In the coffee shop – 1575x1050px – by Tilman Schenk
- In the garden – 928x928px
- In the studio – 1426x1920px
- In the dark – 1920x1539px – by Thorsten Marach
- At an event – 1718x1718px
If you need a text about me, please write something from what you read above, or let me know and I write something for you. I love to write something new every time, as many things change over time and also everybody needs a different length of text.
But if you are really in need and want to have a short text about me, this is what’s relevant right now:
Founder and head behind beyond tellerrand (@btconf), an event series where designers, developers, and other creative minds meet and exchange. Working and living for this event.