I was recently Interviews for the German Eventbrite blog about my work at the Raspberry Jam Berlin.
You can find the interview (in German) here: What the Hack
I asked and I can also share with you guys the English Version below. Thanks also to Katharina Böhm for the great interview
Katharina: Hi James, first of all: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you started organizing events!
James: Hi Katharina, I am James from Edinburgh Scotland, I have lived in Berlin with my wife and kids for more than 10 years now. My background is in Software Quality Assurance. Although I have also worked as system administrator for a few companies back in Scotland. I started the Raspberry Jam Berlin because I love the Raspberry Pi as an affordable computer and I wanted to be a part of this awesome community that has grown around the Pi.
Katharina: You’re the host of the Raspberry Jam, a monthly workshop for everyone who’s interested or enthusiastic about learning what to do with a Raspberry Pi. What, for example, could that be?
James: The Raspberry Pi is a credit card sized computer that was built for education, hacking and fun. Plug a keyboard mouse and monitor into it and you can make a Retro Gaming console, media center, learn to code, build a server, home automation, build a robot! You could even strap it to a weather balloon for some high altitude photography. What sets the Raspberry Pi apart from other similar products is that you can interface very easily with hardware. Sensors, buttons, and lights. Because it’s so small and very low in power consumption it’s hard to beat. A great example would be the Panning Time Lapse video I made from the Jam in July. I used a Servo Motor controller and the Raspberry Pi Camera module all connected to the Raspberry Pi which in turn was powered by a Battery. As the event was going on this camera would take a picture and then move a little. Then take another…etc Finally I managed to compile this video (still all in the Raspberry Pi!)
Katharina: How did you come up with the idea for this event series?
James: I was inspired by the Raspberry Jam events in the UK started by some really cool people like Alan O’Donohoe and Ben Nuttall. With the exception of one other event (Pi and More at the University of Trier) there was nothing for the Raspberry Pi in Germany. So I took it upon myself to start my own Jam in Berlin where I live.
Katharina: What’s the biggest challenge when organizing events of that kind?
James: Finding a good place to setup with all the space and equipment I need has been a real challenge. I would like to take a moment here to thank FabLab Berlin for supporting the Jam in recent months.
Katharina: And why did you choose Eventbrite as your ticketing-partner?
James: When starting the Raspberry Jam I reviewed a few systems and I had chosen Eventbrite because it is free to use if you are not charging for tickets. This is great for a free event like mine. Tracking and being able to contact the attendees is also important to me. Communication is key!
Katharina: Through the events you don’t only teach and share your knowledge, but also act as a spokesperson for the product Raspberry Pi. Is marketing also a purpose of your events?
James: I would like to say no. I consider myself as a Raspberry Pi evangelist that is very passionate about the Pi and the great work the Raspberry Pi foundation do. I don’t make any money from the Jam’s nor am I paid in any way. I just want to share with and meet like minded people. Also would love to see kids in German schools learning to code using the Pi. Its a perfect and fun platform! With 2 of my own it’s become a bit of an obsession, especially considering the current state of the schools in Germany.
Katharina: Are most of your attendees already familiar with the product or do you welcome many Raspberry “Newlies”?
James: We have loads of people coming by from experts to those that have only just heard about the Raspberry Pi. Any skill level is welcome! Just drop by and see what we are doing. The next Raspberry Jam is on the 22nd of August and then after that I would pencil in the 19th of September.
Katharina: I assume the attendees are tech-savvy and familiar in finding information and inspiration online. What are the advantages of getting together offline?
James: Its got to be the personal touch to be honest and the real time interaction. For example if you wanted to know how to run a website from your Raspberry Pi and you can find a number of tutorials online. But some are outdated and may have issues getting them up and running. Then finding help might take time. The whole process can become frustrating. At a Jam you could ask someone who might have done something similar for their experiences and get active help in installing your web server and then also you have made a new friend.
Katharina: What has been the most exciting moment during the Jams so far?
James: Seeing people working together and communicating about their projects. To see collaboration like that manifest itself at an event you organized if very special. An exciting moment relating to my work with the Jam would be getting to accept the Linux New Media award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Open Source’ on behalf of the Raspberry Pi foundation and also the award for ‘Best Software for Raspberry Pi’ for Raspbian at CeBit this year!
Katharina: What are your future plans for Raspberry Jam? How could the project evolve and what could it ideally look like in the future?
James: Makerfaire Berlin is happening on 3rd and 4th of October. Raspberry Jam Berlin will be there with a few Pi’s running and also some robots. I would like to encourage more schools to look at the Raspberry Jam as a template for clubs they could run for their pupils. So teacher training workshops are definitely on the cards for the future. Short term goals would be to setup some mini workshops for kids. I am currently looking for mentors to help with that. Also I am considering an event for next year. May involve robots… Might have some sort of prize. But I have think that’s all I can say at this point about it.