A conference exploring the concept of the Web as a material

March 20th, 2020 — Reykjavik, Iceland

STATUS: 💔 Cancelled

The event will be postponed to some time in the future.

It is with a heavy heart that we tell you, the Material Conference on March 20th, 2020 is cancelled.

We held on as long as we could in hopes that we could make this happen, but it is now obvious for everyone's health and safety that we cancel the event.

We hope to reschedule the event for later this year, but it is too early right now to have a date planned.

We're deeply sorry, but it is most important for everyone to stay healthy and safe.

Brian & Joschi

Material conference explores the concept of the Web as a physical material. With 20+ years of the Web and we are still at the very beginning of understanding the possibilities. For the first time we are facing a generation that never got to know the offline world.

  • Are we loosing the ability to learn from our ancestors' knowledge on mastering a craft?
  • Can we push digitalization as a material further to its fullest potential?
  • Are there other new ways of thinking about the Web?
  • Are we mastering the digital craft?

Sharing across disciplines opens a new world of solutions and ways to tackle challenges. Join us and let's re-explore the material Web and see where it's heading.

I have known Brian for many years and am constantly inspired by how his brain functions. This conference is a unique oportunity to get out of your head and approach technology from a totally different angle.

Finnur Pálmi Magnússon, Product Manager at Nox Health.Finnur Pálmi Magnússon, Product Manager at Nox Health.

The Web as a material

For centuries we've worked with wood, metal, glass, ceramic, paper, textiles. More recently, new materials have emerged; plastics, fiberglass, silicon, and more. We understand their limitations, their affordances. We can fold, heat, manipulate and warp some of these materials. But the Internet and the Web are still very new to us. We don't fully understand them as a material.

What does this mean for the Web? What are the properties of the Web as a Material?

We have lost the apprentice / master relationship in the digital world. Spending years getting our hands dirty with an expert, learning slowly and really understanding the material rather than the framework. We need to be asking ourselves what sacrifices should we be making for the convenience of our customers rather than shortcuts for ourselves.

What properties of materialness exists in the Web is what this conference is meant to explore.


The conference will be a day long mix of presentations and fun little side-shows from both international and local speakers.

Portrait of Stephanie Rieger
Stephanie Rieger

Stephanie Rieger

Stephanie is a designer, researcher, and product strategist with an expertise in the sociocultural, economic, and systemic impacts of technology. A mobile industry veteran, Stephanie has worked with some of the world's leading technology brands including Microsoft, Philips, Intel, Symbian, Nokia, Opera Software, and Mozilla. She is also co-founder and principal at yiibu, a small design studio that blends product strategy, research, and foresight to explore issues around automation, algorithms, and the future of the (open?) internet.

Regulating the web

At a time when Facebook’s products provide a rich (but closed) alternative to the web for close to 3 billion people, and 50% of Google searches no longer result in a click to the ‘open web’, we are confronted with a rather urgent question: what shape will the web take in a world beset with the challenges that are now upon us? From climate chaos and disinformation, to the rapid and sustained socio-cultural shifts that come with dramatic changes to how we live; if the web is a material, what will it be good for? If it’s a tool, who will it serve?

In this talk I will explore the twenty-six words that helped create the open and experimental internet we hold dear; how that openness is threatened by a new wave of regulation that will only serve to further entrench the big platforms; and how emerging protocols and approaches may point us towards a better future. A future in which code and regulation work hand in hand to ensure the web remains free, safe, and open to everyone.

Portrait of Rune Madsen
Rune Madsen

Rune Madsen

Rune is a designer, artist, and educator who uses programming languages to create things with the computer. He is a co-founder of Design Systems International, a design studio that specializes in code-based design projects including non-trivial interfaces, custom design tools, design systems, and cross-media branding. Rune has worked as a developer at the New York Times, as Director of Software Development and Creative Director for O’Reilly Media, and as Assistant Arts Professor at New York University. He is also the author of Programming Design Systems, a book that explores the foundations of graphic design through programming languages, and the JavaScript framework Rune.js.

Portrait of Charlie Owen
Charlie Owen

Charlie Owen

Charlie is a front-end dev manager and Brexit escapee living in Berlin. She has attained notoriety for her foul mouthed tirades on social media, and for making fun of the privileged excesses of the tech industry. She advocates for a simpler approach to the web, and writes about how vital empathy and kindness are in building sites for our fellow humans.

Portrait of Chanel Fu
Chanel Fu

Chanel Fu

Chanel went from fashion to full-stack with the ambitions to combine both fields and change the game. Gripping onto her core values of sustainability and ethical trade, she has a goal to eliminate the human and environmental exploitation caused by the hyper-consumerism of clothing. While changing industries, the California native also changed residences, embarking on her dev journey in Berlin — a burgeoning fashion and tech-hub. There she works as a full-stack dev, exploring what it means to be a junior with an unconventional background and diverse perspective in the tech industry.

Shorter Talks

To expand our line-up, we invite several shorter talks to compliment what we're learning. These may or may not be web releated, but they will always be technical, fun, interesting and stay with the theme of Material.

Martin Swift
Martin Swift

Martin Swift: Making the invisible, visible

Martin Swift is a science communicator at the University of Iceland Science Centre (Vísindasmiðjan) where he primarily works on developing and running activities for school group visits and teacher training workshops. He has a background in physics and has been involved in education at various levels from kindergarten to university.

Victor Carreon
Victor Carreon

Victor Carreon: Music of the Web

Victor has a passion for music and technology. After years as a web developer, DJ/producer and sound designer in Chicago, he moved to Berlin and joined Ableton - the makers of his favourite music software. There he gets to explore both of his passions with a focus on developing Ableton's CRM platform. In his free time he makes pizza and house music from Chicago, but cheesecake and hiphop from New York. While his food is baking and beats are mixing down, he likes to think about how the web has changed geography and culture's relationship. His session explores this by asking what would music "from the web" sound like?

Yet unpublished speaker
Coming Soon

TBA: The Web of Smell

Scents and odurs are not something we tend to experience in a digital context. Could that change, or should it? We want to explore how smell can compliment the Web and what affordances we can take from smell to apply to how we think and design in the digital world.

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Sessions from #Material18

More information about the 2018 line-up can be found at material.is/2018.

Sessions from #Material17

More information about the 2017 line-up can be found at material.is/2017. Joschi also wrote a recap with some background information on his personal site.