Remembering the Past to Find a Way Forward

An Offline Camp passion talk about history, the present, technology, and empathy


Editor’s Note: Participants at Offline Camp Berlin had diverse backgrounds and interests, ranging far beyond the Offline First approach that we came together to discuss. Through short passion talks, campers shared with us some of the hobbies, projects, and technologies that excite them. Here’s a taste of that passion for you as a preview to our upcoming events.


Trigger Warning: The passion talk referenced in this post includes a depiction and discussion of violence.


The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (also known as the Holocaust Memorial) in Berlin, Germany.

At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to give this passion talk. The inspiration for the talk first came while I was walking around Berlin the day before Offline Camp. I have been quite concerned with direction our world is headed in, and I was looking forward to the opportunity to be in Berlin as I hoped it might help put things into historical perspective.

An exhibit that summarizes “A Journey Through A Century of German History.”

After much deliberation and thought about what I wanted to say, I decided on Saturday to sign up to give a passion talk the next day… on creating better hackathons. The next morning I happened to sit down for breakfast with my colleague Maureen McElaney (Mo). The topic of my passion talk came up. I talked with Mo about the original concept, and she gave me some gentle encouragement to give my original talk.

So, I found some time to write down my notes and with a little last minute help from Mo I prepared to give my passion talk. While I talk quite a bit at conferences, being this vulnerable while presenting is new to me. As a Developer Advocate I feel that it is important for me to be honest about my perspective. Honesty engenders trust, without which I cannot be effective at my job. It’s important to note, of course, that these opinions and perspectives are my own.

I care very much about the community that we are building around the Offline First movement. As appealing as it may sound to ignore the world around us and just focus on technology, this is simply not possible. Technology is political. Our worldviews, our ideals, our hopes, our dreams, and our empathy (or lack thereof) are all baked into the technology that we create, whether we like it or not. It is with that frame of reference that I asked those gathered for Offline Camp to stop for a moment to reflect and to consider how they could use their diverse perspectives to be a light in the world when they returned home.

Trigger Warning: This passion talk includes a depiction and discussion of violence. Bradley Holt presents “Remembering the Past to Find a Way Forward” at Offline Camp Berlin, April 2017.
A section of the Berlin Wall.