Meet the Ambassadors: Gesche Joost, Germany

Publication date: September 22, 2014

Over 70 EU Code Week Ambassadors from 34 countries are helping us spread the word about #codeEU throughout Europe. Who are they and why did they get involved in Code Week? We’ll be running a series of interviews and get to know them better. Our previous interviewee, Szabolcs Mizsei from Hungary, interviewed Gesche Joost from Germany.




Gesche, who are you?

I am Professor for Design Research, running the Design Research Lab at the University of the Arts Berlin. I am working on new modes how to interact with computers – using wearable technologies and embodied interaction. My aim is to bridge the gap between new technologies and people in their everyday life environment and to make interaction with technology playful, joyful and useful. Therefore, my focus lies also on gender and diversity aspects of technological development.

How does your country deal with this idea of code learning?

Germany tries to push the topic forward, but what is missing are inspiring role models and cool initiatives that really attract kids and teenagers. Currently, the top-down approach comes along as a “Problembär”, a heavy issue is that does not attract people – so it is good to have a bottom-up approach, to communicate the existing great initiatives in Germany. They are often voluntary, started by committed and enthusiastic parents, teachers or hackers. For example Hacker School or OpenTechSchool.

Why are you involved as an EU Code Week ambassador? What do you expect from it?

I am Digital Champion of Germany for the EU commission. One of the first projects is this years’ Code Week. It is really important to push e-skills forward as one building block of the “grand coalition for digital jobs“. Coding should be taught at school quite early, so the central message of Code Week is that coding is not only for “nerds”, but that it is a creative skill. We would like to inspire boys and especially girls to go digital by showing them how much fun coding is. The great potential of the EU Code Week is to increase the chances of a career in the digital world, to prepare kids for today´s job market and help fight youth unemployment in the EU.

Do you have a hero or someone that inspires you (can be a hacker or not)?

My heroes: the “Hacker Ladies” at my research Lab at the University of the arts. Young, inspiring women who are developing smart textiles. They combine traditional crafts like knitting, weaving and sewing with basic electronics and app development to create beautiful interactive prototypes – like a jacket for elderly people with an alarm function. In case one needs help she or he just has to pull the sleeve tight – and automatically an emergency call is triggered via your smartphone.