Re:publica 2010 Wrap Up


Bonanza coffee heroes

Below, in short, you’ll find: Thanks! International geeks! Interview! Party photos! Food! Smart cities! Drumbeat!

#Thanks! Wow, what a week. Big thanks and props to the team behind re:publica 2010. Like the last few years, it’s been a blast and incredibly well organized.

#International geeks! Yet something has changed over the last years it seems – to the better in my point of view – and that is: more international geeks. It might just be my personal perception, but I think the number of talks in English back it up: More international geeks have shown up this year. Republica has managed to become the most important geek (“geek” as in “non-corporate”) conference in Germany, and the folks outside Germany started noticing. For me that’s always a good sign, as the web scene here is pretty fragmented and really needs focal points like this. (Small side note: Lots of talks had English titles but were in German which led to some confusion.) So: If you want to get to know the German geeks, republica is the place to go.

#Interview! Speaking of change in the conference scene – and again, this is just a personal feeling – it seems to me that the less marketing and PR and agency focused conferences (republica, SXSW, barcamps and what not) keep getting more and more important. Of course, they’re each aimed at different audiences and different kinds of exchanges take place at these very different event categories (geek vs corporate event, conference vs trade fair etc). To over-simplify: On one, knowledge and personal respect are exchanged; on the other, financial deals are made. Yet, to me it seems like the lower-profile events that are aimed at those that do cool stuff will be giving the much more expensive, agency-centered conferences a run for their money. Let’s see how that plays out. Markus Richter of Trackback kindly interviewed me briefly about the role of web conferences (in German), here. (There’s also a bunch of great CC-licensed music to be found there.)

#Party photos! Also this week, my friends Igor, Caroline and I organized a party with the support of Tumblr, Tribaspace and Ketchum Pleon. Check out the photos!

#Food! Having two foodies visiting, the whole week we were out looking for great food and coffee. If you’re visiting, don’t miss out on: Bonanza Coffee Heroes and Espresso Ambulanz, Korean BBQ at Kimchi Princess and a tea time at Chen Che. Unlike will show you the way.

#Smart cities! Igor Schwarzmann and Johannes Kleske gave a talk on smart cities and how cities can be discovered in more playful manners by using technology. Their talk “Playful Urbanism” will be is up on video soon. (I’ll be posting it here, too.) You can watch their talk “Playful Urbanism” on video below and read up on the whole thing here. Igor had already talked about Smart Cities at Ignite Berlin, and they also write the blog cognitivecities.com. So along with a few others, we decided to have an event this fall around the same topic. Updates and more details soon.

Update: The video is posted below, and here’s the write-up with all the links.


#Drumbeat! Mozilla Drumbeat is all about keeping/making the web open. Drumbeat will be coming to Berlin with a full-day event on 8 May. You should be there. (I certainly will.)

While I’ll catch up on a bunch of links, I might be updating this post to include some videos or more links. But first it’s time to catch some rays.

Update: The good folks over at pl0g asked participants to tag the conference (in German):

republica 2010, Jeff Jarvis, Best of the Blogs


republica 2010I already got my ticket for republica 2010 a little while back, a little after the early bird tickets had gone out of sale. Republica advance ticket sales have been at a record high this year. That’s really good news as all republicas so far were great, and I enjoyed them a lot. For independent (note: not small) conference organizers it’s important to be able to plan, so if you think you’ll go (14-16 April 2010 in Berlin), I recommend you get your ticket soon. It’s extremely fairly priced and you won’t regret it.

The program isn’t set yet, but the call for papers (de) is still on until late January. So again, if you think you might want to talk at rp2010, now’s a good time to send in a proposal.

There are two things that already are set, though: First, Jeff Jarvis, journalism professor, author of Buzzmachine and What Would Google Do and a regular on This Week in Google will be one of the speakers. He’s been on the conference circuit for a while now, so you might have seen him talk someplace or another, but he’s always a great speaker and panelist, so I’m looking forward to this.

Second, Deutsche Welle will hold their Best Of The Blogs (BOBs) will be joining rp2010. I love the BOBs, it’s an award celebrating the best of the international blogosphere and highlighting those blogs whose authors fight for freedom of expression in often repressive regimes. Those bloggers and activists are real heroes in my book, and I feel honored I had the chance to meet some of them on past BOB events. (Disclaimer: I worked for Deutsche Welle twice at the BOBs, once as a live blogger, once moderating a panel.)

If you’re in Berlin in mid-April and want to see the German blogger, web and social media community in action, republica is the place to be. Hope to see you there!

re:publica – Day 3 Resume


It’s day 3 of re:publica, and so it’s time to draw a first resume. To get it out of the way: Yes, wifi hasn’t been working well all through the conference. And no, I don’t find it as bad as you might expect. (Or as I expected myself, really.) I didn’t even bring my laptop the first two days and didn’t miss it, and had a good time anyway.

Wireless Rant? Not really. I’m somewhat disappointed on a meta leval since I had hoped that the wifi hackers of Freifunk would manage to really set a sign, to demonstrate that bottom-up, grassroots mashup networks are far superior to the mega corporate networks you get at other conferences. (Remember LeWeb? Wifi there was, if you excuse the expression, teh suck, despite Loic LeMeur spending 100.000 Euros to a large telco.) How cool would it have been if the wifi sharing community had set up this major network for 1.000+ folks and outdone the telcos? Oh well, sadly it seems impossible to really get wifi working for that mass of folks, especially with most people here bringing so many gadgets that they need at least two IP addresses at any time. And from what I heard, the Freifunk guys and the organizers went to great lengths to get the network up, but it just wouldn’t work out. Apart from that, I didn’t really mind being somewhat offline most of the time, and indeed just wondered if a dedicated offline zone wouldn’t be a nice addition for conferences in general?

Twitter, 2.0, Blogging So now that that’s out of the way, how was the conference? Most of the – in the best sense of the word – usual suspects were here, and also many new faces, which is great. This year’s official theme is “shift happens”, referring to the changes in media and society through technology. Alternatively, the theme could also easily have been “mainstreaming the social web”. Not as sexy a title, obviously. But the crowd and the topics have clearly moved out of the pure geek-sphere into the mainstream. You still hear a lot of references and jokes about “this 2.0” and “that 2.0”, but it’s more relaxed, without the hype. Without the sarcasm, even, which is refreshing to see (no matter what you think of the term “2.0”).

You noticed a lot less blog posts and meta reflection. I don’t think it’s due to less interest. Instead, I assume that the discussion has just moved on to Twitter. Nobody here doesn’t twitter. That even goes for those not registered on twitter.com: A journalists was taking notes, referring to them as her tweets. A Twitter Lecture was fueled by, well, Twitter, but also by “paper tweets”. None of this is brand new, but it’s become ubiquitous, the defaults have changed from “oh, you’re on Twitter”, to “oh, you’re NOT on Twitter?”

Food & Location Besides wireless (and content, obviously), the two traditional points of criticism at all webby conferences are food and location. There was no official catering, so that’s a non-problem here with all the restaurants around. The location was interesting: Instead of sticking completely to Kalkscheune, this time the program was distributed between cozy Kalkscheune and massive Friedrichstadtpalast, usually host to musicals. Friedrichstadtpalast (FSP) has a major stage where the audience can go up to 1.200 or so, so it’s a very classic setup. Kalkscheune has one larger room and a number of small workshop rooms. I don’t know if FSP added anything, but it certainly didn’t hurt either. Personally, I prefer the cozy atmosphere of Kalkscheune, but I think both work very well. I’m typing this, for example, inside the large room of FSP.

Content? Lawrence Lessig, Culture Flatrate, Jimmy Wales, Cory Doctorow Lessig gave a presentation that was, as always, a real pleasure to watch. He knows his spiel perfectly, and it’s all deep and his arguments well-built. It always feels a bit like a bit of a cult, sitting there, because everybody listens so intently to the guru, but hey, this is clearly merit-based. With Creative Commons, Lessig built something amazing that in my opinion changed the world for the better.

A small, but packed panel about the idea of a Culture Flatrate was interesting and had a heated debate. The basic idea is to collect a small monthly fee (say €5) from every citizen and distributing all this money to the artists whose culture we consume. There’s many, many open questions about how this could work, but the idea seems really interesting, and I’m told the German green party will announce something to that respect today. Should be interesting to watch. The system of cultural production and commercial use we have today is clearly broken.

Lawrence Lessig isn’t the only web VIP here, though. As I’m typing, Jimmy Wales is speaking, Cory Doctorow will be next. So more on that later.

But so far, since I promised a resume and ended up with a lengthy summary, my short, simple and totally subjective impression: re:publica has managed to establish itself as one of the regulars in the German conference scene. The community feel is great (certainly also because not too many marketers are around), and the workshops can still be very productive since they’re so small and cozy. If something doesn’t work here or there’s a few not-so-interesting panels, I don’t think it’s as bad as at other conferences. Whenevery you don’t find something you really want to hear, there’s plenty of cool folks hanging out to chat with, which I find much, much more important than a densely packed list of high-profile panels. The fact that movers and shakers like Lawrence Lessig, Jimmy Wales and Cory Doctorow come over to speak here is quite telling.

Thanks to Newthinking and Spreeblick for putting it all together – you guys rock.

re:publica 09 (Day 1, Photos)


Day 1 of re:publica is over. I spent most of it inside the bus-turned-video studio of Blogpiloten taping interviews with the web folks and had a blast doing so. Also, I decided not to take a laptop at all and just took my trusted camera instead, and here’s some results of day 1. Enjoy!

You can see the rest of the photos in this Flickr set “re:publica 09”. All photos are licensed under Creative Commons (by-nc-sa).

re:publica 09: Let’s meet up!


Starting tomorrow, it’s going to be three days of re:publica craze. For those abroad: re:publica is arguably Germany’s biggest and most important blogger conference, organized by the great folks over at Newthinking and Spreeblick. This is, I believe, my third time at re:publica, and last time I had a blast. This year, I’m told, is by far the largest re:publica so far. So it should be a great opportunity to meet up with some interesting folks and have a good time. Needless to say, since this conference is aimed at bloggers and the like, it’s a lot less about business and marketing, and a lot more about culture and community. And hey, who am I to complain?

So there’s a lot of stuff going on, and I’ve hardly had a chance to even get an overview. But there’s a few things I’d like to point out. (Also, there’s this Netvibes widget to keep track of what’s going on.)

So first up, there’s a warm-up organized as a pl0gbar the night before the conference (organized by the ladies and gentlemen at pl0g). Yes, that’s tonight. Very relaxed and cozy, but there’s almost 100 folks on the attendees list already, so I expect it to be packed. Best way to kick off the conference, if you ask me.

Personally, I’ll have a few side missions at re:publica this year:

  1. On day one, we’ll have a fully equipped video studio in a Blogpiloten bus to tape interviews and videos, and hopefully host a video session with pl0g and Berlinblase. I’ll be around the bus most of the day, so make sure to drop by! (Full disclosure: I’m project lead for blogpiloten.de)

  2. Quite a few members of the Berlinblase crew will be around, so expect some coverage there, too.

  3. Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg organizes a blogger program for Deutsche Gamestage / Quo Vadis, a major game developers conference, hosted in Berlin (21-23 April) this year. If you’re into gaming or game development and would like to be one of the bloggers there, come talk to me!

  4. And, if I can find my charger, I’ll be trying to make a nice photo set eventually. Yes, I’m pledging to myself to bring the SLR, no matter how much more I’ll have to carry ;)

Now I’ll just have to wait if the load of Pokens that Flo Krakau ordered will arrive in time so we’ll have them ready tomorrow morning for the conference kick off. Hope to meet you there!

Meet up at OpenEverything, LeWeb, Re-Publica


It’s been quite hectic lately with both work and travel (and work-related travel, obviously), and there’s more to come. Needless to say, I really enjoy meeting all the interesting folks at events and conferences. I think it’s the best way to learn about new projects and ideas.

So thanks to unlike and Henrik Berggren for organizing Likemind Berlin this morning. Likemind is the most fun kaffeeklatsch I know.

So what’s next? Tomorrow there’s OpenEverything, a “global conversation about the art, science and spirit of ‘open’. It gathers people using openness to create and improve software, education, media, philanthropy, architecture, neighbourhoods, workplaces and the society we live in: everything.” It’s a global event with handovers between different locations during the day, I’ll be at OpenEverything Berlin. If I got it right, OpenEverything Hong Kong will handover to Berlin around 10:15am Berlin time. How cool is that?

LeWeb Paris

Next up is LeWeb Paris which I’m really excited about. The Berlinblase crew will be there, so we’ll be covering the event like we did a number of barcamps and Web 2.0 Expo Europe. It’ll be a blast. Drop me a line if you’d like to meet up to tell us about your tool or service in English (for Berlinblase) or in German (for blogpiloten.de), or even better, just to have a cool chat.

Re:Publica 09

For completeness’ sake, even though it’s far in the future, there’s also Re:Publica 09 coming up in early April. This year’s theme is “Shift Happens!”, and it’s all about how social media change the society we live in. Over the last two years re:publica has really established itself as the most important German blogging conference and it’s always great fun.

my moo cardTo get in touch, feel free to use any of these channels. (And please allow me to just re-use this code snippet including the photo. You might have seen it before.) I’d love to meet up!