martin hoffmann

I do cool things. With cool people.

rp:TEN – European netculture in Berlin


The re:publica 2016 marked the 10th birthday of this wonderful conference format, happening every year in Berlin. It was my third visit, and again, no regrets. Whilst some claim the conference has become too mainstream and too commercial, I still see it as THE looking class for netculture in Europe…at least.

Bildergebnis für rptenThis year’s main topics circulated around the underlying surveillance discourse, obviously, with Snowden calling in from Moscow. But also the freshly released TTIPleaks had a blast. From a technical perspective it was mainly VR and Snapchat dominating the talks. However, and this is where the magic of re:public lies, the variety of topic and speakers was huge once again. Therefore hate speech and new discourses on migration were debated, long before they hit the standard mainstream discussions.

For me re:TEN seemed somewhat more serious than in previous years. Maybe a bit dull at some point, less vibrant, and more grown-up. However, here is a longer list of talks I recommend. Some in English, some in German. But all worth watching.

day 1 – 05.05.2016

re:publica – Welcome everybody (German)

So here it starts. 10 years of re:publica. So what has changed? Johnny Haeusler breaks it down: “Everything”

Eröffnungspanel: Gesellschaft – it’s broken, let’s fix it!, German

Hate speech was one of the major topics of re:TEN. In this opening panel, different actors who have encountered problems with the new right wing movements in Germany (social media managers, directors, educational people), share their experience.

There are quite some interesting views on how to approach and handle the new hate culture online and what it means for communication in our society.

The Courage of Compassion: Transforming your Experience with Criticism, Heather Armstrong (English)

Heather Armstrong, a US-mom-blogger (never heard of that before) gets a lot of criticism for her work. How does she deal with it? What does it do to her? Referencing to the wonderful Brené Brown, this is worthy to watch and maybe to reflect.

African Elections and Social Media Shutdowns, English

Okay, I have to admit: as most Central Europeans I have only little knowledge of what is going on African countries. Yes, sometimes news from Northern Africa hit the news. And if bigger things are happening, I might read about it in my daily routine. But in depth, in even smaller countries? No way.

At least I am somewhat aware by the simple massive size and the diversity you can find between the different countries. But thanks to this talk I was able to at least add a good potential news source on my list. And I gained some insights.

The City as an Open System (Richard Senett), English

Okay, I have to admit: I am not much of a scholar. But there are some researchers who got stuck in my head whose main ideas were quite convincing and impressive. Richard Sennett is one of them, basically proclaiming a city and space to be seen more of a system interacting with each other, instead of basic elements existing next to each other.

So, Richard Sennett, whuhu! Unfortunately the talk was very basic. But still a good one if you want to get a deeper understanding or insight into cities as cultural systems.

The Electrified Society #energiewende (Dirk Baranek), German

Okay, electricity and the connected energy turnaround somehow seems boring. Very technical, and nobody really gets it. Apparently it seems difficult to achieve. But Dirk Baranek puts different spotlights on the topic: at least in Germany this is actually working well, and we are further than we thought. And actually, we could go the last steps quite easily – if we just kill some of the old darlings.

Sexy or Sexist? Ads on the Facepalm Beach, Elle Nerdinger (English)

Okay, I got interested by the simple headline of the topic. Heteronormative advert bullshit has been on my radar for a while by now, from all different perspectives. Well, and the title is also a great pun.

There are nice examples of bullshit advertising out there…with a bit of language aberrance. But beware of the difference between sexy and sexist. Worth watching nevertheless.

Metadata Investigation: Inside Hacking Team, Vladan Joler (English)

This was a very technical session, and the presenter’s dialect wouldn’t help my understanding. But it was interesting and mindblowing nevertheless. His town would chase down hackers that would work for governments, so the bad guys, basically based on popular services. And basically he explains how they investigated – and the mindblowing was that those people there were hunting are already tech-savvy and are capable of the same. So what can be done to them, could easily be done to me and you. Crazy.

MEMEWARS: of gif campaigns and gamer politics, English

Memes have become a more than popular part of (internet) culture. Thus, we are now seeing them being used in political campaigns as well, may it be the US elections or Russian foreign policy. The two presenters explain the ‘four stages’ of memes, but as well give examples, how memes have grown from innocent young boys jokes to proper propaganda.

The Age of Trotzdem, Sascha Lobo (German)

Lobo is still the one of the major German internet…well, philosophers/explainers/representers/whatevers. He is part of re:publica since the beginning, and despite last year, he was always on stage, summarising developments and trends, and usually ranting the shit out of the state of the (internet) nation. And frankling speaking, he was my inspiration to start a blog.

Summarising, he confronts the early adopters of the scene, that though all kind of technology is invented and tried, the world hasn’t really become a better place. Data retention is in place, right wing governments and parties are on the rise, and we still have not figured out what will happen with us or the world. In the end, we all hoped for an influence to make the world a better place, but internet has become somewhat, well, boring-grown up. Because, well, society is internet, and thus internet is society.

But nevertheless: despite the whole haussmanification of the internet and the society, the inefficiency of surveillance and inability of European political leadership to pursue the digital developments needed – we have to continue. We have to face the inefficiency of society and continue creating and shaping this, our society for the better.

day 2 – 03.05.2016

Cargo-Kulte, Gunter Dueck (German)

What are the basis of our (business) behaviour? For Dueck too often we follow false beliefs. After focusing on a more diverse understanding of people and qualification in past years, he no sets an eye on swarm thinking – but contrary to common beliefs, it is not intelligence but stupidity growing from it.

Following the story of a South-Pacific tribe, he claims that many concepts in nowadays society are implemented wrongly and thus simply reluctant. And no worries, everybody gets their share: design thinking, growth, basic income, companies, politicians.

What is behind the new Migrations: A Massive Loss of Habitat, Saskia Sassen (English)

In the light of huge migration waves, Saskia Sassen calls for a third perspective on migration. Besides war and economic refugees, we are undermining those who flee from a loss of habitat, may it be by climate change or other reasons. It wasn’t much of a flashing talk, yet very important. And it might give you some insights, into a topic that is extremely shaping our present and future.

Die pubertäre Gesellschaft und das Netz, Friedemann Karig (Deutsch)

Friedemann Karig ist ja sowas wie der Journalismus-Erklärbär für junge Menschen. Diesmal widmet er sich wieder dem Heranwachsen, allerdings mit dem Fokus auf das Internet. Denn irgendwie ist das Internet derzeit genau das: ein hormongeschwänkertes, pubertäres Etwas.

Doch was sagt das über uns, wenn Daten wie Hormone wirken? Wenn wir nicht wissen, wie wir mit all diesen Gefühlen und Eindrücken umgehen sollen? Indirekt bestätigt er das, was ich mir auch immer denke: das Internet macht quasi nichts neu, aber beschleunigt und verstärkt unglaublich. Also auch Meinungen, zu oft auch Schwachsinn, und viel zu viele Lügen.

Panama Papers: Investigative Journalism, the „Lügenpresse“ & the age of Big Leaks (English)

This was a panel discussion organised on short notice, as the Panama Papers were only released a couple of weeks before the re:publica 2016. On stage were a representative of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of the papers behind the leak. But there was also Max from Motherboard and Renata from the Web Foundation to talk about what has changed ever since Snowden and Wikileaks concerning the role of leaks nowadays.

Especially Renata sheds light on the big discussion, how the publication of such leaks should be handled in the future – a criticism this leak had to face earlier already, as it wasn’t coming with full transparency, as with Wikileaks in the past, but sorted and filtered, by a working group financed by financial oligarchs.

Faire Plattformökonomie, geht das? (German)

Wie gehen wir mit der Veränderung/Disruption durch neue Unternehmen um, welche andere Maßstäbe an Employment und sozialversicherte Beschäftigung legen? Welche Modelle gibt es, welche Lerneffekte gibt es auch innerhalb der Branche, und wie sollte die Politik damit umgehen? Spannende Perspektiven und Ansichten.

The Shape of Things to Come (English)

Okay, mind blown. Jeff Kowalski, head of Autodesk, explains the concept of generative design, a key element of the industrial revolution ahead. So basically, it is the next step in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Basically algorithms are using data to improve design in a way, humans couldn’t think of. This way, not only will we be able to have better designed objects. But also these machines are able to plan, design and create these objects by themselves.

With a lot of practical examples, Jeff shows that the future of creating and shaping the world around us is yet to come. So just imagine, these machines, downsized, would be integrated in the objects we use. For self-fixing, life-adaption of construction, etc. And looking at experiments, that are already able to ‘print’ human flesh and bones…wow. But even more, these new algorithms can bring us as humans not only to our boundaries, but actually go beyond and create things, we aren’t even able to think of.

Alte Säcke Politik – Wie wir eine Zukunfts- statt Angstdebatte führen können (Deutsch)

Ein wichtiger Talk, mit vielen Beispiele aus der Vergangenheit, die zeigen, dass wir in Sachen Digitalpolitik im Diskurs stecken geblieben sind.

Theater für die Virtuelle Realität (Björn Lengers), German

An dieser Stelle ist sicherlich schon klar geworden, dass die re:publica 2016 sich auch intensiv mit virtueller Realität beschäftigt. Im neu hergereichten Kühlhaus ging es dann auch direkt um Immersive Arts – also die Erweiterung bisheriger Kunst durch Digitalisierung. Spannend.

Zu Theater habe ich ja eine gewisse Hassliebe. Früher bin ich sehr viel, auch allein, ins Theater gegangen. Die gesellschaftlichen Auseinandersetzung gerade in neuen Inszenierungen finde ich spannend und essentiell. Doch diese Leidenschaft ist eingeschlafen. Geld, Zeit…kann alles sein. Aber sehr oft finde ich Theater einfach auch nur langweilig (dafür schaue ich deutlich zu viele Filme).

Aber dennoch sehe ich im und für’s Theater unglaubliches Potential – kann es doch einen Verhandlungsraum für notwendige Diskurse bieten. Aber es muss eben auch mit der Zeit gehen. Digitalisierung bietet für mich spannende Perspektiven.

Björn Lengers gibt hier einen ersten Einblick, welches Potential in Virtual Reality für das Theater liegt.

Who will be smart in a smart city? Upcoming challenges for privacy and open societies. (Julia Manske, Eva Blum-Dumontet), English

Two young researchers are looking into the promises and already existing practices of urban digitalisation, or smart cities, which is the sort-of market name for it. In particular they are throwing an eye on the big company players that are having contracts with the bigger cities, collecting tons of data every day. That, obviously, doesn’t go very well in terms of data security. The talk gives a good insight into the width of the topic.

day 3 – 04.05.2016

Change the Story, Change the world (Laurie Penny), English

This is a wonderful nerdy talk about fandom in the first place, but actually generally storytelling and what benefits diversity brings to it. The actual talk is okay, but more enjoyable is the Q&A-section at the end of the talk. It gives a nice tour on how fan-sci-fi-art has grown and what influence it has on nowadays storytelling and media production – and it includes Star Trek, Star Wars, Mad Max, Harry Potter and many more. Much fun.

State of the Open (Fiona Krakenbürger, Julia Kloiber, Arne Semsrott), Deutsch

OpenData ist ein fundamental wichtiger Baustein für die Zukunft einer offeneren und partizipativeren Gesellschaft, finde ich. Auch wenn es schon gute Beispiele gibt, sind viel zu viele Kommunen damit allein schon technisch noch überfordert. Anstatt Daten, welche ja aus Steuergeldern erhoben wurden und gerade auf kommunaler Ebene keinen ersichtlichen Geheimhaltungsgrund haben, direkt öffentlich zugänglich zu machen, lässt man sich oft noch bitten – wenn überhaupt. Aber, auch hier gilt, der Fisch stinkt vom Kopf her.

Die Open Knowledge Foundation ist ein wichtiger Player für eben diese Freiheitsrechte. Sie treiben das Thema voran, haken nach, und machen so tolle Sachen wie 1-Step-Informationsanfragen-Formulare an die Bundesregierung. Hier gibt es eine Rundschlag über die aktuelle Situation der freien Informationszugänglichkeit in Deutschland. Oh well.

Wer also am Ende des Jahres nochmal ein paar Euro für die positive Steuerbilanz spenden will…here you go!

Open Data im ÖPNV – Und es bewegt sich doch! (Stefan Kaufmann), Deutsch

Eines der für mich spannensten Themen zgl. Open Data ist und bleibt aber tatsächlich ÖPNV bzw. Mobilität. Die meisten Menschen bewegen sich jeden Tag von A nach B, manchmal noch bis C und Y. Für die meisten banal, aber die Art und Weise wie wir das tun, hat einen immensen Einfluss auf unsere Gesellschaft und die Umwelt.

Diese Bewegungsflüsse zu optimieren ist eine für mich essentielle Aufgabe unserer Gesellschaft. Nicht nur um Ressourcen zu sparen. Sondern viele dieser Prozess lassen sind mindestens optimieren, wenn nicht gar noch upgraden.

Wer dabei nur an Großstädte und Autobahnen denkt, denkt leider zu kurz. Die meiste Mobilität findet vermutlich im ländlichen Raum statt – gerade weil die Distanzen da größer sind. Und all die bisherigen innovativen Start-Ups und Mobilitätsinitiativen machen eben genau deswegen einen großen Bogen um diese Gebiete.

Stefan Kaufmann plaudert aus dem Nähkästchen, was dennoch möglich wäre.

Warum Lügengeschichten so gut funktionieren (Ingrid Brodnig), Deutsch

Fake News sind ja mittlerweile ein heiß diskutiertes Thema. Ingrid Brodnig hat sich wissenschaftlich mit Mechanismen der Entstehung solcher Lügengeschichten auseinandergesetzt, und zeigt auf, wie damit auch umgegangen werden kann. Lohnenswert im Bezug auf Counterspeech.

Landwirtschaft 4.0 (Daniel Werner), Deutsch

Wenn auch profan, für mich einer der spannensten Talks. Zwar bin ich durchaus mit Landnähe aufgewachsen, über die Digitalisierung der Landwirtschaft habe ich mir bisher aber kaum Gedanken gemacht.

Daniel Werner zeigt sehr anschaulich, dass natürlich auch Landwirtschaft heute im 21. Jahrhundert angekommen ist. Er zeigt, in wie weit digitale Prozesse heute schon das Ackern steuern, und wo es hingehen kann. Gerade im Hinblick auf optimale Ressourcennutzung spannend. Und ein weiteres Zeichen, dass digitale Infrastruktur auch im ländlichen Raum notwendig ist.

Fifty Shades of Merkel. Internetversion. (Julia Schramm), Deutsch

Etwas leichtes, politisch erfrischendes zum Abschluss. Julia Schramm, auch so ein Internetmensch, hat sich als Politikwissenschaftlerin in den letzten Jahren intensiver mit Angela Merkel auseinandergesetzt. Mit ihrem Buch “Fifty Shades of Merkel” gibt sie einen ziemlich guten Einblick in die Machtlogik und das Handeln Merkels. Und Julia Schramm hat dabei auch noch eine unterhaltsame, gleichsam spannende Art, Verbindungen und Muster aufzuzeigen.


Author: hoffmann.martin

cultural engineer and education hacker | interested in design, media, politics, learning, teaching, understanding

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