re-publica 2013, Day 1

re:publica 2013, Day 1

My post about Day 2 of re:publica 2013 is here.

My post about Day 3 of re:publica 2013 is here.


Internet sign at the re:publica 2013
Internet sign at the re:publica 2013

When I arrived at the Station Berlin by bike on Monday, May 6, 2013, there were already hundreds of people buzzing all over the place. I saw quadrocopters (yes, drones!) flying overhead, and met up with a few friends. After getting my name tag and wrist band at  the ‘helping hand’ desk, I headed for the catering stand to grab a coffee. Then, just like hundreds of people around me, swarmed to Stage 1 for the opening event.

The opening event featured some impressive stage design with light projections on cubes and earth-shattering bass-heavy electronic music.

Note: Wherever possible, I have embedded videos of the talks I visited from re:publica’s official YouTube channel. All the video recordings are used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Germany (CC BY-SA 3.0 DE).

Political campaigning with Betsy Hoover, Obama for America 2012

As an Americanist, I had no trouble deciding where to head next. I considered the talk by Betsy Hoover, who was the online campaign coordinator for ‘Obama for America 2012,’ a must-see. Hoover talked about the importance of linking online and offline activities for a successful political campaign. I wonder how much the experience from the American elections can be applied to the German context. One thing is for certain: German political parties right now are closely examining the past American presidential elections for clues on how to be successful themselves.

Offline Crowdsourcing

Next, I attended a workshop by Stefan Domke and David Ohrnhoff on offline crowdsourcing. Their project digit aims at making available German analog private archives including amateur films, photographs and post cards on an online platform while involving seniors who are not, if at all, computer- and online-savvy.

Here is how it works: individuals get technical assistance with the digitizing process, in return the materials get published on the online platform. In addition, participants receive a USB memory stick with the digitized materials so that they can share them with friends and family in this manner as well.

One of their problems was that it was difficult to get seniors to enter metadata describing the digitized materials into entry masks. Some ideas to solve this problem included finding partners who volunteer for the data entry and crowdsourcing the collection of metadata by posting, for example, an image on Facebook and have the community type in what they know about it.

YouTube Stars

One talk discussed (in German) the emergence of prominent (German) YouTube stars who have, in a relatively brief time, developed huge online followings with self-made videos on diverse topics such as computer games or in the case of one participant, her daily life as a young mother. The popular YouTubers on the panel agreed that it was very important to engage their audience in a dialogue to build a community around their video channels.

Social Media Mistakes By Nonprofits

In Jona Hölderle’s workshop (in German), various typical mistakes by nonprofits using social media channels for their work were presented and discussed.

Here is a post (in German) by Marie-Christine Schindler on the workshop that also includes the slides and a really cool sketchnote).

According to Jona, the most frequent mistakes made by nonprofit organizations who use social media platforms to spread their cause include the following:

  1. Thinking that social media is just Facebook.
  2. Thinking in content, but not in communities. His example was, a very popular commercial online forum for car enthusiasts in Germany.
  3. Taking ourselves too seriously (!).
  4. Expecting new target audiences all the time. In his view, smaller social media profiles tend to attract friends rather than new audiences.
  5. Being crazy for apps that we want to put on people’s smartphones and tablets. The effort to get people to install an app is often disproportionate.
  6. We do not blog or we do not blog enough. In his opinion, blogging on one’s own platform is better. We should aim for real interaction. And we should not forget to link from our blog to our other social media profiles.
  7. We assume too much prior knowledge on the part of our fans/followers. This results in confusing posts that cannot be understood without having read the x previous posts. Therefore, especially on Facebook and Twitter, it is a good idea to repeat certain posts after a certain time, for instance two weeks.
  8. We do not interact enough (!).
  9. We are losing sight of our goals.
  10. Nonprofits do not invest.

I think those are some great tips.

Muslim Bloggers in Germany

Stine Eckert’s talk (in German) discussed the role of Muslim bloggers in Germany and highlighted how their writing establishes a counter-discourse against one-sided portrayals in the German mainstream media. In her interviews with a variety of bloggers, she discovered a whole range of opinions, lifestyles, and realities. Most importantly, Muslim bloggers did not want to be reduced to their religious and/or cultural identity, but be noticed as individuals with various interests and characteristics.

With rage and pathos for a free and secure Internet

Finally, Sascha Lobo, perhaps Germany’s most prominent blogger, recognizable for his red mohawk hairstyle, urged the Internet crowd (in German) to reclaim social media with rage and pathos. And he revealed a technical tool to help with this endeavor:, an extension for the popular blogging software WordPress, which automatically makes backup copies of all content posted on social networking sites, just in case one of the popular social networking sites shuts down or decides to censor or delete content.

What a day! There is more to come.

My post about Day 2 of re:publica 2013 is here.

My post about Day 3 of re:publica 2013 is here.

I will very likely continue to update this post with a few more links.

re-publica 2013, Day 1

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