re-publica 2013, Day 3

My posts about the previous two days at re:publica 2013

My post about Day 1 of re:publica 2013 is here.

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

Wednesday, the third and final day of re:publica 2013

After getting some well-deserved sleep, I returned to the Station on Wednesday morning to enjoy the final day of re:publica 2013.

I would say that, for the most part, the sessions I visited on Wednesday were on the technical side of things.

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) license.

Data Liberation and Open Data Projects in Germany ans Europe

I began Wednesday, the final day of re:publica 2013, by visiting a presentation (in German) on open data projects featuring Sebastian Vollnhals, Jens Ohlig (Wikimedia Foundation), and Michael Kreil (

The presenters highlighted that in order to be useful, data must be machine-readable, sortable into categories, and be capable to reference other data.

Data formats must be readable, contain repetitive structures, and be well-specified and documented.

For those who would like to get deeper involved in the topic of open data, one good resource is the Open Data Handbook.


The presenters stressed that the most useful license for open data projects would be the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, which has no restrictions for the use of the data.

 Exemplary open data projects in Germany and Europe

But what is open data useful for? Where can it be put to good use?

In Germany, some efforts regarding the establishment of open data portals have already been made.

One such project by the Federal Government of Germany is, which the panelists criticized for not being open according to their definition of open data.

Another example in Germany is the portal (“ask the state”), a project for freedom of information requests in Germany according to the Informationsfreiheitsgesetz (IFG).

Other local open data projects in Germany include Berlin Open Data and Open Data Hamburg.


The presenters mentioned another project that combines leaked German military documents from the war in Afghanistan with a crowd-sourced approach to transcribing these materials into a database: the Afghanistan Papiere (“Afghanistan Papers”), which the German Ministry of Defense is attempting to remove from the Internet.

Open Data projects in the EU

On the European level, there is the European Union Open Data Project.

Technical Tips

The presenters further illustrated how data that was available in text form could be transformed into machine-readable tables using spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel, which, despite its proprietary nature, they said was very good at these things, especially for ‘quick and dirty’ conversions.

Using pivot tables and creating graphs, these graphs could then be made more visually appealing by exporting them into pdf documents and importing those into a vector graphics editor.

Other tools:

Google Fusion Tables for linking smaller databases for data journalism work.

Datawrapper for creating simple and correct diagrams with embedding codes for websites.

Web Miner for scraping data from the web (explanatory video linked on the website).

Data traces of regular Internet users with Me & My Shadow

The workshop by Anne Roth and Stephanie Hankey (no video available) presented, a website from Tactical Tech that helps users to inform themselves about the data traces they leave behind every time they use devices such as notebooks or smartphones. visualizes a person’s data shadow and shows how the amount of data about an individual can be reduced.

Another helpful tool mentioned was the website from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which helps users to check how trackable their web browser is.

The presenters also warned about a malicious tool called Faceniff, which can hijack open Facebook and other sessions running inside a web browser on unsecured connections (http instead of https).

What a day!

Apart from these two sessions, I switched between quite a few more, but did not find the time to take down meticulous notes. There was just so much going on at the same time.

The epic finale of re:publica featured a massive choir consisting of everybody in the room of stage 1, giving a rendition of Queen’s classic rock song “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I found the idea of the ‘digital bohème’ performing “Bohemian Rhapsody” quite hilarious.

After the official program was over, the following re:publica party provided the opportunity to enjoy some more music, drinks, and conversations with friends and new acquaintances.

If I can make it, I will return next year for re:publica 2014 (#rp14). In the meantime, I will watch some of the other interesting sessions that I missed on re:publica’s YouTube channel.

My post about Day 1 of re:publica 2013 is here.

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

You can find me on twitter under @benmschaefer for social media stuff. My other twitter account, which is visible in the sidebar, is @AS_Grad. There I mostly link to articles about politics in the US. On this blog here, I mostly write about politics and culture in the US. You will find my personal opinions (and sometimes rants) about various issues. Currently, the format of the blog is not what I would consider an academic blog, but I do my best to provide reliable sources wherever possible.

re-publica 2013, Day 2

re-publica 2013, Day 2

Posts on the other two days of re:publica 2013

My post about Day 1 of re:publica 2013 is here.

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

Not partying too hard on Monday night

Unconfirmed rumors have it that all those Internet people at re:publica like parties, too. One might be tempted to think that the ‘digital bohème’ enjoys a beer or two, or even parties all night long on Monday night and gets completely wasted. However true that may be for some people, I could not participate in much of this because of . . . reasons! In fact, I was going to be on a mission the next morning.

My ticket for re:publica 2013
My ticket for re:publica 2013

I had registered as a volunteer to get my ticket and I had a late shift as stage assistant before me. So I knew that this would be quite a long day. Therefore, the party on Monday was rather brief for me.

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).

A different kind of social media at the re:publica 2013: cardboard boxes with messages such as this: "Hinweis: Diese Farbe ist wunderschön." "Stimme ich zu!" ("Notice: This color is beautiful." "I agree!")
A different kind of social media at the re:publica 2013: cardboard boxes with messages such as this: “Hinweis: Diese Farbe ist wunderschön.” “Stimme ich zu!” (“Notice: This color is beautiful.” “I agree!”)

Radio Universal with Tim Pritlove

After getting myself some coffee, I began Tuesday, the second day at re:publica 2013, with a visit to the world of podcasting.

Tim Pritlove, a very popular Berlin-based German podcaster and re:publica veteran, gave a talk in which he envisioned the future of podcasting as a sort of “universal radio.”

Tim talked about how podcasts are “incubators for formats” and how they form their own ecosystems. He introduced the audience to a number of technical solutions for the podcasting world, such as, podlove, podlove publisher, bitlove, auphonic, and

The universal radio of the future uses audio files as a carrier and integrates additional metadata in order to enhance networked discussions.

Entrepreneurial Science Journalism

One of the panels in the science track was about entrepreneurial science journalism and featured Dino Trescher (, Ulrike Langer (, Stephan Ruß-Mohl (European Journalism Observatory) and Sebastian Turner. Unfortunately, I could not find a video recording of this event yet.)

The basic consensus was that, for users/readers, the current times are golden times regarding the availability of journalistic articles covering science. On the other hand, for specialized publishers, there is rather a shift from ‘platinum times’ to ‘golden times.’

As Ulrike Lange, one of the panelists, said, science journalists can attain increased visibility on the Internet through shared content and therefore may be able to attract more jobs.


The next talk I visited was about science communication and social media featuring Prof. Dr. Anders Levermann (Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung, blogging climate scientist), Lars Fischer (blogger and award winner of Wissenschaftsjournalist 2012 (Science Journalist 2012), Solveig Wehking (Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Forschungsplanung (research coordinator)), and Ruth Schöllhammer (social media consultant).

The panelists noted that there is a need for professional scientists and their institutions to communicate with and involve broader publics because science is under increasing pressure to legitimize itself and its funding.

One of the most interesting takeaways for me from this panel was that professional scientists can actually be inspired to new research ideas by bloggers who are themselves scientific laypersons.

Net Neutrality

The talk on net neutrality featuring Ben Scott (Save the internet,, Senior Adviser to the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation in Washington DC, Visiting Fellow at the Stiftung Neue Verantwortung in Berlin), Markus Beckedahl (, and Hannah Seiffert (Attorney at Law, based in Berlin, Head of Political Affairs at eco – Association of the German Internet Industry) dealt with the current threats to the Internet as a public good.

In Germany, the largest Internet service provider Telekom recently announced that it would end so-called flatrate payment models wherein users paid a fixed monthly fee for unlimited Internet traffic.

Ben Scott argued that the Internet is a public good and that this is visible in its original end to end design, meaning that in principle, any user of the World Wide Web can see any website.

Six Degrees Of Wikipedia

I finished Day 2 by watching a game show hosted by Sebastian Vollnhals and Julian Finn   featuring Six Degrees of Wikipedia, a game in which two contestants get a randomly-generated pair of entries on Wikipedia and have to maneuver from one to the other only by clicking on linked words inside the respective article. A very creative use of Wikipedia, and a really fun game.

Six Degrees Of Wikipedia, a game in which two contestants have to maneuver from one randomly-chosen entry another only by clicking on linked words inside the article.

After the gaming session was over, I fulfilled my final duties as a helping hand by assisting with the cleaning up of the stage.

Too much to see on Day 2

Needless to say, there were many more great talks that I briefly walked into, and even more that I would have loved to see, but could not make it. It was simply impossible, given that re:publica simultaneously had events running on seven (!) stages and four more workshop areas. Damn you, re:publica, for providing such an overabundance of conference goodness! 🙂

My post about Day 1 of re:publica 2013 is here.

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

American Studies Leipzig Graduate Conference 2012, Day 1 (Keynote Speech)

Last weekend, I attended American Studies Leipzig’s third graduate conference, “Global Games, Global Goals: Locating America in the Cultural, Social, and Political Realms of Sports,” organized by the second year MA students. I have to say that the two days of conference were very pleasurable as a guest. Great organization, nice hosts, interesting speakers, and an impressive location: the Deutsches Literaturinstitut Leipzig. Not to mention quite a bit of tasty food and beverages, which bring me back to the overall conference topic and what I should do afterwards—sports.

On the first day, the keynote speech was held by Prof. Dr. Dorothee Alfermann of the Institute for Sport Psychology and Pedagogy at the University of Leipzig on “American and German Sports from a Socio-Cultural Perspective.”

In her talk, Alfermann traced the development of sports in the US and Germany, and highlighted the very different trajectories in both countries.

While in the US, sports tends to be more about performance, competition, and record orientation, in Germany, sports as a mass phenomenon emphasizes exercise  and recreational activity.

These general differences have a historical roots.

In Germany, for instance, the Turner Movement of the early nineteenth century around Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, underpinned by German nationalism, aimed at training young men for military service, while rejecting the competitive aspect of sports.

Nationalism in sports was not limited to Europe. In the late nineteenth century, Americans tried to forge their national identity in contrast to Europe, which also expressed itself in the development of own national sports, in particular baseball since the 1860s, American football, and basketball.

The organization of sports differs greatly between the US and European countries such as the UK or Germany. While schools and colleges play a central role in the US, European countries have historically organized sports around sports clubs.

One particularity of sports in the US is the combination of physical and intellectual education, embodied in college stipends for student-athletes. Sports becomes a means of getting a higher education, even though many aim for professional athletic careers.

Some similarities do exist about sports in the US and Germany today, Alfermann concluded. Sports contributes to (national) identity and produces heroes. It attracts huge crowds, is a big business, and men’s sports tend to be held in higher regard in the public eye.

More posts to follow soon.

American Studies Leipzig Graduate Conference 2012

Tomorrow I will be going to American Studies Leipzig’s third graduate conference, organized by the second year MA students.

This year’s topic is “Global Games, Global Goals: Locating America in the Cultural, Social, and Political Realms of Sports.”

As the website describes it, the conference

will explore different notions of sports in a forum integrating students and professionals. Since sports touches upon many aspects of life such as politics, media, popular culture, history, and health, it offers a myriad of possible research foci. In fact, American sports and sport lifestyle(s) influence cultures around the world while simultaneously being subject to influences from other cultures as well. The study of sports within an American context is thus not limited to the national level: Sports organizations, sports gear enterprises, and athletes of all possible types operate internationally, making the topic of sports highly relevant on a global scale.

As a ‘veteran’ conference organizer (I was part of the organizing team in 2010), I am of course very excited to see how this year’s MA class manages to pull it all off. I am confident in this year’s organizing team, as the previous conferences went quite well.

I am also curious about the presentations and certain to learn about many aspects of sports that I had not thought about earlier. If I find the time, I will put up some more posts after the weekend.