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.