With its almost 10,000 trade visitors, the re:publica is not only a significant economic factor for Berlin, as leading digital conference it also has effects upon society. This year's motto "Love Out Loud!" is an invitation to all of us to raise our voice against #hatespeech – and to do it loudly!
nly a handful of conferences actually makes it to national TV news programs every year, and re:publica is one of these. It's actually no wonder, as Germany's foremost expo for the digital society staged in Berlin from May 2 through 4, 2016 discussed an issue affecting all members of the public: Internet Freedom. It's about hateful comments in the Internet and about if and where to draw red lines if Internet freedom is exploited to manipulate, to agitate and to insult.
from more than 60 countries staged a 500-hour program on 17 stages, networked with 8,000 participants and 800 journalists from all over the world at the Station Berlin and the adjacent Kühlhaus, and posted 104,000 tweets. #hatespeech, #fakenews, #filterbubbles – the anniversary edition re:publica TEN is over, but the question remains how people interact with each other in the web. Andreas Gebhard, Johnny Haeusler, Markus Beckedahl and Tanja Haeusler consider that issue to be their mission and have proclaimed "Love Out Loud!" to be the motto for re:publica 2017 (#rp17),
May 8 thru 10 of this year. "We want to direct the focus on all those individuals, organizations and projects, who are standing up to hatred, violence and injustice and who are shedding light on the dark corners of society", is how the four event-organizers explained their commitment.
re:publica 2016: 770 speakers from more than 60 countries staged a 500-hour program on 17 stages. PHOTO: RE:PUBLICA, JAN ZAPPNER (CC BY 2.0)
Launched in 2007 as a sort of class reunion with 700 bloggers, the re:publica has long matured into the leading digital conference. The objective is to participate in shaping digital society and to exert influence on digital transformation. At the three-day event, members of the digital community passed on knowledge and professional competency, exchanged views on the future of the information society and interacted with activists, scientists, hackers, entrepreneurs, NGOs, journalists, bloggers, social media and marketing experts. This is an arena for innovations and synergies: for example, the cooperation with the Media Convention Berlin (MCB) media congress and the
. The platform interlinks expos, conferences and festivals staged by Berlin's creative industry and cultural scene from March 20 thru June 20 of this year. spring berlin's partner events cover everything from dramatic arts over design and music all the way to the digital industry.
, are to show the value of meetings beyond travel and local spendings by the delegates. Rod Cameron, JMIC’s Executive Director, on aims and obstacles for the project.
tw: Who came first up with the idea for this worldwide study and what are the biggest challenges? Rod Cameron: The focus on value measurement for the industry was initially a product of Joint Meetings Industry Council members realizing – particularly in the face of the last economic crisis – that we needed to expand the value proposition from one simply based on spending by delegates and organizers. This led to a series of conferences on value measurement and advocacy, and at the most recent one in Paris in 2015, it was agreed that we should pursue a rigorous process of documenting and wherever possible measuring examples of these broader values that could be used as examples in support of our value arguments to governments and communities.
How do you find suitable participants and how do you proceed with them – what is their motivation to participate? The biggest challenge is and has been that events that took place in the past did not generally measure the kinds of outputs the study is looking to document. However, we have succeeded in identifying a wide range of the types of benefits that result from events like meetings, conventions and exhibitions. The entire industry has now accepted the importance of being able to identify and document these kinds of broader benefits, the greatest motivation for participants is to be able to show leadership in the industry and to be better able to use the results for their own advocacy activities in their respective communities. “THE REAL REASONS WHY THESE EVENTS TAKE PLACE”
To measure the impact of a conference on long term outcomes sounds a bit like a fantastic idea to me. How difficult was it to find a suitable approach? It was always known that this would be a challenging process, particularly as compared with the economic impact measurements which had become a standard as they were relatively simple to do. However this ignored the much more important outcome benefits – the real reason these events take place – and so a change of focus was required. It was for this reason that we partnered with a major university who in turn set up an academic panel to assist in the development process, as this approach would lend the necessary level of credibility to the results.
When exactly will the results of the study be published and how? We will be putting all case studies on the JMIC web site and supplying them as well to “The Iceberg” for broader promotion. We will also be communicating results directly to industry members with the hope they will be able to use them in their own advocacy initiatives.
How many case studies will there be in 2017? We are targeting 6 documented case studies by the end of the year as approved by the Academic Panel.
For you personally, what is the most compelling example of how conferences changed and shaped the world you have found so far? It’s the role events play in creating networks that facilitate interactions and linkages that would never happen otherwise – we think of an event as something that takes place and comes to an end but it’s what results in terms of long term productive relationships in every imaginable area and make possible advances that no individual could ever achieve on their own. INTERVIEW FRANK WEWODA
Over and beyond these initiatives, re:publica has nurtured and shaped many dialogues, among these Internet-related issues such as data retention and net neutrality as well as the future of work. Its impulses actually have influenced legislation, for example in the workshop on the effects of digitalization on civil law held with the Ministry of Justice of the German federate state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Andreas Gebhard, co-founder and managing director of re:publica GmbH, pointed out that re:publica is a forum for discussing and critically debating issues related to the digital society long before they become a matter of political concern or public awareness. "As a consequence, re:publica indeed has an agenda setting-function." It's no coincidence then that an increasing number of politicians is sitting on these panels or in the audience.
The founders of re:publica (f.t.l.) Tanja Haeusler, Johnny Haeusler, Markus Beckedahl, Andreas Gebhard. PHOTO: RE:PUBLICA, JAN ZAPPNER (CC BY 2.0)
"We have a holistic approach, our intention is to incorporate and reflect the entire expanse of the digital society, which is developing at a terrific pace", said Gebhard. Relevant topics are emerging from the domains of Business & Innovation, Science & Technology, Politics & Society, Research & Education, Culture and Media. "This doesn't implicate that we are not going into detail", he emphasized, also referring to subconferences such as "re:fugees" on migration and integration in cooperation with the German federal agency for political education (BPB) in 2016, the track "re:health" on new methods and option in health programs – from 3D-print in disaster areas to depression in the Internet – in cooperation with the World Health Summit and the central theme Virtual Reality at the "labore:tory" staged in partnership with German VR association EDFVR.
Approximately 50% of the #rp17 program will be based on the Call for Papers, which in 2017 set a new record with 1,050 submissions. The 42-member program committee will develop around 400 sessions. The remaining 50% of the program will originate from the Call for Participation, i.e. directly from the community. Organizers consider it a unique feature that the event is not solely centered on highprofile keynotes and celebrity speakers.
Among the most notable of these in 2017 will be US robotics engineer Lisa Winter, artist and architect Usman Haque, astrophysicist Christine Corbett Moran and terrorism expert/political advisor Peter Neumann.
, about in which direction international Digital Democracy and Open Data policies will develop, or "re:learn" with new educational approaches centered on Reality Gaming in schools and Family 2.0. "Business & Work" sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs has its focus on the effects of Industry 4.0 and automation on production processes. The track "Mobility & City" in cooperation with Daimler AG will deal with the future of digital mobility as discussed by futurologists, academics and roboticists.
RE:PUBLICA GOES EUROPE
Zehn Jahre nach der ersten re:publica Berlin expandierte die Digitalkonferenz 2016 nach Dublin. Die
am 20. Oktober 2016 registrierte 200 Teilnehmer und 33 Speaker. „Nach zehn Jahren ist es interessant, etwas Neues zu machen. Es sollte Europa sein, damit wir nicht so weit fahren müssen“, erklärt Geschäftsführer Andreas Gebhard. „Dublin ist eine interessante und kreative Stadt, in der viele Startups sind. Und wir wollen erforschen, warum die ganzen internationalen Konzerne dort ihre Headquarters haben.“ Im Herbst wird es nicht nur eine zweite re:publica Dublin geben, sondern eine erste re:publica Thessaloniki.
Andrea Nahles, German Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, will be back for re:publica 2017. PHOTO: REPUBLICA, JAN ZAPPNER (CC BY 2.0)
re:publica is open for partnerships with startups and SMEs, foundations and associations, ministries and large-size corporations. Main sponsors of #rp17 are Media Convention Berlin, Daimler and IBM as well as the Science Year 2016*2017 – Seas and Oceans program conducted by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Initiative Science in dialogue. Some of the other partners are Google and the German TV channels ZDF, RBB and WDR. "We've been cooperating very successfully with Daimler for a number of years. While they – similar to many other partners – initially proceeded very cautiously, they are now absolutely open for ideas, experiments and new forms of participation", said Andreas Gebhard. "At the re:publica, they can interact with an audience otherwise not accessible to them, and they make use of the opportunity to discuss and reflect on the development of mobility with our participants."
Owing to the fair pricing policy, re:publica is affordable: the 3-day standard ticket incl. Media Convention will costs 199 euros, the business ticket with VIPlounge and catering 645 euros. On top of that, four German federate states (Brandenburg, Mecklenburg- Vorpommern, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland) acknowledge re:publica as qualifying for paid educational leave. Brandenburg's Ministry for Education, Youths and Sports has in fact enacted an ordinance giving its staff members and representatives access to the event at any time. KERSTIN WÜNSCH
Matthias Schultze, CEO German Convention Bureau (GCB): "re:publica is a driver and trend-setter in terms of digitalization in Germany, and it's a figurehead as well. The conference considerably boosts Germany's image as innovative technology leader and contributes significantly to German core competency in this domain. Both the themes of re:publica and their implementation are exemplary for innovative strength: advanced, open and interactive formats – for example "labore:tory" – as well as meetups as new options are signature features of the consistently expanding community event."