Impressions from this year’s re:publica

re:publica, a conference focusing on issues related to the digital society, took place from 5-7 May in Berlin. What is unique about the conference is that it brings together people from various backgrounds such as researchers, business people, political activists, journalists and bloggers. The diversity is reflected in the program and I tried to gain a broad overview of all topics covered.
Some of the talks provided food for thought. I attended talks about corporate surveillance in the age of digital tracking, big data and internet of things as well as talks about how activities of intelligence agencies sabotage official foreign policy objectives. Furthermore, whistleblower Annie Machon talked about her experiences as a MI5 intelligence officer and how the „war on concepts“ (i.e. the wars against drugs, terrorism, internet and  whistleblowers) is misused to restrict civic rights.
At the same time also cool stuff is happening: I visited the „Global Innovators“ talk and learned about local hacker, maker and start-up scenes in Singapore, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Brazil. Moreover, I took chance to attend a 3D printing workshop and learned about collaborative knowledge production in the context of „book sprints“ and online collaboration in the context of the German blog vierzehnachtzehn.de, which publishes entries of a war diary exactly 100 years after World War One.

Last, but not least, a major re:publica highlight was the talk of astronaut Alexander Gerst, who enthused the audience with his pictures and anecdotes from his six-month-stay at the International Space Station. The video is now online!

Astronaut Alexander Gerst on Stage
Astronaut Alexander Gerst on Stage