Re: publica first opened its doors in 2007. Then it was a web 2.0 conference. The first years it was held in the “Kalkshoyne” - a rather small hall in the Berlin-Mitte area - and was more like a niche event for geeks and nerds interested in digital culture. From among the speakers, the general public could be familiar, perhaps, only Sasha Lobo. Nowadays, re: publica has become mainstream and every year attracts thousands of visitors to the Stazion Berlin exhibition complex, located on the territory of the former postal station. Among those who are related to the Internet, social networks, blogs and communications, there are hardly any people who have not heard about this conference.
Geraldine de Bastion from the very beginning participates in the organization of re: publica. She is a co-curator of the program and moderator of individual sessions. In recent years, she took part in the development of new formats and accompanied the international expansion of the conference. In an interview, Geraldine told us how the conference had changed.
The idea of re: publica arose when Internet media, such as blogs, became relevant in Germany, and the development of the Internet public began. Re: publica was supposed to be a meeting place for all those involved in new media and processes, and especially for those who shape these processes. Today re: publica is Europe’s digital festival. In 2018, approximately 20,000 people attended the conference, while in 2007 there were only about 700 people.
What role does re: publica play when discussing issues of digital society in Germany?
Re: publica helped shape online discourse in Germany. This is a platform for meetings that will not happen anywhere else - for example, we have overlapped politicians and network activists and activists, experts and scientists from around the world, as well as representatives and representatives of the digital economy, media, culture and science. We show that it is possible to organize an event where there will be an equal number of speakers and speakers - and this alone will contribute to the cultural transformations of German digital society.
Formerly, a niche conference for geeks and nerds, now the mainstream: re: publica has become an authoritative specialized conference, where the stars of the media landscape shine repeatedly. Among them is the Mouse from the German nursery “Transfer with the mouse” - perhaps one of the most popular partners for selfies.
Why re: publica headed for other countries? There are no similar conferences?
Berlin will always remain our “base”, but it is important for us to get acquainted with how other countries and regions approach the main topics that re: publica deals with. To this end, we, on the one hand, invite speakers from different countries, and on the other hand, we also conduct events under the aegis of re: publica in other countries. The key point is to develop and implement the concept in conjunction with local partners. Experience shows that our format is in demand: re: publica is a community festival based on the principles of participation. Various activities within this format are an opportunity to learn something and share experiences, get publicity and have fun.
Issues of digital society are discussed in other countries differently than in Germany.
In many ways, but in much the same way. Some of the topics that were raised on Call for Participation in Ghana are relevant to us. For example, data handling issues and the problems of feminism. Others are not in the first place, for example, e-waste issues. In general, other countries more easily accept the changes that digitalization brings with them. When there are fewer established structures, then the fear of change is not so great.