This week Germany’s most important internet and blogger’s conference re:publica 2013 took place in Berlin (May 6-8) with about 5,000 participants and a mass of panels and workshops on many, many topics related to current developments on the Internet.
One main subject of this year’s discussions (in official panels as well as in private discussions and in related media coverage) was a differentiation of tariffs for internet services recently announced by Germany’s biggest provider Deutsche Telekom. The company started a new tariff policy by the beginning of May and now demands extra fees from users of large amounts of data. Those who are not willing or able to pay these extra fees will be confronted with degraded network performance. Net neutrality, until now discussed theoretically as a potential threat for a free Internet, seems to become a real problem.
On the other side, re:publica also featured activists’ reflections on how to use the Internet in a more democratic or a more humanistic sense. For example, Sascha Lobo, sort of Germany’s beacon light when it comes to the internet, spoke about his newly launched “Reclaim Social Media”-project. His idea is to develop a tool for reclaiming control of your own data produced and stored in different social networks.
Tuppens minut: Sascha Lobo at re:publica 13. Behind him on the screen it says ‘anger’.
Another example: Laurie Penny, blogger and journalist from Great Britain, talked about Cybersexism. Penny explained that there is not only a problem with Cybersexim on the internet, the web also provides potential solutions – if used in a proper way.
Unsurprisingly, a lot of discussions focused on the commercial potential of the internet. For example, Tero Kaukomaa from Finland spoke about experiences with partly crowdfunding the movie Iron Sky. And, equally unsurprising, you could hear several talks by scholars and scientists as well, for example about ethics of algorithms (in German).
For those who are interested, several presentations and lectures are available on YouTube.