This week, I started my term as a visiting fellow at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. That’s the place where Robert Pfaller, the discoverer – or inventor? – of interpassivity, holds the chair of philosophy of arts. So my time there is part of the research project I recently announced in this weblog.

wienMy first ‘official’ commitment this Wednesday was to hold a guest lecture about “The unexpected in public communication”. My contribution was part of a series of lectures about “The unexpected” organized by Pfaller this summer. Although the general subject is a quite philosophical one, I was invited to speak about surprising or irritating phenomena in the world of public communication:  faked websites and mass media, media piracy or clowns armies, graffiti in public spaces – things I worked on for my PhD-thesis on “guerilla communication”.

It was an interesting experience to discuss with an audience accustomed to philosophical debate about cultural phenomena. Surprising detail from my point of view: My presentation was received as very ‘scientific’ in style when compared to the more narrative forms established in philosophy! The very first time I got such an appraisal…

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.

I’ve been told the word ‘dammsugare’ attracts attention in Sweden because it denotates not only a vacuum cleaner but something sweet to eat and green to the eye. An extra-large one is awarded to every teacher on finishing a course in Philosophy of Science. Which brings me to the topic. Emelie Höög, Master student in Strategic Communication (and very much afflicted by some unspecified course in PhiloScience) shares this award-winning campaign video for Electrolux (of ‘nothing sucks like an Electrolux’-fame). Some good advice on how to construct a communication campaign and to go about your household chores: Did you know that listening to Jazz while hoovering the floor makes you do it more thoroughly? Emelie’s comment: Is it science? At least it’s done in a lab.


BTW: Nothing beats Queen when it comes to weird cross-dressing, moustache-sporting dammsugare-action, of course. Student advisory: Queen was a British rock/pop-band established in 1971. Which means: They’re older than me but younger than Philip 😉