From a gathering of bloggers to an international Web 2.0 festival:
re:publica’09 – Shift happens – April 1-3, 2009
Berlin based social media conference enters its third round.
In 2006, a handful of Germany’s best known bloggers started to develop an idea for a gathering of net activists. Tanja and Johnny Haeusler of Spreeblick.com teamed up with Markus Beckedahl (netzpolitik.org) and Andreas Gebhard (newthinking communications) to invite the German blogosphere to discuss this thing we now call Web 2.0 at the very first re:publica conference in Berlin.
Just how spot on the founders of re:publica were by starting a new conference became apparent within the first weeks after the initial announcement. In 2007, pre-sale of tickets had to be stopped to keep a small amount of tickets for the days of the actual event. When the second re:publica sold out as well, it was clear that the initial success of the conference was not a fluke, with about a thousand people turning up at the Berlin “Kalkscheune”.
So what’s up for 2009?
The motto “Shift happens” promises change. Tanja Haeusler explains: “With ‘Shift happens’, we focus on the social and cultural changes generated by the digital society, changes that are the status quo for the young generation. We want to discuss which political and cross-social flux this shift might breed and in which areas it already manifested itself.”
More than 100 speakers and panelists, including many international guests, will provide a comprehensive discourse to edutain all attendees. The first names published by the re:publica team include Cory Doctorow (boingboing.net), Anthony Volodkin (hypem.com) and moot, founder of 4chan.org. Former New Media Operations Manager of the Obama campaign and founder of DigiActive.org, Mary C. Joyce, will be speaking on a panel with Esra’a Al Shafei of MideastYouth.com. German blog researcher Jan Schmidt will be presenting his latest study.
re:publica founder Andreas Gebhard: “In 2009, we have a huge shift of quality for the conference: The opportunity to invite outstanding international speakers is in large part due to our sponsors. Companies like IBM believed in our success from the very first moment on and supported us. Also, organizations like the Federal Agency for Civic Education allowed us to keep admission fees on a very low-priced level, therefore making re:publica a true conference for net activists of all ages and backgrounds.”
“We see many expensive business conferences regarding the web”, Markus Beckedahl adds, “but re:publica was and is an event for the creatives, for those who push the net further on with their ideas and who add new impetus.”
It is exactly this exceptionally creative atmosphere that turned re:publica into an important date for the ICT industry as well. To make room for this development, the founders of re:publica cooperated with the world’s leading ICT fair, CeBIT in Hannover. In March 2009, a preview of the actual re:publica, appropriately named “pre:publica”, will be held at CeBIT to introduce the topics of the conference to a broader ICT audience.
Room for a broader audience will be made in Berlin as well. Too many visitors had to be turned away at the doors of the last two sold out events, so in 2009 the historical Friedrichstadtpalast, famous for its revues and the world’s biggest theatrical stage, will host re:publica’s biggest keynotes.
Johnny Haeusler: “We want the relaxed, casual vibe that characterizes re:publica, but with the added spice of a festival. The Friedrichstadtpalast will be the perfect venue.”
“re:publica hasn’t yet reached its limits with the expected 1300 attendees in 2009″, Haeusler concludes. “We think it’s entirely possible to expand the conference further, to new locations. The pre:publica at CeBIT is a first step in that direction and who knows? In some years, maybe there might be a re:publica in Copenhagen or Shanghai.”