Highlights of Re:publica 14

From May 6th to 8th 2014, Berlin was the host for the re:publica 14. It is a conference on internet culture. As the years before, I did not attend it, but I watched some talks online. Half a year late, here are my highlights (mostly in German, though):

Robot Journalism

An area of data analysis that is moving in focus: automated text generation. At the re:publica the term robot journalism was coined. In this setting, data analysis is used to identify and interpret information worth mentioning (some kind of outlier detection?). This information is then automatically redacted into output text or output multimedia, using grammatical rules, orthographical rules, and phrase databases.

Some actors in the field mentioned in the talk are NarrativeScience, automated insights, AX Semantic Technologies, and texton.

Hypertopical News

Lara Setrakian talked about her News site Syria Deeply. She sees a positive future for single subject news sites (“xx watch”, “xx bureau”), on global issues. The content of her sites is licensed as creative commons and she plans “Teach Syria Deeply”.

When it comes to financing, she recommends not to monetize traffic/content such as ad revenue or paywalls/subscriptions, but to monetize engagements/community such as live events, conference calls, merchandizing, crowd funding, markets and job boards.

In case of Syria Deeply, financing was provided through think tanks, institutions and universities who “loved the design” and paid for technology consulting. Setrakian states: “People who know it best, often don't have a platform”.


Quite a few talks circled around bullshit. Torsten Kleinz talked on bullshit as business model. Martin Giesler and Jannis Kucharz proposed 15 journalistic startup ideas based on clickbaiting.

Christiane Frohmann from Katersalon proclaims nonsense as means for performative enlightenment.


There was a talk about the Internet Archive, where I learned that you can proactively enforce the archiving process via the “Save Page now” feature. You go to the Internet Archive's site and capture a web page for use as a trusted citation in the future. The link will not die then.

What are the baby seals, what is the police dog attacking uninvolved afro-americans, in the area of internet policy, is asked in this somewhat funny talk by Felix Schwenzel. Other theses were: Intelligence service hide their work because they do not want expose their dilettantism. Surveillance is inherent in the system, given by the technology, such as road kills are a consequence of the automobile technology.

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