Wow, this Re:Publica (my first one, to be honest) flies by faster than a volcanic cloud! The last three days were quite packed with input, meeting people and exchanging ideas. Unfortunately Internet connectivity has not always been our best friend, but this is one of only few downsides of the conference.
The subtitle of this year's Re:Publica is "nowhere" (which turned out to be funnily true, but more of that later), which obviously consists of the words now and here. Real-time, of course, is a big buzzword, but also, nowhere can read as a hat tip to the other buzz of the hour, cloud computing. Pretty meta, all that.
Wednesday's highlights included a very well presented train of thought by Austrian publicist Peter Glaser about our online lives and the ever-so energetic, inspiring (if not always agreeable) and funny Jeff Jarvis, who talked about penises, saunas and prostate cancer.
The day was rounded of by a great talk by American Melissa Gira Grant on Sex and the Internet and what society, sexuality and gender issues are dealt with on the Web. Towards the end of the talk in front of some 300 listeners she suggested to go to Chatroulette, since she, so she said, had never checked it out before. If you have heard of Chatroulette, you might know what she (and all of us, for that matter) were in for. I'll leave it at that, but let me assure you that it was hilariously funny.
Yesterday saw me in some panels on Online journalism, Community Management and Sexism on The Internet, with a nice one-hour rant about "Things we hate on the Internet" by some fellow bloggers. Today it's more Social Action and consumer technology. Overall, the range of panels seems pretty wide and well-balanced, from serious to controversial to simply quite funny issues. With a conference this big (about 2,500 Websters from the German-speaking countries are attending), of course there are brilliant and not-so-brilliant sessions, but in general the quality seems to be sufficiently satisfactory.
Plus, there's tons of interesting people to meet and old acquaintances to catch up with. I'd say: Well played, dear organizers! (And it has to be said again: Johnny from Spreeblick is the best dressed man at the conference!)