An in-depth look at digital culture

It's time once again for re:publica. For three days, the social media conference will be examining all things digital. Some 5,000 participants are expected, including Bertelsmann Stiftung experts.

Contact Person

Contact Persons

Foto Thorsten Hellmann
Dr. Thorsten Hellmann
Project Manager

The foundation will be using four sessions to present topics that bring together social issues and the digital world: public participation in the transatlantic free-trade agreement; data visualization tools and their ability to explain globalization; freedom of the press and freedom of expression on the Internet; and the search for innovative solutions in times of global change.

Session 1: Lessons to Be Learned from TTIP – In the Age of the Internet, Getting Involved Is a Must

Together with the Internet and Society Collaboratory, the international blogger platform (launched by the Bertelsmann Stiftung) will be using this special session at #rp14 to look at the planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The focus will not be on analyzing individual regulations relating to genetically modified corn or chlorine-washed chicken, but on asking why public participation, transparency, a new definition of global trade and the needs and desires of ordinary people have not been considered during negotiations for the agreement.

Why, for example, was the Internet not used to involve the public in developing an agreement that, among other things, will affect Internet use and have an immediate impact on the public? The basis for discussion will be publications dealing with these issues and with TTIP that were released at the beginning of the year by the partners presenting the session. The fundamental issue is how a definition of free trade that reflects current online realities can be implemented, given that it will affect almost one billion people on both sides of the Atlantic. The session, called "TTIP – Closed Shop Agreement in Times of Open Government Initiatives?" will feature Glyn Moody (journalist), Joachim Bühler (Bitkom), Bruno Gert Kramm (Pirate Party) and Solana Larson (Global Voices Online) and will take place on Tuesday May 6, 2014, from 1:45 to 2:45 pm. (Contact: Ole Wintermann on Twitter, @olewin)

Session 2: Data Visualization – Making Globalization Understandable

It's getting harder and harder to comprehend our ever more complex and increasingly globalized world. At the same time, the amount of data currently available for gaining insight into the world and the changes impacting it is growing at breathtaking speed. Moreover, accessing these data (through international institutions, for example) is becoming increasingly easier.

How can we use existing data to generate knowledge about – and get a better understanding of – the world we live in? Jan Arpe, manager of the Bertelsmann Stiftung's Global Economic Dynamics (GED) project, will serve as moderator of the session "Let's Visualize It! Making Sense of Globalization through Data Visualization." He will be joined by three speakers who will explain how data visualization can be used to investigate and understand today's globalized world and to disseminate the resulting findings. The session will be held on Tuesday, May 6, 2014, from 3:00 to 4:00 pm. The session speakers will be Tariq Khokhar (World Bank), Moritz Stefaner (Truth & Beauty Operator) and Maya Ganesh (Tactical Technology Collective).

Session 3: Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Expression in the Internet

In numerous countries throughout the world, freedom of the press and freedom of expression are under serious threat. This is not only true in authoritarian states, but also in established, stable democracies. In both cases, government surveillance, repression and influence are posing new challenges for media representatives and civil society. An "arms race" is increasingly taking place between journalists, Internet activists and governments, with governments attempting to protect their monopoly on information by monitoring and blocking websites and communications channels and through intimidation and condemnation. 

Can new online media and much-touted grassroots journalism offer a way out? Or do developments such as the restrictions imposed on freedom of expression on the Internet in places like Vietnam and Turkey demonstrate that not even the Internet can stop this trend? The session "Media Freedom under Pressure – Global Trends and Perspectives" is an opportunity for bloggers, journalists and media experts from various countries to join in a discussion of these developments. The session will take place on Tuesday, May 6, 2014, from 4:15 to 5:15 pm.

Session 4: The Search for Innovative Solutions in the Age of Global Change

The fourth session presented by the Bertelsmann Stiftung will be dedicated to the systematic, international search for innovative solutions. Organized together with the Global Economic Symposium (GES) team at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, the session is entitled "Where Old-World Meets New-Era: Creating Solution Processes for Global Change." It will take place on Tuesday, May 6, 2014, from 4:30 to 5:30 pm.