re:publica is the biggest net conference of Europe—thus, the event is also called the “class reunion” of the Internet. In the eighth year of its existence, the conference that comprised 350 individual events and attracted more than 6,000 guests within three days was bigger than ever before. As usual, the overall motto “Into the Wild” is given an extremely broad interpretation in the individual events and, ultimately, it can be understood to cover almost everything that is somehow related to the Internet. The dominating topics were the NSA scandal and the Snowden affair (for example, emphasized by Sascha Lobo in his State of the Nation speech and in the presentation from Sarah Harrison), the impact of increasing digitalization on society (the good news: smart phones per se do not ruin our relationships) but naturally also topics such as net neutrality and bitcoins.
All in all, the value of re:publica lies less in the technical substance of individual presentations but rather in the broad range of topics covered, the diverse backgrounds of the speakers, the diversity of guests and an impressive location—Station Berlin—that fosters networking. You can meet participants from all walks of life: from students to (quite a number of) people from the field of social media and from bank directors to state secretaries who, for once, do not wear suits.
Many guests—including us—see their attendance at re:publica first of all as an opportunity to stimulate their mind (Stern): reflecting on topics that we usually do not have before us every day, talking with people who have absolutely different interests, and discovering completely new aspects of our own issues together with like-minded (or similarly minded) people. All that works well at re:publica again every year.
With a view to the financial services industry, we are pleased that we saw more bankers among the guests this year. An impressive number of banks was represented, ranging from Deutsche Bank to comdirect and from representatives of social banks to diverse institutions from the cooperative sector. We were particularly happy to meet around 30 bankers from all sectors at the second “Finance Meet & Greet” jointly organized by Franz Welter of Volksbank Bühl and us in the first evening of the conference and to discuss all kinds of “digital” topics in great detail in long talks.
We are already looking forward to re:publica 2015 and the 3rd Finance Meet & Greet as a wonderful side event!