I’ve been procrastinating this post because I have so much to say about my time at the Re:publica conference in Berlin almost two weeks ago, but that never works out well.* So, where to start? I think I’ll start with two quick recommendations. I highly recommend danah boyd’s keynote “How and Algorithmic World can be Undermined” that opened day 1:
As well as Orit Halpern‘s “Resilient Speculation:”
They were both insightful and relevant, and I hope to return to both for a blog post. I am holding off because I have not watched boyd’s version of this talk at SXSWedu a couple of months earlier, and I wanted to given it came up in the Virtually Connecting session later that day (more on that soon). I also need to re-watch Halpern’s talk because there was a lot going on and I came in about 5 minutes after it started. They way she re-frames the term resilience to examine economics, environmental planning, and technology was quite wild, I found myself imagining turning her subject matter into a dystopian scifi novel (and even went as far as optioning the script in my daydream). I tried to sit through Chelsea Manning‘s fireside chat session, but the first twenty minutes were pretty terrible. There was no real direction for the conversation, and quickly everything turned into a kind of empty slogan around the times. Not sure where this broke down cause I was looking forward to it, but you can see it for yourself here and let me know how wrong I was:
After that I stole away to get some work done. During this time I kinda got a better sense of the venue and conference. Turns our Re:publica started as a blogging/Web 2.0 conference in 2007, which makes it a year younger than Northern Voice. In fact, Re:publica is probably a fairly accurate representation of what NV would have become if it remained a thing: namely a fullblown media conference where any relics advocating lower case b blogging have long since been disinvited. Which begs the question how I got in? —although my session turnout will certainly prevent them from making that mistake twice 🙂
In the afternoon of Day 1 I met up with Christian Friedrich—it was amazing to spend so much quality time with him, a real highlight of the trip—and we had a blast doing Virtually Connecting atop a garbage can. There were no real quiet spaces in Re:publica we could use, so we had to take to the mean streets of Berlin. Christian and I were basically reporting from the conference to give Joe Murphy, Terry Greene, Taskeen, and the OG VC herself Maha Bali a sense of what Re:publica was all about. It was a ranging conversation and this is where some issues folks had with boyd’s previous talk at SXSWedu came up. I just always seem to have fun when I do a Virtually Connecting session, and this one was no different. Christian and I made on good on-site team. After that I went back to the hotel and worked some more, went to see Infinity War, and crashed hard. The next day I got to connect with Jöran Muß Merholz and Philipp Schmidt for a meetup focusing on “10 Directions to Move Open Education Forward.” It was a fun session that about 20-30 people came to and we worked together in several groups discussing and building upon at the Capetown Open Declaration recommendations 10+ years later.
After that, I went back and worked on my presentation for the following day on Domain of One’s Own. I had no intention of talking about EDUPUNK at all, but when I woke up Friday I saw this tweet from someone who had been following the meetup the previous day:
— Ines Bieler (@seni_bl) May 4, 2018
I took it as a sign from the German gods 🙂 I immediately tweeted back and forth with the Bildungs Punks crew. And while Ines Bieler was not on site, I did get to meet Christine Skupsch:
— Christine Skupsch (@iqberatung) May 7, 2018
The joy was all mine. We chatted about the idea of EDUPUNK† as they are iamgining it, and this groups is made-up of a distributed group of teachers that aggregate and share their ideas around technology in the classroom. It’s worth noting that there is a certain amount of excitement around the possibilities of educational technology in Germany right now, part of the reason is they are basically starting from scratch. The long history of LMS/VLEs that dominated the landscape for the last two decades in the U.S. was not the case in Germany, rather they had very little in the way of edtech at all. I think that is where this sense of possibility comes from, and I personally appreciated looking on all this stuff through fresh eyes. That said, my talk was playing off this, and became a bit of a cautionary tale encouraging them to avoid the LMS path which leads to mediocrity and data collection.
So, given the EDUPUNK mug I woke up to, I had to re-work my talk a bit to incorporate EDUPUNK by focusing a bit on The Glass Bees and The Twenty Days of Turin, which opened up the door for me to return to some of the 70s scifi art I presented about in Australia. Which, in turn, will hopefully result in my trying to work on this talk a bit more for a presentation I’ll be giving at the MyData confernece in Helsinki come August because I think it could actually be good. But for now you are stuck with what was:
Finally, I met some very cool people on day 3, including a young graduate student from Scotland named Tom Wallis, another graduate student (Iva Karabatic) who I will be interviewing about a domains project she started using a national domain space in Croatia—so cool, and finally (and insanely enough), during my post talk meetup a gentleman saw my name on a monitor and asked me, “Did you teach ds106 back in 2012?” Turns out it was Victor Ofoegbu who was running the open online course in Ghana!
Random news from the awesomeness of #ds106 annals, ran into @ofoegbuvictor of #ds106 Ghana fame at #rp18. Truly wild moment of global convergence through a hashtag, some silly assignments, and many smiles. Easy to forget how brilliant that community was, is, and still can be. pic.twitter.com/K4aNmZyxGT
— Jim Groom (@jimgroom) May 4, 2018
It was a humble reminder for me how awesome this stuff can be. So, in summary, my time in Berlin at Re:publica 2018 was pretty awesome.
*Although, to be fair, the procrastination on this post has resulted in a kind of clearing of the blog decks on OER18 thoughts, random Twitter links, a good Reclaim Video post or two, some blogging reflections and more 🙂 So maybe it doesn’t work out for coherence of the Re:publica memories, but my blog numbers are definitely up!
†I am pretty sure they never heard about the other EDUPUNK (there goes my case for Weller’s 25 years of EdTech :). Crazy, and it occurred to me that in just ten days EDUPUNK will turn 10 years old.