When scientists and practitioners try to explain matters about data, they very often refer to metaphors from the physical world. Most of the terms have been established long before the digital era, they come from commerce (“data storage”, “data retrieval”, “data mining” or “data harvesting”) and nature (“data explosion”, “data is the new oil”, “Datenberg” (in German)). Han-Teng likes to speak of “data massage”. He uses the term to describe the manual effort of getting raw data (!) into the right shape before it can be further processed.
The terminology of data is full of metaphors. And – as it lies in the nature of metaphors – they are never never precise, because the words are taken out of context, they stem from another sphere of meaning and should explain entities that are difficult to understand otherwise. For instance, the “new oil” comparison is inadequate because data is (usually) not a finite resource.
I am happy that the BarCamo Alpbach website is now online and the registration is open. Jürgen is responsible for the logo and the design. If you happen to be in the area in at the time or you haven’t made any summer plans, think about spending a few days in one of the most beautiful and active villages of the Alps.
A Barcamp is a place for low-threshold exchange of concepts and ideas.
Since 2008, I have been organizing a number of unfonferences, so-called Barcamps in Austria: At these types of events people gather and agree upon the schedule at the beginning. Everybody is expected to contribute to the unconference, either by presenting, by leading a discussion or by documenting the event. Heinz and I co-organized the first camp on political online communication in the German-speaking area. This year, I will organize a Barcamp at the European Forum Alpbach.
As Barcamps differ substantially from regular conferences, we at Wissensmanagementforum Graz decided to investigate this further and to conduct a research project about the Barcamp in Graz. This conference paper to be presented at I-KNOW in September is the first result of our research.
Barcamps are conferences without predefined content, often referred to as ad-hoc conferences or unconferences. Therefore, the outcomes of a barcamp are largely unknown before the event. This raises the question of participants’ motivations to attend and contribute. To answer this question, we conducted an exploratory empirical study at the Barcamp Graz 2012. We applied a mixed-method approach: first we used a sociodemographic questionnaire (n=99) which allowed us to characterize the ’typical barcamper’. Second, we conducted qualitative interviews (n=10) to get a deeper understanding of the participants’ motivations to attend, ex- pectations and the use of social media in that context. We identified three concepts, which could be deducted from the interviews: people, format and topics. We found that the motivation to attend and even a common identity is quite strongly based on these three factors. Furthermore, the results indicate that participants share a set of activities and methods by following the barcamp’s inherent rules and make extensive use of social media.
I would like to thank my co-authors, especially Sebastian Dennerlein and Robert Gutounig who took the lead in the publication, as well as all Barcamp participants who patiently answered our questions.
Since 1945 every year in August, the Tyrolean mountain village Alpbach hosts the European Forum Alpbach – an interdisciplinary three-weeks congress with Austrian and international participants from all fields of society. In the last years and decades, the Forum Alpbach has attracted people like Theodor W. Adorno, Jacques Delors, Viktor Frankl, Friedrich von Hayek, Indira Gandhi or Karl Popper. Alpbach is a bit like Davos but smaller, not as elitist and with a broader focus.
The scientific centerpiece of Alpbach is the seminar week: In 16 one-week seminars, researchers and experts explain their fields of work. This week is very lively: It is the start of the forum, where also around 600 students from all over the world come together.
With Pollock and Buhr, two of Europe’s most important open data advocates as join the discussion in Alpbach for a week. From the seminar description:
“An essential requirement for a modern and democratic society are institutions that act transparently and can be held accountable by the public. Governments and organiza- tions all over the world have therefore started to open up their data in recent years. These measures have not only improved transparency, they have also unfolded an enormous economic potential. This seminar deals with the topic of open (government) data and its implications: It focuses on the social and technological circumstances and gives insight into data analytics and visualization; last but not least, it also brings up questions of “data ethics”: Which rules and types of freedom does a future data-driven society need?”
It was the second time that my seminar was chosen by the Scientific Advisory Board of Forum Alpbach. Last year my proposed seminar on Social Media was held by Mercedes and Heinz with me as their assistant.
BarCamp in Alpbach
During the seminar week there is another event in which I am involved: I am one of the organizers of the first BarCamp in Alpbach. It is an offical Forum event that is free and open for everyone from outside.
Sie selbst nennt sich eine „der wichtigsten Gesellschaftskonferenzen Europas”, ich habe sie den „alljährlichen Opernball der deutschsprachigen Social-Web-Szene” geheißen – irgendetwas dazwischen wird sie wohl tatsächlich sein. Die re:publica in Berlin: Über 5.000 Teilnehmende, unzählige Workshops und Diskussionen, populäre internationale Speaker und aktuelle Themen rund um Internet, Politik, Technik und Gesellschaft. Die Konferenz, die seit 2007 jährlich veranstaltet wird, richtet sich an Vertreter aus Wissenschaft und Praxis zugleich. Für mich bietet sie die einzigartige Gelegenheit, mich auf den aktuellen Stand in Bereichen zu bringen, die meine Arbeit zwar berühren, die ich aber unter dem Jahr nicht schaffe, umfassend mitzuverfolgen. Ich bin aber auch zum dritten Mal nach Berlin gekommen, um die vielen Branchenkollegen, Freunde und Bekannten wieder zu sehen.
Ich habe versucht, auf der Konferenz live mitzubloggen, musste mir aber eingestehen, dass das kaum möglich ist, will man keine Einheit verpassen. Deshalb reiche ich im folgenden die Zusammenfassungen von einigen Sessions nach, in denen ich gesessen bin. Vor allem bei einigen der Panels lohnt sich aber der Blick in die Videoaufzeichnung.
Die re:publica in Berlin ist der alljährliche Opernball der deutschsprachigen Social-Web-Szene. Social-Media-Beraterin trifft Künstler, digitale Bohème trifft Marketing-Manager, DJane trinkt Club Mate. Dazwischen: Grandiose Vorträge aus Wissenschaft und Praxis – und ein Hashtag.