re:publica – At the Heart of European digital Culture

re:publica, the Berlin based conference, has been influencing the European technology scene since its inception ten years ago in 2007. Innovations and trends are exhibited and discussed throughout the various conference halls, helping visitors to feel super informed. That’s one thing we pride ourselves on at Ballou PR, so we were once again happy to mingle with the innovators, as well as grabbing as many free drinks as possible with friends old and new.

This year there were more than 8,000 visitors to re:publica TEN, and 770 speakers drawn from 60 countries. Despite that number, It’s still hard to become a speaker at re:publica. It’s not enough simply to have a successful product or company. A review of the speaker list shows that all the speakers have strong and often unconventional points of view.

One of the speakers was Franziska Broich from the European Parliament. She spoke about the impact that Snapchat has had on the Parliament. Last year the Parliament had no presence on Snapchat, but that’s all changed. The Parliament is desperately keen to engage with young people, thus chose to try and do this via a hugely popular social network. Now the Parliament has 15,000 followers. She and her team feed the storyline with daily updates: Sometimes that’s a simple photo or video, at other times it might be a video that helps to boost engagement with young people. Franziska’s talk attracted many on-line journalists, all of whom were keen for insight into commercial uses of this social network.


Other topics under discussion included advertising trends, ad-blockers versus ad-blocker-blockers, content marketing, the new generation of “pseudo journalists” and many many more topics.

re:publica covers all aspects of digital culture, so we also had the chance to join workshops covering societal issues such as the minimum wage and the future of the music industry. Virtual reality was everywhere too, giving visitors a chance to fly high above the clouds or dive with virtual sharks on simulated reefs. Big media powerhouses such as Google, IBM and ZDF were displaying the latest technology they feel we will be experiencing in the not too distant future, from high resolution broadcasting to more specific search engines and algorithms.

This three day event is always inspiring, and for PR professionals looking to place our clients at the heart of evolving stories, it’s invaluable.

VR is one of the most promising markets – and only emerged very recently.

„I would choose Chewbacca“

On this very evening, the Factory in Berlin is packed with people. After a short while, more than 500 people were interested in hearing what Joel Spolsky, co-founder and CEO of Stack Overflow has to say. Stack Overflow is a trusted resource for hiring coding geniuses and a vibrant online-community where coders and developers help each other and solve coding problems together. More than 40 mio people visit the website every month from students to well-advanced code-pros. After a brief introduction by Nicolas from Factory Berlin– in which he thanks BallouPR for the opportunity of hosting – Ramsi and Joel step on stage and the cozy chat begins.

First question is the usual Techie-question: Star Wars or Star Trek? “I would choose Chewbacca over the Enterprise” was his answer and the most important question in the tech-scene has been clarified. However, Joel explains his point of view on hiring: Hiring is, of course, very important. Stack Overflow is a unique aid for HR Managers who look for people with specific skills. But if it comes to hiring for Stack Overflow itself: What does Joel pay attention to? According to him, the most important ability of a candidate is to fit in the culture of a company. “Red flags for me are stubbornness and if a candidate shows hidden signs pretending to be what he isn’t.” Furthermore he says, it only counts to hire individual specialists, who you need for goals, for example: If you need an iOs-Specialist, hw suggests you hire one who only knows iOs.

And that is what he also tries to do with Stack Overflow. His Mission is “Learn, share knowledge and upgrade your career”. It is a space where colleagues help each other and showcase their skills.In terms of building up a company, he says that a community is very important. It takes years to build up a reliable mass of people who want to contribute and share. “Community is such an abused word. Everyone has a community now: Brands, Cars, Food. In my opinion you need to silence all the noises around the core of your product. We want to solve programming problems and therefore we don’t allow private chat. People appreciate that.”

Joel has many new projects, that he wants to dedicate his time to. A new approach on Stack Overflow will be “Documentation” which allows you to show that you wrote a specific code. His last advice for anybody out there is: “Everybody has to start at some point. Programmers are designers, architects and problem solvers. Do a project and see what you can do. And if you run into a problem, you can always rely on the Stack Overflow community.”