Saturday, August 04, 2012

Will the Campus Party Hackathon Deliver?

Tempelhof on an open day in 1984 when it was a US airbase in a divided Berlin
I see Europe is at last starting to think big by organising something similar in size to South by South West, but then more from the ground up. It reminds me of the Mash-ups that the BBC Future Media organised a few years back, but then on a much larger scale. In the week August 21-26th 2012, the Campus Party Europe will be held at the former airport site of Tempelhof. 7,000 talented minds will meet, each equipped with laptops and sleeping bags, to exchange "24-hours-a-day the latest news about innovation, creativity, science and digital entertainment", to quote the blurb. The event is being hosted by Futura Networks and Telef√≥nica along with its commercial brand O2 and is under the patronage of the European Commission.

The festival offers more than 600 hours of talks, discussions and workshops in 16 different content areas which are divided into 24 subject areas such as open-source software, entrepreneurship, social media, gaming, development, robotics, design and many more. The main mission of the attendees will be to type Europe's new source code and help transform Europe into a better place. There will also be multiple challenges and competitions on-site and ad-hoc events planned by the particicipants themselves that continue deep into the night. In this first edition in Berlin two international innovators and thinkers of culture and history will take the stage, the Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho and Sir Tim Berners-Lee, known as the founder of the World Wide Web to everyone (except NBC Olympics presenters Meredith Vieira and Matt Lauer).

Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission and responsible for the Digital Agenda says she has found  a way to bus half of the participants into Berlin by bus. Of course the accommodation is free because you have to bring your own sleeping bag. I'm curious to see what they come up with. Is it too big to be creative? Are there too many distractions or is it a festival of great ideas. Is it more of an experience rather than a lab? The BBC equivalent attracted about 400 geeks with the aim of hacking all kinds of radio and TV content into new contexts. It worked perfectly because it was focussed. It collapsed because those who were the driving force left the BBC. Also curious to see what Telef√≥nica Europe gets out of it.

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