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Campus Party Europe report | Look, listen and share!

by Julian Schollmeyer on 30 August 2012

Last week Campus Party – the annual weeklong, 24-hours-a-day conference & festival on technology and social media – came to Berlin for the first time. Taking the opportunity for a change of scene 1000heads Germany headed down and set up office for four days under the roof of Berlin’s oldest (and now shut, thankfully) airport Tempelhof, host for the event.

Along with the thousands of attendees we set out to watch and learn from the community of tech-evangelists, entrepreneurs, specialists and bloggers. Unfortunately, there wasn’t as big a community as had hoped for. While the website clearly marked the event as ‘sold out’ with an impressive 10,000 tickets sold, our estimated number of visitors was much lower with around 3,000 – 4,000 people attending in total. This may have been because the programme was yet to be published just three days before opening with only key speakers confirmed beforehand. Or maybe the organisers forgot to connect to their target audience more thoroughly? As one major German news magazine ‘Spiegel Online’ reported ahead of the opening day: “it seems as if the event comes as a surprise to much of Germany’s internet community”.

But what of the event itself? Well, despite the numbers it was a fantastic four days. A recurring theme of the event was the topic of sharing. Sharing ideas, sharing opinions, sharing data. After all, most of the people came to Campus Party to share, exchange and present their ideas. It was no coincidence then that one of the keynote speakers was Paulo Coelho who opened the main stage on the first day. Explaining his understanding of sharing Paulo told the audience: “You share because you need to share – it’s an instinct”. Of course Coelho is in a comfortable place to say so as he made his name in Russia after giving some of his books away for free! But sharing of course doesn’t necessarily mean giving things away for free. The way we understand it at any event such as Campus Party is more in a communications and publishing context, and as expected a large sector of the audience took the opportunity of a large conference to communicate their ideas, amplify what they have to say (and sell!) and find new audiences.

When it comes to sharing however, let’s not forget another way to connect to your audience: listening. Listening closely to your target audience to figure out what they want from you is an important part of any two way relationship. You’ve heard it before of course, but at the event there was a nice demonstration of it in action from O2 Germany. They presented their idea of listening in a panel with the striking title “How Happy is Germany?” Their system called ‘The Urban Mood’ analyses several social media and online news channel and publishes the results in a playful and – as they call it – ‘adorable’ way. We agree that just spending a little time looking at the data generated in real time brightens the mood.

When asked what ‘The Urban Mood’ offers beyond simply a visually appealing display, the representative holding the talk told us that a possible scenario could be for O2 to react on mere emotional tendencies in the public mood allowing their customer service to act before something happens that could put a damper on the general mood index. They admitted with a smile that this sounds like a scenario from Minority Report but also that they’re not done discussing possible applications for the data compiled by their tool which has exciting possibilities.

Whatever the plans for the future might be I hope they stay true to their transparent and open approach, sharing their discoveries openly. And that’s something that the organisers of Campus Party should keep in mind as well. Thanks for organising such a wonderful and insightful event – now share it with the world in order to grow a bigger audience. How about allowing access to all the videos of talks to everyone out there, not just registered attendees?

In the end Campus Party offered a brilliant programme with many high class speakers and it’s a shame it may remain unshared with the rest of the world. If it were, I bet that there’d be even more people coming to the next edition of Campus Party Europe. And we’re already looking forward to that!

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