Germany's capital Berlin saw the launch of its inaugural Hacks/Hacker chapter last night at co.up in Kreuzberg. Around 40 coders, journalists, engineers, entrepreneurs and curious individuals attended to witness five 'speedpitches' before breaking out into informal discussion groups.
Among the pitchers, who presented for a maximum of five minutes to a small group before moving on and presenting to the next, was Knight-Mozilla Fellow Cole Gillespie and Thomas Zoechler of ZEIT ONLINE, who talked about everything from Drone Journalism (surely the new Data Journalism?) to open sourcing the newsroom, and set the tone for a wide range of discussions that dealt with everything from mobile news apps, to content management, to data visualisation, to breaking news verification and online journalist portals.
Marcus von Jordan came all the way from Munich to pitch Torial, a very promising online journalistic workflow and network tool. Torsten Mueller from MundusMedia spoke about his project, which uses social web correspondents to source and verify news online. Fin from Vienna, and co-organiser of Collid.es, took the article to a new level with his Luminous Flux concept while brave latecomers Stefan & Oezkan talked about their stealth, SoLoMo point-of-sale start-up.
All in all, a great spectrum of projects and ideas, and not all of them about news. This may or may not be strange for a Hackers/Hackers group, but the group certainly responded well to interjections from chemists, investors, engineers... in other words, interjections from those from outside of the immediate field of journalism. This too is how Berlin works at this particular point on its trajectory towards becoming a start-up capital.
Lessons learnt? For next time, I think we'd like to see more journalists, more insights into how newsrooms are evolving, and more new territories staked out in which technologists can work alongside reporters and editors to build functioning, sustainable news enterprises. We'll also shake-up the format to keep things interesting next time. The main thing is that there will be a next time!
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