Does the internet foster a thinking „outside of the box“? This question motivates Berliner Gazette to analyze and test emerging cultural practices. As a nonprofit and nonpartisan association of journalists, researchers, artists and coders we publish berlinergazette.de in German under a Creative Commons-License – with more than 900 contributors from all over the world. For more than 15 years we also organize conferences (e.g. Slow Politics), workshops, edit books, etc.
How can you get people out of their “caves”? How do you get them to emerge from their enclosed environments and partial public spheres, their clubs and cliques, their social and cultural routines? And somehow bring them together across boundaries? The answer is: With the help of media, for example. At least they have the potential to do so. The Berliner Gazette e.V. works toward realizing this potential.
In this context, the Internet is of particular importance. More and more people gain access to it and thus gain access to the processes of global networking and digitalization – processes that are not only changing the landscape of media but also society as a whole. In the 20th century, mass media provided platforms for communication and reflections of society. At the beginning of the 21st century major newspapers and similar (public) entities are hardly able to perform this integrative task. As a matter of fact, they increasingly lose the trust of the masses, who begin to focus on small digital-networked media.
But how can such media be used to think outside of the box and reflect the interests of society? This question leads the Berliner Gazette e.V. to analyze groundbreaking features of media in the era of the Internet and to test them in practice. Against this backdrop the nonprofit and nonpartisan association weaves its social networks – offline and online, locally and globally.
At the end of the 1990s, the cultural scene in Berlin had no platform on the Internet. First online projects had already failed, the commercialization of the Internet was progressing. Facing these conditions, Krystian Woznicki started a new publishing project. Its aim was to take both the social dynamics of the Internet and the idea of the classic feuilleton seriously (the culture section of the conventional newspaper). Thus, in July 1999, Woznicki founded, within the online community Kulturserver, the Berliner Gazette.
At first, Woznicki’s project took the form of a weekly electronic newspaper: not a newsletter, but a weekly feuilleton in the form of an e-mail, delivered every Wednesday to its readers’ mailboxes. Choosing the content, the editorial staff followed guidelines still relevant today: turning readers into authors, while also inviting outsiders to become authors. In order to distribute the content, the staff also seeks synergies with various offline formats: symposiums, anthologies, etc. In this way, the network of the Berliner Gazette has continued to grow – leaving the physical boundaries of Berlin far behind.
When in 2002 – after the crash of the new economy – the Internet was declared dead by many, the Berliner Gazette presented itself with an extended Web site. The staff launched Germany’s first collective blog and systematized their thematic work: the editors interview representatives of various sectors of cultural innovations ((sub-)politics, economy, technology, art, science) on annual focus themes and publish weekly protocols of these interviews. Be it “Work,” “Language,” “Time” or “Water” – the annual themes continue to question important issues of our time as the commons of the 21st century.
In the press
The voice of Post-Germany.
A new form of journalistic intervention.
Christoph Dreher/Digital Spirit
Smart selection of authors.