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Thanks for coming to #pepsum

16. May 2012 – 19:15 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)

The past week has seen a feast of eParticipation in Hamburg: the Open Government Stammtisch at Kultwerk West last Wednesday evening, a pre-Summit warm up with Nick Booth at Kultwerk West on Sunday evening, the Summit itself, and the first Hamburg social media surgery on Monday evening. It’s been energising, inspiring, refreshing and exhausting all at once.

Hamburg has a growing network of eParticipation experts/enthusiasts, a community that has been given new life by Government 2.0 Netzwerk‘s efforts to revitalise it by organising regular information meetings (Stammtische), one of which was held here at TuTech. So the idea behind the Summit was to feed this community with new ideas from outside Germany, but also to show the outside world what Hamburg has to offer.

In terms of learning from new ideas, we heard from Nick Booth about social media surgeries and his theory of Zero Expectations; Peter Verhaeghe’s ideas about the role of an architect as a mediator between citizens and politics; Erik Tissingh’s presentation of 3D citizen participation tools. Then there were the informal presentations in the break with presenters from Germany, the UK, Austria, Italy and Denmark.

And on the second point: Hamburg’s campaign for a local transparency law is unlike anything elsewhere in Europe. As far as I can see, it is the only high-profile open data campaign of its type. And with Twitter comments like this —  “Everyone doing participation should have @nexthamburg‘s principles above their desk” — no-one can deny that Hamburg has a lot to say about participation.

Judging by the feedback, we managed to do what we set out to. To organise such an event wouldn’t have been possible without PEP-NET: the contacts, the brand, the publicity tools such as the mailing list and the blog. We got in touch with Peter Verhaeghe thanks to a suggestion from Dieter van de Putte, of PEP-NET member De Wakkere Burger. So with a bit of creativity and quite a bit of work, we made the most of PEP-NET and everyone’s a winner. We had a blast!

For more information about what was discussed, have a look at the full report by Noella Edelmann from the Centre of E-Governance at the Danube University.

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Today – PEP-NET Summit: Out in the open #pepsum

14. May 2012 – 07:45 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)

The day is finally upon us: the second PEP-NET Summit is taking place today at the Bucerius Law School in Hamburg. We will be hearing great examples of citizen participation from speakers representing civil society, public administrations and universities.

As well as the regular panels, there is a chance to get up close and personal during the informal presentations that will take part during the lunch break.

We are looking forward to welcoming over sixty participants from across Europe. If you want to be one of them, you had better be quick! Here is the agenda:

The Twitter hashtag for the event is #pepsum.

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Arzun Kolcu will chair a panel at the PEP-NET Summit

25. April 2012 – 11:35 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)

Arzun Kolcu

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Arzun Kolcu is a Dipl.-Ing. [branche of architecture] with a particular interest in public buildings, especially in the conception of arts and museums. Raised in Hamburg, she studied architecture at the École d’Architecture de Nantes and the HafenCity University in Hamburg and gained practical experience in architecture, art, graphic and teaching of architecture. She now works primarily in set design. In her spare time she organises cultural events on art, architecture and other topics.

Arzun will be chairing a discussion on architecture and transparency at the PEP-NET Summit on 14th May 2012. For details, including registration, see

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“Architecture is by definition co-productive” – Peter Verhaeghe to speak at the PEP-NET Summit

19. April 2012 – 13:28 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)
Peter Verhaeghe

Peter Verhaeghe

As an architect, civil servant, and engaged citizen, Peter Verhaeghe is familiar with citizen participation from several perspectives. He will be speaking at the PEP-NET Summit and taking part in a discussion about transparency, public participation, and architecture. He will argue that architecture is by definition co-productive and that an architect must build confidence by reconciling political pressure and pressure from citizens in a transparent manner.

Peter works as an architect for the Brussels Capital Region in Belgium. He is also a member of the citizens’ group stRaten-generaal. stRaten-generaal was awarded the Flemish Democracy Prize for its work in organising citizens against a proposed viaduct in preference of a tunnel.

Full details and registration for the PEP-NET Summit can be found at

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Patrizia Nanz, Keynote Speaker at the PEP-NET Summit

30. March 2012 – 14:01 by Rolf Luehrs

Photo of Patrizia NanzProf. Patrizia Nanz is Professor of Political Theory at the University of Bremen and a founding member of the European Institute of Public Particiaption (EIPP). She will be delivering the keynote address at the upcoming “PEP-NET Summit: Out in the Open” event on 14th May 2012.

Patrizia has been conducting research into the future of democracy for over ten years and is known across Europe as an expert in civil society participation and engagement. In March 2012 the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (Federal Centre of Political Education) published her handbook on participation, Handbuch Bürgerbeteiligung. Verfahren und Akteure, Chancen und Grenzen.

Patrizia studied Philosophy, History and German Language and Linguistic Studies in Munich, Frankfurt and Montreal as well as Political Science at the European University Institute in Florence, and was a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin.

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Alenka Krek-Poplin at the PEP-NET Summit: Playful Citizen Participation

29. March 2012 – 13:11 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)
picture of Alenka Krek-Poplin

Alenka Krek-Poplin

Having studied Surveying in Ljubljana before specialising in Geographical Information Systems through work and academic study in Austria, the US and Germany, Prof. Alenka Krek-Poplin is co-founder of Hamburg’s Digital City research group, which focuses on the application of spatial data-modelling to city planning. She writes, researches and teaches on computer-aided participation in spatial planning at the HafenCity University Hamburg.

Alenka’s work focuses on how, by adding an element of fun and enjoyment (or joy) to spatial planning, it can be made more interactive and compelling and thus increase levels of participation. Her recent article “Playful public participation in urban planning: A case study for online serious games” explores aspects such as story-telling, sketching and drawing, and digital games that have the potential to make public participation (in my words) easier and less boring.

The example she draws upon in the article, Nextcampus, was a prototype of a game that she and some of her students designed and simulated. The prototype game dealt with the suggested relocation of the University of Hamburg, which has been a hot topic in recent years.

Added to this, she has conducted several projects that explore the use of public participation through geographical information systems. One of these projects was a survey of how people use the waterways around Wilhelmsburg, an island in Hamburg’s River Elbe. Participants were asked whether they carry out certain activities and were able to draw on the map, stating where they engage in them.

The most recent example,, is a website built by students to enable them to influence the building of their halls of residence in a game-like manner. One of the ways students were able to express their wishes was to stick virtual notes on areas that represented private room, communal area, and surrounding area. So they could, for example, stick a note with “privacy” on the part representing their room, and “meet new people” on the part representing the communal areas. She has also been involved in a project that enabled citizens to plan the layout of a town square using 3D objects.

In her paper describing Nextcampus, Alenka details some of the criticism that the model attracted from some experts who were asked to evaluate it. One of these was the difficulty in distinguishing between when participants are just playing, and when they are serious about what they are suggesting. I am looking forward to discussing this point at the PEP-NET Summit because it acknowledges a part of participation that I feel we pay much too little attention to. We tend to ignore that citizens always have participated in discussions with no expectation, or even desire, of their discussions leading to some kind of result, for example talking about politics at the pub, going to events to hear about political topics but not doing anything about them, and taking part in flashmobs; but this type of not-for-real participation is essential and, I suspect, one way or another leads to a much healthier public discourse and ultimately better public decisions.

Of course the other half of the equation is what to do with the results that people mean seriously, and we will be talking about that too!

For more information about the PEP-NET Summit and to register, visit You can also find information at

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Hamburg to hold Germany’s first Social Media Surgery

5. March 2012 – 17:28 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)

Photo of Kultwerk West

The social media surgery format, which was introduced by Nick Booth and others in 2008, has already spread beyond Birmingham to other parts of the UK and indeed abroad. Nick and his social enterprise Podnosh even won an award from the UK Prime Minister for their work.  Now social media surgeries are coming to Germany and I’m really pleased to announce that Hamburg will be hosting the first one!

On 14th May 2012, the evening of the PEP-NET Summit, Kultwerk West (a voluntary organisation that I’ve been getting involved with in my spare time and whose website I rebuilt) will be organising an informal meeting between politically engaged citizens and people who know a thing or two about social media.

I think Kultwerk West is the perfect place to start, because the events we organise twice per week attract plenty of people who are interested in current affairs and are in many cases active citizens, but who are not necessarily comfortable using social media. In many cases, they are sceptical of them due to fear-factors like Datenschutz, data protection.

To make the occasion even more special, Nick Booth, who is in town to speak at the PEP-NET Summit, will be Hamburg’s first social media surgeon.

You can find out more about the social media surgery model at If you are coming to the PEP-NET Summit and are interested in helping out at the first social media surgery in the evening, please get in touch via or leave a comment on this thread.

UPDATE: The Kultwerk West Social Media Surgery is now registered on, Podnosh’s online tool for managing social media surgeries.

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Daniel Lentfer to present Hamburg transparency campaign at the PEP-NET Summit

23. February 2012 – 15:54 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)

Mehr Demokratie e.V., Transparency International and the Chaos Computer Club are campaigning for the adoption of a local law that would give Hamburg citizens and charitable organisations enhanced access to previously confidential information. Daniel Lentfer from Mehr Demokratie, a not-for-profit organisation that campaigns for more direct democracy in German politics, will present the Transparenzgesetz at the PEP-NET Summit on 14th May.

The proposed transparency law was drafted using a wiki, which was open for anyone who wanted to to participate. It calls for a central information register, listing all of the city’s official publications; a duty to publish, which includes public data; and the extension of the right to information to voluntary organisations, especially campaigning organisations and not merely private individuals.

The campaign argues that such a law would reduce corruption, reduce wasting of taxpayers’ money, increase trust in politicians and the local authority, simplify administrative procedures and make participation easier.

Mehr Demokratie e.V. successfully collected the 10,000 valid signatures required for a local Citizens’ Initiative and the state parliament’s judicial affairs committee will decide whether to accept the law on 28th February. Mehr Demokratie is preparing for it to be rejected, in which case they will have to collect a total of 62,000 valid signatures within three weeks to force a local referendum.

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Nick Booth will be speaking at the PEP-NET Summit 2012

21. February 2012 – 18:30 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)
Photo of Nick (by Pete Ashton)

Photo of Nick (by Pete Ashton)

I’m very pleased to announce that Nick Booth, founder of Birmingham social enterprise podnosh and recent winner of the Prime Minister’s Big Society award, will be speaking at the PEP-NET Summit 2012 in Hamburg on 14th May.

Nick is best known for his social media surgeries, regular meetings at which volunteers help active citizens get to grips with using social media for social good. Starting in central Birmingham, the surgeries have spread across Birmingham, the UK, and now the world. (We’re even going to be starting social media surgeries here in Hamburg!)

For more information about Nick and what he does, see my interview with him from a couple of years ago or his website,

Register for the PEP-NET Summit 2012 at

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Save the Date: the PEP-NET Summit 2012

14. February 2012 – 15:19 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)

Photo by karikas on

The PEP-NET Summit 2012 will take place on 14th May 2012 at the Bucerius Law School in Hamburg. We are looking forward to an interactive event with plenty of space for networking and discussion. Anybody who is interested in eParticipation, at all levels of experience, is invitedto attend.

With an audience of European eparticipation enthusiasts, local engaged citizens, and representatives of the City of Hamburg, the PEP-NET Summit will again be a bustling marketplace of ideas and an opportunity for participants to catch up with each other and meet new people.

The first PEP-NET Summit took place on 23rd September 2010. We heard speeches from Cisco’s Paul Johnston, Andrea di Maio from Gartner, and Anke Domscheit-Berg amongst others. The summit was moderated by Richard Wilson and speakers from across Europe had the chance to present their projects and ideas in small, informal “presentation corners”.

Please block the date in your diary and register via There is no entrance fee and places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

We look forward to welcoming you to Hamburg!