Bits & Bäume-Conference 2018

Program Preview

231 (!) contributions were submitted to the Call for Participation. The selection process is over, now we are working on the schedule. A variety of lectures, workshops, panels, fishbowl and podium discussions, world cafés and much more awaits you. The detailed program and timetable will be published shortly.


So far, techies and ecos, members of sustainability movements and digital human rights activists have often been acting parallel to one another. Why is Bits & Bäume bringing these two communities together now? How can digitalization contribute to the sustainable transformation of society and economy? How can thinking about sustainability inspire the techie-scene in such a way that digitalization guarantees civil rights and individual freedoms in the long-term?

The Opening Panel introduces the key questions behind the conference Bits & Bäume, launches the two-day Program and explains why now is a historic moment to raise the issue of digitalization and sustainability to the public and political agenda through an open networking conference!


How heavy is a bit?

At first glance, digitalization promises dematerialization of products and consumption patterns. But what quantity of resources and energy is needed to set up digital infrastructures as well as to manufacture and operate machinery? And what about the working conditions and environmental standards of production, which mostly takes place in the countries of the global South? In crisp, complementary inputs, this podium presents current facts on the ecological and social footprint of digitization and lets actors originating from the 'digital sweatshops' countries have their say.


Digitalization and degrowth. Paths to a sustainable economy?

Self-determined and needs-oriented production and use are what hackers, nerds, post-growth movements, commons-supporters and solidary economic entrepreneurs alike want. With the help of digital tools, today it has become possible to try out new methods of doing business: open source, open data, free software, peer-to-peer sharing and many others. At the same time, sustainability thinking inspires the techie scene to create sustainable business models with fair and democratic working conditions. Under what conditions does digitization offer opportunities for transition to a sustainable, local and cooperative economy that functions without the pressure to expand? What are the risks and limits of such opportunities?


Moderation:Andrea Vetter, Concept Work New Economy

How much data does saving the world cost?

Digital technologies offer opportunities for climate and environmental protection, as they can urge the needed changes in energy, transport and consumption patterns. On the other hand, the collection and use of personal data by companies and service providers features the risk of reinforcing societal power asymmetries and monopolies. It is not expedient to pit the potentials for sustainability and increased efficiency and data protection against one another. How can the core concerns of the sustainability movement be meaningfully combined with those of the techie scene? And what political demands arise from this?


From tech monopolies and IT giants: the critique of digital capitalism

The digital economy has long been considered a niche. In the meantime, many digital players have become huge global concerns. And economic policy strategies for Industry 4.0, big data or artificial intelligence want to make digitization the most important engine of growth in the 21st century. What are the social consequences of this technical "progress"? How can we ensure that all and not just a few people benefit from it? Is that even possible? How can power asymmetries and monopolies be prevented - in terms of accumulation of finances, market shares and data? Should big corporations like Facebook or Google be completely dissolved or socialized? Or is the digitization of the economy ultimately a blessing because it simultaneously transforms capitalism?

Moderation: Steffen Lange, Institute for Ecological Economic Research

Reclaim Smart City!

The city as a place of close coexistence and anonymous society, but also as a place of short distances and cultural diversity. Rather than discussing how 'digitisation' is changing cities, we want to think about how cities can use digitisation for their own purposes. The originally technical-economic term 'smart city' has now acquired a socio-social impact. This has also changed 'modern' urban design, as it is now often not focussing at the inhabitants but primarily at smart technology, as the smart city project Toronto Waterfront, promoted by Google, shows. We want to have a discussion about whether urban centers will become technology laboratories of global players or whether and how we can reclaim 'modern' urban planning to create jointly designed, sustainable spaces for local communities - including the use of IT systems, where necessary and desired. It is therefore a matter of changing and optimising cities between resource efficiency, the common good and (digital) participation. The discussion will focus on: What is "Smart City" and what alternatives are there? How important is "Smart City" in the context of other current challenges for cities? How does fairness and emancipation work in systems, what does participation and data protection look like on a concrete project level?


Moderation: Leon Kaiser,

Philosophical Salon: How digital will a truly sustainable society be?

Fishbowl discussion

Some claim - analog is the new bio. Networking and smart algorithms are the best way to sustainability – say others. Although they both fight for a better world, could it be that 'techies' and 'ecos' have vastly different assumptions about the nature of humankind, technology and society? How digital will the ideal society of tomorrow be, when all people finally live in dignity and the limits of the planet are respected?


Moderation:Katharina Nocun, blogger and author


Like fern spores shoot out of their capsule into the world at up to 10m/s to find fertile ground, our 8 contributors will share their nerd and expert knowledge – in a spectacular, effective and entertaining way. As colorful as the best slams, as dense as the best lightning talks.


Moderation: Juliane Krüger & Rainer Rehak


Creative space on the conference area

On both days, social-ecological/technical/activist-oriented initiatives, associations, organisations and networks will present themselves in our forum in addition to the scheduled programme, so that a common place of exchange can emerge. Among others, Electronics Watch, Mundraub, Transformation Design Kitchen, Fairmove IT, Grüne Liga, Free Software Foundation Europe, OpenSourceEcology, Stadt Land Smart, Travel Transform, Sukuma, Robin Wood, Nager IT, Freifunk, Hostsharing e.G.and have confirmed their participation. The Bits&BäumeYouthForum is especially open to young folks and everyone with an interest in youth projects, to get to know each other, to develop games or to present their own projects. In short: The Forum is the right place for relaxed discussions or for the joint implementation of ideas beyond the conference programme.

If you have any questions, please contact

If you have specific questions about program contributions, forum space and sporangium, the responsible teams will be pleased to help you:

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