Monthly Archives: Monday May 20th, 2013

re:publica 2013: a (personal) resumé

Starting off I have to say that this certainly was the best re:publica ever since I attended it for the first time in 2010. So well done! Many thanks and lots of respect to everybody who made this possible.

Following a rather light and entertaining panel discussion entitled “Tweeting from Space for the Digital public” I held in 2012, I had the chance to curate a couple of sessions on Space Science within the Open Science Track together with programme coordinators Geraldine and Sandra. Although in the end just four (or respectively three) of nine planned sessions took place, these have been terrific. Let’s begin with one of my highlights of the Open Science Track:

I have been following Carolina’s Blog and her work for quite a while now with growing interest, so I was really lucky. Not just because we coud invite her, but also because she and her family including her baby undertook the long travel from Cape Town to Berlin. Carolina’s talk on crowdsourced stronomy, citizen science and hacking projects was equally inspiring and raising awareness. Many thanks to Geraldine de Bastion who made this possible.

Furthermore, I recommend watching the following three media reports:

3sat nano

Side note: as a musician and netlabelist I of course liked Chromotone, kind of an astronomy sound hack:

Let’s continue with Part Time Scientists: Karsten Becker, Robert Böhme and their international team of about 100 people are among the favourites to win the Google Lunar XPrize. The goal is to safely land a rover on the surface of the Moon, travel 500 metres and send high resolution images and data back to Earth – as well as the first SMS an email from the moon. Google offers up to 30 Million US dollars as reward. Although launching rover Asimov on board a russian Dnepr rocket will cost just as much, Part Time Scientists (PTS) don’t even think about shying away. I think that gives an impression about the fact PTS have to manage not just enormous technical but also administrative challenges. But if Robert, Karsten and team will tackle these challenges with the same enthusiasm as they delivered their talk I have absolutely no doubt they will make it.

Part Time Scientists are supported by DLR, or more precisely by the DLR Institute of Robotics and mechatronics, which contributes the rover’s propulsion technology as well as the autonomous navigation based on environmental perception technology.

Furthermore, there was my own contribution named “Space Science as a Creative Commons?” which took place in the workshop area (no video recording). I wrote a separate blog post on the session which you may read here.

Space science as a creative commons? from Marco Trovatello

Unfortunately, Hojun Song’s talk on the Open Source Satellite Initiative had to be cancelled, obviously he couldn’t make it in time. But re:publica surprised us with …

Space Night-Diskussion auf der rp13

Space Night-Diskussion auf der rp13: Links Team Pro (Luci van Org, Marco Trovatello), rechts Team Contra (Ellen Vorac, Volker Tripp). Bild: Andrea Schaub.

What else?

John Weitzmann organised a panel discussion on the german late night cult series Space Night, named “Space Night Mission Control … GEMA, we have a problem”. Here, two teams (Contra: Ellen Vorac, expert on label mangement and digital distribution and Volker Tripp, lawyer, netlabelist and freelance journalist; Pro: Luci van Org, musician and author, and me in my role as musician licensing under Creative Commons and as netlabelist) debated for and against how public service broadcasters should use free (or “freed”) content such as music licensed under creative commons and the role collecting societies like GEMA or C3S might play.

All in all, re:publica 2013 was a true content overkill: Even more digital and analog culture, science, technology, politics … some more of my personal hightlights (in no particular order) were

… a talk about the making of the animated short movie R’ha:

… Cory Doctorow’s talk on Digital Rights Management (DRM), computers in our bodies and elsewhere:

Peter Kirn and his historic and current view on Human-Music-Machine interfaces

… as well as just about 50 missed session which probably have been equally interesting.

Space Science as a creative commons?

At this year’s re:publica, Europe’s largest conference on the digital society, I had the pleasure to give a talk with subsequent discussion on the topic “Space Science as a creative commons?” among other things (read more about these in my next blog post). The respective presentation can be found on slideshare:

Space science as a creative commons? from Marco Trovatello

As my goal was to cover at least some major aspects with regard to the status quo of Open Science and Open Access I did a bit of research with interesting findings: While DLR, german space agency and research centre for aeronautics and space, has a more liberal approach with regard to sharing its public imagery, videos etc. by licencing under Creative Commons, it has a strict approach with regard to Data: no open access here, non-commercial use of data is mostly subject to submitting a scientific proposal (example), which prevents not just interested laypeople, but also e.g. pupils and students from freely using the data. Commercial use of data is, e.g. in the case of DLR’s Earth observation missions like TerraSAR-X or TanDEM-X, managed by Astrium Geo due to a public-private partnership.

A multilateral mission like Mars Express (by ESA, DLR and many others) for example follows a quite liberal data policy: After a blocking period of six months, data is freely available via the web. Also, ESA missions like Planck (see Planck Legacy Archive) or the Sentinel earth observation missions follow a full and open access approach.

Discussion following

Discussion following “Space as a creative commons?” talk. Image credit: republica, CC-BY.

Subsequent to my talk, a small but nice discussion took place with John Weitzmann (Creative Commons Germany,, Paul Klimpel (, Mathias Schindler (Wikimedia Germany), Kirsten Rulf (TV-correspondent for German national TV news Tagesschau) and some more. The discussion was quite controversial at times, but always full of insight. Thanks to all who joined!

Please take a look at the slides – and post a comment in case you have any further questions, amendments or corrections for me. Many thanks go to my partners and colleagues Fernando Doblas, Head of the Communication Department of the European Space Agency (ESA), and Bob Jacobs, Deputy Associate Administrator for NASA‘s Office of Communications, for providing me with statements on the status quo of licencing and copyright matters with regard to their agencies.

Here’s the original re:publica session announcement:

NASA, the United States government agency for aeronautics and space, provides all of its own images without copyright and under public domain. Why? The answer is simple: Tax-funded so-called ‘government works” are excluded from copyright law. Hardly any other space agency has followed this liberal approach so far.

OK, Copyright in the United States differs from e.g. Copyright in Germany or respectively Europe, but nevertheless, one may realise a – even if small – trend towards liberation and opening also of this specific kind of tax-funded content and data: DLR German Aerospace Center, space agency as well as research center for aeronautics and space with 7000+ employees, took an important step forward in March 2012 as it officially began licensing its own media under Creative Commons. The decent storm of enthusiasm by media and the digital public was preceded by a considerable process of coordination and creation of confidence among all persons and entities involved.

This is what Marco Trovatello’s session will be about. He managed the conversion from traditional “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved” for DLR’s own media – and will provide insight and perhaps also some clues on how to turn your research centre away from anachronistic conditions of use and towards transpartent licensing.

Annotation: The focus of the talk will be on multimedia content such as space images, videos etc. provided for use by the general public, Open Access and use of Open Data will only play a minor role, although the presenter – a science communicator, not a scientist – will try to address also these important topics.

An approx 15 to 20 minutes talk shall flow into an open and laid-back discussion with the audience on the topic of copyright and commons with regard to space images, space science, the creative sector and beyond. On the panel, John Weitzmann, Legal Project Lead, Creative Commons Germany, and Mathias Schindler, Project Manager, Wikimedia Germany, will join in on the discussion.


P.S.: Use of NASA, ESA and DLR logo with friendly permission of the respective agencies.