re:view – Love Out Loud: Love is the Answer

Above all, the Love Out Loud track should be understood as an invitation to become active in the face of problems or negative developments – be it in software or society. A look back at what happened at the re:publica 2017.



“Ask not what free software can do for you, ask what you can do for free software”, is how Jérémie Zimmermann formulated the moral imperative of love. Software, society and humans have flaws. If we take on this assumption, we are left with two possibilities: we can deny mistakes or we can see them as a chance to change something. Free software embodies this picture perfectly: spotting a mistake means being presented with the opportunity to play a part. Zimmermann call this “Failosophy“: Learning from mistakes, developing a better society, better laws or better programmes. Anyone who can take on this point of view makes the change “from consumer to partner”. In this way, love isn’t a feature, but a formative activity.


When the exiled Turkish journalist Can Dündar calls on the audience to fight for freedom of the press, he’s not just speaking for himself. He speaks for all those people around the world who aren’t able to do so (freely), either because they are imprisoned or because their newspapers, radio stations and publishing companies have been closed. Carolin Emcke, winner of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, sees it as our duty to step up for all those who cannot defend themselves. “We need people to object – people who aren’t the direct subject of derision, but identify with those who are and feel addressed by such attacks.” Because it is precisely the people who enjoy freedom of speech and opinion, and who are not the target of hate speech, who have the strength to weigh in.




When Maya Ofir Magnat was five years old, she said to her father: “When I grow up I want to be a prostitute.” When she finally did grow up, she decided to study sexual education. Just because a society is hypersexualised doesn’t mean that it is enlightened on the subject. Talking about sex, politics and society may not be the solution, but it is a start, stated Magnat. Just how important talking is for people on the web, can be witnessed in the porn of the future. The “Girlfriend Experience” is currently one of the most popular in virtual reality porn. Donning the VR glasses, the gamer can simply sleep next to a woman as she breathes softly. When the gamer wakes up, she asks him “Are you alright?”


Problems which are widespread in society today are based on basic emotions such as fear. But we need not be afraid of the future. Technology hasn’t just given us filter bubbles and hate speech, but also love, desire and tenderness. The approach doesn’t need to be “Love against the Machine”. It can also be “Making Love with Machines”. Love is a level higher than hate. It lies beyond fear. How to get there? Carolin Emcke doesn’t know either. But she encourages us to just start walking. Love is also a way of thinking “that, at first, isn’t concerned about a specific direction.”

Of course, these were just some of the discussions, talks and meet-ups featured in the Love Out Loud! track at #rp17. You can find all the track topics here. Video and audio clips can be found in the respective sessions or directly in the audio archive or on YouTube.

by Marlene Brey (EJS)

Photo credit: re:publica/Gregor Fischer(CC BY-SA 2.0); Screenshots Jérémie and Maya via YouTube