At TOA14: The Future Of Journalism & Rethinking our Relationship with Tech


Tech Open Air took place at Alte Teppichfabrik last week. With a lot of interesting talks, a Design Slam and a Hardware pitch, it was hard to keep track of all the sessions. Here are a summary and some insights on the topic of “The Rise Of The Robot Journalist” and  “Rethinking our Relationship to Technology”.


The Rise Of The Robot Journalist
In their short talk “The Rise Of The Robot Journalist”, Dennis Walton (managing partner Aexea) and Lorenz Matzat (journalist and founder of Lokaler UG) joined for a panel discussion moderated by Lars Sobiraj (journalist) to talk about the rise of robotic journalism.

After describing the changing media landscape and the challenges publishing houses and journalists are facing these days, they agreed on the fact that not journalism was broken, but the business model of publishing houses.

While many might think robotic journalism will replace journalists, Walton explained where it actually made sense to use this technology and where not.

Find more on that, his definition of journalism, the perfect newspaper and why human beings are needed in journalism in the “Two Minutes With Dennis Walton”.

Another interesting session was Dr. Fabian Hemmert’s talk about “Rethinking our Relationship to Technology.” The Design Researcher has addressed the issue of being addicted to mobiles phones many times before, e.g. at TED and NEXT.

After explaining that we need let go of the habit of constantly looking at our phones to escape loneliness or boredom, he sat down with us for an interview explaining why his relationship with technology “is complicated”.

While talks were mostly going on inside, Mike Butcher, Editor-in-chief at TechCrunch, moderated the blind dating session where investors and startups met without seeing each other or knowing each other’s name and detailed background. The quite entertaining format was used instead of investors-/startup pitches and gave more personal insights on the people on stage.


TOA proved that its conference concept is stable and independent from locations, as it has moved from Kater Holzig to Alte Teppichfabrik this year.

Besides short talks, interesting people and good food, attendees appreciated the mixture of competence of other visitors.

After some complained that they missed badges, the organizers explained to VENTUREVILLAGE that this is what separates the event from other conferences. TOA is rather a tech festival: Meet people, not titles or companies.

As Hemmert explained in his interview above, that is what happened.


Images: Tech Open Air