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Newthinking and Sustainable IT in Berlin

By Worldchanging Austin blogger Michael Gomez

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In Berlin recently, I had an opportunity to drop in on the local Web Montag event, held monthly at an interesting outfit called the Newthinking Store. The Berlin event is one of many Web Montags held for web professionals regularly throughout Germany and Austria (and one in San Jose, California) as a forum for showcasing notable projects, networking, and idea exchange related to Web 2.0.

Two Newthinking stores, in Berlin and Cologne, play host to workshops and speaking events related to Open Source issues and technologies. The Berlin store has a comfortable feel, with places to sit and drinks available, and anyone in the community is welcome to come in and enjoy the free wi-fi (a rarity in Berlin, where all the networks appear closed). Standard and custom preloaded Ubuntu Linux boxes are for sale, and there are some fairly well-stocked shelves of O'Reilly books.

The stores form a part of the Newthinking Network, which includes the award-winning German-language Netzpolitik blog and podcast, and Newthinking Communications, a Web and networking consultancy.

This mid-October the Network co-hosted (along with the Amina Initiative) the first annual Sustainable IT conference, to discuss "open questions surrounding sustainability and IT," according to co-founder Andreas Gebhard. "This is just the beginning and we are starting very small, but we wanted to recognize this growing market," Gebhard told me.

Sessions in the conference addressed issues of natural resource protection, social equity issues in Web 2.0, ethics for large business, open formats and Creative Commons, and the real costs of the IT industry. The conference was primarily German-language, and through the efforts of volunteers, all of its proceedings are viewable online.

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