Exploring the web at Winterakademie 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 | 9:24 AM

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During the winter holidays, 100 kids and teens from Berlin gathered for the 8th Winterakademie at Theater an der Parkaue, one of the biggest children’s theatres in Germany.

The goal of this annual event is to provide an opportunity for young people to immerse themselves in a topic and express it through the medium of art and theatre. In previous years, attendees have explored themes such as identity, future and money. This year’s choice was “if we were the web”—a topic Google was delighted to support.



Working with drama teachers and other experts to get their creativity flowing, those attending explored many different facets of the web.  For example:

  • A group of 8 to 11 year olds focused on the concept of an Internet of things. They constructed a model home from cardboard and fluorescent tape. On shelves, closets, tables, the dishwasher and fridge they attached RFID tags connected to self-recorded audio samples—presenting their visions for smart living.
  • A team of 16 to 20 year olds put the web to work raising money for the World Food Programme. Starting with a giveaway ballpoint pen, they set out to swap it for increasingly valuable objects until they got a mansion. While that goal proved overly ambitious, during the course of the event they did succeed in exchanging objects to the value of 1,600 Euros -- bringing on board two politicians and getting their story in a local newspaper.
I was delighted to take part, joining attendees over lunch to speak about web-based collaboration and Google’s perspectives on the future of communication. In the lively discussion that followed, I enjoyed hearing their thoughts, concerns and philosophies on this and many other Internet-related topics.

Overall, the event was great fun as well as a great learning opportunity for all those who took part. It’s clear the future of the web is bright in their creative hands.

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