This week the Italian newspaper La Repubblica will host a national conference called Repubblica delle Idee (Republic of Ideas) in Bologna. The event starts today and runs through June 17. The conference’s theme is change for the future.
Repubblica delle Idee is an event to watch for two reasons. The first is the attention it gives to journalism. Besides the discussions on world politics, the economy, and art, many of the sessions will talk about journalism. Topics discussed will include investigative journalism, war correspondence, and a workshop on newspaper design. I’m happy to see this in a conference about the future. Journalism remains integral to sharing knowledge in the 21st century.
Keeping with that train of thought, the second reason to monitor the Republic of Ideas conference is the major input from civil society. All of the events are free and open to the public. For those who can’t make it to Bologna, many of the events will allow for participation via Twitter. Italians have been sharing their ideas for change with the hashtag #scrivoilfuturo. On Saturday, the journalist Massimo Giannini will respond to tweets about Italy’s technocratic government.
One potential pitfall is the possibility of getting lost in a sea of hashtags. With at least five hashtags associated with the conference, tweeters on Twitter will have to make sure their messages stay on target. But a deluge of tweets will be more indicative of success than disorganization.
The fact that the conference is organized by a major national newspaper means that a large audience will be aware of the event. And they won’t just know about it, they’ll participate in it. Why should only academics and elites be able to benefit from the information exchange? The aptly named Repubblica delle Idee will be a forum for Italians to converse about their collective future. The conference should be a model on how to harness the media and empower civil society.
(The photo of Roberto Saviano is by Piero Tasso and is used here with a Creative Commons license through Wikimedia Commons.)