“Sustainability in digital transformation: charting new terrain, exploring tensions”
The bidt, CAIS and Weizenbaum-Institute (WI), three leading German institutions in the field of digitalisation research, invite doctoral researchers to present their work at the newly established joint Digitalisation Research and Network Meeting – DigiMeet. Its special topic for 2021 is “sustainability in digital transformation: charting new terrain, exploring tensions.”
The main purpose of this interdisciplinary event is to provide a forum for early career researchers with a focus on digitalisation-related topics. DigiMeet offers opportunities for networking, discussing results and ideas, and gathering inspiration for new and ideally collaborative research projects.
Review & Outlook
DigiMeet took place virtually on 10 June 2021, 9am – 6pm CEST with the special topic “sustainability in digital transformation: charting new terrain, exploring tensions.” The main purpose of this interdisciplinary event was to provide a forum for early career researchers with a focus on digitalisation-related topics and to inaugurate a collaboration between the three organising institutes on this matter that was initiated by a memorandum of understanding in Spring 2021.
We briefly review here what was generally regarded as a very successful event where high-profile keynote speakers and session chairs interacted with creative and engaged doctoral researchers. DigiMeet attracted in total more than 100 participants who visited and/or contributed to two keynotes, five thematic sessions and five Open Spaces.
Proceedings opened with a keynote address by Ortwin Renn on “Digitalisation and sustainability – friends or foes?”. The relationship of digitalisation and sustainability to each other can be understood both in negative and positive terms, depending on the perspective and respective dimensions that are being taken into account. Polarisation is not very effective. Rather, successful implementation must include the following aspects: openness for design; public space; common good orientation; as well as room for creating and promoting sustainability.
After a lively exchange of views, this first talk was followed by thematic sessions. These provided time and space for interdisciplinary presentations, receiving feedback and fruitful discussions.
Session chairs as well as doctoral researchers enjoyed an “open atmosphere and the engaging discussions”, with a focus “truly on scientific, interdisciplinary exchange and not just presenting”.
Afterwards, participant-driven Open Spaces in Gather.Town opened and doctoral researchers discussed exciting issues with respect to: transhumanism; collecting data from social media; making data differentially private; and ways of collaborating in the digital space. Again, debate took place across disciplines and was full of insights, such as:
As a perfect way to finish this productive day, Elisa Lindinger proposed in her keynote speech that we should visualise the internet as a park, where users can spend time relaxing in a friendly and beautiful environment rather than somewhere that is hostile and over-regulated. A key point of this talk, how a society and we as individuals would ideally like not only to experience but also shape this virtual place responsibly and equitably, formed the basis of lively discussion later at the Gather.Town bar.
All in all, we look back at a highly productive first event of a new annual series. A survey amongst all participants further confirmed this positive view of DigiMeet 2021. A large majority of respondents concluded that the meeting was in essence either a “superb” or “a really good” experience. Feedback further indicated that the formats worked well, with participants able to network as well as exchanging ideas and results as intended. Along with some ideas and suggestions for additional topics, such as platform governance, digitalisation and infrastructure, degrowth, or more generally insights from political consulting, we will plan the next edition of DigiMeet on one of our Institute’s premises and are looking forward to meeting everyone in person.