Dear friends and fellow researchers,

In the aftermath of the German federal elections and in light of other political events, more and more people across the world are concerned about the consequences of political micro-targeting, algorithmic decision-making, and big-data-based behavioural regulation as well as privacy and surveillance issues. We are more than delighted to have a team that is covering so many relevant topics in its day-to-day research – for the last six years, they’ve been doing their bit to strengthen interdisciplinary research in Germany. With the launch of the new Weizenbaum Institute in Berlin, we’ll be gladly welcoming lots of new colleagues and making the most of the growing research landscape. Last but not least, we as researchers should never forget to think outside the box and share our research outside of the ivory tower – so enjoy reading and finding out about the latest internet and society research!

Jeanette Hofmann | Ingolf Pernice | Thomas Schildhauer | Wolfgang Schulz


EU Hub

NoC | AI Workshop and European Hub

HIIG, along with other European research institutes, has founded a European hub within the NoC with the aim of fostering scientific cooperation and strengthening the European voice in the global debate. It was announced this October during a workshop organised by HIIG on the shifts, tensions and new perspectives that innovations in the field of algorithmic decision-making will bring to the status and protection of human rights.

| More on the newly founded European Hub.

Game Jam

Game Jam | Nothing to Hide?

Whether it’s an email that’s accidently revealed or the misuse of private information collected through a public Wi-Fi system: defending privacy is becoming increasingly complex. How can we teach employees about the potential pitfalls when handling personal data – and how to protect it? At our Game Jam, developers, scientists and designers came together to develop serious games that could achieve these very aims!

| View the best #PrivacyJam moments!

Big Data and Nudging

Big Data and Nudging | Legitimate or Not?

In recent years, the possibility to use big data-based behavioural regulation instruments to dynamically target individuals or groups has gained a lot of attention among researchers. Is it just a hype, or can these tools be used in an effective and legitimate way? The interdisciplinary and BMBF-funded research project Big Data & Nudging assesses how these instruments can be categorised and what implications they have.

| More about the new project.


New Project | Participatory Platforms

Digital platforms are an essential part of life for most HIIG Quarterly readers (at least we assume so). Numerous companies have developed their own inhouse social software to strengthen employee participation and to facilitate a more inclusive participatory business culture. But for works’ councils, platforms entail both opportunities and risks. We therefore ask how the processes of corporate participation can be shaped.

| Learn more!

Symposium | Political Micro-Targeting

The effects of digitalization on politics haven’t just been a hot topic since Trump. Political parties are increasingly using data-driven expertise to build extensive databases on citizens. Jessica Schmeiss and Maximilian von Grafenstein attended a one day symposium on the theory and practice of political micro-targeting in Amsterdam. Their paper on microtargeting, its risks and potential regulatory measures will be published in the upcoming special issue of the Internet Policy Review. Since Facebook announced that it would be disclosing information about manipulation during the US election campaigns just one day before the symposium, the participants wrote an …

| ... open letter to Mark Zuckerberg.


Congratulations! | The Award Goes To...

HIIG researcher Christian Katzenbach received the dissertation award Media – Culture – Communication for his PhD thesis “Die Regeln digitaler Kommunikation”, which analyses how algorithms, copyright and privacy are discussed and regulated in a digitised society. The starting point for his research are public debates about the regulation of digital media: how should Facebook deal with hate speech, how can we influence data protection in times of big data and how can we adapt copyright law to deal with the digital age?

| Curious about how we celebrated?

Cyber Crimes

EU Criminal Law | Combating Cyber Crimes

When dealing with cyber crimes, we are faced with the problem that the harmer and the harmed are usually in different places or even jurisdictions. Therefore, both transnational cooperation and the harmonisation of criminal law are required. In his forthcoming doctoral thesis, Adrian Haase assesses existing EU directives and develops a network-specific definition to facilitate the demarcation of European and national competences.

| Check out the preview!


Financing | High-Tech Startups

Nobody said funding startups is free of risk – not just for the average Jane or Joe, but also for financial professionals. The struggle with information asymmetries and transaction costs leads to a systemic underfunding of early-stage high-tech startups. In his dissertation, Robin Tech tackles the problem of uncertainty by combining new institutional economics and behavioral economics with startup financing. He provides an accessible framework and insights for both founders and hightech investors, which matches complexity factors with appropriate productive signals.

| See all details!


Entrepreneurship | Germany

It was its strong engineering culture that made Germany an industrial powerhouse. However, it cannot rest on its laurels: Long-term growth is also dependent on more radical innovation and investments – in particular in the digital economy. In order to research the current state of entrepreneurship in Germany, Nancy Richter, Thomas Schildhauer and Paul Jackson interviewed 120 startups. Their conclusion: It’s also up to established companies to encourage new ideas and businesses!

| Read the study online.

Further Discussion Papers | Worth A Glance

Thematically related to our entrepreneurship study mentioned above is Martina Dopfer’s discussion paper about what cognitive capabilities facilitate a venture's business model innovation. Ingolf Pernice published not one but two articles in our SSRN series: The first explores instruments and methods of cybersecurity governance, while the second concentrates on the new kinds of risks that arise as a side effect of the increasing use of information technologies. Last but not least, enjoy this culinary delight on our blog – a guest contribution by José van Dijk in response to Tarleton Gillespie:

| Pizza as Platform!


Impact School | 29 November – 1 December

There is a pressing need for informed expertise from virtually all fields of academic research. Still, scientific expertise often remains within its own domain and only indirectly and belatedly reaches relevant decision-makers in civil society. However, knowledge transfer plays only a minor role in university curricula and the daily routines of research institutes. This three-day training programme organised by HIIG and Leibniz Information Centre for Economics (ZBW) is tailored to up-and-coming researchers that want to learn the skills necessary to maximise the impact of their research.

| More info.

Digitaler Salon

Hacking the Ivory Tower | 29 November

Once a month, we invite special guests to engage in a dialogue with the audience and the Twitter community and broadcast it on YouTube. In November, we’ll be digging into paywalls and bookshelves: How can science have a greater impact on society? And how are science slammers and open access related to this? Be part of the discussion!


| Join us for this event.


Data Protection Workshop | 5 December

Have you developed a better theory? Collected new empirical data? Uncovered some unsubstantiated assumption? Shed some light on the historical roots of a contemporary discussion? Designed a new protection system? Are you interested in the insights that other disciplines might provide? Then you’ll welcome the opportunity to present your findings and join the discussion at our interdisciplinary workshop!

| Interested in participating or submitting an abstract?

Lecture Series

Making Sense of the Digital Society | 12 December

Great European thinker Manuel Castells, who is known for his work on communication and globalisation, will help us to explore the information society! On 12 December, the Spanish sociologist will kick off our new academic lecture series on Making Sense of the Digital Society. The idea is to develop a European theoretical perspective on the processes of transformation that our societies are currently undergoing.

| Sign up for Castell's lecture on power and counter-power!

Beyond HIIG | Events that Caught our Eye

25 Oct – 12 Nov | The Glass Room, UK

6 – 7 Nov | Digital Culture meets data: Critical approaches, UK

16 – 17 Nov | Power Shifts: Media Freedom and the Internet, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Berlin

8 – 12 Jan | Digital Methods Winter School, Netherlands