Research at HIIG
The Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) aims to broaden the theoretical and empirical foundation of internet and society research in order to contribute to a better understanding of digital society. Throughout the process of digitalisation, societies are undergoing changes. Our conceptual frame of reference for identifying and assessing these societal changes is the relationship between innovation and governance.
Innovation and governance interact in ambiguous ways; they may both mutually stimulate and even enable each other but they may also be constraining. Tensions and synergies emerging from this relationship can be found across all societal fields and organisations including the state, corporations and markets, from the local to the global level.
Analysing the relationship between innovation and governance, HIIG has developed three long-term research programmes, who provide the framework for research activities at HIIG. Further research groups and projects add to and strengthen our programme-oriented research. Research results are presented and discussed through science transfer projects and events.
THE EVOLVING DIGITAL SOCIETY
Concepts, discourses, Materialities
DATA, ACTORS, INFRASTRUCTURE
The governance of data-driven innovation and cyber security
KNOWLEDGE & SOCIETY
Shifts in knowledge production, organisation and transfer
Current research projects
- Entrepreneurship and innovation
- Media and data
- Politics and law
- Science and education
- Society and culture
The Third Engagement Report is a report on civic engagement that focuses on “The Future of Civil Society: Young Engagement in the Digital Age.”
The rapid development of the Internet and the increasing digitalisation of everyday life is raising new legal questions across the world: Which (state?) law is applicable to which life circumstance? What does a nation’s (digital?) sovereignty mean in the era of a potentially limitless cyberspace?
The international research project “Ethics of Digitalisation – From Principles to Practices” aims to develop groundbreaking answers to challenges in the area of conflict between ethics and digitalisation. Innovative scientific formats, research sprints and clinics, form the core of the project; they enable interdisciplinary scientific work on application-, and practice-oriented questions and achieve outputs of high societal relevance and impact.
This project empirically investigates the discursive and political construction of AI in contemporary societies. We have started with small-scale preliminary studies on the media discourse in Germany as well as on select national AI strategies.
The “Task Force European Platform Economy” is a group of HIIG researchers who study the implications of global platformisation for European actors and institutions. The Task Force works in an explorative and flexible manner across several projects and disciplines, and collaborates with external researchers, policymakers and business experts. The group’s aim is to conduct and foster research on digital platforms, establish a network of platform experts and promote knowledge transfer and exchange.
The project employs diverse sets of methods, including historical, ethnographic, and computational methods and the Media Lab’s cartographie de controverses, to investigate the discourse and developments around AI’s “deep learning revolution” over the ten formative years from 2012 to 2021 in the four partner countries and across three key domains. The media analysis investigates AI debates in major news outlets, niche websites and social media conversation.
The project aims to improve the publication situation of scholar-led, non-APC open access gold journals through a consortial support structure. The thematic focus is on small, trans- and interdisciplinary subjects and communities, where already established funding options are not effective and the responsibilities are often unclear.
Ranking Digital Rights (RDR) works to promote freedom of expression and privacy on the internet by creating global standards and incentives for companies to respect and protect users’ rights. The project does this by ranking the world’s most powerful internet, mobile, and telecommunications companies on relevant commitments and policies, based on international human rights standards.
The Internet Policy Review is an open access, fast track and peer-reviewed journal on Internet regulation.
The “Public Interest AI” research group is therefore developing an operationalisable analysis procedure that allows defining and assessing public interest AI on three levels: on an argumentative level, on the level of the technical implementation of AI, and on the level of the usability of AI in the application context.
This project tackles these issues from two complementary perspectives. On the one hand, it investigates the governance structures that social media platforms have devised over time to create a profitable balance between freedom of and control over speech. How do the obscure algorithmic systems that identify and take down contents function? What private rules are used to regulate both these systems and users’ actions?
Platforms have installed themselves as key intermediaries in contemporary societies. They re-organise communication and politics, mobility and travel, work and everyday life. Yet, with this change controversies arise. How do social media companies moderate the content on their sites?
The project team will derive Corporate Governance Principles for digital platforms that seek to distribute collectively created value more fairly. The project is implemented jointly by HIIG and the Oxford Internet Institute (OII).
We explore how organizations and users employ people analytics applications. These applications analyze a variety of data such as usage data from digital information systems and combine those with traditional data from human resources like fluctuation rates.
In this project, we investigate the digitalization of higher education, with a focus placed on exploring the implementation of teaching and learning innovations. Specifically, we track how institutions and their stakeholders adapt to these innovations, implement new practices, and ensure their sustainability.
By sharing ideas and knowledge openly on digital platforms, a network of 19 partners in EU-countries, called OPEN!NEXT, will investigate new collaborations between company and consumer to foster the idea of open source and open innovation in the non-software area. The team at HIIG is headed by Prof. Dr. Hendrik Send and Dr. Stephan Bohn. We especially investigate how companies implement open source ideas in their product development and daily business processes.
The research project “IMPaQT” is about making knowledge transfer from research to society measurable through quality criteria and indicators. We plan to analyze communication activities between academia and society in such areas politics, business, civic society, which constitute the “Third mission” of research institutions. We are especially interested in those activities on the science and society interface that have so far been little studied or documented and therefore do not play a role in the evaluation of research.
As part of the DREAM project, a mobile application is being developed that simplifies the search for scientific open access publications and suggests suitable new content. Our target audience are mostly researchers and students who are looking for scientific content, are producing such content themselves or who intend to network more closely in their working environment. Easy-to-understand teasers will allow interested readers such as journalists, representatives of NGOs, politicians and entrepreneurs to inform themselves on certain scientific topics, and the state of research.
In the “Digital Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship” research project, we investigate entrepreneurial organisations that primarily focus on society – often called social enterprises. We look at the role of digital technologies in solving social and environmental challenges and in creating societal value. We also examine how organisations with societal aims can succeed in shaping a digital, inclusive and sustainable transformation.
The Digital Electoral Compass is intended to create transparency, show the parties’ positions on digital policy issues and provide an overview of their individual plans. The election programmes are divided into six thematic categories: Work & Economy, Infrastructure, Social Affairs & Health, Media & Internet, Education & Research, Administration & Openness and Security.
This publication project seeks to substantiate the conceptual ambition of the research programme The Evolving Digital Society by curating and publishing a set of reference articles on key notions and concepts. Leading academics will write short articles that portray and discuss the state of research with an interdisciplinary mindset. As a result, these reference papers will provide guidance for research, teaching and stakeholders in policy, business and civil society.
The project Data Cooperation Platforms for SMEs (DaPla Mittelstand) is exploring how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in data-rich markets can better participate in the increasing platformization of value chains. The project examines the extent to which SMEs are able to establish and use digital platforms. It discusses conditions for successful cooperative governance models for SMEs in data-intensive markets. In particular, collaborations among SMEs or alliances between SMEs and and large companies will be assessed.
The Data & Society Interface therefore aims to think beyond and go beyond the widespread calling for “open data”. How can we make data from private and public organizations usable for scientific purposes and for the general good of the society, and still take legal, ethical, economic or organizational challenges and legitimate interest of all stakeholders into account? How can we identify, develop and test solutions – both technical and non-technical, as proof of concept, demonstrator or prototypical implementation – which facilitate interfaces on the organizational level?
The project explores the important, both mutually beneficial and conflict-prone relationship between cybersecurity and privacy. State-of-the-art cybersecurity protection often relies on the collection and analysis of large and ever increasing amounts of data. In order to detect anomalies, measures like deep packet inspection are used. At the same time, new regulation demands sharing that data with other companies and with governments in order to prevent cyber threats.
The Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society is currently launching an 18-month study into the tension between innovation and imitation in the Digital Games Industry.
The research project focuses on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications in the intraorganizational workplace of knowledge workers. The project investigates with which intentions and strategies AI applications are used in the workplace, which changes are perceived by the participants and how employees, companies and co-determination actors react to them. The work is methodically guided by an empirically qualitative social science research design with a mixed-method approach.
ACTiSS is an educational project aimed at fostering the development of computational thinking among social science students and young professionals. Together with the Universities of Warsaw and Groeningen, the HIIG is developing a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that combines academic expertise and real-world examples from politics, economics, sociology and other areas in which computational models are used to analyse societal processes. The project aims to promote students’ computational skills and reduce barriers to computational thinking. All digital training and teaching materials will be freely available to learners and teachers.
It is exactly because AI concepts and discourses are in no way universal but depend on the contexts of their formation, that cross-cultural perspectives and comparisons are of utmost importance. This is why the project particularly looks at humanoid robots in Japan with the objective of uncovering the multiple realities of artificial intelligence – between science and fiction, East Asian and European concepts.
Completed research groups and projects
- Entrepreneurship and innovation
- Media and data
- Politics and law
- Science and education
- Society and culture