Vol. 3 No. 1 (2023)

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    Editorial: Volume 3, Issue 1
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2023-12-22 00:00:00) Emmer, Martin; Iglesias Keller, Clara; Krasnova, Hanna; Krzywdzinski, Martin; Metzger, Axel; Schimmler, Sonja; Ulbricht, Lena; Vladova, Gergana
    The five papers in this issue of the Weizenbaum Journal of the Digital Society examine processes of digitalization from a perspective that encompasses political economy, political science, psychology, and communication science. In turn, the contributors explore the relationship between digitalization and capitalism, the role of civic tech initiatives, the regulation of political micro-targeting on social media, the use of fictive accounts of historical figures on social media, and concepts for the participatory development of research agendas.
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    Participatory, Agile, Co-creative: Identifying Topics for a Future-Oriented, Innovative Research on Digital Transformation
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2023-12-22 00:00:00) Schmitt, Josephine; Simon, Samuel T.
    The importance of an adaptive and participatory scientific research process outside of the proverbial ivory tower is increasing. This is especially true in research on digital transformation, where topics are investigated in the context of their multidimensional socio-technological interdependencies. It is key to understand how research on digital transformation responds to these complexities, to what extent citizens’ needs are effectively integrated as areas of scientific exploration, and how up-to-date topics can be identified. In commercial industry endevours, for example, the participation and collaboration of different stakeholders are seen as fundamental parts of work processes in order to create and leverage inter- and transdisciplinary synergies. Scientific research also has a promising history of different participatory approaches. In this context, we suggest a concept for the adaptation and implementation of such approaches to enable participatory, agile, and co-creative academic research. Our example is a structured process based on the innovation framework “Double Diamond,” which is implemented to identify relevant topics for research on digital transformation. This process – characterized by a continuous alternation between collecting and condensing findings – included five qualitative and quantitative studies. The results of these studies are presented and discussed considering the specific needs and values of participatory approaches in research on digital transformation.
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    Posting from the Past
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2023) Frentzel-Beyme, Lea; Holtze, Merle; Szczuka, Jessica M.; Krämer, Nicole C.
    Historical figures have been increasingly brought into the Instagram world, providing insights into the past from a first-person perspective by addressing followers in stories or posts. This type of representation promotes the parasocial interaction (PSI) that creates the illusion of a face-to-face interaction with a media figure. This suggests the possibility that historical Instagram accounts might offer a novel platform for history education.
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    Empty Transparency?
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2023) Jansen, Martin-Pieter; Krämer, Nicole
    Political micro-targeting describes the use of data to identify members of a target audience and send messages designed to fit their views and resonate with them. The practice has received considerable attention of late, especially around questions of transparency. This study explores one potential solution to this quandary, namely, disclosure labels. Adopting a pre-registered online one-factorial three-group between-subjects experimental design, we have investigated how different types of disclosure labels for micro-targeted advertisements impact source and message credibility, as well as source trustworthiness. Furthermore, we have investigated the potential mediating effect of persuasion knowledge on these effects. We exposed 227 German Facebook users to either a Facebook advertisement without a disclosure label, a sponsored disclosure label, or a targeting disclosure label that stated they were targeted based on their online behavior. The results demonstrate small and non-significant differences between groups regarding source and message credibility and source trustworthiness, with no mediation by persuasion knowledge observed. Additionally, most participants did not recall the disclosure we exposed them to, potentially explaining these small effects within our sample. In conclusion, our targeting disclosure approaches were insufficiently informative. Hence, we argue that platforms should put more effort into improving transparency for their users than they currently do.
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    Innovating Democracy?
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2023) Thiel, Thorsten; Berg, Sebastian; Rakowski, Niklas; Clute-Simon, Veza
    The article concerns the case of #WirVsVirus, a civic hackathon organized in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic and officially endorsed by Germany’s federal government. It aims to address the normative implications of this politically oriented technological format. Specifically, it asks how civic hackathons formulate and negotiate different political representation claims. Our analysis shows that the hackathon constituted a successful representative claim on behalf of civic tech initiatives vis-à-vis the administrative state. While this claim primarily concerned establishing a new format for efficient and subsidiary problem-solving in the wake of the crisis, the hackathon’s participatory promises have only been partially fulfilled. The hackathon was rather open to input from civil society, enabling it to attract substantial public interest. Nonetheless, its technological-organizational structure and competitive, solution-oriented procedures meant that decision-making power remained largely with the hackathon’s organizers.