Dr. Jan-Hinrik Schmidt
joined the podcast Forschergeist
, a podcast of the Stifterverbandes für die Deutsche Wissenschaft
in cooperation with Metaebene Personal Media
. He spoke with host Tim Pritlove about the focus of his research - the Internet. More specifically, he talked about the emergence of social media, their coexistence with traditional mass media and the formation of opinion in the online age.
According to Schmidt, digitisation is much more than a mere technical change. New data-driven platforms have paved the way for a completely new kind of information management. Consuming news and commenting on it are no longer separate processes. Whereas people used to watch the news and discuss it with family or friends over dinner, on digital platforms everything happens at the same time. You do not only read the news article itself, but you are also confronted with countless users commenting on it. Algorithms also reward exaggerated formulations and click-baiting titles, so rational argumentation can be difficult to sustain. This can have consequences for democratic coexistence.
Schmidt therefore declares the regulation of platforms to be a key media policy issue of the 2020s.
At the end of the podcast, they also spoke about the recently founded Forschungsinstitut Gesellschaftlicher Zusammenhalt
(FGZ; Research Institute Social Cohesion), in which the HBI is also involved. Together with ten other institutions, it conducts research on the role of the media for social cohesion.