The digital revolution has affected all areas of life. Digital media change politics, private lives, economics and education. In the current wave of digitization, they will interfere with our everyday lives increasingly, due to their immersive and invasive nature. Digital media are no longer restricted to only represent a digital world, "hidden behind screen and keyboard" in the virtual space. Instead, by becoming physical representations such as robots of self-driving vehicles, they affect our everyday lives directly. Furthermore, they enable users to undergo novel and realistic experiences in virtual worlds.
Many developments of the digital age have resulted in positive outcomes. However, during the past couple of years, dystopias in which the negative effects of digitization are emphasized have moved towards the center of discussion as well. At the level of the individual, critics point out potential negative consequences such as "Digital Dementia", "Smartphone Addiction" or the inability to read traditional maps due to the availability of navigation systems to name a few examples. At the level of society, negative aspects involve political manipulation, corporate-driven surveillance and automated financial markets.
The purpose of this graduate school is to examine the role of digital media in this process. Moreover, we intend to create, implement and evaluate methods and artifacts which have the potential to support people in a sustainable way and have a positive impact on society as a whole. Treating people as mere users, consumers and customers whose role is to buy and use products is a common conception in many technological developments. In contrast to this point of view, we mean to regard people as "citizens of the digital age" who utilize digital media to become more responsible, educated, capable and ultimately more satisfied. With this in mind, we conceive "Empowering Digital Media" as interactive systems which support people in their everyday lives to accomplish their objectives in a self-determined way.
Besides the University of Bremen, the Graduate School Empowering Digital Media works in close cooperation with following organizations: