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At a time in which more than 90 percent of the German-speaking population over the age of 14 and almost every young person under 30 uses the Internet, the central public challenge of digitization is no longer to enable the use of digital media. Rather, the decisive question is: How do users succeed in using digital media in a constructive manner and avoid destructive forms of use?
"Digital participation" describes the active use of digital media for the conscious pursuit of personal and common goals. It is the central prerequisite for the constructive use of digital media.
Only on the basis of digital participation will it be possible to actively and self-determinedly participate in the diverse opportunities offered by digitization. Digital participation reduces the threat of a "digital divide" in society. It is only through digital participation that individuals can go from being driven to shaping digitization.
The Center for Digital Participation is primarily concerned with three dimensions of digital participation: prerequisites, forms and outcomes.
All three are interlinked in that the right conditions enable constructive forms of participation - with positive consequences for the individual and society:
The prerequisites for digital participation exist on the individual, organizational, technical and social levels.
These include individual knowledge, skills and attitudes, organizational instruments, processes and responsibilities, technical capacities, affordances and routines, and social resources, rules and norms.
Of particular interest here is the question: What are the prerequisites that must be met for constructive digital participation to succeed?
Digital participation takes place in all areas of life and affects the most diverse situations, private and professional, more or less voluntarily, intensively or successfully.
Digital participation includes product recommendations and political criticism, blended and mobile learning, art projects and sharing, the linking and synchronization of producer-generated and user-generated content, selfies and digital games, the organization of self-help groups and, of course, social commitment.
Of particular interest here are the questions: What forms of digital participation exist and are emerging? How do they influence each other? What qualities of participation can be distinguished? Who exercises which form of participation - and who does not? Beyond that: Who organizes and controls which forms of digital participation?
Digital participation can have both positive and negative consequences for the individual, social interactions and society. Different forms of participation are associated with different advantages and disadvantages.
The prerequisites, forms and outcomes of digital participation must therefore be jointly thought out and analyzed. Ultimately, the following questions are of particular interest: What advantages do users, groups, organizations and society derive from which forms of digital participation? What dangers can arise, what damage can be caused and how can it be avoided?