»About the Normativity of the Digital« – workshop with Bauhaus visiting professor Prof. Dr. Judith Simon

As part of her Bauhaus Visiting Professorship in the winter semester 2019/20, Prof. Dr. Judith Simon held a workshop for students and teachers in the University Library lounge on Thursday, 30 January 2020. The workshop format allowed interested students and staff to exchange with Dr. Simon on digital normativity in a more intimate setting.

Organised by the Professorship for the Theory of Media Worlds, the workshop was preceded one day earlier by a well-attended lecture on the same subject in the Oberlichtsaal. It had already became clear during this evening event that when technologies are developed, values are imparted in the design process – at times, even subconsciously. In order to develop more value-sensitive research technologies responsibly, Prof. Simon among others advocates greater integration of the humanities, social sciences and technical disciplines throughout the entire research and innovation process. 

Prof. Simon’s paper on »Value-Sensitive Design and Responsible Research and Innovation« was the specific starting point for the first half of the workshop on the following day. The question of integrating specific values into the technology design process and their selection and weighting was debated particularly intensely. Prof. Simon referred to her evening lecture during which she spoke in favour of considering technical design as social design. 

In the second part of the workshop, the meaning of norms and standards and their effects were discussed based on Georges Canguilhem’s paper entitled »Concerning the Normal and the Pathological«. The focus was on whether digital technologies should be used to limit or expand our possibilities and the extent to which the comprehensive formalisation of everyday life through digital means can be understood as a limitation.

In her research, Prof. Judith Simon considers the relationships between ethical, epistemological and political questions in the digital context. During the workshop, she not only offered insights into her research, but also into her work as a member of the Data Ethics Commission and the German Ethics Council.