Focal theme of the Senate reception at city hall was the question of how the the creative industries and journalism can ensure the special role they play in democracy also in a digital socitiety. “Society needs freedom – economically as well as socially”, said Hamburg’s First Mayor Olaf Scholz in his opening address of the Media Dialogue Hamburg 2015. Politics thus have only little space to maneuver. “But we have to take care of the framework and processes that enable the existence of creative industries and the media.”
Greater Awareness of the Media Industry
In addition to the challenge of the digital transformation, Scholz stressed the urgent need to find answers to the sometimes drastic social criticism and vilification of the media: “In terms of content, the power of independent media is under pressure. Growing parts of our society seem to feel no longer at home in our public space”, says Scholz. Hamburg’s First Mayor thus promoted a greater collective awareness of the media industry and clear, binding, and fair rules for all market participants.
Prevention of Content Discrimination
In his keynote speech, the First Mayor also addressed the importance of search engines and social media. He called the demand for a search engine neutrality irrelevant, since results were based necessarily on selection. “The publication of the algorithm would far more endanger the special role of intermediaries than be of benefit to them”, Scholz said. He understands intermediaries as all stakeholders acting between content providers and users, i.e. search engines, social networks, and app stores. Scholz called for new instruments and mechanisms designed to prevent discrimination of content from economic or political motives. Hamburg has taken over the chairmanship of a working group of the Federal-State Commission on the consequences of the convergence, which is discussing new rules for intermediaries.
New Approaches to Learning
Joichi Ito reflected on the the far-reaching changes brought along by the Internet in regard to innovation, education, and public and the emergence of public appearance. According to the director of the prestigious Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the digital technology opens up the way to completely new approaches of learning and understanding. Ito underlined his theory by showing how journalists using algorithms to quickly find out if a rumor on the net is rather true or false.
New Co-operation Project
In the afternoon, Itō and Dr.-Ing. Walter Pelka, president of Hamburg’s HafenCity University (HCU), officially launched a new co-operation project between the Media Lab of MIT and the HafenCity University. The project aims at exploring the problems associated with the digitisation changes of cities and shaping them constructively.
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