#DigiGovWS on ‘Taming the iMonster’

The Research Platform Governance of Digital Practices (DigiGov) has successfully conducted its first Winter School. Interdisciplinary, international and interactive by design it took on the challenge to tame the iMonster of platform regulation.

Interdisciplinarity is woven into the very structure and the concept of the Research Platform Governance of Digital Practices (DigiGov). DigiGov is located at the intersection of three out of the 15 Faculties at the University of Vienna, namely the Faculty of Social Sciences, the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Business, Economics and Statistics. This interdisciplinarity has been reflected by the programme of the Winter School as well as by the composition of its speakers and participants.

United in diversity, three of the departments gathered in DigiGov have conceptualized, planned and prepared this year’s Winter School: DigiGov affiliates from the Department of Innovation and Digitalisation in Law, the Department of Political Science, and the Department of Science and Technology Studies have contributed together with their guests to a multifaceted programme.

Topic of this year’s Winter School was the “Taming the iMonster: Regulating digital platforms”. Platforms have become a place where essential parts of our lives are happening. They have developed into a basic technical and social infrastructure to communicate with one another, to purchase and sell goods, or to access information. Alas, the right way of regulating these infrastructures is still a conundrum.

Our invited external speakers included Dr Alex Hanna (Distributed AI Research Insitute), Prof Klaus Hoeyer (University of Copenhagen), Prof Gerda Falkner (eif), Prof Matthias C. Kettemann (University of Innsbruck), Dr Susanne Lackner (KommAustria), Dr Heta Tarkkala (University of Helsinki), and Prof Sandra Wachter (University of Oxford). Their approaches varied according to their academic discipline, their practical experience and their fields of research. Their presentations gave insights into legal expectations and perspectives of platform regulation, the role of the State, strategies for accountability and trustworthiness of AI, the potential of hard and soft law, polycentric governance and last not least information structures in healthcare.

Highlight on the evening before the closing of the Winter School was a public Round table on Public Interest Research with distinguished panellists such as John Albert (AlgorithmWatch), Wolfie Christl (Cracked Labs, Vienna)  Dr Jonathan Gray (King’s College London & Public Data Lab), ), Prof Jürgen Pfeffer (Technical University Munich), and Dr Theresa Züger (Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society). The recording of the public round table can be watched here.

The DigiGov Winter School was held over the course of two weeks, from 14th to 25th February 2022. About 30 participants, many of them PhD candidates and early career academics working on topic-related projects, have tried to tame the iMonster together with our esteemed guest speakers and the affiliates of DigiGov.

Participation at the Winter School was free of charge but places were limited and admission was competitive. Although the Winter School was designed as a non-public event, the participants agreed on three keynotes to be shared with the public: The presentations by Prof Nikolaus Forgó, Prof Matthias C. Kettemann, and Dr Heta Tarkkala can be watched on the DigiGovWS website. Moreover, you find there a selection of blogposts from participants themselves.

Elisabeth Steindl, Coordinator of the Winter School 2022