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"Can you participate in participation ?"

Workshop with Christopher M. Kelty

Christopher M. Kelty, professor at the University of California in Los Angeles (Institute for Society and Genetics, and Institute for Anthropology) and author of ‘The Participant’ visited the Leibniz Institute for Educational Media | Georg Eckert Institute in Braunschweig on 3 May 2022. The protagonist in his book 'The Participant' assumes a variety of roles in different time zones while asking ‘Can you participate in participation?’.

Members of the Leibniz ScienceCampus–Post-digital Participation – Braunschweig  met in the Georg Eckert Institute’s digital lab, The Basement, to discuss (post-digital) participation. Kelty maintains that ‘participation should be "diarchic": those who participate should  both give something and get something from the experience, making both responsible for its success’. In this sense the participants were given the opportunity to describe the extent to which they work participatively in their own research projects, the challenges that they face and the questions they are addressing. There was a particular focus on participation in the context of (post) digitality. According to Kelty there are two kinds of participation; ‘participation in design and participation in the use of technology’. He also states that ‘we quickly learn how technology is used, that we can not undo’. Examples are frequently discussed in relation to social media and instant messaging services. Kelty says ‘Everyone is a participant in and a victim to social media’. The research of a doctoral student was discussed in this context, who is currently examining how data protection and security risks can be participatively explored with those affected in order to conceive and implement appropriate measures for the individual. Taking WhatsApp as an example, the group discussed the fact that there seems to be a broad consensus that there are many data security risks to using the service, but despite knowing this, many people continue to use it instead of switching to other messaging services. Kelty plans to use the stimuli and findings from the meeting as the basis of a keynote speech to be given at a future conference at the ScienceCampus.