Christian Pentzold

The goal of the project “ Validation of a news platform for urban publics” is the further development of an online app that brings together news content from different actors in the urban public and makes it available to users. The app has already been successfully tested and is rated by experts as “best practice” and “practical innovation development” for urban publics. The application is aimed primarily at regions and groups of people that are hardly reached by classic local journalism offerings. This makes “” suitable for making an important contribution to strengthening local publics. This is because existing offerings do not succeed in compiling public interest-oriented content in such a way that an exchange across different urban sub-publics is achieved. The project validates in different cities how relevant local actors can be involved and how different target groups can be reached. In addition, monetization opportunities for freelance journalists are being explored and a cooperative model is being investigated. In this way, sustainable and independent financing of the platform is to be achieved. It will also create the conditions for gradually expanding the service to other cities.

This project is a joint collaboration with the Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research (ZeMKI) at Bremen University and the Leibniz Institut for Media Research Hans Bredow in Hamburg. It will be funded by the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF).

In a world where automation is thought to increase productivity and efficiency with less effort and at
lower costs, what happens to human flourishing when this logic is deployed to support decisions in the
welfare sector? AUTO-WELF investigates the extensive implementation of automated decision-making in
the welfare sector across Europe. It is the first to provide a comparative analysis of automated welfare
provision across European welfare regimes to examine the implications of algorithms and artificial
intelligence for the future of European citizens and societies. Data-based infrastructures for public
administration are shaping not only welfare provision, but also state-citizen relations and prompt
questions of human agency in relation to complex socio-technical systems, ethics and accountability, as
well as biases and inequalities. The project foregrounds the perspective of people implicated in the
automation process including software engineers, case workers and citizens. Implementing a multimethod,
interdisciplinary and cross-country comparative approach, the project will develop
groundbreaking knowledge on the consequences of automating welfare in two domains: a) core welfare
service and b) communal welfare infrastructures. These domains will be explored across eight European
countries (Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Sweden) representing four types
of the welfare state and its different stages of automated decision-making. The project provides an indepth
and cutting-edge understanding of the process of automating welfare from a European
perspective producing highly relevant insights into how automated decision-making can support but
also harm human flourishing.

The project is funded in the CHANSE “Transformations: Social and cultural dynamics in the digital age” scheme (project no: 01UX2204). Collaboration partners are Anne Kaun, Södertörn University Stockholm, Stine Lomborg, Copenhagen University, Karolina Sztandar-Sztanderska, University of Warsaw, Doris Allhutter, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Alice Mattoni, University of Bologna & Ana Jorge, Lusófona University Lisbon.

What does the smart home look like for a residential community of elderly people? What features does your smart home need if you have 15 cats, live on a houseboat or without electrical outlets? To address these and similar questions and concerns in the development of new technologies and applications for the home, innovative participatory design processes are needed. These will be captured and tested in the project. We invite users to create the smart home of the future in co-design workshops. Together with people from different walks of life, we will speculate which routines, experiences and wishes belong to their individual smart home. We will collect the craziest, most boring and most dangerous ideas for the smart home and publish them in a small book. We will use this book of alternative futures to evaluate and criticize the wishes and dreams for the home of the future together with its future inhabitants.

The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), funding no. 16SV8609. In this project, I’m happy to collaborate with my colleague Arne Berger from Hochschule Anhalt.

The project investigates how aggregate data and new data-based processes are framed in the media. Using a broad sampling of materials, it reconstructs in comparative perspective the framing of big data. To this end, it connects three levels: First, frames in professional communicative forms are compared with those from participatory formats. Second, the relations of influence between the journalistic and user-generated frames are traced on a temporal scale. Third, the analysis of these processes considers three countries, that is, Germany, the U.S., and South Africa. With this, the project addresses three gaps in our understanding of cultural sensemaking in the context of extensive datafication. First, it maps the repertoire of frames of big data from journalistic media and mass-self communication. Second, it explores the dynamic unfolding of the discourse around big data across time. Third, it discusses the variance of perspectives on big data in cross-country comparison. More about the project here

The project is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) – project number 447465824/PE 2436/3-1.

The project analyses the integration of digital methods in processes of rural regional development. Therefore, the effects of digitization and mediatization on communication methods, social organization and institutions in these processes are examined and we study how analog and digital formats and procedures can be combined. The findings lead to recommendations for action and policy to strengthen the effectiveness of rural regional development processes. More about the project here.

In this project I collaborate with the Institute for Rural Development Research at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University of Frankfurt/Main. The project is funded by the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (funding no: 2820FD011 B).

The public relations project reaches out to core segments of a changing hybrid society. It provides communicative interfaces with three key target groups: the general lay public, political actors, and industry representatives. Involving these groups, it has three main objectives: First, the project continuously relays the approaches, scientific insights, and innovations brought forward in the CRC Hybrid Societies to its different stakeholders. (Objective 1: Knowing) Thus, it makes the CRC’s subject, methods, and findings accessible to civil society, politics, and industry. Second, the project actively involves these public and professional collectives so to survey their concerns and expectations and to feed them back into the ongoing research of the CRC. (Objective 2: Understanding) Third, it involves people in prototyping and testing scenarios of Embodied Digital Technologies (EDT) solutions where they can experience advanced forms of synthetic environments and participate in their analysis and construction. (Objective 3: Engaging)

The project is part of the Collaborative Research Center (CRC) Hybrid Societies funded by the German Research Foundation at Chemnitz University of Technology (funding no. 1410, INST 270/339-1).

The joint research project studies the digital extracurricular learning and educational practices of young people. Its interdisciplinary and triangulating four sub-projects focus on practices that are geared towards both curricular topics of formal school education and vocational orientation as well as towards the more interest-based knowledge and skills of leisure. To combination of projects from general didactics, media education and pedagogy, communication and media studies as well as specialized didactics allows for a comprehensive perspective on explanatory videos and tutorials. They are especially prominent on video sharing platforms like YouTube where they are extensively used by teenagers and young people. In addition, the project also examines the content and educational dimension of adolescent communicative repertoires in order to describe and analyze the variety of individual and collective practices of extracurricular learning, professionalization, and self-enhancement.

The collaborative project is a joint initiative with Sven Kommer and Frauke Intemann from RWTH Aachen University and my Bremen colleague Karsten Wolf. It is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF; project no: 01JD1804B).

In this project, we want to study how journalism uses digital data and algorithmic analyses to anticipate, draft, and evaluate future scenarios and developments. With that, we take a novel view on understanding the complex temporal orientations in journalistic practice and its products that sheds light on the largely unrecognized though essential aspect of modern time and its interrelation with modes of witnessing and knowing
To date, the mainstream of research in the humanities, cultural studies, and social sciences is either interested in the mnemonic function of journalism and its part in commemorating past events or it focusses on its role in tracking the most recent news. Little attention, however, is given to the journalistic outlook on the future and its entanglement of the tenses. Our project addresses this gap by conceptualizing and examining the prospective and projective dimension of journalism. It concentrates on data journalism as a recent field of communicative innovation that supports various types of engagement with the future.

In this project, I collaborate with Keren Tenenboim-Weinblatt from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, I spent spring 2018 in Israel and visited Hebrew University’s Department of Communication and Journalism. The three year project also receives a grant from the Central Research Development Fund at Bremen University.

The aim of the scientific network is to explore, systematize, and develop the nascent field of communication memory studies. It elaborates its fundaments in different areas of social sciences and cultural studies, maps its pivotal areas of inquiry as well as its analytical perspectives. The results will be published in a handbook, disseminated through an open access website, presented in an international conference, and translated into the program modules of an international graduate school. Thus, it addresses different disciplinary academic publics and stakeholder groups in public education, museums, and heritage industries. The network fosters the translocal, issue-driven cooperation in order to survey and compare the disparate theoretical and empirical strands of research on cultural memory and social remembering in communication studies. They are critically reviewed, conjointly documented, and further examined as the constitutive elements of the emerging area of communication memory studies. Due to the variety of paradigms and approaches it is necessary to work across disciplines and interact especially with the social sciences and cultural studies as well as to take an international perspective.

The network is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) – project number 389196641/PE 2436/1-1. More about the network can be found here

In this project, we are reconstructing the public news discourse on ‘big data’. Its background is the increased presence of big data in business, public service, higher education as well as in all other sorts of social arenas. ‘Big data’, it seems, has become a topic and a problem in media and academia. The project thus looks at how big data is framed in news reports as an effective though unfathomable socio-material fact presenting threats and chances to social well-being as well as to private and public security.

The project was funded by a grant from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). A German report about the project can be accessed from the website.

Envisioning ‘big data’ brings up a palette of concerns about its technological intricacies, political significance, commercial value, and cultural impact. Unsurprisingly, given big data’s broad reception, the ambivalent notion inspires different social imaginations. Our paper looks at a chief arena of this emerging sensemaking and considers the spectrum of images on big data as they circulate in news texts. Establishing a powerful imagery is, we suppose, both a key journalistic task and an eminent challenge in order to frame big data as a public issue. In our analysis we collected a complete sample of all images with captions published in the article sections of the online editions of the US daily newspapers New York Times and Washington Post. We employ an analytical framework that combines a quantitative-qualitative image-type analysis with qualitative framing research. Extending previous findings, the results suggest that big data is predominantly framed as a force of nature to be controlled, a resource to be consumed, or as an invisible but all-seeing observatory in need of review.

In this project, I worked together with my colleagues Cornelia Brantner and Lena Fölsche.

In this network a group of researchers coming from linguistics and communication studies work on a register of kindred projects. Together, they investigate into digital discourse and employ the range of newly developed tools in corpus linguistics and digital methods. For one, the project aims at systematizing the communicative forms found in current digital discourses and link them to cognate analytical tools. Building on that, the network promotes a set of empirical cases studies that examine the characteristic spectrum of semiotic features and interactive patterns.

The network is funded by a networking grant from the German Research Foundation. More here.

The interdisciplinary project ABIDA (Assessing Big Data), funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, explores social opportunities and risks of the generation, linking and analysis of huge amounts of data and develops options for political action, research and development. ABIDA approaches the topic of Big Data from a fundamentally interdisciplinary perspective. Sociologists, philosophers, economists, legal and political scientists work hand in hand on this. The project aims to jointly gather existing knowledge about dealing with big data, generate new knowledge, deepen the knowledge, and make it accessible to the widest possible public. The scientists will examine the societal impacts associated with Big Data by using the methods of technology assessment oriented to dialogue and participation.

In this project, I was a member of the political science working group that dealt with Big Data as a subject and source of regulation. For some of the insights, see here.

Zooming in on the everyday practices of mutual observation, the strategies of Wikipedia authors to watch at and watch over each other through an archive of wiki-based activities are examined on the ground of a three-year ethnographic study among English- and German-language contributors. For one, the technologically enabled gaze on collaborative activities is examined as a form of editorial surveillance. Regarding the status of the knowledge circulated in such environment, the routines of monitoring are then studied for the exploitation of operational cognizance and nescience. Finally, accounting for the reciprocal information gathering by users about their peers invites to redraft, once again, concepts of panopticism commonly mobilized to describe modern societies of control and discipline.

The project was supported through the 8th German-Israeli Frontiers of Humanities (GISFOH) Symposium “Witnessing and Knowing: Challenging Re/Sources of Knowledge” to which I have been generously invited by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH) and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities (IASH). There, I worked together with, among others, Amit Pinchevski and Keren Tenenboim-Weinblatt from Hebrew University Jerusalem. More about the programme can be found here

Science should, arguably, always be a collaborative endeavour. In principle, the peers of the “Republic of Science” constantly exchange their insights so to falsify results and foster scientific progress. Although the reality of scholarship gnaws at this idealistic vision because political, economic, and social contingencies hinder unrestricted collaboration, we nevertheless see a broad range of forms where researchers within and across institutions, disciplines, and countries work together. Given the cost and complexity of organizing such extensive enterprises, digitally networked information and communication technologies (ICTs) were welcomed as enabler for collaboratories or e-science. In our research, we investigate the German academic community. We study if and how projects became increasingly collaborative and examine to what extent and with what implications the media affordances of collaboration have changed over the last thirty years. Our research draws on archival data from the German Research Foundation (DFG) and expert interviews. It aims to extend our understanding of the use of ICTs for fostering the ways, knowledge and insights are generated, processed, and distributed in scientific collaboration.

In this project, I worked together with Claudia Müller-Birn from the Freie Universität Berlin.

John ‘Ivan’ Demjanjuk (1920-2012), an American citizen since 1958, was a soldier of the Soviet Red Army,
German prisoner of war during the Second World War, and an auxiliary police guard, a so-called
Trawniki man, at the Nazi extermination camp Sobibór. He stood trials for Holocaust-related crimes,
in Israel (1983 to 1993), in the U.S.A. (2001 to 2004), and in Germany (2009 to 2011), where he was
finally convicted as an accessory to murder pending appeal, but died before serving his sentence. As
the trials’ proceedings developed across different countries, particularly Israel, Germany and the U.S.
with reverberations especially in the Netherlands and Russia, a corresponding discourse embedding
the case in its wider cultural, historic and judicial context unfolded in the multi-lingual interplay of
national and international mass and social media. The Demjanjuk case study is a prime example for an
in-depth analysis of the rifts and relations of Holocaust remembrance on a global, transnational, and
transcultural scale. The research aims to analyze the trials’ media coverage in a cross-country
and cross-linguistic comparison of media frames and thus the discursive aspects of mediated memory
cultures in general and war crimes’ memory in particular.

Collaborative project together with Shani Horowitz-Rozen and Shlomo Shpiro from Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel and with Vivien Sommer from Technische Universität Chemnitz.

Together with Christine Lohmeier I have edited a special section of Media, Culture & Society on mediated memories (as issue 6(36)/2014). We believe that media and memory are often closely intertwined. From the very start of human culture, media have been employed to fix, share and store expressions and impressions of individual and collective experiences. Taking this continuing twin relation as its point of departure, this special issue seeks to showcase empirical research that studies the interplay of contemporary media, social change and acts and artifacts of memory.

Moreover, in line with this publication and networking project, I worked together with Christine Lohmeier and Andrea Hajek in a book project with Palgrave Macmillan. The volume focuses on the role, mediated social remembering plays in reviving communities and rebuilding life, both private and public. The book was published in the Palgrave Macmillan Memory Studies Series and thus joined a list a great books including works by Barbie Zelizer, Keren Tenenboim-Weinblatt, Aleida Assmann and Andrew Hoskins.

For this project, I received special funding from the rector’s office and administration of Technische Universität Chemnitz.

As a Post-Doc I was involved into the Research Training Group Crossworlds. Connecting virtual and real social worlds. It addressed the increase in digitization and its resulting virtualization of processes, communication, environments, and finally of the human counterparts. Overall, its PhD students, Post-Docs and associated researchers studied the new ways of interaction and communication offered by the connection of virtual and real social worlds in comparison with the experience of immediate real interaction and communication.

The Research Training Group was funded by a grant from the German Research Foundation (DFG award no: 1780).

My doctoral research asked how cooperation in online platforms comes into being. Looking at the practices and institutions of succesfull cooperation, the project analyzed the institutional work that goes into accomplishing ordered interaction and communication with regard to rules, code and shared normative meanings. In my three-year ethnographic case study I studied the German and English Wikipedia.

The project was generously funded by a personal dissertation grant from the German National Academic Foundation. Moreover, I received travel grants from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Fazit-Stiftung. In February 2014, my thesis was nominated for the dissertation award of the Commerzbank Foundation.

In May 2014 I won the dissertation award of the Sociology of Media Communication Section of the German Communication Association.

In this three-year project, a team led by Claudia Fraas developed methods to study convergent transmedia discourses. Combining frame analysis methods from linguistics and communication research with conversation analysis and multimodal analyses, we arrived at a set of tools to study textual and visual discursive patterns and practices on- and offline. As part of the project, we hosted an international and interdisciplinary conference on transmedia discourse analysis.

Supported by the German Research Foundation (award no: FR 1328/5-1). For more information, see here

A research group led by Thomas Köhler examined the routine use of social media by students through their academic life cycle. Following the idea that students form learner communities of practice with and through social media, we looked at how they acquire the necessary tacit and explicit knowledge to successfully handle applications for studying and learning. Empirically, the project relied on focus groups and project seminars to develop guidelines and use scenarios for social media in implicit learning processes.

Funds from the E-Learning Initiative, Saxon State Department for Science and Culture. For more information, see here