Topics and thematic clusters

The Otherwise Network members are working in several disciplinary fields. What brings us together is our interest in the implications of social and technological change on central areas in society – from education, politics to economy, law or culture. And how the socio-technical constitution of digital environments affects our coexistence.

As an independent network of scholars, authors and practitioners, we believe in the strengths of transdisciplinary analyses. By bringing together our individual expertise and research, we hope to provide more broader, more diverse and maybe even more interesting perspectives on pressing societal issues. The following topics represent a range of issues and questions we are currently most interested in.

Internet Culture, Activism, and Online Discourse(s)

How do digital sub and protest cultures emerge? What social dynamics and cultural techniques are behind digital practices like memes and their dissemination? How do digital publics affect and intersect with political dynamics?

Immaterial Goods

What are the economic and societal consequences of the increasing relevance of immaterial value creation? How do legal regulations emerge and affect the structures and discourses revolving around immaterial goods? What are the causes – and consequences – of phenomena such as hate speech, fake news, trolling, filter bubbles, and echo chambers?

Technology Regulation / Governance

Who – and what – governs the regulation of technologies? What are the social, economic and cultural “side effects” of current regulatory approaches? And which approaches are appropriate and make sense (in which contexts)? What are, for instance, the ideological and historical foundations of data protection laws? Can we adequately govern online discourse, and if: how?


What are the economic and technical principles behind the rise of platforms? What are the political consequences and legal implications of the growing importance of their governance mechanisms?

Decentralisation, Participation and Openness

On the other side, how is decentralisation organised – and by whom? What are the ideological and cultural foundations of different decentralization approaches? And which economic and technical peculiarities do they limit? What are the societal and economic potentials of various models and approaches of ‘openness’ (e.g. Open Source, Open Access or Open Innovation)? What are the conditions to make them succeed?

Algorithms, AI and Automation

What is the role of algorithms in the constitution of the digital society, and how will AI, Big Data and automation affect the future? What ethical and social questions must be asked to constructively critique these technologies?