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Man in Information Society - Chances and Limits.

Conference Talk, German, 28.09.2006, Vortragsreihe "Jahr der Informatik", Stadbibliothek Bremen, Bremen.


The immensely increasing number of technological inventions makes life easier and interesting for people living in the Information Society. But at the same time they require new skills: Handling them carelessly, users will soon become the plaything of the technologies they use.

Media literacy, much more than the capability to "click with a mouse" (van Hentig), is the key competence of our age.

In this talk we will discuss the concept of media literacy: Which meaning, and which implications does it have, and in which forms does it challenge man. A look at recent developments and technologies will help to answer these questions. Special attention will be paid to the disputed RFID technology.

In relation with the talk I'd like to recommend the following readings::

non-fiction works:

McLuhan, Marshall

Having coined the term "global village" McLuhan is one of the key figures for the contemplation of man in the new media world. (Books available in English)

Das Medium ist die Botschaft. 2001. Philo. ISBN: 3364004005. [Standard zu Funktionsmechanismen der (Manipulation durch) Medien]

Die magischen Kanäle. Understanding Media. 2001. Econ. ISBN: 3612266764.

The Global Village. Der Weg der Mediengesellschaft in das 21. Jahrhundert. Junfermann. ISBN: 387387217X.


Postman, Neil. 2006 (17.). Wir amüsieren uns zu Tode. Urteilsbildung im Zeitalter der Unterhaltungsindustrie. Fischer. ISBN: 3596242851. (Books available in English)

A standard reading focussing on the manipulation through mass media. "Amusement as a drug." Interesting as well in the context of fictional literature.


Reischl, Gerald

Reischl published different works on data protection, surveillance, and risks of new technologies. Easy to understand and good examples.

Das vierte W. Signum. 2000, ISBN: 3854363249. [Chances the Internet and mobile communication offer.]

Im Visier der Datenjäger. Ueberreuter 2002, ISBN:3800036959 [Impressive demonstration of surveillance in our daily lifes.]

Die mobile Revolution. Redline Wirtschaftsverlag 2002, ISBN: 383230536X. [Mobile phones and future communication.]

Unter Kontrolle. Ueberreuter 2002, ISBN: 3832308857. [Governmental and world-wide surveillance justified through the pass-par-tout argument of "security".]


Ström, Pär. 2006. Die Überwachungsmafia. Das lukrative Geschäft mit unseren Daten. Heyne. ISBN: 3453620100.

Very new and comprehensive overview targetting at political dimensions.


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fictional works:

Fictional works inspired by Utopianism are especially interesting with the informational background given by above mentioned readings.

The moment you ask yourself which of these scenarios might be part of our world already and which not, you will surely start to see things in a different light.

Atwood, Margarete. The Handmaid’s Tale.

Orwell, George. 1984.

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451.

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Selected "scientific" readings:

Boisot, M.H. & Canals, A. (2004) Data, information and knowledge: have we got it right? Journal of evolutionary economics : JEE (Vol. 14, pp. 43-67). Heidelberg: Springer.

Council of Europe - European Committee on Legal Co-operation (1989). New technologies : a challenge to privacy protection?. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.

Dandeker, C. (1990). Surveillance, power and modernity : bureaucracy and discipline from 1700 to the present day. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Finkenzeller, K. (2003). RFID handbook : fundamentals and applications in contactless smart cards and identification. New York:Wiley.

Goedart, P. (2002) Eine technologische Vorschau auf zukünftige Kriege. MedienTerrorKrieg : zum neuen Kriegsparadigma des 21. Jahrhunderts (pp. 279-91). Hannover: Heise.

Gundermann. (n.d). Die Flugdaten-Affäre. Retrieved 29.04.2004, 2004,\Feature/detail/?featid=3.

Günther, J. (Ed.) (2004) Mensch, Technologie, Management: Interdisziplinäre Herausforderungen. Krems: TIM Fachbuchverlag.

Lyon, D. (2003a). Surveillance after September 11. Cambridge [et al.]: Polity Press.

Lyon, D. (2003b). Surveillance as social sorting : privacy, risk, and digital discrimination. London et. al.: Routledge.

McLuhan, M., Fiore, Quentin. (2001). The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects. Corte Madera, CA: Gingko Press.

Reinke, S. (2004). Big Brother Microsoft. CHIP, 4/2004, 54-71. Schipper, M. (2003). Neue Instrumente des Datenschutzrechts für das Verhältnis zwischen Privatperson und Unternehmen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika. Münster [].

Torpey, J. (2000). The invention of the passport : surveillance, citizenship, and the state. Cambridge [et. al.]: Cambridge University Press.

Wuttke, R. (2001). Der Überwachungsstaat: das "Echelon-Dossier". (2. ed. Vol. 2001,3). Starnberg: Friedenskomittee 2000.



Handout (» PDF)


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