Digital Images and Democracy: Grounds for Optimism?

Digital Lecture

Images play a big role in “digital democratic pessimism”: the view that the recent digitalization of media harms democracy. For example, deepfakes—convincingly false videos—blur the lines between truth and lies; memes are used by extremist movements as a new form of propaganda; Instagram and TikTok shorten our attention spans. Here I will explore a more optimistic view: that new uses of digital images can strengthen democracy. I focus on online communities that are not just passive consumers of images, but also image-producers and image-verifiers. By strengthening such active roles, can we meet the challenges that digitalization poses to democracy?

Vid Simoniti is a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Liverpool. His research focuses on the intersection of art and politics: he has published on socially engaged art, bio-art, art and technology, and the work of Adrian Piper. In 2021, he has been named one of ten BBC New Generation Thinkers, who will create new spoken word content for BBC Radio. You can also listen to his podcast, Art Against the World, which explores how contemporary artists respond to social issues ranging from ecology to migration.

Moderation: Dr. Sarah Hegenbart


Organizational information on the digital lecture
The Alfried Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg is offering this event live as a zoom meeting, in which viewers can also take part in the subsequent discussion with video contributions.

  • We would be delighted if you gave your real name when dialing into Zoom. Of course, you can also take part in the event under a pseudonym.
  • A list of all participants is available to all those involved during the entire event.
  • During the lecture, the microphones of the audience are all automatically muted so as not to generate any disturbing background noise. You can turn on the audience's camera during the lecture.
  • In the discussion that follows, requests to speak or questions can be displayed using the "Raise hand" function. You can find these - depending on the device - under the button "Participant", "More" or "Reactions" in Zoom. You can also lower your hand again if you want to withdraw the question.
  • The moderator keeps a speech list and gives the floor in the order of the messages. If the moderator asks you to bring your question or request to speak, the user interface will ask you to turn on your microphone. If you have not already done so, you are welcome to turn on your camera. This is particularly desirable when presenting longer requests to speak so that the presenter can also see who is asking the question or who is making the comment.
  • Of course, you also have the option of asking your questions in writing in the chat.


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