Grothe Medienberatung

Digital key issues – perspectives of SMEs

SMEs work digitally and networked, but for most of them it is hardly feasible to also participate in shaping the framework conditions of digitisation. There is simply a lack of time and sometimes also of other resources. Against this backdrop, we talked to SMEs and associations about two focus topics of digitization: digital platforms and cloud services. To what extent are they used, what are the current deficits and challenges from the SME perspective?

The results and observations are summarized in the paper, Key Points from Project “Internet Governance: Strengthening the Voice of SMEs”. It also presents options for action to address existing problems. The project itself aims at advancing the participation of SMEs in the national and international Internet governance discussions. The project is managed by Grothe Medienberatung and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.


Coherent media and information order? Focus Session of the EU Media Conference 2020

As part of the German EU Council Presidency, the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media is hosting a media conference series to explore how media pluralism and responsibility in the digital society can be ensured. The Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans Bredow Institute (HBI) is accompanying the media conference by providing scientific support and by analysing the requirements of a modern European information order. Grothe Medienberatung conducted a qualitative stakeholder survey on behalf of the HBI to include the practical experience of the affected industries with the legal framework in the analysis. On September 8th, the results of the analysis and the survey were presented in a focus session.

A mapping report on the relevant EU laws and norms as well as a policy paper with conclusions of the analyses are available on the HBI project website. Here is a summary of the results of the stakeholder survey: Focus Session HBI – Visions of a coherent EU Information and Media Order – Stakeholder Inquiry-final


IGF 2019 in Berlin: Small and medium-sized enterprises have a voice

Small and medium-sized enterprises are making great progress in digitization: All the more important for them to become more involved in shaping collaboration on the Internet.

At the IGF 2019, elements of an SME Charter were published, intended to promote the further participation of small and medium-sized enterprises in future Internet governance processes. The SME Charter was a German contribution to the IGF 2019. Germany hosted the international event in Berlin this year.

In addition, a High-Level Session focused on the role of small and medium-sized enterprises in Internet governance. Discussion topics included the use of data, the role of digital platforms for small and medium-sized enterprises and the question of how SMEs can combine their strengths, joining forces in managing digitization.

Moderated by Friederike Grothe, the panel included María Fernanda Garza, CEO of Orestia and Chair of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Mexico; Heike Hölzner, professor at Berlin University of Applied Sciences and partner at sirius minds, a research and consulting firm for digital business models; the Kenyan entrepreneur Su Kahumbu Stephanou, founder and CEO of Green Dreams Ltd. and iCow, an award-winning mobile based application supporting African farmers with practical information; and Pavel Kazakov, founder and CEO of the online company GAIWAN Tee Manufaktur and board member of Young Entrepreneurs Business Organisation Germany.Small and medium-sized enterprises are making great progress in digitization: All the more important for them to become more involved in shaping collaboration on the Internet.

Background information: The project Internet Governance – Opportunities for SMEs was implemented by Grothe Medienberatung in cooperation with the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) as its research partner. The project was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.


Filter bubbles: Why don’t we let them burst, finally!

All of us like to believe in good stories, including journalists. One of these stories, which is enjoying everlasting popularity, is that of filter bubbles and echo chambers into which social networks drive us and which we can’t escape. According to Adrian Lobe, as he wrote in the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Monday, social media manipulate users by their “like” machinery and condition them through reward mechanisms in order to keep them on the platform for as long as possible. The alleged means of those mechanisms: Always offering more of the same to users, reinforcing their views or inclinations.

If you eat the same soup every day, you’ll begin to love it, Martin Walser once wrote. If you use social networks, you’ll always get what you already know, only a little more pointedly each time due to the sophisticated recommendation systems, Adrian Lobe says. In the end, many people would live in filter bubbles, the critical public would suffer and the corporations would benefit from “the fact that the axe is put on the roots of democracy”. Really, not a bad story. However, it’s not true.

On the same Monday we read at trade journal “werben & verkaufen”: “Media filter bubbles are overrated”. The paper reports on a recent study by political scientist Matt Grossmann on behalf of the Knight Foundation. The study concludes that far fewer US citizens than assumed actually live in a media filter bubble, not even many of those who claim to do so. And, in fact, the more one investigates the alleged filter bubble phenomenon, the more sources emerge that show that there is no scientific evidence for its existence. This applies not only to the USA, but also to Germany. Birgit Stark from the University of Mainz, for example, writes that the conditions for filter bubbles are not met for broad audiences. And she is by no means the only one who comes to such a conclusion.

Sealing off and polarization effects commonly associated with filter bubbles, can sometimes be observed only among small groups on the political fringes of society who voluntarily surround themselves with like-minded people in “echo chambers”. The vast majority on the other hand, obtain information through various sources rather than exclusively through social media. Internet users draw on even more sources of information than the offliners of the population. So there is a lot to be said for bursting the filter bubbles and turning to new stories that are closer to reality. This includes, for example, the question of how interested circles can be prevented from abusing the social media in a strategic manner because they want to disintegrate society. Or the question of how to make the public even more aware that the most reliable fact-checking is done by journalists who have learned their trade. At any rate, the democratic public sphere is robust enough for honest discussion.