Bad Homburg Conference 2017
Norbert Lammert on political communication in the digital era
The Bad Homburg Conference 2017 was launched at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften on the evening of November 8 with a speech given by the former President of the German Bundestag, Professor Norbert Lammert. He spoke about the changes in political communication brought about by digitalization.

Lammert spoke not as an expert on digitalization but as a politician who was a member of the German Bundestag for 37 years and as such personally experienced the introduction of digital media into political communication. This experienced perspective met upon great interest in the public, leading more than 200 people to attend the lecture at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften in Bad Homburg.

Lammert systematically and eloquently pointed out the problematic outcomes of the transition from analog to digital media in political communication. He identified the quantitative explosion of information that, in his opinion, places an excessive burden on the judgement of people, who are now forced to decide for themselves which information is important and correct. Lammert also criticized the, in his words, at times »rough« tone, which in the anonymity of the internet increasingly pushes the boundaries of legality.

Furthermore, he observed that there have been changes in print media, bringing these increasingly into alignment with the quality of digital media. In his opinion, newspapers now place more priority on reporting information quickly and briefly rather than exactly and correctly. The digital world is opening the doors to populism because simple solutions are increasingly attractive in a more and more complex world and such unfiltered solutions are now easily available on the internet.

Lammert’s speech provided the material to spark an in-depth discussion on the following day of the conference, in which 100 interested members of the public, students and university members participated. Digital practitioners and scholars from the fields of media studies, law, political science and history debated with the conference participants about the clear dangers posed as well as the opportunities offered by the use of digital media – above all greater transparency and increased democracy. And they emphasized that not all of the »vices« of our era mentioned by Lammert are the fault of digital media.

The annual Bad Homburg Conferences are being funded for an initial period of five years by the city of Bad Homburg. The planning is carried out by the board of directors of the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften.

A video of Norbert Lammert’s speech which follows the welcoming speeches given by Birgitta Wolff and Alexander Hetjes and the introduction by Matthias Lutz-Bachman, can be found here.

The entire conference program including all speakers can be found here.

(FKH - 17.11.2017)