Sibylle Krämer: Cultural history of digitization

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02/13/2020 - 02/13/2020 | Berlin

Sibylle Krämer: Cultural history of digitization

Sybille Krämer will explain how early symbols and signs formed digital systems and why these are not necessarily linked to machines. She is professor emeritus of philosophy at Freie Universität Berlin and senior professor at Leuphana Universität Lüneburg. This lecture is this year's first event of our academic lecture series Making Sense of the Digital Society, organised by HIIG and the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung.

It is often assumed that digitization and computer technology are inseparably linked. However, digitality is part of a much older cultural history, namely the symbols and signs that people have been inventing and developing since the first cave paintings, the first characters and mathematical symbols humans used to describe, structure and share their world. Digitization thus did not come through machine technology, but rather through early symbolization practices. In this light, the alphabet is a prototype of a digital system, but also all the counting systems that quantify and make our world comparable. In her lecture, the philosopher Sybille Krämer therefore tries to dissolve the connection between digitization and computer technology in order to understand why digitalization can penetrate our lives and our society so quickly and so profoundly. In fact, there are answers to the questions “What is the meaning of digital?” and “What is the meaning of digitalization?” that reach beyond computer technology.

Sybille Krämer is professor emeritus of philosophy at the Freie Universität Berlin and senior professor at the Leuphana Universität Lüneburg since March 2019. She has been a member of the German Council of Science and Humanities, a permanent fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, and a panel member of the European Research Council. Her research areas include epistemology; philosophy of language, writing, and image; symbolic machines; and digitization as a cultural technique.

Making Sense of the Digital Society

The current rapid pace of technological change creates enormous uncertainties – and thus the need for explanations that help us better understand our situation and shape the future. The Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) and the Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb) are therefore continuing the Lecture Series Making Sense of the Digital Society that was launched in 2017. The aim of the format is to develop a European perspective on the current processes of transformation and its societal impact. The first speaker of this year’s series is the Philosopher Sybille Krämer.

Information on participating / attending:
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Admission is free, registration is mandatory. Doors open 6:30 pm.

The event will be held in German and simultaneously translated into English.

Consent to video recording:
This event will be recorded and broadcasted live. By signing up you consent to be photographed, filmed and/or otherwise recorded during the event and to the use of the content in connection with the promotion and public relations of the event.


02/13/2020 19:00 - 02/13/2020 22:00

Event venue:

HAU 1, Stresemannstraße 29
10963 Berlin

Target group:

Journalists, Scientists and scholars



Subject areas:

History / archaeology, Information technology, Language / literature, Media and communication sciences, Philosophy / ethics

Types of events:

Presentation / colloquium / lecture




Luise Wolf



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