Wintersemester 2021/2022, BA/MA Produkt-Design eLab


This course is part of the Coding IxD Series and took place druing the winter term 2021/22. It was developed and realised in cooperation of the research group Human-Centered Computing (FU-Berlin) and the Product Design Department (KH-Berlin Weißensee).


"Recent inventions and business methods call attention to the next step which must be taken for the protection of the person, and for securing to the individual what Judge Cooley calls the right ‚to be let alone‘. Instantaneous photographs and newspaper enterprise have invaded the sacred precincts of private and domestic life; and numerous mechanical devices threaten to make good the prediction that 'what is whispered in the closet shall be proclaimed from the house-tops'."


– Warren and Brandeis, 1890


Privacy was already considered more than 100 years ago and is now highly discussed in the context of increasing digitalization and the domination of a few global players. The connection between technology, people, and society runs through countless „user-friendly“ manifestations of our daily lives; for example, in the form of voice assistants that play your favorite song, simple „like“ buttons, or sophisticated algorithms that suggest new friends on social media.


In this context, privacy as a „living, continually changing thing, a fluid concept, dependent on socio-cultural factors“ (Koops and Leenes, 2006) relates to an (even more) abstract concept, namely digital sovereignty. Digital sovereignty describes the ability of an individual or a society to use digital services (e.g., cloud or payment services and digital media) in a self-determined manner. Self-determination encompasses both individual capabilities and material conditions, such as legal, political, and infrastructural issues. However, from an individual, societal, economic, or ecological perspective, questions arise regarding relevant capabilities and conditions, such as: How can we (help) shape digital sovereignty? How can we support people in assessing the data security of digital services? How can we make individual data sharing and use transparent? How can we design for privacy? How can we make surveillance visible? How can we obfuscate our traces?


In the project digital:sovereignty, we intend to uncover, explore and reshape the socio-material aspects of digital sovereignty by designing novel neo-analog artifacts. The goal is to give back to both individuals and society the „ability to influence something […] and its dynamics […], including the ability to check and correct for any deviation“ (Floridi, 2020). Furthermore, new forms of interaction between people, material, and code will emerge, enabling sovereign decision-making by allowing individuals to reflect on their digital practices critically. In interdisciplinary teams, students from Freie Universität Berlin and Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin, and in cooperation with the Cluster of Excellence Matters of Activity, explore the possibilities of self-determination and „self-ownership, especially over one's own body, choices, and data“ (Floridi, 2020) through neo-analog artifacts.



Floridi, L. (2020). The fight for digital sovereignty: What it is, and why it matters, especially for the EU. Philosophy & Technology, 33(3), 369-378.


Koops, B. J., & Leenes, R. (2005). Code and the slow erosion of privacy. Mich. Telecomm. & Tech. L. Rev., 12, 115.


Warren, S., & Brandeis, L. (1890). The Right to Privacy. Harvard Law Review, 4(5), 193-220. doi:10.2307/1321160

Betreuung Thomas Ness, Judith Glaser, Peter Sörries
ProjektkategorieSemesterprojekt Projekt-Fächer BA/MA Produkt-Design