Lay perspectives on big data: Insights from citizen conferences in Germany

René König


As big data shapes more and more aspects of our lives, a wide-spread concern is that the affected people’s interests are not sufficiently taken into account. The field of participatory technology assessment (pTA) has attempted to make such processes more democratic by involving laypeople as an additional voice to the often rather expert-driven development. This text presents the lessons learned from such an endeavor, namely three citizen conferences on big data held in Germany. The empirical results are presented and critically contextualized in the larger discourse on pTA and big data. Therefore, the article sheds light on lay perspectives on big data while also providing insights into the strengths and weaknesses of participatory methods such as citizen conferences.

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