HU Logo
Logo of the CS Department

Deutsche Version

Polska wersja

Version fran├žaise

Research Areas


Image, Script, Number in the Turing Galaxy

On the Technical and Socio-Cultural Backgrounds of Intellectual Property under Conditions of Multimedia Digitisation and Global Networking


Wolfgang Coy, Volker Grassmuck

Currently one can note a vigorous change taking place in the approach to intellectual property. Based on international treaties, German copyright law like that of most other countries has been adapted to digital technologies. Patent law is causing controversies in the European parliament and is facing substantial extension. Not only media corporations are making their far-reaching economic claims, also the scientific community and the public have their vested cultural interests in access to and usage of knowledge. Such fierce debates are triggered by digitisation and networking and by the ensuing technical changes in production, storage and distribution of multimedia artefacts. As a consequence, the historical knowledge order is undergoing structural change that fundamentally affects cultural practices, economic relations, technological trajectories, as well as the political regulatory framework. Even basic terms like "author", "work" and "knowledge" are affected. It is therefore necessary to look not only into the legal and economic conditions of digitised intellectual property but into its technical foundations and its cultural traditions as well.

At the center of the project is the question of balancing different demands: the moral and the economic interests of authors and inventors, the interest in exploitation by publishers and other parties and that of the public at large. By means of concrete issues, the field of "Image, Script, Number" is explored in its interlocking cultural-technological aspects in order to untangle the current debate on intellectual property from its narrow juridical and economical confines and to encourage a more open discussion on the way into the Turing Galaxy.


Virtual Tutorial (in german) - Telelearning in Spatially Distributed and Temporal Independent Tutorials


Contact: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Coy, Dr. Peter Schirmbacher, Jochen Koubek, Roland P. Kubica, Uwe Pirr
Funded by: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Wissenschaft BMBF / Deutsches Forschungsnetz DFN-Verein

With the foundation of the new scientific center Berlin-Adlershof and the departure of the natural and technical science departments, the campus of the Humboldt University is divided radically. This implies a whole host of organizational difficulties concerning the teaching as it is fixed in study and examination regulations.

In the project, we intend to run spatially distributed seminars and tutorials accompanying the central lecture "Digital Media". The aim is to find environments of rooms, devices and lessons, which allow a broad, technically appropriate and yet economically affordable introduction of spatially distributed seminars and tutorials in computer science departments. Additionally, the lecture together with the course materials will be held in computer memory and can therefore be provided temporal independent.

A central project goal will be the equipping of two seminar rooms as prototypes, which allow spatially distributed communication through coupled computers, interactive data projection, and video- and audio communication.

The project is situated within a broader context where spatially distributed lectures for the computer science department will be introduced.


From the "Order of Knowledge" to the "Knowledge Order of Digital Media" (in german)


Contact: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Coy, Prof. Dr. Jörg Pflüger, Dr. Volker Grassmuck
Funded by: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG (up to March 2000)
Cooperation: Prof. Dr. Friedrich Kittler, Institut für ästhetik der Humboldt-Universität
Prof. Dr. Bredekamp, Humboldt-Universität
Prof. Dr. Charles Grivel, FB Romanistik der Universität Mannheim
Prof. Dr. Joachim Paech, Fachgruppe Medienwissenschaft der Universität Konstanz
PD Dr. Christoph Tholen, Universität Kassel
Prof. Dr. Peter Gendolla, Universität Siegen

With global digital electronic networking new forms of communication, of information, of acting and of entertainment have emerged that are based on using computer-networks as digital media. The historically grown order of knowledge that unfolded mainly along the lines of text and print now comes under the influence of open global computer-networks. The nationally determined knowledge orders (a term of H. Spinner), situated alongside the legal and the economic orders, are being replaced by a new global knowledge order.

The "future of knowledge" is being decisively determined by its accelerated digital technization. From within the context of computer science the task is to analyze the technical elements of this new global knowledge order and to condense them into a concept of "medium" that appropriately describes computer-networks as medium. The conncetion and distinction of computer science aspects with current concepts of media in the cultural and social sciences is the subject of the project. For the discipline of computer science, conclusions for its education and research will be drawn.


Computer Science and Information Society

Research Area

Contact: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Coy, Prof. Dr. Heidi Schelhowe, Dr.phil.habil. Christian Dahme

The evolution to a global "Information Society" ist a major characteristic of the Computer Science to come. So far, Computer Science affected primarily the sphere of labour; now new claims arise from the global cultural impacts of Computer Science. The global computer networks are of special interest, but also questions about the security of the information technology or the extensive digitization of the media.

The global digital networks have promoted new forms of communication, information, of trading, and entertainment, which all are based upon the usage of the computer as a medium. The predominant definition of the computer - including the peripheral devices, the programs, and the networks - and the ways computers are used have to be examined.

The "classical" view of the computer as an automaton for calculation and control sticks to a formal and reductional apparatus of methods and terms which already was inappropriate for the tool metaphor of the seventies and eighties and which definitively reaches its limits with the usage of the computer as a medium for information and communication embedded in a global electronic network. The main purpose of the computer as a medium will consist of providing a tool for the interactive use of information, which can be applied individually by every participant within the "Information Society".

Only at the interface of social and technical reality the computer becomes a medium. Here the evolution of the order of knowledge within the dawn of the "Information Society" takes place.


Digital Media

Research Area

Contact: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Coy, Dr. Jochen Koubek, Jens-Martin Loebel

A characteristic of media is the syntactic transformation - from a sound to an image symbol in case of writing, from a letter to an optical or electronical Morse signal, from a tone to a mechanical, optical or electrical signal of a record, from a light point to a materially stored image pixel. The digitization of nearly every media signal, that is the transformation of any signal in numerical codes and vice versa, gives rise to a new technology and quality of media.

Computer Science provides the essential instruments to deal with digitized media, hardware and software, and especially the systematic integration of work processes - from the recording and generation, via the storing, to the reproduction and distribution. The Compact Disc and its variants CD-Audio, computer memory CD-ROM, and CD-Video, demonstrates how a basic technology of Computer Science changes different media simultaneously. Besides the transformation of traditional media, it becomes possible to integrate different media which leads again to the generation of new media. Video clips and video games are simple examples of these processes. Interactive television and the multimedial use of computer networks, the integration of telephone networks with TV cables and satelites form a more important potential in a global scale.

Computers as Digital Media are analyzed under three different views: in the form of open networks, as a means for electronic publishing and electronic archives, and as visual media which break the frames of traditional images.