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Like probably all empirical research projects that were right in the middle of everything, the DigitAS team was taken by surprise when the COVID-19 pandemic led to a complete shutdown of the social and economic life in Austria in mid-March 2020. Our data collection that was scheduled for spring 2020 in both Innsbruck and Vienna had to be put on immediate hold until further notice. Even though the lockdown has now been lifted, it is hard to estimate what will actually work in terms of empirical social science in the coming weeks and months, as social distancing measures remain in place.
With regard to the DigitAS research design, not only do we need to move freely in as well as between our research sites, the Rapoldipark in Innsbruck and the Venediger Au-Park in Vienna. What is even more, is that to successfully conduct our study, we need to be able to get close to our research participants, e.g., to set up the mobile eye-tracker on a participant’s head, to check its functionality, to explain and assist in the use of the mobile media device. For the safety of our participants’ and our own, we are therefore currently planning on conducting our field research as soon but also no earlier than safety restrictions will be lifted sufficiently.
Even though the uncertainty surrounding the further development of COVID-19-pandemic, a potential second wave of infections and the need for the infamous emergency brake of accompanying security measures, makes it hard to make plans for the near future, we are continuing the methodological development and are cautiously scheduling data collection for summer or early fall 2020.
The DigitAS team
All talks and discussions during the public symposium The Digital, Affects and Space (DigitAS) – Reflections on the Societal Consequences of a Future in Mixed Realities held in May 2019 at University of Innsbruck, Austria have been recorded and are published online now.
- Opening Adress by Petra Missomelius and Tabea Bork-Hüffer
- The Digital, Affects and Space – Introduction by Tabea Bork-Hüffer and Martin Rutzinger
- Mixed Reality in Society: The Future of Information Displays, and their Implications for Varying User Groups – Keynote by Arzu Çöltekin (moderated by Katja Kaufmann)
- Panel Discussion with Andreas Beinsteiner, Arzu Çöltekin, Manfred Faßler and Christian Kray (moderated by Nicklas Gudowsky-Blatakes)
Last Friday, 17 May 2019, we launched our DigitAS project with the symposium and kick-off event “The Digital, Affects and Space (DigitAS): Reflections on the Societal Consequences of a Future in Mixed Realities” at University of Innsbruck. Petra Missomelius of the Department of Media, Society and Communication, University of Innsbruck opened the symposium. After that, Tabea Bork-Hüffer and Martin Rutzinger, both part of the DigitAS team, presented the DigitAS project outline. Keynote speaker Arzu Çöltekin (Institute for Interactive Technologies, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland) subsequently gave a detailed overview of recent developments in virtual and mixed reality related to cognition studies. Finally, an interdisciplinary discussion panel on societal consequences of mixed realities brought together views from sociology, philosophy, and technology development (panellists besides keynote speaker Arzu Çöltekin: Andreas Beinsteiner, Philosophy, University of Vienna; Manfred Faßler, Institut für Kulturanthropologie und Europäische Ethnologie, University of Frankfurt; Christian Kray, Head of sitcom Lab, Institute for Geoinformatics, University of Münster). The symposium – followed by an internal meeting with our scientific advisory board – was a successful kick-off event and established a promising platform for an open and fruitful interdisciplinary dialogue on research on mixed realities.