ECDF Working Paper Series

The ECDF Working Paper Series of the Einstein Center Digital Future (ECDF) is a scientific, interdisciplinary, and open publication series that highlights the many facets of Digitalization. Topics range from social science subjects such as sociology and educational sciences to design research, computer science and engineering. 

The aim of the Paper Series is to focus on cross-disciplinary research problems, perspectives and societal strategies developed by ECDF professors, their collaborators or ECDF visiting researchers. The contributions are addressed to scientists, policy makers, companies, NGOs, and the interested public. The contributions undergo a peer review process and are published Open Access under the CC BY 4.0 license.

Paper #2

Authors: Diez, Tomas; Hankey, Stephanie

Title: Changing the Nature of ‘Things’ – Design for Digitalisation & Regeneration

Language: English

Projekt:Digitalization for Sustainability (D4S)


Abstract: This paper is the first in a series of transdisciplinary explorations. Bringing together reflections from two design and technology practitioners and educators with nearly 20 years of experience working respectively in the areas of digital fabrication, and the impact of technology on society, within leading international non-profits (the FabLab Network and Tactical Tech). The texts are a synthesis of a series of discussions, built off a shared understanding of the role of design and technology and the current challenges we as societies and as a planet face. The urgency of climate and environmental challenges invites a complex reading of design in the context of digitalisation. We need to think about design as a creative problem-solving process and as a catalyst for radically changing the nature of things. The integration of digital and hybrid solutions into design practice is an opportunity to revise approaches to design, with the potential to drive the regeneration of our natural ecosystems, and not just mitigate their destruction, moving from a human-centred to a life-centred design mode.



Paper #1

Authors: Staab, Philipp; Pietrón, Dominik; Hofmann, Florian

Title: Sustainable Digital Market Design: A Data-Based Approach to the Circular Economy

Language: English

Project:Digitalization for Sustainability (D4S)

Abstract: Markets must be designed properly to serve the common good. This is particularly evident in the digital economy, where platform companies have profoundly restructured value chains over the past 20 years. The European Union is currently undertaking a major regulatory effort to better shape digital platform markets. Yet, despite unprecedented existential pressures from environmental crises, sustainability goals are barely addressed.

In this paper, we argue that the design of digital markets and information flows holds great potential for an ecological transformation of the economy. Based on a theoretical integration of the digital market design approach and the circular economy paradigm, we highlight the need for new market rules for the generation, storage, access, and use of product-related information that can help connect stakeholders and create new models for collaborative ecosystems.

Based on a literature review of the potential of data-driven sustainability measures in the circular economy, we present a policy framework that includes the specific selection criteria needed to identify relevant data as well as recommendations for data sharing obligations. We find that, rather than a data economy that focuses on tracking human behavior, more product transparency and a systematic digital tracking of goods and materials is needed in order to change production and consumption systems towards economic activity that respects planetary boundaries.