Beginning January 2017, The Bertelsmann Foundation embarked on a journey to explore how digital innovation impacts democracies and societies around the world. Questia Group followed this journey and provided polling data in four countries: India, US, Israel, and Germany.

The field research made by Anthony Silberfeld and his team started from the rival capitals of Washington and Havana to the bustling streets of New Delhi; the dynamic tech startups in Tel Aviv to the efficient order of Berlin. Both the field research and the polling data aimed to discover the impact of technological disruption and whether it offers potential lessons to other nations situated at various points along the technological and democratic spectra.

The results of this study have been published in a book, launched in Berlin on the 6th of November and in Bucharest, on the 9th of November. In this article, we present some key points from the two conferences. The book can also be downloaded below.

The event in Berlin

The Bertelsmann Foundation in Berlin

The event in Berlin was held at the Bertelsmann Foundation’s headquarters, on the 6th of November. From Questia’s side, Andreea Nedelcu, Chief Business Development Officer presented the top results from the polling data, suggesting that the internet does not affect similarly groups in the society, yet some mega-trends can be found throughout the four case studies.

Andreea Nedelcu

The audience was made of journalists, Government officials, third sector and private sector representatives. The roundtable discussions revolved around the German case, especially on the country’s risk aversion and data protection attributes. Also, the issue of fake news and how to find better ways to enhance the benefits of the internet, especially in raising transparency and accountability in the public administration.

The event in Bucharest

The event in Bucharest took place at the Social Science Division of the Research Institute of the University of Bucharest (ICUB) , on the 9th of November. The event was moderated by Claudiu Tufiș. From Questia’s side, Andreea Nedelcu, Chief Business Development Officer and Andrada Nimu, Chief Research Officer presented the polling data.The audience consisted mainly of academics from ICUB, but also the third sector.

The discussion sparked the interest around issues coming ‘from the dark side of the internet’, especially how only a few big companies collect many data points about internet users, how the role of social media has shaped the elections in the United States, as well as how the internet further divides people, not only digitally, but also in terms of ideologies. The digital divide, both in term of access and usage, is one of the main factors that governments should consider in their future crafting of the public policies.

ICUB

Anthony T. Silberfeld is the lead author of Disrupting Democracy. As director of the Transatlantic Relations program of the Bertelsmann Foundation, he oversees the design and execution of projects covering a range of topics in the Euro-Atlantic sphere including politics, economics, and social challenges. Tony joined the Foundation after seven years with the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office where was head of political and public affairs at the Northern Ireland Bureau. He also served as Northern Ireland government spokesman in the Americas and advised Northern Ireland's government ministers on political developments in the United States, Canada, and Brazil. Prior to his tenure at the embassy, Tony spent several years as a foreign policy adviser in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. He also spent time in the private sector in the international team of Booz Allen Hamilton.

The Bertelsmann Foundation (North America), Inc. established in 2008, was created to promote and strengthen the transatlantic relationship. Through its research debate forums and multimedia tools, the Foundation provides analysis and solutions to the most pressing economic, political and social challenges impacting the United States and Europe.

Questia Group’s polling data can be downloaded sparately here. Also, watch the documentaries on Cuba and India.