Farewell Note by Christiane Eilders

Long-time DIID spokesperson Prof. Dr. Christiane Eilders has been appointed to be the new director of the Center for Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS) since October 1, 2023. We wish her all the best in her new role and would like to thank her for our very successful time together. A few personal words from Christiane Eilders:

Dear DIID colleagues,

Here comes a farewell note that somehow hasn’t found the right time yet. It’s too late and too early at the same time. As you know, I am already at CAIS (since October 1) and yet I am still often seen at the institute in Ulenbergstraße. I’ve also been given flowers to say goodbye to on various occasions, but I’ve always been told that the real or ceremonial farewell is still to come – namely at the winter retreat with the general meeting and board elections on December 8.

Of course, I have already started at CAIS and have already attended meetings with the Supervisory Board, shareholders and Advisory Board and have already introduced myself to the wider public as the new Director. But as the CAIS has just moved to new premises and everyone was therefore in their home office in October, I have only just settled in at the CAIS and am only celebrating my debut this week. From now on, I will actually be at Ulenberg less often – but regularly on Mondays for lectures, doctoral student supervision and project meetings.

This week seems to me to be a reasonably suitable time for a farewell note; time to look back before the baton is officially handed over at the Board election. Until then, the co-spokespersons Uli Rosar and Stefan Conrad will lead the DIID. The day-to-day business will be handled by the coordinator Dennis Frieß and the rest of the DIID team – consisting of Katharina Gerl, Jonathan Seim and Juliane Feustel as well as the student assistants Anna Linstaedt and Hannah Harmsen.

This team is great. It doesn’t just do routine things, but has also been very successful in acquiring third-party funding for projects in my last few weeks at DIID (some of which are still awaiting approval). Under the leadership of Dennis Frieß, we have acquired a BMBF project on discursive integration – including the coordination of a cluster on the topic of “Open science in a digitalized democracy”. I myself, together with three other consortium partners under the leadership of Marianne Kneuer (TU Dresden), have acquired a long-awaited project on municipal participation offerings from the Mercator Foundation. This is particularly pleasing because it takes us back to the beginnings of the DIID: this is the nationwide expansion of the core idea of the DIID Monitor for NRW from 2016. “Back to the roots” – but in a much larger theoretical and empirical framework.

But what actually lay between this project from the early days of DIID and the current success of the project? I can only report on the last four years because I only took over as spokesperson in 2019. A lot has happened in that time. Michael Baurmann set up the institute in the best possible way in terms of content, but was unable to do much about the shortage of staff. The initially frequent changes in the coordination position, which was temporary at the time, and the few additional full-time positions made it considerably more difficult to focus consistently on third-party funding successes. Nevertheless, thanks to the great commitment and excellent research of our members, we have always far exceeded the third-party funding quota stipulated in our target agreements. This continuous success ultimately convinced the Rectorate to provide us with a permanent coordination position. The planning security, the continuity in the core team and the additional resources have enabled us to think systematically about our profile, formulate our goals and pursue them with combined forces. This developmental step has given us wings and thus boosted our current third-party funding successes.

The DIID is now out of its infancy and puberty and is developing into a small, but noticeable and clearly profiled player in the field of digitization research. The fact that I was able to accompany and help shape this path for a while makes me proud! But above all, I am grateful for the incredible commitment of everyone, for the team spirit and collective stamina and for the many experiences I have had at DIID.

May the DIID have a great future! That will certainly be the case if everyone carries on like this…

…says: Christiane Eilders