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Tinder the City: Software-Related Scenarios on Overcoming the Crisis of the Mediatised Public Sphere

Tinder the City: Software-Related Scenarios on Overcoming the Crisis of the Mediatised Public Sphere

The crisis in journalism affects regional newspapers as much as quality media. This development demands innovative ideas. Researchers at the Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research (ZeMKI), the Institute for Information Management Bremen and the Hans-Bredow-Institut developed and implemented an innovative app for searching news and information by using an experimental approach of co-creation. Together with future app users, the researchers developed an innovative mobile news and information app with “Tinder logic” for young people. Thereby, did not focus on the interests of a media company but on the needs, habits and demands of users.

The app addresses citizens from Bremen and two adjacent rural districts (Osterholzen and Verden). At first, research on the urban public sphere was conducted in 2018 and 2019. Based on these findings, a mobile app independent from classical news providers was developed as an experimental prototype. The app focused on young people aged 16 to 36. Thereby, the app was based on the intuitive principle of Tinder, meaning that contents can be marked as “read” or “don’t read” by a simple swipe and, thus, includes the interests of users in a self-learning way.

Don't Be Afraid of a Filter Bubble!
At first glance, the app promotes the phenomenon of the filter bubble. But an algorithm processes the messages in the app in such a way that this is not the case. The learning algorithm is supposed to be broken twice in order to counteract possible filter bubbles. The app does not filter out information from the local environment and content that is important for the community.

Prof. Dr. Wiebke Loosen, Julius Reimer and Paul Solbach from the Hans-Bredow-Institut worked on the project together with Prof. Dr. Andreas Hepp from the ZeMKI Bremen and Prof. Dr. Andreas Breiter from the ifib at the University of Bremen.
Header image © paulrommer / istockphoto.com
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Project Description

The project connected empirical communication and media research with the so-called co-creative software development. The experimental app is intended to counteract a looming loss of relevance of the city and region. So far, mobile ways of living, place bound social relationships and very different ways of media use have not been considered in concepts for offers of information. Thus, classic news providers do not reach many (young) people anymore.

While developing the app, the project focused on a close co-operation with the media economy and digital economy in the metropolitan region of Bremen, the urban and municipal administration, advisory committees of the districts as well as political parties and organisations who are active in the city and the surrounding areas. However, local organisations, such as sports clubs, (neighbourhood) initiatives, art societies/initiatives, social movements with a local reference or religious communities were integrated as well. By using the approach of co-creation, empirical findings and insights as well as expectations and demands of future users were included into the whole process of software development right from the beginning.

Project Information


Duration: 2017-2020

Research programme:
RP1 - Transformation of Public Communication

Third party

Gefördert durch das Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)

Contact person

Prof. Dr. Wiebke Loosen
Senior Researcher Journalism Research

Prof. Dr. Wiebke Loosen

Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI)
Rothenbaumchaussee 36
20148 Hamburg

Tel. +49 (0)40 45 02 17 - 91
Fax +49 (0)40 45 02 17 - 77

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