SFB 1187 ›Medien der Kooperation‹ an der Universität Siegen

B08 - Agentic Media: Formations ofSemi-Autonomy

Research focus of the 2nd phase (2020 – 2023)



Principal Investigators:

Dr. Marcus Burkhardt

Prof. Dr. Karin Knorr Cetina


Hendrik Bender

Susanne Förster


Ever more digital media technologies are not only designed as mere tools, instruments, (information) resources or mediators, but rather as synthetic actors that act (semi‑)autonomously. As constructs of the technosciences and the digital industries, Agentic Media are often experienced as human-like actors in social interactions, equipped with tasks, privileges and the ability to learn – capacities that have been derived from the model of human autonomy. This development is accompanied by the disruption of established interaction orders and action systems. As a result human agency as well as human autonomy are transformed.

In the context of this project, agentic media are conceptualized as semi-autonomous synthetic actors that are cooperatively produced, supported and stabilized in heterogeneous, multiply situated and distributed media and data practices. At the intersection of media studies and sociology the project examines in three work packages how agentic media are created cooperatively as actors in various fields of practice – chatbots, drones, and the academic development of algorithms – and asks which interactions orders as well as modes of cooperation emerge between human and synthetic actors.

The project pursues three goals:

  1. Mapping the spectrum and diversity of synthetic actors in contemporary digital cultures with their respective actor requirements, subject characteristics and other capacities that different ethnotechnological systems rely upon.
  2. Analyzing the modes and structures of interaction, cooperation and “socialization” that emerge between human and non-human participants*, but also between synthetic actors.
  3. Examining the consequences that arise due to a permanent confrontation of human actors with non-human semi-autonomous cognitive systems.



Bender, Hendrik, and Max Kanderske. 2024. “Consumer Drone Warfare: Practices, Aesthetics and Discourses of Consumer Drones in the Russo-Ukrainian War”. In Drones in Society: New Visual Aesthetic, edited by Elisa Serafinelli. London: Palgrave Macmillan.


Bender, Hendrik. 2023. “Anhängliche Medien: Drohnen und die Erzeugung von Followability”. In Following. Medien der Gefolgschaft und Prozesse des Folgens. Ein kulturwissenschaftliches Kompendium, edited by Anne Ganzert, Philipp Hauser, and Isabell Otto, 263-74. Berlin: de Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110679137-025.
Bender, Hendrik, and Marcus Burkhardt. 2023. “Reinventing Drones: From DIY Experimentation to Professionalization”. Digital Culture & Society 9 (1): 125-52. https://doi.org/10.14361/dcs-2023-0107.
Förster, Susanne. 2023. “The Bigger the Better? The Size of Language Models and the Dispute over Alternative Architectures”. A Peer-Reviewed Journal About 12 (1): 120-34. https://doi.org/10.7146/aprja.v12i1.140444.
Föster, Susanne. 2023. “Small Talk: About the Size of Language Models”. Toward a Minor Tech: A Peer-reviewed Newspaper 12 (1): 2. cc.vvvvvvaria.org/wiki-to-print/pdf/Toward_a_Minor_Tech.


Bender, Hendrik, and Max Kanderske. 2022. “Co-Operative Aerial Images: A Geomedia History of the View from Above”. New Media & Society 24 (11): 2468-92. https://doi.org/10.1177/14614448221122201.
Burkhardt, Marcus, Daniela van Geenen, Carolin Gerlitz, Sam Hind, Timo Kaerlein, Danny Lämmerhirt, and Axel Volmar, eds. 2022. Interrogating Datafication. Towards a Praxeology of Data. Bielefeld: transcript. https://doi.org/10.14361/9783839455616.


Burkhardt, Marcus. 2018. “Version Control: Zur softwarebasierten Koordination von Ko-Laboration”. In Materialität der Kooperation, edited by Sebastian Gießmann, Tobias Röhl, and Jörg Potthast. Berlin: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-20805-9_4.