Peter Weibel

Peter Weibel

Throughout the Reformation Year 2017, this site offers trendsetters and thought leaders a place to present their notions of change and innovation. What are the potentials and needs for current and future-oriented “reformations”?

I see the most urgent need for reformation and innovation in financial theory. Before, we lived in a world of production, of work, of goods that functioned according the following equation.
A person makes his life time available in order to produce a product with which the owner of the means of production can make a profit. Now, however, we are changing from a society of work to a society of knowledge, in which the products are data produced by users, and from which the so-called provider then makes a profit. In accordance with the logic of analogue production, the producer of data would have to be remunerated as was before the producer of commodities. Because this is not the case, the providers can become billionaires within the space of a few years.

The error is to suppose that the world of data, which is a world of distribution, still reflects the logic of production. In a knowledge society, the acquisition of knowledge must be financially rewarded. It is wrong that students should have to pay for their studies, because they are acquiring knowledge which they will later make available to the community as a product – for example, doctors. Students should receive a salary during their studies. Museum and library users too should be paid for their acquisition of knowledge. And the knowledge services of museums and so on must be correspondingly aligned. The playing professions, ranging from footballers to Hollywood actors, are now inordinately overpaid. The helping professions, ranging from midwives to nurses for the elderly, are inordinately underpaid. Yet the latter are the professions necessary for sustaining life. These disproportions must also be changed through an economic reform.
Before, we used to say “working time produces money”; then we said “production of commodities by means of commodities” – this was the title of a book by Piero Sraffa (1968); now we say “money produces money” (financial economy); in future, we will say “knowledge produces money”.
If you ask me what is needed to surmount the obstacles to realizing innovative impulses, I would mention the ability to find the right teachers and ideas; to overcome rejection and resistance; and to process things quickly, to think quickly, to speak quickly and to act quickly.


Professor Dr. Peter Weibel, head of the Center for Art and media Technology in Karlsruhe since January 1999. In numerous writings and lectures, Weibel has championed art and a history of art that takes the history of technology and science into account. As a teacher at universities and long-time head of institutions such as the Ars Electronica, Linz, the Institute for New Media Frankfurt am Main, and Center for Art and media Technology in Karlsruhe (ZKM) Karlsruhe, he has influenced especially the European “computer art” scene through conferences, exhibitions and publications. (Wikipedia)