9:00 AM to 10:30 AM
1. Civic Media Across World Contexts
Moderator: Evan Lieberman, MIT
Daniel Josephy-Hernández, Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica, Jorge Rivera-Marin with Ai Tomita “New Japanese Nationalism in Anime”
2. Digital Technologies, Value, and Labor
Moderator: Göran Bolin, Södertörn University
Göran Bolin, Södertörn University, “The reconfiguration of value in data capitalism”
3. Media Power, Ethics, and Truthmaking
June Deery, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, “Political Simulation: Media Portrayals of Media in Politics”
This paper will briefly re-cap the history of the media’s role in politics since Teddy Roosevelt and categorize recent political narratives found in British and US media. I will indicate how fiction contributes to our understanding of media-politics and examine how gender, class, and race/ ethnicity are presented in both political and journalistic cultures.
Primary TV texts: Yes Minister/ Prime Minister, West Wing, House of Cards (UK and US), The Thick of it, Veep, Alpha House and A Very British Coup. Primary film texts: All The President’s Men, Tanner ’88, The Candidate, Wag the Dog, Bulworth, Primary Colors, Good Night and Good Luck, In the Loop, and The Post.
The presentation will offer two contemporary cases. First, self-tracking technologies emblematise the ongoing enthusiasm for data-driven knowledge as more objective and empirical – the promise of ‘machines that know you better than you know yourself’. Second, I turn to Alex Jones and the Youtuber ‘The Golden One’ as examples of political disinformers. Here conspiracy is served as a dose of reason and reality, draped in a personal and thoroughly anti-institutional style. Their audience is subsequently monetised through dubious health products: fake news for fake pills.
Across both cases, personal truthmaking romanticises a transgressive, charismatic and individualistic kind of authenticity as the path to reason and truth. Yet the exhortation to know for yourself, whether through the latest smart gadget or by ‘redpilling’ against the lies of the deep state, becomes leveraged to establish a new generation of mediators both human and nonhuman. What is at stake is not only the spread of ‘alternative facts’, but changing social and technological thresholds of what counts as truth and trust online.
Eric Opu, University of East Anglia United Kingdom, “Online Political Activism, Media Literacy and Public Manipulation: The Challenges of Balancing Public Order and Free Speech in the Age of Fake News. Insights from Cameroon”
I examine these questions and the implications these have for internet governance and political participation in Cameroon.
4. Journalism, News, and Civic Participation
Eleni Staiou, University of Athens, “Civic responsibility trends through digital solidarity: the case of Greece during the economic and social crisis”
This paper presents the self-organized social solidarity initiatives (SoSS) that emerged in Greece of the crisis as a response to the problems that arose and could not be covered by the state. The main objective is to discuss how these initiatives have taken advantage of the online tools (website, email, facebook, twitter, youtube) in their quest, what difficulties they encountered when using online media, and if these tools ultimately helped them to achieve more quickly and easily their goals. Finally, using this experience and these data, ten basic principles are suggested regarding the use of digital tools from civic initiatives that lack resources (money or human) in order to organize a professional communication policy.
Michael Epstein, Walking Cinema & Laura Herman, Adobe, Inc, “Location-Based Journalism and Civic Participation”
Aman Abhishek, University of Wisconsin-Madison, “Locating Open Source Culture at the Heart of Public Journalism: the case of Wikinews, WikiLeaks & Indymedia”
Chris Wells, Boston University, Kjerstin Thorson, Michigan State University, & Emily Vraga, George Mason University, “Who gets the news now? Contingent information exposure, digital citizens and democracy”
5. Media Infrastructures across Contexts
Michele Ferris-Dobles, University of Costa Rica & University of Illinois at Chicago, “Central American migration and the ‘borderless’ mobile phone”
James Schwoch, Northwestern University, “From the Telegraph to 5G:Wooden Utitility Poles, Woodpeckers, and Media Transition”
Rory Solomon, New York University, “Meshing Well: A Model for Network Politics”
6. Digital Technologies, Welfare, and Human Rights
Mats Björkin, University of Gothenburg, “Computation and the Welfare State: The Development of Digital Public Service in Sweden 1950-1980”
Marc Aidinoff, MIT, “Digitizing Welfare”
Rana Arafat, University of Lugano, “Re-thinking Democratic Divide and Digital Media Usage in Forced Migration Contexts: A Study on Arab Refugees in Switzerland”
The particularity of the case of refugees, who are not allowed to participate formally in the host country’s politics until naturalization while having high restrictions on their out-of-country voting in the homelands they fled, leads to a state of political marginalization that may last for decades. Therefore, a wider understanding of the democratic divide and the internet political usage by refugees still requires further research. Aiming to bridge the gap, the study employs a qualitative data analysis method to come up with deeper illustrations and explanations. 60 semi-structured interviews with Arab refugees in the three main language regions in Switzerland are conducted (20 in Lugano and Chiasso, 20 in Geneva and Neuchâtel and 20 in Zurich and Bern) to dig deeper in their internet and social media usage for political purposes.
The preliminary findings showed strong evidence for the existence of a democratic divide in political internet usage among long-settled Arab refugees in Switzerland. While the majority of the participants showed high digital literacy skills and a big interest in following political news about both their homelands and host countries, three key barriers contributed to creating a new form of democratic divide in the forced migration context including fear of state surveillance, political discouragement/despair and the Swiss citizenship and current residence status. In most of the cases, such factors prevented those interested in politics from expressing their political opinions online or engaging in any online political discussions. This widens the democratic divide between those who use digital media for politics and those who do not causing many refugees to be ‘twice marginalized’, once for not having political rights to participate in the formal state politics in their host countries offline and once for not being able to engage in digital politics online. This double marginalization adds a new aspect for understanding the democratic divide in a more critical situation, opening the door for raising questions about the future of these non-electronic voices that are marginalized from political participation in the age of rising e-governments.
J. Mauricio Gaona, McGill University, “Socio-technological redistribution of digital media: From AI-news and e-policy forums to human rights protection”
In my paper, I argue that Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) will correct public trust problems currently associated with social, public, and commercial media. Moreover, since evolutionary algorithms will gradually remove human bias from their source code, AGI will not merely provide greater objectivity but further eliminate natural (psychological) and unnatural (political) distorters of reality—particularly since machines can fact-check better the news they report. Eventually, society will benefit from sharing the same facts from which more intelligent discussions will finally emerge.
Neither commercial nor social media will disappear as this redistribution will push them to become e-policy and reaction forums mainly focused on discussing rather than reporting the news. Still, social media role will regenerate through specialized-emerging functions—this is another critical finding of my research. In fact, my paper shows traditionally neglected social groups using social media across the world to protect their human rights and fight against dissimilar forms of discrimination, oppression, and authoritarianism. This includes political opponents in Venezuela using YouTube to expose crimes against humanity, victims of conflict in Colombia using Facebook and Twitter as transitional justice e-forums, Central American, Syrians, and Rohingya refugees using social media as migration tool, and women in Honduras using Facebook as sociopolitical-accountability tool to stop gender violence and discrimination.
7. Fake News: Past and Present
Ryan Scheiding, Concordia University, Alternative Facts & Atomic Bomb Collective Memory: The Case of John Hersey’s Hiroshima”
This incident can be seen as an early example of “alternative facts” that dramatically changed American collective memory of the atomic bombs. Past research has examined the connection between official sources and the stifling of Hersey’s work in the period directly after the bombing (1946-1947). Yet, little work has been done that examines the continuing impact of Hersey’s work. This paper fills that research gap through a comparative study of the original New Yorker issue (1946), the mass market paperback version (1989) and the reproduction found on newyorker.com (2015). This brief case study examines not only what has changed (and not changed) in the different iterations of the work but also examines the influence of official sources on collective memory through the use of disinformation.
Jeffrey Blevins, University of Cincinnati, “Free Expression and Fake News: Does the ‘Marketplace of Ideas’ Metaphor Still Apply?”
Lilia Kilburn, Harvard University, “Photoshop and the Visual Registers of ‘False News’ in Cameroon”
why these debates took place when they did. Using techniques drawn from semiotic anthropology (Silverstein 2004, Agha 2005), I trace the dialectical emergence of three distinct visual registers of Photoshop use in this setting: first, a leave-no-trace approach to photo editing with historical ties to Euro-American skepticism of Photoshop on photography-as-truth grounds; second, the Cameroonian government’s visibly Photoshopped images, part of a long history of Biya’s tactics of mediation (Mbembe 2001); and third, the recent uptake of Photoshop by Anglophone separatists. Four years prior to the introduction of the secessionists’ cryptocurrency AmbaCoin, satires of government Photoshoppings helped to consolidate a secessionist counterpublic and fueled an emergent fantasy through which technological expertise might save a new Anglophone state—and only its citizens—from the crises faced by the bilingual one. I argue that Photoshopped images in Cameroon produced value through social differentiation, splitting constituencies that might have aligned against broader forms of exploitation, because they made benefits like foreign press attention available only through designations of relative goodness or competency, and suggested a zero-sum moral universe (Simone 2004).
10:30 AM to 11:00 AM
11:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Plenary: Culture Industries
Weisner Building – E15
Huma Yusuf, Wilson Center
David Hesmondhalgh, University of Leeds
Roberta Pearson, University of Nottingham
Philip M. Napoli, Duke University
12:30 PM to 1:30 PM
1:30 PM to 3:00 PM
Iago Bojczuk, MIT, “From Rio de Janeiro to Marrakech: Spatial and Female Representations of the ‘Arab-Muslim’ in the Brazilian Telenovela O Clone”
9. Television’s Transitions
Giulia Taurino, University of Bologna/University of Montreal, “Cultural Proximity, Technological Divide: a framework for understanding the expansion of non-linear television”
This paper argues that media transitions, as well as changes in concepts of participation, can be best understood via theories of play. Play is defined as free and yet bound by rules; it exists in between ambivalences of autonomy and control. Most recent transmedia phenomena, such as interactive features and playable stories are very fruitful examples as they are directly connected to gaming. The interactive film Black Mirror: Bandersnatch refers to such issues as loss of control and gamification while inviting the audience to engage with a playable format, in which one cannot be sure if the viewer is fully aware that she is part of a higher game. Using game mechanisms, the viewer becomes a player that iterates her decisions – but the outcome is ultimately out of her hands, questioning her autonomy and if democracy concerning digital media practices is enabled.
This mode of experimenting, or playing, is also used in transmedia contexts and allows the recipients to practice their interaction with constantly changing media forms. But simultaneously they are being played and stuck in media algorithms and structures.
Ivy Roberts, Virginia Commonwealth University, “Tinker Culture: Democracy of the Waves in 1920s Radio and Television”
• What aspects of 1920s popular science facilitated the democratic culture of early radio and television?
• How does the unregulated culture of early radio and television compare to that of the broadcasting era?
• What effects did regulation and standardization have on early radio and television culture?
• How did the imposition of regulations affect programming?
The presentation will conclude with the consequences of regulation and standardization on the early culture of experimentation and innovation. The battle of the waves stifled the organic democratic culture that evolved out of the early period of media in transition.
In this presentation, I explore the transition from an informal to a formal infrastructure as a process that promoted the participation of publics in the sustainability of these infrastructures. While these projects are covered by democratic values, Community Television has been also pushed into competition through a set of rules that restrict their operation. More importantly, to keep their legal status, Community Television must produce a specific number of hours to prove their community outreach. In focusing on how Community Television have handle this requirements, I consider the affective labor of maintenance, which involve technical aspects on maintaining obsolete technologies, but also multiple legal strategies to sustain them.
10. Digital Media and Creative Democracy in Popular Music Culture
Haekyung Um, University of Liverpool, “Aesthetic and Political Values of Pop in the Age of Digital Media: The Polemics of Entertainment and Political Representation of BTS and Diverse Roles of Audience Participation”
11. Emergent Forms of Educational Media
Isabel Castellanos, University of Massachusetts Amherst, “Maker Culture, Literacies and Identities: Insights from an Afterschool Makerspace”
Dan Ehrenfeld, Stockton University, “Public-Engaged Pedagogy and the Fifth ‘Position’ on Digital Democracy”
Sarah Wolter, Gustavus Adolphus College, “Teacher Training in Critical Media Education”
The concentric framework covers four areas, though each interconnect. The innermost circle is semiotic analysis of text (audience, message, meaning, context) and visuals (how production elements create meaning) (Center for Media Literacy, n.d.; Hobbs & Moore, 2013). The second circle is platform, the means by which people consume messages. In social media, interactivity enables users to be media producers, though they’re influenced by cognitive and behavioral factors (Callahan, 2019), algorithms, infrastructure, and privacy (Andrejevic, 2009). The third circle is media systems, the relationship between regulation, economy, media, and technology companies. In the U.S. media system, political economy analysis reveals shifting power from oligopolistic media conglomerates distributing information to technology companies facilitating sharing of information with varying degrees of responsibility for content and effects. The fourth circle is political systems, the relationship between citizens, government, and information. In the U.S., citizens require access to information influenced by the other areas to participate in democracy (McChesney, 2013).
These four areas represent the most influential aspects of the contemporary media landscape (Garcia, Seglem, & Share, 2013) and should be required knowledge for comprehensive critical media education for teachers. Critical media literacy pedagogy empowers teachers to train citizens to engage in democracy amidst constantly evolving technologies (Butler & Ladd, 2016; Funk, Kellner, & Share, 2016; Mason, 2014).
Peter Kaufman, MIT , “Toward a Benign Ecosphere for Education”
Results: After one year of implementation, CO+INCIDE connects more than 200 institutions and 600 key actors from 19 countries. Various activation strategies for virtual collaboration have proven to be effective: reflection webinars, working groups, and local ecosystems articulators.
12. Counter Publics, Performance, and Media Activism
Tony Tran, Boston College, “Asian American Media Activism Gone Global”
The research reflected the evolution of the sociopolitical debates, and the political transformations emerged in the Greek crisis context (anti-/pro- austerity debate to the euro- vs-drachma/or grexit discussion, the anti-/pro-governmental debate, and the anti-/pro- European discourse). The pre-crisis era and discourse online, had already indicate the debates, which later, shaped the crisis discourse online and offline. Then, the SYRIZA network rides the mobilization wave of Aganaktismenoi, offering a platform and promising representation of all the included actors. During the referendum. polarization helped to the formation of less fluid identities online and offline, which further developed focusing on the division between the political Us and Them. In the crisis context, the internet used a magnifying glass, pointing out conflict, opposition and supporting polarization.
Sriram Mohan, University of Michigan, “Region as Nation?: Hashtag Counterpublics and Subnationalism in South India”
This paper seeks to critically evaluate the counterpublics of #DravidaNadu to comprehend the discursive framing of a stated opposition to a religiolinguistic (Hindu – Hindi) nationalist hegemony. Through analysis of media practices and narratives of online actors coalescing around #DravidaNadu on Twitter, the paper charts the possibilities and contradictions animating the digital mediation of such subnationalist projects. It also foregrounds the intermediality that shapes the circulation of these narratives by analyzing television news coverage of #DravidaNadu and situating it in relation to longstanding debates about democracy, self- determination and sedition. Thus, it demonstrates how a focus on contentious politics around regional belonging can nuance our understanding of media landscapes in democracies in South Asia and beyond.
3:00 PM to 3:15 PM
3:15 PM to 4:45 PM
Elena Maris, Microsoft Research New England, “Activist Audience groups and Tactical Publicness on Facebook”
Victor Pickard, University of Pennsylvania, “Can Journalism Survive the Age of Platform Monopolies?”
Kaarina Nikunen, Tampere University, “Desperately Seeking the Public Interest in the Platform Era”
15. Censorship and Digital Media Across Contexts
Celine Liao, University of California, Berkeley, Siqi Feng, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Kimo Lei, University of Sydney, “Activist Potential of Popular Literature? Gender Politics, State Censorship and Online Literature Audience in China”
Previous scholarship on popular literature often focuses on interpretation of specific texts or genres that lacked consideration of content creators’ agency and cross-genre comparison. To bridge and fill in this gap, we will conduct (i) a survey to examine how different levels and types of online literature readership and authorship affect attitudes and practices on gender & sexual politics, market, and state censorship, (ii) in-depth interviews and ethnographic fieldwork to investigate how participants engage or/and disengage within and beyond their local production/consumption under the pressure of capital appropriation, social discrimination and state regulation. This project will be the first comparative, cross-genre study on Chinese popular literature. It serves as an effort to further understand the characteristics of culture-producing industries in China, the patterns of interactions between the popular culture, civil society, and the state, the diversification of civil participation and social control in the Information Age.
Irina Kalinka, Brown University, “Censorship & Personalization: Two Models of Digital Public Speech”
(2) The personalization model has more recently gained prominence in relation to individualized online information filtering and is associated with algorithmic optimization and disinterested curation for personal relevancy. It is related to spatial metaphors of shaping order out of chaos, as well as proximity. Relevancy is determined by the close and/or appropriateness of information to the individual in their particularity and in the face of massive information availability.
Ece Gurleyik, Pratt Institute, “Facebook Governs: Censoring Kurds in the Age of Content”
Jun Liu, University of Copenhagen, “Multimedia censorship deletion in social media – The case of Chinese Weibo”
16. Platforms, Publics, and Populisms
Macy Dunklin, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, “Defining the U.S. Policy Issues Webpage with a Contrastive Analysis”
Tiziano Bonini, University of Siena, “Public Service Media (PSM) in the age of platform society: from PSM to ‘ convivial’ Public Service Platforms”
Joaquín Serpe, Concordia University, “The Work of the Public Intellectual in the Age of Digital Populism”
I will thus examine the (counter-) hegemonic potentialities of social media, from both a North- and South American perspective, by analysing the online cultures formed around left- wing philosophers Slavoj Žižek and Argentine Darío Sztajnszrajber. Both intellectuals have established themselves as popular pedagogues through their work in cinema and television, all of which is profusely circulated online. By using Thomas Lamarre’s notion of platformativity – “a kind of performativity via platforms” (2017), I analyse users’ interactions such as video and image reposts, and meme-sharing to elucidate the relationship between platform and human I argue that this relationship, based on repetitive and simple operations, generates an affective connection between users and technology, that also fosters a sense of closeness – even intimacy – between the philosophers and their followers, ultimately consolidating an online populist left-wing community.
17. Brazil and Elections, 1988-2018
Eduardo Campos Pellanda, André Fagundes Pase & Mágda Rodrigues da Cunha, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS), “Whatsapp as a backchannel for the contemporary Brazilian city”
David Nemer, University of Virginia, “More digital citizens for a better democracy? The Case of Brazil’s Election and Bolsonaro Supporters in WhatsApp Groups”
18. The Power of Fandom
Simone Driessen, Erasmus University Rotterdam, “‘For the greater good’ – Vigilantism in online pop culture fandoms”
Fans form a very devoted audience, but if the tide turns they also might become the
most vocal critics. This study focuses on those ‘critics’- who express themselves
vocally and visibly online, colloquially referred to as ‘toxic’ fans. But are they ‘toxic’
fans, or are they vigilantes fighting ‘for the greater good’?
vigilantism, to be interpreted as the process where citizens collectively take (online)
action against others they are offended by. Therewith this study brings the fields of
surveillance- and fan studies together. Moreover, it illustrates how modes and
practices of vigilantism are empirically manifest in online pop culture fandoms.
It does so through scrutinizing the Harry Potter spin-off series Fantastic Beasts
and its fans. A content analysis of Tweets and news articles related to developments
in the franchise and the release of the movie(s) reveals how these fans denounced
and shamed ‘domestic abuser’ Johnny Depp’s involvement in the movies. Likewise,
producers David Yates and J.K. Rowling were publicly called out for not taking
position against Depp.
Although the fans’ actions did not lead to bullying an actor offline (which happened to
Star Wars’ Kelly Marie Tran) – or preventing future involvement in the series (e.g.
Kevin Spacey’s case), these opposing views might offer a valuable point of departure
to understand challenges and issues like polarization in today’s society.
Reut Odinak, Boston University, “LGBT Fans Deserve Better: Fan Activism in the Digital Age”
the television industry, the internet along with new social media has begun to democratize the relationship between producer and fans. Fans can (and frequently do) exercise their power to enact change. Indeed, fandoms have taken on the mantle of activism, especially in regards to problematic portrayals of minority groups.
By examining fan activism’s history and assessing one current activist group, LGBT Fans Deserve Better, as a case study, I uncover how this movement incorporates older activist strategies with newer technological tools to lobby for the betterment of LGBT representation on television. Furthermore, I assess the creative labor behind television programs and offer a strategy to alleviate problematic portrayals of LGBT characters on screen through diversifying the creative labor which produces these portrayals.
Pilar Lacasa, Julián de la Fuente & Sara Cortés, University of Alcalá, “Participating and having fun: Social networks and civic imagination in young fan communities”
We are inspired by the concept of civic imagination (Jenkins, Shresthova, Gamber-Thompson, Kligler-Vilenchik, & Zimmerman, 2016), that allows us to imagine innovative spaces and places, from the tension fan interactions create with those who seek to guide their practices. Relevant examples are the online and offline communities organised around video games or music celebrities, (Lacasa, Méndez, & de-la-Fuente, 2016).
To achieve the before mentioned objectives we analyse fan communities in Spain organised around the break-through television programme using the traditional television network and broadcast through a , organised as a reality show created by Spanish television. This programme is markedly present on the social networks Instagram and Twitter, which contribute to the formation of fan communities around it. Our analysis combines “big data” (Kitchin, 2014) and “small data” (Boellstorff, 2012; Pink, Horst, Hjorth, Lewis, & Tacchi 2015). This combination enables account to be taken of the context and circumstances in which the practices to be observed, analysed and interpreted take place.
Sarah Christina Ganzon, Concordia University, “Growing the Otome Game Market: Fan Labor, Circulation and Otome Game Communities Online”
This paper looks into the practices of fan blogging in the distribution of otome games outside of Japan. I explore motivations, norms and sets of ethics as discussed by fan bloggers and fan translators within the otome game community. Examining the practice of fan blogging can offer insights on the complex negotiations between fans and game industries to allow the entry of certain niche titles into global markets. While this essay focuses on the practice of fan blogging, this is also part of an ongoing study on otome games in English and otome game players outside Japan.
Results, from both interviews and participant observation, indicate that many fan bloggers perceive their activities as key not only to promoting the games and creating larger audiences for otome games, but also as a way of contributing the discourses and circulation surrounding otome games, especially given the fact many players deem otome games as one of the few games that allow them to enact fantasies that are usually coded as feminine. However
these conditions that allow these niche game communities to grow also reflect how postfeminist media culture influences how agency is uttered and negotiated.
19. Oscars’ So White to Black Panther: Race in a Datafied Era of Hollywood
Has anything changed after the success of Black Panther, Insecure, Empire, Crazy Rich Asians, etc? What is the status of the streaming race and what does it mean to have Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu starting to replace traditional TV networks and/or theatrical distribution? Overall, what does it mean when algorithms are increasingly choosing what we watch?
Moira Griffin, Executive Director of Production and Creative Labs for 21CF Global Inclusion
Tommy Oliver, Producer, Show Runner, Cinematographer for Sony Studios, OWN
Emily Best, Founder and CEO, Seed & Spark
20. Democracy Performed
Rashin Fahandej, Artist and Filmmaker, MIT Open Documentary Lab, Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Andrew Demirjian, Artist and professor. Film and Media Department, Hunter College.
Halsey Burgund, Sound artist and technologist, researcher at MIT Open Documentary Lab
4:45 PM to 5:00 PM
5:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Matthias Rath, Ludwigsburg University of Education, “Are robots “moral actors”?”
However, this does not help us with non-human entities such as robots (or machine intelligences). A machine with defined, rule-based possibilities of communication and action (a “moral actor”) is understood in this paper as a representation of the natural persons who define their rules. Thus, we have to answer some meta-ethical (and ultimately Kantian) questions: Are such rules, which machines must follow, to be understood as action-guiding “rules” at all? What logic of responsibility underlies the actions resulting from such rules? In short: How do machines decide when they make rule-based decisions? What theories are we able to use to understand machine actions as the actions of a “moral actor”? And what does that have to do with ethics?
Netaya Lotze, University of Münster, “Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) in Public Discourse. On the linguistics of information structure in human-computer interaction (HCI)”
These studies show how users interact with online bots in real life scenarios on different linguistic levels – lexis, syntax, information structure, dialogue structure and alignment in interaction – using a quantitative corpus-based approach as well as qualitative analyses based on conversation analysis (CA). We compared the users’ linguistic behavior towards different bots which vary in their complexity from a (micro-)diachronic perspective and the language used by two human interlocutors in computer-mediated communication (CMC) chats.
We found that HCI differs not only from CMC but also intrinsically from user to user and from system to system and also from dialogue sequence to dialogue sequence. Subsuming all these types of interaction under only one register, namely computer talk (Zoeppritz 1985),
may therefore be an overgeneralization, although it is still possible to describe certain general interactional patterns. These patterns in turn form the basis for a functional model of HCI specifically developed as part of this study, taking the constraints of the A.I. into account (e.g. lack of consciousness, lack of creativity, limited access to common ground).
The diachronic comparison showed that many modern users exhibit a more receptive stance in HCI, a passive reception attitude towards the system, and that this in turn is due to highly controllable (and controlled) scripted dialogue-designs. As a consequence, the bot sets the agenda and choses content, which has wide ranging implications for public discourse on the social web, for democratic information cultures and for democracy itself.
The upcoming paper will examine the political dimensions of digital participation using the example of a petition to the German parliament calling for the restoration of and compliance with border controls as before 2015. The theoretical basis of the study is The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (Habermas 1989) and the discussion of political communication as an “echo chamber” (Colleoni et al. 2014; Goldie et al. 2014; Barberá et al. 2015; Garrett 2017). The online commentaries on various digital platforms from YouTube to the German Parliament Channel will be analyzed using content analysis. The following questions should be clarified: Which political spectrum is reflected quantitatively and qualitatively in these comments? Does this correspond to the survey results on political opinion in Germany? What linguistic metaphors can be found in these commentaries and to what extent does this allow connections to historic-political discourses?
Theo Hug & Günther Pallaver, University of Innsbruck, “Robots’ right to vote? Considerations on legal and political consequences of granting citizenship to social humanoid robots”
In terms of normativity, it deals with questions of universal, equal, secret and direct suffrage, for example: Should there be a graduated voting right like in the past? How should the voting age be set? Are there reasons for exclusion? Are robots only entitled to vote or are they also entitled to stand as a candidate? Must their gender be determined, where there are women’s quotas? – Moreover, which findings of socialization and youth research regarding criteria of sanity and eligibility are relevant in this context? Which socio-psychological determinants such as ethnic or denominational minorities are to be considered? Would robots have to pass a “Kant test” (Leschke 2018) to be allowed to vote?
The contribution aims at discussing these questions as well as initial answers.
22. Popular Culture and the Civic Imagination
Ioana Mischie, University of Southern California, ““Tzina: Symphony of Longing”: Using Volumetric VR to Archive the Nostalgic Imaginaries of the Marginal”
Sulafa Zidani, University of Southern California, “Reimagining the Arab Spring: From Limitation to Creativity”
Joan Miller, University of Southern California, “For the Horde: Violent ‘Trolling’ as Pre-emptive Strike Via #Gamergate and the #Altright “
23. Twitter and Politics
Joseph Flores, University of New Mexico, ““Official Statements of the President”: Trump’s authoritarian tactics and the use of Twitter”
The ability to side-step traditional media outlets has provided Trump with a messaging precedent that aggravates authoritarian and populist tendencies. Here, however, I aim to further tease out these behaviors in specific ways using Trump’s tweets aimed specifically at Michael Cohen, the FBI and the Special Counsel’s ongoing investigation into the alleged Russian misinformation campaign. First, in examining these tweets, I will use a theoretical framework centering communicative capitalism thus emphasizing the role of communication in the structure of social relations and social power. Secondly, I provide a deliberate consideration of how distributed media, which emphasizes the social organization of media, and digital media, which emphasizes technological structures and relations, impacts political power. Ultimately, this paper considers the political tactic of authoritarianism that furthers the debate concerning new communication technologies and authoritarianist behaviors of political subjectivities in the context of the United States.
Our findings indicate that politicians tend to behave more according to party ideology rather than their gender identity. However, our research suggests that the digital communication at politicians on Twitter is mainly a function of the politicians’ gender. Namely, tweets at female politicians are covering more personal than job-related words compared to tweets directed at male politicians.
24. Journalism and News Across Cultures
Fatima el Issawi, University of Essex, “Egyptian Journalists and the “Transition” in Practices and Values Post-Uprising: The Ambiguous Journalistic Agency between Change and Conformity”
In my presentation I would like to give a possible answer to this phenomenon. I dare say that Law and Justice Party is the first party in Polish government for years to cultivate so effectively its own fixed image and the sense of ideological unity with and within their voters. The party is able to do it not only because of its majority in the Parliament but mostly thanks to conservative national news programs and newspapers, and the language they use.
Starting from Kenneth Burke’s rhetorical principle of “identification” (Burke 1969) and Michael Calvin McGee’s theory of “the people” (McGee 1975) which is created through a certain kind of rhetoric, I will analyze some examples of news materials, the language of television and the language of the Law and Justice politics to show that they are rather similar, both trying to be the only rational source of knowledge. I will also prove that the terms such as “solidarity”, “sovereignty” and, recently, “hate speech”, which are often used in the conservative television and the press, could be seen as “ideographs” (McGee 1980), words in political discourse which have no specific referent, instead referring to some particular ideology and helping to keep this ideology strong.
Anirban Mukhopadhyay, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, “The shaping of the neoliberal logic of news: Historical shift in technology and the changing nature of news and information in India”
Matthew Graydon, MIT, “Manufacturing Dissent: How RT (Russia Today) Blends News, Soft Power, and Propaganda in the Digital Age”
25. Politics of Digital Places and Spaces
Dario Rodighiero, MIT and EPFL Labs, Alberto Romele, Lille Catholic University, “Digital Habitus: Personalization Without Individuation”
In this presentation, we follow another perspective that we call Bourdieu inside the digital. The focus will be on the effects of some emerging digital technologies on social distinctions and discriminations – for a similar perspective, see the notion of “Übercapital” introduced in Fourcade and Healy (2016).
Our hypothesis is that algorithms of machine learning are habitus producers and reproducers. Although their results present a greater granularity than standard techniques of the past, these algorithms still reduce individuals to categories, general trends, classes, and behaviors. Such a reduction, we believe, has flattening effects on the individuals’ self-understanding, especially in terms of identity and interaction with the (social) world. This is precisely the phenomenon we describe as “personalization without individuation,” whose consequences are both existential and social-political.
This idea will be illustrated through a qualitative and comparative analysis between the visualizations used by Bourdieu in his writings – especially those related to the Multiple Correspondence Analysis (MCA) – and some of those that are performed today in big data analytics.
Hannah Tollefson, McGill University, “Digital prospecting & subsurface logistics”
As this paper outlines, a digital situation is characterized by the circumstance a) that we are not dealing with a discrete location, but a multiplicity of locations that, together, form one place; b) that these locations are constantly changing based on sensory data; and c) that the conceptualization of locations migrates from one digital device to another, without this being transparent or visible to the user in any kind of form. As a consequence, we are dealing with a granulation of locations and situations as these become dependent on sensory data sources. All this underlines that, under the historic and contemporary conditions of geomedia, we have to understand that these kinds of media transform territories and maps into situated geographies.
Civic IDEA is a pedagogical framework for translating public learning to advocacy. IDEA stands for: Investigation of issues, Deliberation on the values framing those issues, Expression of alternative narratives, and Advocacy for change. It is the guiding principle of Beta Blocks, a smart city project in Boston that seeks to involve publics in imagining how technology can transform their places. Beta Blocks creates block-level experimentation zones that encourage publics to explore how technologies might improve their lives. The zones are anchored by the installation of a custom inflatable “Block” in public libraries. The Block hosts rotating technologies for publics to Investigate, Deliberate upon, Experiment with in the public realm, and Advocate (IDEA) for whether, when, and how those technologies manifest in their lives. Block activities include the display of the technology in question, a data exploration portal, invitation to reflect on the technology and data, and opportunities to think creatively about how the technology might provide public value. Interested publics will be invited to join compensated teams that conduct technology experiments in the public realm, and workshops on Data Literacy, Technology and Society, and Experimental Design will support the efforts of those teams. Observational, survey, interview, and focus group qualitative data will be collected from City of Boston staff, project partners, and Beta Blocks participants. This data will be analyzed to understand the civic imaginaries of each stakeholder group. Beta Blocks contributes an innovative method for democratizing the manifestation of technologies in the public realm.
26. Data, Democracy and the Public Interest: Approaches of Policy and Praxis
Hilde Van Den Bulck, Drexel University, “Datafication and Public Service Media: Third Party Tracking, Personalisation and the role of PSM as Trusted Institutions”
This contribution combines data (from documents, surveys and interviews) from a study into algorithmic and other personalisation strategies of 12 European PSM (Van den Bulck and Moe, 2018) and data from a longitudinal (8 months’) analysis of third-party server presence on 34 webpages of 26 European PSM (total of 994 third-party URLs) (Sørensen & Van den Bulck, 2018) to analyse the policies and reality of PSM dealing with issues of datafication in relationship to their core values of universality and privacy. It maps PSM institutions’ take on personalisation along three core axes (linear/analogue to digital/algorithmic, universality-vs-personalisation to universality-through-personalisation, technological optimism to technologically apprehension). It further discusses the overwhelming presence of commercial third-party servers on PSM webpages as a privacy problem in relation to GDPR and, consequently, as a wider trust issue. It concludes with a discussion of how PSM organizations can participate in the web ecology of user data exchange and utilization without infringing on its core values and, ultimately, the audience’s and political trust in the organisations.
Sørensen, J.K. & Van den Bulck, H. (2018) ‘Public Service Media Online, Advertising and the Third-Party User Data Business: A Trade versus Trust Dilemma?’, Convergence, The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, Online first: 1–25.
Van den Bulck, H. & Moe, M. (2018) ‘Universality and Personalisation Through Algorithms: Mapping Strategies and Exploring Dilemmas’, Media Culture and Society, 40(6): 875-892.
These studies suggest that datafication and personalisation have brought numerous challenges for PSM. For instance, do automated solutions create the kind of diversity that “manual” decisions in programming would (or should)? Does coding embody the ideals of minority and diversity voices or issues of public interest? Different policies focus on news creation but intertwined issues like filter bubbles and privacy that are involved in wider transformations due to datafication and personalisation extend to the entire range of PSM goals.
This contribution builds on the existing research and focuses on the views of the PSM organizations themselves by drawing on the personal semi-structured in-depth interviews with key practitioners at ARD (Germany), BBC (United Kingdom), Yle (Finland), and the European Broadcasting Union. It analyses concrete examples how digital technologies and datafication are used by public media in their engagement with audiences while researching their own perceptions of related challenges of legacy principles of public service broadcasting, with conceptual opposition between personalisation and universality.
Phillip M. Napoli, Duke University, “User Data and the Public Resource Rationale”
Respondent: Kaarina Nikunen, University of Tampere
27. The Revolution Will Not Be Digitized
Elizabeth Losh, William & Mary College, “Emoji Democracy: Digital Literacy and Political Communication”
Dave Karpf, George Washington University, “Is the Pace of the Digital Revolution Slowing Down?”
Ethan Zuckerman, Center for Civic Media, MIT, “Unreal”
6:30 PM to 7:30 PM
WIEsner Building – E15
Upper and Lower Atriums
Saturday, May 18, 2019 (Day 2 of 2)
Registration & Coffee
8:30 AM to 9:00 AM
WIEsner Building Lower Atrium
9:00 AM to 10:30 AM
28. Analyzing the Power of Facebook
Niall Docherty, University of Nottingham, “Facebook’s ideal user: Social capital and the politics of well-being online”
As a business, Facebook seeks to nurture infinite target markets for unbeatable precision advertising. As social media becomes a ubiquitous public utility, much of our personal interactions are touched by Facebook’s logic of marketing and commercial promotion. Contemporary identity politics – which flourished as a community organizing principle in 1960s civil rights movements – are distorted by social media’s calculated environment. I call this a shift to identity economics, which are in fact a new mutation of a very old ontology. Following Sylvia Wynter’s analysis (2003), the economic measure of human worth is a colonial definition derived from Christian notions of original sin. Calvinist binaries of good and evil haunt neoliberal individuation – as Max Weber (1905) argued, Christianity is the spirit of capitalism.
My paper draws on political economics and religious sociology to combine an analysis of Facebook’s business model with a Christian genealogy of identity politics, as the driving cultural force behind Facebook’s lucrative business of anxiety and intolerance.
The data come from open-ended survey responses and interviews with samplings of participants in a large-scale experiment and follow-up survey in which people were paid to deactivate Facebook for either 24 hours or four weeks. In a dataset from approximately 1800 respondents, one of the most common themes was a new intent to approach Facebook mindfully.
We qualitatively identify the “disconnective practices” (Light, 2014) users report upon reactivation, practices they intend to keep, and barriers to disconnection they face. Newly aware of what they see as their own shortcomings, those of the platform, and possible harms from exposure to advertising and political and personal drama of the newsfeed, these users report seeking alternate news sources, logging in only to check responses, looking only at groups and avoiding the newsfeed, limiting where and on which devices they use the platform, and more. Users also report using mindlessness more mindfully as they now recognize the utility of the boredom-alleviating mindless scrolling of which they were previously unaware.
However, Facebook is designed to make its bonds difficult to cut (Karppi, 2018). Our respondents encounter disconnection challenges, including the use of captivation metrics (Seaver, 2018), needing their Facebook login to access games and apps, the calls of friends and family (Portwood-Stacer, 2013), and, perhaps most perniciously, their increased dependence on Facebook for earning income and doing their work. In sum, we point to understanding Facebook as comprised of varying practices with different implications for mindfulness, mindlessness, and possibilities of departure.
Kimberly Hall, Wofford College, “Social Media Scandal and the Moral Black Box”
The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency has ushered in a dramatic change in the way that we talk about democracy and political participation. These debates have included conversations about the failure of both traditional news outlets to adequately depict the dangers of the Trump presidency and, more crucially, the more widespread problem of media literacy, the idea that millions of Trump voters were “duped” into supporting him, whether that entaile