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Digital Intermediation: Automating our Media DIversity through Unseen Infrastructures

Public lecture delivered to the Monash Culture, Media, Economy Focus Program: https://www.monash.edu/arts/media-film-journalism/news-and-events/events/events/digital-intermediation-automating-our-media-diversity

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Digital Intermediation: Automating our Media DIversity through Unseen Infrastructures

  1. 1. DIGITAL INTERMEDIATION AUTOMATING OUR MEDIA DIVERSITY THROUGH UNSEEN INFRASTRUCTURES Dr Jonathon Hutchinson Senior Lecturer Online Communication and Media jonathon.hutchinson@sydney.edu.au @dhutchman
  2. 2. VINCE NEILSTEIN ‘EARACHE’S METALIZER APP AUTOMATICALLY GENERATES CUSTOM METAL PLAYLISTS THAT DRAW FROM ALL THE METAL AVAILABLE ON SPOTIFY, NOT JUST EARACHE RELEASES. USERS CAN ADJUST FOUR SLIDERS — “METAL,” “DEATH,” “THRASH” AND “GRIND,” — DEPENDING ON HOW MUCH OF EACH SUB-GENRE THEY WANT IN THEIR PLAYLIST, AND THEN A FIFTH SLIDER DETERMINING THE NUMBER OF TRACKS IN THE PLAYLIST. PRESS THE “METALIZE” BUTTON AND A PLAYLIST MATERIALIZES BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES.’
  3. 3. Content visibility and cultural production - the case for digital intermediation An overview of digital intermediation - unseen infrastructures Automated (?) processes for online content producers Inherent problems of digital intermediation Digital ability and policy levers, for media diversity through digital intermediation TODAY…
  4. 4. CONTENT VISIBILITY
  5. 5. FOR CULTURAL PRODUCTION CONTENT VISIBILITY Cultural intermediation enables the transfer of value of media texts from one group of stakeholders to another (Bourdieu, 1984; Smith Maguire & Matthews, 2010; Hutchinson, 2017); This value transfer now occurs across digital media devices and processes, often without the input of the user, limiting our capacity for media diversity; Limited media diversity impacts our broader understanding of society; Our contemporary media ecology is multi-staged, multi-faceted content production process; The combination of agents operating in this space is the basis for digital intermediation.
  6. 6. DIGITAL INTERMEDIATION
  7. 7. MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK’S F8 DEVELOPER CONFERENCE, 30 APRIL 2019 THE FUTURE IS PRIVATE. THIS IS THE NEXT CHAPTER FOR OUR SERVICES. I GET THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE AREN’T SURE THAT WE’RE SERIOUS ABOUT THIS. I KNOW THAT WE DON’T EXACTLY HAVE THE STRONGEST REPUTATION ON PRIVACY RIGHT NOW, TO PUT IT LIGHTLY.
  8. 8. STATISTICA, 2019 UNSEEN INFRASTRUCTURES DIGITAL INTERMEDIATION (Cooper, 2019; Statistica, 2020) YouTube - 450 hours of content/minute Twitter - 500 million Tweets/day WeChat - 1.09 billion monthly users TikTok - Annoys Trump Process: platforms > regulation > commercial imperatives > content creators >automated calculations
  9. 9. UNSEEN INFRASTRUCTURES DIGITAL INTERMEDIATION
  10. 10. TECHNOLOGIES DIGITAL INTERMEDIATION Platforms, personal tracking devices, drones, sensors, smart devices Interoperability: ‘interoperability is needed to support seamless and heterogeneous communications in the IoT [Internet of Things]. Achieving interoperability is vital for interconnecting multiple things together across different communication networks’ (Elkhodr, 2016, 86) Interfaces, databases
  11. 11. AGENCIES DIGITAL INTERMEDIATION Between online content producers and platforms Multichannel Networks (MCNs) SME: ‘built upon the technological, networking, and commercial affordances of multiple, rapidly scaling, near-frictionless, global social media platforms—for example, YouTube, Facebook, SnapChat, and Twitch’ (Cunningham, and Craig, 2016) Genuine user engagement A visibility strategy - to move talent from small (micro) audiences towards larger fan bases Microplatformization (Hutchinson, 2019)
  12. 12. AUTOMATION DIGITAL INTERMEDIATION Intelligent technologies (Thomas, 2018), bias/surveillance (Andrejevic, 2019), media literacy (Valtonen et al., 2019) Machine learning, algorithms, recommendation systems Sense-making mechanism (Wilson, 2017; Gillespie, 2016) Political power (Bucher, 2018), bias (Noble, 2018), black-boxes (Pasquale, 2015), homogeneity (Whittaker et al., 2018)
  13. 13. ONLINE CONTENT PRODUCERS Microcelebrities (Senft, 2013; Marwick, 2013) Digital Influencers (Abidin, 2016) Digital First Personalities (Hutchinson, 2019)
  14. 14. IMAGE SOURCE: HTTPS://I.IMGUR.COM/K2Z3MLI.JPG DIGITAL INTERMEDIATION IN PROCESS ONLINE CONTENT PRODUCERS ‘…cultural intermediation describes the process of moving “cultural” information around’ (Piper, 2014, p.248) Digital intermediation can place more value on some content over other: K-pop
  15. 15. PLATFORM POWER (AGAIN) MEDIA DIVERSITY?
  16. 16. DIGITAL INTERMEDIATION PROCESS ONLINE CONTENT PRODUCERS Process-relational philosophy (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987) A state of perpetual exchange, communication, opposition, conversion, translation, inter- dependency (Robinson, 2016)
  17. 17. DIGITAL INTERMEDIATION PROBLEMS
  18. 18. NETFLIX CONUNDRUMS? DIGITAL INTERMEDIATION PROBLEMS OR?
  19. 19. A CALL FOR INCREASED USER AGENCY DIGITAL INTERMEDIATION PROBLEMS
  20. 20. MEDIA DIVERSITY: PLATFORM POWER & DIGITAL ABILITY
  21. 21. ARC DISCOVERY: MEDIA PLURALISM AND ONLINE NEWS - MEDIAPLURALISM.ORG.AU IMPACTS ON MEDIA DIVERSITY PUBLIC AFFAIRS/NON-PUBLIC AFFAIRS If an automated news aggregator favours ‘Group B’ over ‘Group A’, the readership will be less informed - or worse, misinformed.
  22. 22. IMAGE SOURCE: LA TIMES PLATFORM POWER (AGAIN) MEDIA DIVERSITY?
  23. 23. DIGITAL ABILITY MEDIA DIVERSITY? We simply do not understand the vastly varying digital ability of users Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII): Digital Ability ‘understood through the attitudes, skills and activities of individuals, and serve as important measures that either include or exclude users within a digital society’ (Thomas et al., 2018) Public service media is well positioned to build digital ability and guide citizens through the digital intermediation ecology
  24. 24. Bodó, B., Helberger, N., Eskens, S., & Möller, J. (2019, p.218). PUBLIC SERVICE MEDIA HAVE CHARTERS THAT OBLIGE THEM TO EDUCATE, INFORM, AND SUSTAIN SOCIAL COHESION, AND AN ONGOING CHALLENGE FOR PUBLIC SERVICE MEDIA IS INTERPRETING THEIR MISSION IN THE LIGHT OF CONTEMPORARY SOCIETAL AND TECHNOLOGICAL CONTEXT. THE PERFORMANCE METRICS BY WHICH THESE ORGANISATIONS MEASURE THE SUCCESS OF THEIR ALGORITHMIC RECOMMENDATIONS WILL REFLECT THESE PARTICULAR GOALS, NAME PROFITABILITY, LOYALTY, TRUST, OR SOCIAL COHESION
  25. 25. PSM FOR AUTOMATED MEDIA DIVERSITY Helberger (2018), suggests recommender systems can come in the following four manifestations: 1.Liberal Recommender: Informs about politics, shows political alternatives, makes expert citizens smarter, and more broadly provides people with what they want; 2.Participatory Recommender: Maps diversity of ideas and opinions in society, responds to differences in information needs, styles, and preferences; 3.Deliberative Recommender: Nudges to encounter different perspectives, serendipity, activates people to comment, share, engage, like, dislike; 4.Constructionalist Recommender: Nudges people to encounter and acknowledge minority opinions, but also supports finding and engaging with like-minded folk
  26. 26. CONCLUSIONS
  27. 27. Profitability Loyalty Trust Social Cohesion IT!!!!!!
  28. 28. DR JONATHON HUTCHINSON JONATHON.HUTCHINSON@SYDNEY.EDU.AU @DHUTCHMAN

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Public lecture delivered to the Monash Culture, Media, Economy Focus Program: https://www.monash.edu/arts/media-film-journalism/news-and-events/events/events/digital-intermediation-automating-our-media-diversity

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