Technical artifacts as intermediaries?!


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On the interplay between journalism, audience(s) and technology

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Technical artifacts as intermediaries?!

  1. 1. Technical artifacts as intermediariesOn the interplay between journalism, audience(s) and technology Nele Heise, M. A. Hans Bredow Institute, July 26th 2012
  2. 2. Outline1. About me2. Perspectives on the ermergence and role of (media) technology3. Technical artifacts as intermediaries?!4. What now? Heise | Technical intermedaries 2
  3. 3. About meEducation – 2005-2011: Study of Communication Sciences and History at Erfurt University – since October 2011: Junior Researcher at the Hans Bredow Institute – PhD candidate and associated member of the Graduate School Media and CommunicationResearch – Main interests (at the moment): online communication, practices and prerequisites of online participation, appropriation of technology – previous research on World of Warcraft, Wikipedia, GayRomeo, muslim blogs, social movements and cyber activism, ethics of internet research, social aspects of technological change Heise | Technical intermedaries 3
  4. 4. Where to start?research context: DFG funded project „(Re-)Discovery of the Audience“,together with Wiebke, Jan & Juliusinitial ideas for my PhD: „active audience(s)“  what is activity?Dissertation project: media appropriation and participation via technical artifactsas a mode of audience activity, specifically: „radio activity“ I will carry out case studies regarding the radio/broadcasting „dispositif“ and different levels of participation, i.e. conventional radio stations, web radio, community radio, podcasts and amateur radio operatorsToday: focus on my presentation „Making and Shaping the News“ @ InternetResearch 13.0 (October 2012) Heise | Technical intermedaries 4
  5. 5. Theoretical perspectivesThe role of technical artifacts in (media) communication Shortcomings of previous research on the emergence of technology  Technological vs. Social Determinism  Diffusion of Innovation vs. Social Shaping of Technology integrative approaches:  „mutual shaping“ perspective (Boczkowski): simultaneous pursuit of interdependent technological and social transformations, the ongoing character of this process, importance of the historical context in which it unfolds  „molding forces“ of media (Hepp): media exert a certain „pressure“ on the way we communicate – effects of the material structure and the potentiality of action offered by media aren„t direct, they become concrete via certain forms of communication  (technological) objects and things as „actors“ and „participants“ (Latour) – media as „mediators“, to some extent shaping processes of communication Heise | Technical intermedaries 5
  6. 6. Technical artifacts as intermediaries?original meaning:“An intermediary (or go-between) is a third party that offers intermediation services betweentwo trading parties. … Typically the intermediary offers some added value to the transactionthat may not be possible by direct trading.”some functions of (electronic) intermediaries: information aggregating,facilitating and matching, scanning and information processing, gatekeeping andbrokering, knowledge processing and combination/recombination What if we understand technical artifacts as intermediaries between journalism and audience(s)? And what role do these intermediaries play in the processes of producing, distributing, perceiving and processing journalistic content? Heise | Technical intermedaries 6
  7. 7. Technical artifacts as intermediaries!Journalism Audience(s)producing stories e.g. via crowd- Generating content activelysourcing, gathering of audience Technical Artifacts with regard to journalisticmaterial or data-driven storytelling Interfaces products, e.g. discussion Infrastructure boards, re-mixing and mash-distributing content ups or commenting mediae.g. via social media channels and Hardware (devices) content in SNSsearch engines Software (programs) Algorithms processing of news as a socialmonitoring / quantifying audiences experience, e.g. sharinge.g. user rankings on news sites activities, shared spaces Designmutual observation and imitation Function perceiving journalistic products:among media organizations Purpose social navigation, interactive tools, personalized news e.g. RSS-feeds, newsletters Heise | Technical intermedaries 7
  8. 8. An ExampleThe good old „Tagesschau“: From „Ivory Tower“ … Heise | Technical intermedaries 8
  9. 9. An Example… to „Getting in Touch“ and „sharing spaces“ with the News Heise | Technical intermedaries 9
  10. 10. What now?Refining and extending the model and applying it to a case study presentation at this year„s „Internet Research 13.0“ in Manchester Is „intermediary“ the adequate notion? Are technical artifacts able to „act“? (autonomy of technical artifacts) Consequences of technical intermediaries remaining „black boxes“ for both, journalists and users How are technical intermediaries shaping the role of the audience (as consumer, producer, citizen) and participatory practices?  this question is central to my PhD project with its focus on „radio activity“ Heise | Technical intermedaries 10
  11. 11. References• Anderson, Chris W. (2011). Between creative and quantified audiences: Web metrics and changing patterns of newswork in local US newsrooms. Journalism 12 (5), pp. 550-566.• Boczkowski, Pablo J. (2004). The Mutual Shaping of Technology and Society in Videotex Newspapers: Beyond the Diffusion and Social Shaping Perspectives. The Information Society, 20 (4), pp. 255-267.• Boczkowski, Pablo J. (2009). Technology, Monitoring, and Imitation in Contemporary News Work. Communication, Culture & Critique, Vol. 2., pp. 39-59.• Hepp, Andreas (2012). Mediatization and the „Molding Force‟ of the Media. Communications, 37 (1), pp. 1-28.• Howells, Jeremy (2006): Intermediation and the role of intermediaries in innovation. Research Policy, 35 (5), pp. 715-728.• MacKenzie, D., Wajcman, J. (Eds.) (1999). The Social Shaping of Technology. 2nd ed. Buckingham/Philadelphia: Open University Press.• Nielsen, Rasmus K. (2012): How Newspapers Began to Blog. Recognizing the Role of Technologists in Old Media Organizations‟ development of New Media Technologies. Information, Communication & Society, 15 (6), pp. 959-978.• Sarkar, Mitra Barun / Butler, Brian / Steinfield, Charles (1995): Intermediaries and Cybermediaries: A Continuing Role for Mediating Players in the Electronic Marketplace. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 1 (3). Available at: (25 July 2012).• Sarrica, Mauro (2010): ICTs Meanings and Practices: Contributions from the Social Representations Approach. The Journal of Community Informatics, 6 (3). Available at: (25 July 2012).• Schmidt, J. (2011). Das neue Netz. Merkmale, Praktiken und Folgen des Web 2.0 [The New Net. Characteristics, Practices and Consequences of Web 2.0]. 2nd ed. Konstanz: UVK Verlag.• Silverstone, Roger / Haddon, Leslie (1996). Design and the domestication of information and communication technologies: Technical change and Everyday Life. In R. Mansell & R. Silverstone (Eds.). Communication by design. The politics of information and communication technologies (pp. 44-74). Oxford: Oxford University Press.• Thurman, Neil (2011). Making „The Daily Me‟: Technology, economics and habit in the mainstream assimilation of personalized news. Journalism 12 (4), pp. 395-415.• Wehner, Josef (2010). „Numerische Inklusion“ – Wie die Medien ihr Publikum beobachten [“Numerical Inclusion“ – How Media Observe Their Audience]. In T. Sutter & A. Mehler (Eds.). Medienwandel als Wandel von Interaktionsformen [Media Change As Change in Forms of Interaction] (pp. 183-210). Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Heise | Technical intermedaries 11
  12. 12. Thanks for your attention! Nele Heise, M. A. Hans Bredow Institute Warburgstraße 8-10 20354 @neleheise @jpub20team Heise | Technical intermedaries 12
  13. 13. First stepsAn extended model on social aspects of technological change which I elaborated in 2009 Heise | Technical intermedaries 13