Digital Intermediation: Towards transparent public automated media – Jonathon Hutchinson

‘Algorithm’ Image courtesy of Dimitris Ladopoulos 

Friday 8 November, 3.00pm – 4.30pm

MECO Seminar Room, S226, John Woolley Building A20, University of Sydney

RSVP via Eventbrite

The contemporary media ecosystem operates on digital intermediation: it is one that consists of the cultural, economic and expertise capital exchange of cultural intermediation that would otherwise be associated with traditional media, combined with social influencers and large-scale automation. That is, contemporary media is most successful in reaching its desired audience when it engages in digital intermediation that utilises the content production expertise of social influencers who engage the affordances of algorithmic calculations of social media platforms. Youtubers and Instagrammers, for example Zoella, DanTDM, Gigi Hadid or PewDiePie, have all expertly designed their content production around platform characteristics that expose their creative expertise to a large specialist and engaged audience. Bärtl (2018) notes that 85% of all consumed YouTube content is produced by 3% of the top channels, suggesting there is an increasing homogenisation of content diversity across these platforms. It is in this environment where single media producers experience high exposure and impact for their content, while public interest media are struggling to remain relevant. How then, might our public institutions engage digital intermediation to increase the exposure of public interest media?

This presentation will first highlight how successful YouTube and Instagram social influencers operate by defining the function of the Digital First Personality. It will then unpack how automation operates, namely recommender systems, on digital platforms by focussing on the YouTube algorithm through what I argue as digital intermediation. Third it will look at the current state of public institutions engaging digital first personalities and digital intermediation by focussing on the German case study of Funk. Finally this presentation will provide a number of recommendations on how our public institutions can and should be adopting strategies to remain relevant in the contemporary media ecosystem.

Dr Jonathon Hutchinson is a lecturer in Online Communication and Media at the University of Sydney. He is currently a Visiting Research Fellow on the Algorithmed Public Sphere project at the Hans Bredow Institute, Hamburg Germany. His research explores Public Service Media, cultural intermediation, everyday social media, automated media, and algorithms in media. He is the NSW Representative on the Executive Committee for the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA), the Secretary for the International Public Service Media Association, RIPE, and is the current Program Chair for the Association of Internet Research (AoIR). Hutchinson is an award-winning author and his latest book is Cultural Intermediaries: Audience Participation and Media Organisations (2017), published through Palgrave Macmillan.

Book Launch: Sharing News Online – affective capitalism and the motivation to share

Friday 1 November, 3.00pm – 4.30pm

MECO Seminar Room, S226, John Woolley Building A20, University of Sydney

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There is strong evidence that social media news sharing is influenced by people’s immediate feelings about an event or issue, their emotional investments in story sharing and their affective relations with their social networks.

However, it is also shaped by an industrial system of alerts, algorithms and analytics which gives visibility to content that is more likely to trigger strong participatory responses from media consumers. In this presentation, based on her new book with Associate Professor Tim Dwyer, Sharing News Online: Commendary Cultures & Social Media Ecologies, Dr Fiona Martin examines why the concept of affect is critical to understanding people’s everyday decisions to share information on social media platforms, and why Facebook’s ‘emotional contagion’ survey gives us only partial answers to how our feelings are ripe for manipulation online

Based on research conducted with Associate Professor Virginia Nightingale, she will investigate the cultural context and emotional triggers for news sharing, the news values that make stories shareworthy and the feelings that news evokes. In the talk, she’ll discuss the significant gender and age differences in the emotional states that prompt sharing behaviours, and trace clear affective trajectories in the types of stories shared and the intentions for exchanging them. Sharing News Online was the outcome of an ARC Linkage project (LP140100148) with Share Wars & Nine News.

Fiona Martin is senior lecturer in Online and Convergent Media, in the Dept. Media & Communications, at the University of Sydney. Her current ARC Discovery project is Platform Governance: Rethinking Internet Regulation as Media Policy (DP190100222), with Terry Flew, Nic Suzor, Tim Dwyer, Phil Napoli & Josef Trappel.

Tim Dwyer is Associate Professor in the Dept. Media & Communications, at the University of Sydney. He is author of Convergent Media and Privacy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) and a member of the Platform Governance team.

Virginia Nightingale was formerly Associate Professor in Media and Communication, University of Western Sydney. She retired in 2010, but came out of retirement to work on the Sharing News Online study.

Custodians of the Internet: Platforms, Content Moderation, and the Hidden Decisions that Shape Social Media – Tarleton Gillespie

Tuesday August 28, 4pm – 6pm

John Woolley Common Room, N480

John Woolley Building, A20

University of Sydney

RSVP via Eventbrite


Most social media users want their chosen platforms free from harassment and porn. But they also want to see the content they choose to see. This means platforms face an irreconcilable contradiction: while platforms promise an open space for participation and community, every one of them imposes rules of some kind.

 

In the early days of social media, content moderation was hidden away, even disavowed. But the illusion of the open platform has, in recent years, begun to crumble. Today, content moderation has never been more important, or more controversial. In Custodians of the Internet, Tarleton Gillespie investigates how social media platforms police what we post online – and the societal impact of these decisions.

 

“I have been writing about the impact of platforms and the digital transformation for fifteen years,” said Gillespie. “This book explains how content moderation works: how the platforms think of their responsibilities, the way they create and articulate the rules, the labor behind the scenes, and recent efforts to automate it all.” Based on interviews with content moderators, creators, and consumers, this book contributes to the current debates about the public responsibilities of platforms, be it about harassment, data privacy, or political propaganda.

 

Gillespie argues that content moderation still receives too little public scrutiny. How and why platforms moderate can shape societal norms and alter the contours of public discourse, cultural production, and the fabric of society.

 

Tarleton Gillespie is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research New England, part of the Social Media Collective research group. He is an affiliated associate professor at Cornell University, in the Department of Communication and the Department of Information Science. He cofounded the blog Culture Digitally.

He is the author of Wired Shut: Copyright and the Shape of Digital Culture (MIT, 2007), the co-editor of Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society (MIT, 2014); his newest book is Custodians of the Internet: Platforms, Content Moderation, and the Hidden Decisions that Shape Social Media (Yale, 2018).

Gatewatching and News Curation: Journalism and Social Media – Professor Axel Bruns

Friday 24 August 2018, 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

MECO Seminar Room S226, John Woolley Building A20, University of Sydney

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Social media users now engage almost instinctively in collective and collaborative gatewatching processes as they respond to major breaking news stories, as well as in their day-to- day sharing of interesting articles with their social media contacts. Meanwhile, existing media outlets are increasingly seeking to maximise the shareability of their sto ries via social media, and a number of new players are fundamentally built around providing ‘viral’ content. This talk shows how this impacts on news industry practices and approaches. It reviews the practices of everyday users as they engage with the news, and highlights how enterprising journalists have come to connect and engage with such users. It traces the conflicted responses of journalists and news outlets from their early dismissals to gradual engagement with social media, and asks whether, as journalism is subsumed into social media, news outlets can remain distinctive enough to survive.

Prof. Axel Bruns is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and Professor in the Digital Media Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. He is the author of Gatewatching and News Curation: Journalism, Social Media, and the Public Sphere (2018), Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond: From Production to Produsage (2008), and Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production (2005), and a co -editor of the Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics (2016), Twitter and Society (2014), A Companion to New Media Dynamics (2012), and Uses of Blogs (2006). His current work focusses on the study of user participation in social media spaces such as Twitter, and its implications for our understanding of the contemporary public sphere, drawing especially on innovative new methods for analysing ‘big social data’.

See Axel’s research blog here and he tweets at @snurb_dot_info. More details on his research into social media can be found here.