Digital Backyards Forum “Diversities”: Public Talk with Jonathan Hofmann, Cristina Pombo, Eleanor Saitta, Thorsten Schilling

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  • “Diversities”: Public Talk with Jonathan Hofmann, Cristina Pombo, Eleanor Saitta, Thorsten Schilling

    The first thread of the Public Talks Program on October 20th focused on “Diversities”, trying to find out what is going on in Europe with regard to alternative network cultures. Before discussing best practice cases of (European) multilingual aggregator platforms, Eleanor Saitta was giving an input on “European Patterns”, pointing out that the media have to go back to original storytelling in order to survive the internet. Thus newspapers have to become a “museum of the recent now”. Here you will find the main thoughts and ideas of Eleanor’s lecture and the following panel discussion with Cristina Pombo of presseurop, Thorsten Schilling of euro|topics and Jonathan Hofmann of Project Syndicate.

    Lecture Eleanor Saitta

    a) Network cultures
    – the internet is changing its shape constantly, thus the internet is what we DO on the internet, the internet IS performance
    – the internet shifts structures: it shows up and says “you don’t look like us”, so it rips this structure (for example an institution) apart and builds it anew, something that looks like the internet
    – the relationship between internet and media: there is going to be nothing that looks like the media as we know it in 25 years, but that’s ok
    – the internet is a different way of organizing humanity

    b) Storytelling
    – the media tells stories, Europe has a very long tradition of storytelling, which existed before institutionalized media came into being
    – to survive the internet the media has to go back to that place
    – news cycle is getting faster, the media cannot win the speed battle, but it can win the battle about storytelling
    – when the media implodes there is a chance that something else and new arises
    – a lot of the media functions are taken over by networks like Twitter and Facebook
    – the deinstitutionalization of the media could also help to undermine the internet monopolists like Google and Facebook
    – the internet is very bad at self-reflection, because it is always happening now
    – new role of media: not a provider of information about the world, rather an interpreter of context over time, a medium of reflection, something complementary to the network
    – media can take over tasks that the network can’t fulfill, provide understanding of the network, because the network cannot understand itself
    – the new role of the newspaper could be: a museum of the recent now

    Conclusion: The internet is going to kill the media, but the media will survive that death.

    c) Discussion: What is “the network”?
    – news is not slowing down again, but is becoming something else
    – understanding the texture of people’s life is more important than who spoke to who in Brussels a moment ago
    – Isn’t Facebook’s Timeline showing the texture of people’s lives? -> No! storytelling also means analysis, a timeline is just data and it is not providing meaning
    – What exactly is meant by “the network”? -> the network, or more specifically network cultures, schematize how we understand our relations with other people, it is a way of performing identity, they frame the way in which we exist and operate and of course are based on technology, we will figure out how it will exactly work on the go
    – What about the dark sides of the network, the abuse of collecting data about people? -> the network is an agent of change, it is not a hero; as long as networks technologically allow abuse they will be abused, so we have to make the networks better
    – How exactly will this in-depth storytelling in the news work? -> the storytelling in the media has to be more poetic, the notion of objectivity has to go away and the personal viewpoint has to be part of the story if you work on a longer lyric timeline

    Presentation and discussion of best practice cases

    a) Projects
    presseurop (presented by Cristina Pombo): an international European news aggregator, which translates news into 10 languages and is funded by the European Comission
    euro|topics (presented by Thorsten Schilling): a European press review for 300 media in 28 countries
    Project Syndicate (presented by Jonathan Hoffmann): an international not-for-profit newspaper syndicate and association of newspapers, which distributes commentaries and analyses by experts

    b) Discussion
    – new situation: Euro crisis has changed the work of euro|topics and projects alike: suddenly there is a European public sphere and the aim of euro|topics is to make the Euro crisis more understandable
    – How successful are these projects? -> we are not successful, but we have to do what we are doing, we have to help people to set up more complex networks and not just rely on their personal stream
    – How could the three projects cooperate since there are obviously common interests? -> limited, e.g. by copyright laws of the different countries

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