Technological Takeover? Social and Cultural Implications – promises and pitfalls 

Platforms, technological affordances, algorithms, datafication are part and parcel of the digital transformation and in combination with economic globalisation is changing the terms and conditions for communication. Technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation has been a recurrent theme in many media and communication conferences in recent years and our purpose is to broaden and deepen the perspective. To what extent does a  technological takeover of media and communication exist? Is digital transformation a key driver of societal change in the Nordic countries? To what extent can we talk about a new concept, a Nordic digital welfare state? And what then is the impact on communication systems? What are the technological and digital implications for citizenship? To what extent does this challenge the egalitarianism characteristic of the Nordic nations? Data literacy and digital competence are key skills in the digital welfare state. For instance, do we observe a widening gap between citizens who adopt and adapt to technology and those who are struggling to keep up, and to sustain social, political and cultural capital within the increasingly datafied environment.

Citizens can also utilise and make sense of technology to improve their lives and impact societies through community and trust building, education, democratic participation, and digital activism. How does technology shape civic and personal experiences, identities, and community formation? We also see a development where people establish alternative public spaces with the help of digital technologies. To what extent does this create outsider communities and otherness?  

Nordmedia 2023 will explore if and how technological takeover is taking place and what the social and cultural implications are, both positive and negative. Digital infrastructures require actors to respond to technological takeover by mitigation, resistance such as deplatformisation or adaptation. Technological determinism is a prevalent trend in our societies where, for instance, the abstract concept of AI is considered an universal “fix” for society’s problems. This is problematic and what is needed is a more nuanced approach to the impact of technology where we also explore the inherently human parts of the development. To achieve this, media and communication scholars may have to go beyond their traditional field and engage with other disciplines and media and information industries. They might need to become engaged in the development of responsible and ethical technology, moving their position from examining problems to becoming part of the solution. 

Takeover in itself is a vague concept and there is a need for more empirical evidence on what is actually going on and theoretical reorientations. Are for instance platforms such as Google, Facebook, Amazon Web Services actually “capturing” our societies, including media, communication and journalism, or are we exaggerating the effects? Further, are the platforms themself “captured” by bad actors as we have seen in many countries?

At Nordmedia 2023 we will discuss multiple both historical and future oriented perspectives of technological takeover. The conference theme is broad and inclusive, it can involve aspects, such as how various (old and new) media technologies facilitate and shape intimate, interpersonal and public discourse and experience. The cultural and societal implications of communication technology on representation, emotions and affect, publics, opinion formation and public connection. This includes, but is not limited to, themes such as: digital cultures, screen cultures, digital narratives and ignorance, surveillance and censorship, regulation, disinformation, computational propaganda and fact-checking, disruptive technologies such as blockchain, virtual reality and synthetic media, digital activism, news automation, software applications, newsroom metrics, comments moderation and audience datafication, gamification, data literacy and digital competence/capabilities, ownership and transparency, augmentation of human capacity, emerging communication systems, trolling, meme culture, online abuse and harassment, visual forensics, public relations and strategic communication, social media and platforms, different types of inherent biases such as gendered technologies, as well as innovation and digital product development.