Special Issue on “Mediatization and Human Machine Communication”

ZeMKI member Prof. Dr. Andreas Hepp, together with Göran Bolin, Andrea L. Guzman and Wiebke Loosen, has published a special issue on Mediatization and Human Machine Communication in the journal Human-Machine Communication. This issue includes a selection of five articles that were submitted via a call for papers last year. The editorial provides an overview of the key topics examined in the issue and highlights the overlap between Human Machine Communication (HMC) and mediatization.

Abstract of the Editorial:
As research fields, mediatization and Human-Machine Communication (HMC) have distinct historical trajectories. While mediatization research is concerned with the fundamental interrelation between the transformation of media and communications and cultural and societal changes, the much younger field of HMC delves into human meaning-making in interactions with machines. However, the recent wave of “deep mediatization,” characterized by an increasing emphasis on general communicative automation and the rise of communicative AI, highlights a shared interest in technology’s role within human interaction. This introductory article examines the trajectories of both fields, demonstrating how mediatization research “zooms out” from overarching questions of societal and cultural transformations, while HMC tends to “zoom in” to approach the concrete situatedness of the interaction between humans and machines. It is argued that we need to combine both perspectives to better understand how the automation of communication transforms the social construction of culture and society. This article offers an overview of the key themes explored in this thematic issue, highlighting the productive intersection of HMC and mediatization within each article. Additionally, it identifies potential avenues for future research emerging from this fruitful intersection.

The articles:

  • Christian Katzenbach, Christian Pentzold, and Paloma Viejo Otero“Smoothing Out Smart Tech’s Rough Edges: Imperfect Automation and the Human Fix”
    To the article
  • Giovanna Mascheroni“A New Family Member or Just Another Digital Interface? Smart Speakers in the Lives of Families with Young Children”
    To the article
  • Göran Bolin“Communicative AI and Techno-Semiotic Mediatization: Understanding the Communicative Role of the Machine”
    To the article
  • Simone Natale and Iliana Depounti: “Artificial Sociality”
    To the article
  • Leopoldina Fortunati, Autumn P. Edwards, and Chad Edwards“The Perturbing Mediatization of Voice-based Virtual Assistants: The Case of Alexa”
    To the article

Lecture by ZeMKI Member Prof. Dr. Andreas Hepp at the myGender Project Conference

ZeMKI member Prof Dr. Andreas Hepp gave a lecture on February 26, 2024 entitled “What do we know about our digital futures? Pioneer communities, artificial intelligence and sustainability!” at the University of Coimbra at the last conference of the “myGender” project.

Since the 1970s, our ideas of how we imagine technologized futures have been shaped by pioneer communities, especially from and with reference to Silicon Valley: The Whole Earth Network has, among other things, provided ideas on how to better organize coexistence with “virtual communities”—and the network has contributed significantly to the fact that “labs” are considered the place where “being digital” is emerging in the present. The Artificial Intelligence Movement has been talking about the possibility of a new human-machine symbiosis since the 1980s. The idea of a datafied society was advanced by the Quantified Self movement, that of a new, decentralized economy with close links to a redefined craft by the Maker movement. And today’s imaginaries of using technology for a more sustainable society can be traced back to the Whole Earth Network and are currently supported by the Solarpunk movement.

But what exactly are these pioneer communities? How do they relate to each other? What characterizes their imaginaries? And why do they have such an importance in newly awakened societal discourses about possible futures? In my talk, I will take up these questions and show that if we explore the imaginaries of technologized futures, we almost inevitably end up with pioneer communities.

Congratulations, Dr. Irene Broer!

Researcher Irene Broer has successfully defended her dissertation.

Irene Broer presented the findings of her four years of research in the HBI library in front of colleagues, friends and her family who had traveled from the Netherlands. “Science Communication in Flux” is the title of her thesis. In this work, she examined new communication intermediaries in the field of tension between science and journalism. A central part of the research involved spending several weeks in the editorial office of the Science Media Center Germany (SMC) in Cologne, during which Irene Broer gained an insight into the work of editors as a participant observer.

In the five articles comprising her cumulative dissertation, she describes the working routines of the Science Media Center Germany, the ruptures in these routines and the various brokering roles that this organisation took on between science and journalism during the COVID-19 pandemic. Conceptually, she proposes the study of science communication as a communicative figuration and offers cultural anthropological perspectives on hybrid newsroom ethnography as a method.
The presentation was followed by a discussion with the commission, consisting of Uwe Hasebrink, Simone Rödder (Universität Hamburg) and Judith Möller as the chair. The committee was so impressed by Irene Broer’s presentation and her ability to convey her research that they awarded the defence the distinction of “summa cum laude”, with an overall grade of “magna cum laude”.

Lecture by Andreas Breiter at Oxford University on the Opportunities and Risks of Communicative AI

On January 15, 2024, ZeMKI member Prof. Dr. Andreas Breiter gave a lecture on current research projects at Oxford University. The event was organized by the Department of Education and the Oxford Internet Institute (OII). Particular emphasis was placed on the digital transformation of education, especially with regard to the potential of artificial intelligence.


Challenges of communicative AI in education

Education has been a testbed for new developments in Artificial Intelligence since its beginnings in the 1950s. After years of slower progress with Intelligent tutoring and adaptive learning systems, the advent of communicative AI such as ChatGPT revitalised the concepts of automated feedback to support individualised learning. Education research has shown that feedback can improve learning, particularly formative feedback. Based on a prototype of an automated feedback system for multimodal learning results in higher education settings, the presentation will address challenges of designing and implementing these systems. These range from questions about biases in the data and the models to regulatory aspects (about privacy and copyright) and its organisational embedding. And with the automation of communication in teaching and learning settings, the roles of teachers, learners and technologies will be re-assigned.

Link to the slides

Call for Papers for Special Issue of merzWissenschaft: “Media, Media Concepts and Public Audience in the Digital Transformation”

Submission deadline for a special issue of merzWissenschaft on “Media, Media Concepts and Public Audience in the Digital Transformation” ends on January 24, 2024. ZeMKI member Prof. Dr. Andreas Hepp is co-editor.

The special edition of merzWissenschaft is published every December. This issue is dedicated to just one current topic, which it examines comprehensively and from different angles from a scientific perspective. The sections – spektrum, medienreport, publikationen, kolumne – are omitted here. The deadline for submitting abstracts is January 24, 2024.

The mediatization and digitalization of everyday worlds mean that media activities are no longer subject to boundaries. As a result, it is theoretically and practically impossible to use a classic concept of media to research and address media education for delimited parts of life time (TV time, radio time, Internet/PC time). Media, media-mediated relationships and non-media relationships converge, online and offline activities can often no longer be separated, as is made clear by terms such as ‘image activity’ or ‘information activity’. At the same time, the concept of media is essential in the formulation, design and application of central concepts of the discipline – for example, in determining the relationship between concepts of media literacy and concepts of digital literacy – and has implications for the goals and methods of (media) educational practice.

In order to discuss the question of an appropriate concept of media, media education seeks an exchange with its neighboring disciplines, above all communication and media studies, but also sociology, political science and philosophy, law as well as computer science education and other technological sciences. Theoretical and empirical contributions that can provide information on the requirements and determinants of a currently appropriate concept of media and related issues are welcome.

Abstracts with a maximum length of 6,000 characters (including spaces) can be submitted to the merz editorial team (merz@jff.de) until January 24, 2024 (extended submission deadline). Formally, the contributions should be based on the layout specifications of merzWissenschaft, which are available at https://www.merz-zeitschrift.de/manuskriptrichtlinien/. The length of the journal articles should not exceed a maximum of approx. 35,000 characters (including spaces). If you have any questions, please contact Susanne Eggert, phone: +49.89.68989.152, e-mail: susanne.eggert@jff.de

The complete Call for Papers is available here.

New Publication by ZeMKI Members Adrian Roeske and Andreas Breiter together with Colleagues

The claim to measure education is as old as teaching and learning processes have been offered and organized in an institutionalized form. The aim was and is to improve and optimize learning and education. The central hope is to be able to better support individual learning through the collection of data and the use of metrics. This measurement has gained momentum through the various PISA studies of the last 20 years and will continue to increase due to the possibilities of processing digital data of all kinds.

This new anthology takes a critical look at the datafication of education through contributions from interdisciplinary perspectives. The results are based in part on the research conducted as part of the joint project “All Is Data”, which Prof. Mandy Schiefner-Rohs (RPTU Kaiserslautern-Landau), Prof. Sandra Hofhues (Fernuni Hagen) and Prof. Andreas Breiter (ZeMKI and ifib) carried out with their teams. On the other hand, guest contributions were invited to broaden the diversity of perspectives.

Doreen Büntemeyer, the ZeMKI members Prof. Dr. Andreas Breiter, Adrian Roeske and the former ZeMKI member Dr. Irina Zakharova are involved. The publication is available in Open Access.

Link to the book