In one way or the other the current transformation of society is related to media, which are understood to mean organizations, content and technologies. As a consequence, media themselves are gaining increasing relevance in political debates and for political activity per se. Actors like hacker collectives, alternative media or open source movements do not only use media to organize, collaborate and to mobilize, but explicitly center their activities on media-related questions. Pioneer communities like the Quantified Self or Makers movement have emerged as new kinds of collectivities at the crossroads between social movements and think tanks, in their support of new forms of media practice.
At the same time, new initiatives critically deal with media and point to problems caused by current media appropriation. One prominent case is Repair Cafés where people maintain their devices to avoid buying new ones, pointing to the socio-ecological damage the production and disposal of media technologies cause. The number of examples that could be added to this list is constantly growing.What the actors mentioned have in common is that they tinker around with media, tease them apart, explore and modify them. They thematize how media are dominantly used in society and they often influence the way media are constructed and perceived in public discourse. Overall, by putting media at the center of their involvement, they are acting on media. Along with this development, apparently clear distinctions between ‘alternative’ and ‘established’ groups, between ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ tactics, between ‘traditional’ and ‘new’ forms of media-related engagement become blurred. The core idea of this special issue is to bring together empirical analysis and critical reflections on different forms of acting on media.
Sigrid Kannengießer and Sebastian Kubitschko
Acting on Media: Influencing, Shaping and (Re)Configuring the Fabric of Everyday Life
Tilo Grenz and Paul Eisewicht
Variants of Interplay as Drivers of Media Change
Wolfgang Reißmann, Moritz Stock, Svenja Kaiser, Vanessa Isenberg and Jörg-Uwe Nieland
Fan (Fiction) Acting on Media and the Politics of Appropriation
Sarah Myers West
Raging Against the Machine: Network Gatekeeping and Collective Action on Social Media Platforms
Johanna Möller and M. Bjørn von Rimscha
(De)Centralization of the Global Informational Ecosystem
Michael S. Daubs and Jeffrey Wimmer
Forgetting History: Mediated Reflections on Occupy Wall Street
Hilde C. Stephansen
Media Activism as Movement? Collective Identity Formation in the World Forum of Free Media