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Digital Media and the Politics of Truths and Forgetting

March 26, 2009

KMDI at 13, Knowledge Media Design Institute Lecture Series in “Digital Media Research and Innovation at the University of Toronto”: Part II


“Whose Right to Know? Information Control and the Politics of Forgetting Past 9/11” by Professor Nadia Caidi, Faculty of Information

Abstract: Access to public (i.e., government-held) information is one of today’s more pressing political issues. In their quest for protecting citizens and enhancing national and global security, governments have increasingly tightened control over the production, management, and diffusion of information. Indeed, the war on terror has been marked by a war on disclosure and dissemination of any information deemed of a “sensitive” nature. In many instances, this trend suggests a shift away from openness and transparency toward secrecy and control. The consequences of such practices are significant for various sectors of society, including the media and publishing sectors, the scientific and academic circles, civil society and ultimately the broader public.

Brief Bio: Nadia Caidi is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Information Studies at the University of Toronto. Her primary research interests are information policy, and the influence of culture on the production, distribution and use of information and its technologies. Nadia’s research on access to information and the public’s right to know in the post 9/11 environment has been awarded two SSHRC grants.

“Digital Dissent Producers’ Conceptions of Truths and the Media” by Professor Megan Boler, Theory and Policy Studies (OISE/UT)

Abstract: This talk explores the motivations of user-generators, or producers of what I term “digital dissent:” political blogs, viral videos, and tactical media. Drawing on interviews and findings from my three-year SSHRC research project, we are tracing how digital user-producers understand, contest, and make their own claims to “truths” within a post 9/11 climate marked by crises of faith in mainstream media and politicians. This talk will address distinctions we have found between the ideals and practices of viral video producers, on the one hand, and bloggers on the other, focusing on tensions between visions of media and democracy, and how web-based media is deployed as digital dissent.

Brief Bio: Megan Boler is Associate Chair of the Department of Theory and Policy Studies, at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Her books include Feeling Power: Emotions and Education (NY: Routledge 1999); Democratic Dialogue in Education: Troubling Speech, Disturbing Silences (M. Boler, ed., Peter Lang, 2004); and Digital Media and Democracy: Tactics in Hard Times (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008). Her web-based productions include a study guide to accompany the documentary The Corporation (dirs. Achbar and Abbott 2003), and the multimedia website Critical Media Literacy in Times of War. Recent publications include M. Boler, Guest Editor with Ted Gournelos, “Irony and Politics: User-Producers, Parody, and Digital Publics,” Electronic Journal of Communication (September 2008).

“Blogs and the Memory Hole: Writing, Reading, and Recapturing History” by Professor Nicholas Burbules, Educational Policy Studies, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Abstract: The Internet is a giant midden of the lost and forgotten, and can be used in all sorts of ways as a resource for investigating the past. But it is also contested terrain, as we have seen repeated attempts, particularly under the Bush administration, to rewrite or erase history. This has sometimes taken the form of changing or deleting web sites; but in many cases the original can be recaptured. In other cases, among politicians of all stripes, current political positions or postures can be easily juxtaposed with previous claims, often with video evidence. Blogs and other media play a central role in documenting these juxtapositions. What is their effect on contemporary politics?

Brief Bio: Nicholas Burbules is Grayce Wicall Gauthier Professor in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Illinois. His research focuses on philosophy of education; critical social and political theory; and technology and education. His major current projects include work on ubiquitous technologies in education; virtual reality; and dialogue and “third spaces.” His most recent book is with Michael A Peters and Paul Smeyers, Showing and Doing: Wittgenstein as a Pedagogical Philosopher (Boulder, Colorado: Paradigm Publishing, 2008). He is also currently the Editor of Educational Theory.

Moderated by Megan Boler
For biography, see previous entry.

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