Presentation Title

The Case for Computation in Critical Media Literacy

Biographical Sketch

Deborah Brennan lectures in the School of Multidisciplinary Technologies at Dublin Institute of Technology. Dr Harry Browne is Senior Lecturer in the School of Media at Dublin Institute of Technology and is the author of books including The Frontman: Bono (In the Name of Power (Verso, 2013) and Public Sphere (Cork University Press, 2018).

Type of Presentation

Individual presentation

Brief Description of Presentation

This presentation draws upon the authors' experience of founding a new transdisciplinary Centre for Critical Media Literacy in an important institution of higher education. It argues that critical media literacy is enriched by the participation of computer scientists, and finds too that that in addition to the new understandings they bring, those scientists benefit both from the abundance of media data, and from the critical approaches drawn from radical traditions in humanities and social science.

Abstract of Proposal

This paper documents the early stages of a transdisciplinary project to integrate an in-depth understanding of computational science in a programme of research and outreach in critical media literacy. The authors, one a journalist and media scholar and the other a theoretical physicist who teaches mathematics and software engineering, are the co-founders of a ‘Centre for Critical Media Literacy’ in the institution of higher education where they are lecturers. In the centre’s founding conference and in its first publications and seminars, they have, with colleagues and research students, sought to demonstrate that a truly contemporary critical media literacy can be built upon knowledge of the evolving processes and parameters of computation. In an era of surveillance capitalism, in which Big Data partners with intrusive state power, critical scholars in this field should seek to understand, and to teach about, e.g.,algorithms, machine learning, blockchain technology, natural language processing, textual analysis, quantum computing, data mining, and security in the cloud. The authors analyse common misunderstandings in public discussion and scholarship about these issues, and argue that public understanding of, and capacity to respond to, crises and developments in media production, consumption, interaction and distribution will be enhanced by collaborative engagement. Rather than ignoring technology, and without succumbing to facile technological determinism of either utopian or dystopian hue, students and publics should be enabled to address the complex relations of content and medium, and to challenge with confidence the pretences of trustworthy competence and powerful inevitability that legitimate the neoliberal masters of the digital universe.

Start Date

2-24-2018 1:10 PM

End Date

2-24-2018 2:40 PM

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Feb 24th, 1:10 PM Feb 24th, 2:40 PM

The Case for Computation in Critical Media Literacy

This paper documents the early stages of a transdisciplinary project to integrate an in-depth understanding of computational science in a programme of research and outreach in critical media literacy. The authors, one a journalist and media scholar and the other a theoretical physicist who teaches mathematics and software engineering, are the co-founders of a ‘Centre for Critical Media Literacy’ in the institution of higher education where they are lecturers. In the centre’s founding conference and in its first publications and seminars, they have, with colleagues and research students, sought to demonstrate that a truly contemporary critical media literacy can be built upon knowledge of the evolving processes and parameters of computation. In an era of surveillance capitalism, in which Big Data partners with intrusive state power, critical scholars in this field should seek to understand, and to teach about, e.g.,algorithms, machine learning, blockchain technology, natural language processing, textual analysis, quantum computing, data mining, and security in the cloud. The authors analyse common misunderstandings in public discussion and scholarship about these issues, and argue that public understanding of, and capacity to respond to, crises and developments in media production, consumption, interaction and distribution will be enhanced by collaborative engagement. Rather than ignoring technology, and without succumbing to facile technological determinism of either utopian or dystopian hue, students and publics should be enabled to address the complex relations of content and medium, and to challenge with confidence the pretences of trustworthy competence and powerful inevitability that legitimate the neoliberal masters of the digital universe.