In favor of a critical approach to the digital world
Wow! I’ve found the Global Media Forum really interesting so far. The first thing that stood out to me was the diversity on display – people from lots of different countries mix at the conference, some in suits, some more casual or in business wear. There are lots of colorful dresses, men from Africa in robes and women in headscarves. The clothing is just an outer signal of how many cultures are represented here. And in the middle of it all are my fellow bloggers and me.
Emmy, Hellgurd, María and I met up for the first time here. But I have the feeling that we’ve known each other for a while now. We’ve given each other insights into our lives and the educational systems in our countries here in the blog, so we’ve gotten to know each other a bit along the way. But it’s a real shame that visa problems prevented our fifth blogger from being here: Pavel was unable to leave Russia.
As I mentioned in my last entry, I went to a workshop yesterday that discussed how algorithms influence contemporary education and worldviews. At the podium were Falk Lüke, Mercedes Bunz and Marc Jan Eumann (State Secretary in the Ministry of Federal Affairs, European Affairs and Media of North Rhine-Westphalia). All three had interesting information to present, and the audience had plenty of comments and questions.
I especially liked Bunz’s idea that, with the Internet, we have created an additional public space, but until now, this space has primarily been shaped by economic interests. I think she gets at an interesting point there. Of course there are lots of publicly sponsored content providers on the Internet, but they often play a smaller roll, largely because they don’t offer their own search engines that could provide an alternative to Google. Would it be possible to have a publicly financed search engine? After all, here in Germany we have public broadcasters that offer an alternative to private stations.
But instead of giving the state the task of developing algorithms that deliver search results, I found Eumann’s approach better. Being aware and critical are just as important online as they are in the analog world. Schools could support these values by putting information online that helps people understand power structures and interests better – including those of Google or even of traditional newspaper publishers, for example.
Critical analysis of these topics and of technology in general is very important, which Bunz also discussed, saying that although we continue to conceive of technology as the “other,” it is constantly with us. Conferences like the Global Media Forum are a great way to take up this topic, and the opportunities for international exchange are especially good.
The global exchanges taking place here in Bonn are really extraordinary. At a workshop yesterday afternoon, the participants were from India, Malawi, Colombia and North America! Everyone talked about their experiences with free radio programs that are co-produced by lay people. These programs provide important information. Since many people take part in the production process and get to have a say in the programming, the interest in the result is much higher, and listeners find the statements contained therein more trustworthy.
Charles Simbi of Story Workshop Educational Trust presented a “message matrix.” It’s a systematic table in which, for example, one can work out the topics that should come up in radio programming for a given community – and how these topics should be presented. The tool is structured for topics that have social advantages for the community, such as medical help during pregnancy. I think we can learn a lot from practical tips like the message matrix and that we should try to incorporate them into other projects.
DateJune 26, 2012 | 6:00 pm