Tuesday, May 22, 12:30 pm Berkman Center, 23 Everett Street, Second Floor
What does a public right to hear mean in networked environments and why does it matter? In this talk I’ll describe how a public right to hear has historically and implicitly underpinned the U.S. press’s claims to freedom and, more fundamentally, what we want democracy to be. I’ll trace how this right appears in contemporary news production, show how three networked press organizations have used Application Programming Interfaces to both depend upon and distance themselves from readers, and describe how my research program joins questions of free speech with media infrastructure design. I will argue that a contemporary public right to hear partly depends upon how the press’s technologies and practices mediate among networked actors who construct and contest what Bowker and Star (1999) call “boundary infrastructures.” It is by studying these technosocial, journalistic systems—powerful yet often invisible systems that I call “newsware”—that we might understand how a public right to hear emerges from networked, institutionally situated communication cultures like the online press.
Mike Ananny is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Microsoft Research New England, a Fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and, starting August 2012, will be an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. He researchers social uses of digital technologies, concentrating on how technological, institutional and normative forces both shape and reflect networked journalism and press freedom. He earned his PhD from Stanford University (Communication), his Masters from MIT (Media Laboratory) and his Bachelors from the University of Toronto (Computer Science & Human Biology). He was also a founding member of the research staff at Media Lab Europe as part of the Everyday Learning group. He has held fellowships and scholarships with Stanford’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, the Trudeau Foundation, LEGO Corporation, Interval Research Corporation, and has worked or consulted with LEGO, Mattel and Nortel Networks, helping to translate research concepts and prototypes into new product lines and services.