The Changing Dynamics of Public Controversies


An interesting conference coming up next week at Columbia. (Thanks to socializing finance for the link.) Places are limited, registration required. Further details here.

The Changing Dynamics of Public Controversies

With Yochai Benkler (Harvard), Bruno Latour (Sciences Po) & Paul Starr (Princeton)

Friday, Feb. 6 and Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009
At Columbia University

Organized by the Columbia Communications Ph.D. program

This conference will facilitate a conversation about how public controversies play out in today’s changing media environment. What creates controversy? How do controversies “work”? How are the dynamics of controversy altered as the social, technical, and economic parameters of human communication change? Led by three keynote speakers, we will inventory and analyze major perspectives on the character of public controversy today.

Recent years have seen an explosion in the number of platforms that allow publication (many commercial, some not), accompanied by a decline in the relative importance of some of the traditional centers of publicity (network news and newspapers) and the professions formed around them (journalism). Simultaneously, the very material character of what is made public seems to be changing, no longer constrained to the relative fixity of print and broadcast or the ephemeral character of face-to-face interaction in public spaces.

Today, we face a profusion of eminently malleable and remixable but also oddly durable digital products that facilitate not only the transfer of information and its annotation, but also increasingly the development of communities and the pursuit of collective action both on- and off-line.

A select group of discussants and participants from various disciplines will be invited to engage in a discussion of the presentations and a set of concrete cases of recent controversy. Cases taken up may include debates over media reform; the ongoing financial crisis, including the question of when exactly an economic downturn amounts to a recession; and what might (or should) be next for the movement-network that formed around Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

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3 Responses to “The Changing Dynamics of Public Controversies”

  1. Nick Says:

    thanks peter! i’m hoping to go to this, and get my first sight of latour in action!

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