Digital Culture and Communication

The Digital Culture and Communication section of ECREA

Call for Papers 2015

The Digital Culture and Communication Section in ECREA will be hosting the next workshop on “Standards, Disruptions and Values in Digital Culture and Communication” at the University of Salzburg, 26-28 November, 2015. *** We have extended the deadline for submissions to May 25, 2015. Please refer also to the short version of our call:

Call for Papers

Technical and social standards are consistent, formal and informal norms, values or conventions of doing, operating, producing, and/or performing something. As the basis of technical transmission, standards in media allow transferability and interoperability, reduce complexity, and facilitate communication across formats, platforms and boundaries. Their relevance and power become evident with regard to co-existing or competing standards that result in disruptions and interferences, as expressed in the ‘videotape format war’ of the late 1970s or in the ongoing incompatibilities between Apple and Microsoft. But standardisation can also limit diversification and create lock-ins, which restrict future choices and prevent more radical changes. In society, standards generate common understandings and shared meanings, but can likewise be a source of inequalities, discrimination, and forms of exclusion – especially as not all people equally contribute to, or even participate in creating new standards. Media technologies provide standardised patterns of media production. Such patterns, in turn, may encounter a great diversity of publics and audiences, who remix, modify or create alternative narratives and hegemonies.

In digital culture and communication, standards and values are contested in many respects. In the last few years, with the emergence and pervasiveness of the Internet and online technologies, well-established paths in the production and circulation of information have been newly arranged or abandoned altogether. As a consequence, transformations and re-orientations are continuously happening in almost all fields of media and communication, such as media industries, media politics, media usage or journalism. New technological standards, ethical codes as well as narrative and visual canons are appearing in this process – not only with regard to technical systems, but also in terms of audience behaviour, media accountability, production ethics and regulation. In this context, standards also refer to professional requirements, for example, in journalistic writing, broadcasting or media content production.

These new canons, standards and regulations in digital culture and communication are of different type, significance, scale and scope. It is important to critically evaluate the relationship between standards and values in their social, political, technological and artistic dimensions. Such questions include who has the power to define, develop and implement standards? What social values emerge in transformed communication spaces? Which values are attached to standardisation processes in creative industries and how are they related to copyright and patents in technological development? Are peer-production, open-access publishing and free-culture movements different kinds of markets or disruptions to existing models of markets? What is the relationship between technological standardisation and cultural diversity? Are there new canons in storytelling? What is the relationship between people’s creative processes and media and art canons?

Within all these processes, values play a significant role as they provide orientation and guidance for the actions and decisions involved. Through the articulation of values, societies define what kinds of standards are desirable and which ones are less wanted. How do values, technology and media production relate to one another? How are values put on play in technology design, mass media production and popular culture processes of standardization? How can local adaptations of global formats in different communities and cultural backgrounds be regarded as sources of power, agency or new identities?

The workshop aims at collecting papers that analyse standards and values from different angles and perspectives in media and communication research, taking into account disruptions and continuities. The papers should represent the broad diversity of the section with regard to theoretical and empirical approaches. The conference organizers propose the following thematic fields.

A. Technical and Social Standards in Digital Communication and Media

  • How do new technical standards evolve in the media industry? What values guide this process? What does the establishment of new standards mean for older technical systems?
  • How do the diverse pressures to innovate in media industries interact with the resistance to and/or transformation of extant standards, and/or the development of new standards?
  • How is the implementation of new standards negotiated? How and by whom are decisions taken and what modes of intervention exist (e.g. between players like platform operators and users)?
  • How and to what extent are standards in digital culture and communication socially constructed by the media users?
  • What is expected from media users by technological capacities of devices, by industry decisions or politics?
  • How do heterogeneous social practices of users affect or influence technical standardisation?
  • What values guide people’s choice of media, technologies and platforms? What standards and values are people expecting from different media outlets?

B. Visual and Narrative Standards and Disruptions in Digital Culture

  • How are visual standards and codes built? For instance, visualization of data is currently being developed as a field and there are no consolidated visual standards.
  • Ethics and aesthetics of data: How do visual standards influence the comprehension of data in aesthetic, practical and epistemological ways?
  • Remix cultures: Has remix become a standard? Which types of remixes and memes are disruptive? Are there new storytelling formulas emerging?
  • How is the visual developing in digital culture? For instance in the social use of images such as selfies, which types of narratives are emerging?
  • And finally, how all the previous issues are dealt with in terms of digital and visual literacies?

C. Professional Ethical Standards and Disruptions

  • What are current challenges and issues regarding professional and ethical standards in digital culture and communication?
  • How have professional standards and values (e.g. in journalism) changed with the pervasiveness of digital culture and communication?
  • Who is responsible of implementing professional and ethical standards in digital culture and communication?  How and by whom are these standards negotiated?
  • How do ethical codes inform digital culture research?
  • What explicit and implicit norms, frameworks, and/or ethical traditions ground the emergence, interpretation, transformation, and enforcement of and/or resistance to earlier and current standards?
  • Are there emerging developments that offer new and potentially better grounds and frameworks for current and future technical and ethical standards in digital communication and media?

We welcome papers picking up any of the described issues and topics. Extended abstracts should be no longer than 700 words, written in English and contain a clear outline of the argument, the theoretical framework, methodology and results (if applicable). Participants may submit more than one proposal, but only one paper by the same first author will be accepted. Panel and paper proposals from PhD students and early career scholars are particularly welcome.

All proposals should be submitted by May 11, 2015 to Notifications of acceptance will be sent out approx. 4-6 weeks after the deadline. Keynote speakers to be announced.

+++ This call is closed for 2013. Thanks to everyone for submitting your abstracts. We will let everyone know about their acceptance and the preliminary program by the end of July 2013. Please visit the official workshop website at the University of Bonn for updates. The workshop is scheduled to take place October 2 to 4, 2013. +++

Digital Culture: Promises and Discomforts

The ongoing mediatisation process is subject to social transformations as well as technical innovation processes and creative practices. We endorse digital technologies with the promises of a better way of life, solving our problems of managing the world’s complexity, allowing better participatory policies and helping us in our daily life. At the same time, however, we are confronted with the fundamental problems of technological structures, such as the problems of Internet surveillance, control and the unequal distribution of power on the Web. Looking at digital cultures as a driving force of social change, we find ourselves confronted with a variety of contradictory images of digital culture and its possible futures.
In this workshop we want to critically discuss the promises and discomforts of digital culture taking into account the tensions raised by different material practices, understandings and social orders around the role of digital media in performing social change. Special focus lies on the three aspects of Digital Culture:

(1) Digital imaginations and narratives

The images of future are drawn in tecno-scapes, like in science-fiction films, artificial intelligence designs, virtual worlds or metaverses. What kinds of individuals, societies and environments are imagined through the growing pervasiveness of Digital Culture into our lives? How digital imaginaries shape our experience and relate to our ways of narrating ourselves and our creative practices? What are the role of innovation, creative industries and urbanlabs in the design of the future and in the different kinds of social intervention? How digital imagination is performing new narrative forms as well as transforming knowledge production and sharing?

(2) Digital Neighbourhoods and Citizenship

Among the existing networked digital technologies it is smartphones and tablet computers, which are becoming increasingly popular at an extraordinary pace. These devices not only make digital media applications truly ubiquitous but also create an abundance of digital location-sensitive information, which saturates local places, social relations, and the perception and organisation of neighbourhoods. The concept of space turns into a mash-up of  material and digital places, creating new forms of the social while at the same time renegotiating the cultural and political logics of local/global or private/public. How does the use of digital media trigger new social phenomena, such as altered forms and modes of communication, collaboration, consumption, infrastructure, mobility or public service?

(3) Digital Engagement and Social Change

Digital engagement manifests itself in a broad range of digital practices. People discursively engage through and with digital media and thus dissolve spatial, temporal and social boundaries. Especially a few popular commercial social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, are presumed to play a crucial role in the process of social change by means of interaction and connectivity. On a political dimension, citizens and activists voice their opinions, discuss political issues, organize and mobilize for protest in new or alternative public spheres. However, it remains unclear, whether and in which differentiations digital media engagement affects established power relations and thus promotes social change. Which diverse forms of political engagement unfold in digital media environments? How can underlying technological and power structures of media be rendered visible and to what extent do they affect the possibilities and boundaries of digital engagement?

We welcome papers picking up any of the described issues and topics and we will also consider contributions related with digital forms of social intervention, art projects or urbanlabs proposals. Extended abstracts should be no longer than 700 words, written in English and contain a clear outline of the argument, the theoretical framework, methodology and results (if applicable). Participants may submit more than one proposal, but only one paper by the same first author might be accepted. Panel and paper proposals from PhD students and early career scholars are particularly welcome. All proposals should be submitted by May 15, 2013 to Notifications of acceptance will be sent out after June 30, 2013.

Keynote Speakers

We are delighted to announce the following two keynote speakers:

Annette Markham (Umeå University, Sweden) – topic to be announced
Jakob Svensson (Karlstad University, Sweden) will give a lecture on “New Media for Development”

The workshop will take place at the Department of Media Studies of the University of Bonn, Germany, Poppelsdorfer Allee 47, 53115, Bonn. The conference date is October 2nd – 4th, 2013. More information on the conference venue and registration will be published here and at


One comment on “Call for Papers 2015

  1. Pingback: Next DCC Workshop « Digital Culture and Communication

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