26 May 2017 New technologies: An ongoing debate
“Reforming the World” is the theme of the latest issue of WACC’s international journal Media Development.
Marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, authors explore different aspects of how mass media and, more recently social media, can be said to be transforming the world we live in.
“By their very nature new technologies raise questions that previous generations had not considered. Each generation develops its own tools, ethical practices, and means of assessment for communication – basically for an ecosystem that has reached equilibrium,” writes Paul A. Soukup in an article titled “A shifting media ecology: What the age of Luther can teach us”.
Soukup goes on to warn, “However the older tools, practices, and means may not fit when the new arrives. Not surprisingly, people have trouble predicting what might happen and even more trouble faced with evaluating something new that presents a great number of affordances, that is, sets of possibilities and opportunities to do many different things.”
Taking a contemporary approach, Philip Lee, the journal’s editor, contributes an article on “Ten theses knocking on the door of public communication”. Noting WACC’s contribution to the democratisation of communications, Lee notes that:
“One of the pillars of communication rights is the imparting and exchange of information and knowledge, which are essential to tackling issues related to poverty, health, education, politics, governance, gender equality, the environment and the use of new technologies.”
He concludes with ten theses “illustrative of communication rights that everyone might reasonably claim as essential to good governance, good citizenship, and democratic accountability.”
In “What does the Reformation mean today?”, Ralf Peter Reimann sees the Reformation as a turning point in European history, but also as a global event. He makes a comparison between then and now:
“Today, we live in an interconnected and interdependent globalized world, a result of a process which started five centuries ago when America was discovered and Spanish and Portuguese ships circumnavigated the world. Again, we are in the middle of a media revolution; it is no longer the printing press but high speed Internet which disseminates information worldwide in a fraction of a second.”
These new technologies have partly created a post-truth era in which false news and fake facts contest traditional news values. In “The post-truth phenomenon: A challenge to WACC”, Fr Benjamin Alforque poses the question: “What does “post-truth” mean in our advocacy for communication rights, access to communication technology, and truth?”
Finally, Domenico Fiormonte reviews “The Digital Humanities from Father Busa to Edward Snowden”. He asks: “Who are we really? Or rather not us, but the creation through our digital footprint of an alter ego that the algorithms of Google or Facebook decree is more ‘true’ than the other (which we mistakenly believe still to exist)… And does it still make sense to investigate the instruments of production and preservation of memories and knowledge when we no longer have any control over them?”
Stimulating questions in what can only be an ongoing debate. Discover more here.