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New Media, New Publics?

Wenner-Gren Symposium
March 14-20, 2015

"PixelPour" by Kelly Goeller; photo by Benjamin Norman

New media technologies have acquired a significant presence in many parts of the world.The rapid proliferation of such media are reconfiguring the conditions of public life in ways that challenge our conventional models for understanding publics, publicity, and politics. If the concept of the public always included a certain ambiguity between observation and participation, production and consumption, today’s new media environments make the inadequacy of these distinctions strikingly apparent. The growing indistinction between accessing media-based content and providing it (to states and private companies) would seem to be unraveling a certain grid of political and commercial intelligibility, thereby intensifying a general sense of uncertainty, instability, and flux. These anxieties associated with the shifting media landscape, however, are also accompanied by a celebratory embrace of what are seen as new potentials and opportunities as well as new modes of social connectivity and political agency.

Alex Dent (Dept. of Anthropology, George Washington University) describes his experience as a Wenner-Gren symposium participant.
Alex Dent Video Interview


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image courtesy of Christopher Kelty
image courtesy of Christopher Kelty
image courtesy of Sha Xin Wei