Fellow in Research Area 4: "Literary Currencies"
July 2020 – August 2020
'Building Global Community' and Digital Citizenship: Media Literacy in the Age of Digitization
While Mark Zuckerberg does not cease to tout Facebook’s mission to connect the world and build a global community, social networks such as Facebook are increasingly seen as the very opposite, namely as sources of division thriving on hate speech and fake news. This development can be traced back to the company’s own business model, which subsists on user engagement with the site, as well as to the specific modes of communication particular to social networks: information overload, algorithmic filtering, numerical populism, dualistic assessment. The project contrasts Zuckerberg’s manifesto Building Global Community (February 2017) and his Blueprint for Content Governance and Enforcement (November 2018) with the concept of a global community based on the “sharing of Being” by French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy and examines the extent to which hate speech and fake news are inherent to the system of social networks. Against the idea of a ‘global community’ generated via social networks the project will posit the need for ‘digital citizens’ to be fostered in an educational environment informed by a broader concept of media literacy that, in addition to promoting technical skills, addresses the cultural implications of new media.
Roberto Simanowski is a scholar of media and cultural studies and holds a Ph.D. in literary studies and a Venia Legendi in media studies. He is the founder and editor of the journal on digital culture and aesthetics dichtung-digital.org (1999-2014) and the author of several books on digital literature, culture, and politics, including Interfictions. Vom Schreiben im Netz (Suhrkamp 2002), Digital Art and Meaning (University of Minnesota Press 2011), Data Love and Facebook Society (both Columbia University Press 2016 and 2018), Digital Humanities and Digital Media: Conversations on Politics, Culture, Aesthetics and Literacy (Open Humanities Press 2016) as well as The Death Algorithm and Other Digital Dilemmas (CHOICE award for Outstanding Academic Titles for 2019), Waste: A New Media Primer (both MIT Press 2018) and Sozialmaschine Facebook. Dialog über das politisch Unverbindliche (together with media scholar Ramón Reichert, Matthes & Seitz 2019). Roberto Simanowski taught as professor of German Studies at Brown University and as professor of Digital Media Studies at the University of Basel and at City University of Hong Kong.