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Information, Communication and New Media Studies: Good for What?

2 Feb 2006

New media, such as the Internet and other convergent ICTs, are now widely used in ways that are reshaping political, economic, cultural, legal, scientific, and other activities. The interrelated outcomes in the public sphere of these diverse uses of the Internet and new media by communities, individuals, and private and public organizations are leading to wide-ranging societal transformations, both locally and globally. The pervasive nature of this growing digital mediation and governance of social life has stimulated rethinking of research practices, institutional arrangements, and policies needed to provide better accounts and understandings of such transformations.

Over the past decade, digital convergence has been accompanied by a partial realignment of research around the technologies themselves, most notably in the form of efforts to build better-integrated, more-fluid models of engagement across social and technical disciplinary boundaries. No established field, dominant paradigm or appropriate institutional restructuring has emerged to take advantage of the new multidisciplinary research opportunities. However, distinctive approaches and themes for research on the social dimensions of new media and related ICTs – such as the relationship between ICTs, public life, media, and governance – have been created within communication and media fields, information studies, social informatics, computer science, law, the humanities, and the core social sciences. Some of these new configurations have acquired stability within or between fields; in other cases, they are characterized mostly by isolated experiments.

This was an open session designed to stimulate and inform an invited workshop to be held on 3-4 February. Panelists in policy, practice and advocacy fields provide brief perspectives on the intersection between research and more applied agendas, and reflect on what constituencies outside the research field expect from information, communication and media studies. Can it meet these expectations? Under what conditions?

This event has been organised in collaboration with the Social Science Research
Council (SSRC). It has been made possible in part by funding from the Knowledge, Creativity, and
Freedom Program of the Ford Foundation.

Social Science Research Council (SSRC)