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Digital humanities

Media Ecology: information in the digital age



Mondays, 12:30-2:00pm - room N38

  • 8, 15, 22 and 29 February
  • 7 March - NB: double class! 12:30am-2:00pm + 6:00pm-7:30pm


Luca De Biase – journalist and writer  


Facebook, Whatsapp, Google Maps are now basic tools for the daily life. A smartphone that is going out of charge makes people feel uneasy. Humans live connected by digital tools in an infosphere that is defined by digital media. But what do we know about the media ecology that is emerging? 

The media frame the vision that shapes any decision making. Questions emerge: is the growing complexity of the media affecting human ability to learn, think, decide, live together? Are the media limiting or empowering societies? Is there such a thing as a “collective intelligence”? What are “big data” and the “internet of things” going to do to the economy? How is changing the role of newspapers in this environment? Algorythms and robots are going to take over intellectual jobs? How can people make the most of the digital opportunity? 

We will discuss about all this, focusing on six words: Infosphere, Future, Innovation, Happiness, Platform, Rights.

In a knowledge economy the debate is growing: the course is designed to discuss and share a critical approach to the matter, by refusing any banalizing hype as well as any depressive prejudice: innovation is a process, it is not a given. Students will actively participate to the discussion. No special technical skills are required.



  • Infosphere
    Information has a history. Digital information theory starts in 1948. And it changed a lot of our lives. At present, a sort of infosphere is our new environment: a digital ecosystem in which we both live and learn. There are consequences that we should think more about. What’s so different in the digital media environment? Time, attention, authority are the new competitive dimensions. While our learning, memorizing and connecting strategies change quite a lot. But we now have to deal with information overload and some other problems. This is not the end of media evolution.

  • Future
    How do we make choices? By projecting what we do into what we think are the consequences. Predictions work when not much changes. But we are in a paradigm shift. Predictions don’t work. There are no facts in the future. Only narratives. Big data, robots, artificial intelligence, internet of things and other windows to look at the future.

  • Innovation
    Innovation is the new normal. Innovation is the way we adapt to the new environment. Innovation happens when the creation of the new vision get adopted. Innovation happens where technology and humanity meet. Infinite mutations are needed for a rich media ecosystem to flourish. A sort of new consciousness is needed to escape the danger of being trapped in a platform without making the most of it?

  • Happiness
    We need to ask ourselves why we innovate. What is our narrative? Happiness economy is compatible with an idea of an ecology of media. Information overload is a failure of filters. How do platforms help us deal with it and what are the algorythms that they use? What are the consequences of those algorythms? Do you know about the Facebook experiment?

  • Platform
    The project of a new platform is done by choosing the solutions in a way that fits with the narrative we think describes where we are and where we want to go. Facebook, Google, Apple have a history. And a strategy. But they also have competitors. How does a platform get traction and success? How a newcomer can get a success, too? What is the network-effects and how can we deal with it?

  • Rights
    At the Italian Chamber of deputies a Commission has been established to study and propose a Bill of rights for the Internet. The question that was asked to members is clear: does the internet change the environment in which human rights work and can be diminished? The Commission’s works have generated a Bill. What does it say? And how can it be implemented?




Suggested readings will help the discussion. Of course, it is not mandatory to read them all, and particularly so books by the teacher 


Ultimo aggiornamento 05/02/2016 - 18:20:02