01 Mar 2018

Keeping up with "The outrage democracy"

Media expert Bernhard Pörksen paints an image of social networks as one of the greatest modern enigmas. He believes them to be explosive devices moving too quickly to catch.

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Keeping up with "The outrage democracy" - NewsMavens
A laptop. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

The interview with Bernhard Pörksen, professor of Media Studies, reveals one of XXI century's greatest paradoxes -- our society is changing radically, but the revolution is practically invisible, because it is happening in virtual reality.

The problem is that the transition from an offline to online world has occurred so quickly that we have not developed the mechanisms to deal with it. What was once a private affair is now public. The history of our clicks and likes, searches and orders is engraved forever in online archives.

The majority of us would have trouble answering questions, such as: "What is deleted and what is not?”, “How do algorithms work?”, “Where do the advertising fees come from?". Hence Pörksen's belief that media tycoons, such as Facebook or Google, should be forced to greater transparency.

How much time will it take for us to fully understand the online revolution? Will we ever catch up in order to thoughtfully regulate it? In the age when anything can be googled, this is one of the greatest mysteries. 

media, education

Details from the story:

  • Bernhard Pörksen, born 1969, is a professor of Media Studies at the University of Tübingen. His book "The Great Irritability: Paths of Collective Arousal" was published by Hanser-Verlag. It depicts a sobering picture of our lives in a networked world.
  • Pörksen analyzes how communication has changed under digital conditions. He describes the shift from the "media democracy of the old world" to the "outrage democracy of the digital age".
  • "Media democracy was dominated by classic mass media and the enormous interpretive authority of journalists, who used to decide what is relevant and what not. Today, anyone can have barrier-free access to public debate. I do not see this as purely negative, however. It can take the form of cyber bullying and hate speech but also of a revolutionary social movement, such as #MeToo,” Pörksen claims.
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