[iDC] Introduction: MobilityShifts

Jan Schmidt j.schmidt at hans-bredow-institut.de
Thu Jun 9 08:27:06 UTC 2011

Dear all,

having been a lurker on the IDC list for a while, it's now time to 
introduce myself... Trebor kindly invited me to the MobilityShifts 
conference in October, and I'm excited to be part of this extraordinary 

I'm a senior researcher for digital interactive media and political 
communication at the Hans-Bredow-Institute for media research in Hamburg 
(Germany). My research interests lie in the changing modes of internet 
use connected to the social web and produsage, as well as the 
transformations of the public sphere they bring about. Additionally I do 
research on digital games, with a recent focus on excessive gaming. You 
can find more information at my blog (http://www.schmidtmitdete.de), 
which is, however, mostly in German.

My presentation at the conference will be about key competencies / 
digital fluencies for the 21st century, and I'm going to introduce some 
ideas over this list at the end of july. For the moment let me just 
sketch one key concept I'm working on and with in my research:

 From the perspective of a sociology of public communication, the main 
disruption digital media bring about is the emergence of a new type of 
public sphere - by lowering technological barriers to make information 
or content available, tools like (micro-)blogs, social network sites, 
video platforms etc. not only afford changing practices of identity 
management, relationship management, and information management, but 
also make possible "personal public spheres" (or "persönliche 
Öffentlichkeiten" in German).

These can be best understood by contrasting them with "traditional" 
public spheres produced by professional journalism; personal public 
spheres are formed when and where

a) users make available information that is personally relevant to them 
(instead of the information being selected according to journalistic 
news factors or news values),

b) that is directed to an intended audience of strong and weak ties 
(instead of the disperse, unconnected, and unknown audience of 
mass-mediated public spheres),

c) and that is presented mainly to engage in conversation (instead of 
the one-way mode of publishing).

This new type of public sphere touches various other aspects of the 
changing media landscape, among them for example:

- the relationship between journalism and its audience;

- the boundaries between the private and the public;

- the privatization, commercialization, and commodification of personal 

In my talk I'll reflect on the competencies and fluencies that result 
from these changes (both in the sense of "being made possible" and 
"being necessary"). By end of July, I'll present some first ideas - 
looking forward to the discussion with you,


Dr. Jan-Hinrik Schmidt
Wissenschaftlicher Referent für Digitale Interaktive Medien und
Politische Kommunikation
Hans-Bredow-Institut für Medienforschung

Warburgstr. 8-10
D-20354 Hamburg

T: 040-450217-83
F: 040-450217-99

j.schmidt at hans-bredow-institut.de

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