NYU Steinhardt News

Mike Ananny and Kate Crawford: Technologies for Listening: Mobiles, Newsware and Beyond.

Presented by the Information Futures Initiative of NYU Libraries, and NYU Steinhardt's Program in Educational Communication and Technology.

Friday, September 16, 2011 11am-12noon

The Avery Fisher Center, East Room, 2nd Floor, Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South

Open to the public. Space is limited. RSVP via email to ann.harding@nyu.edu.

This session presents two different perspectives on the concept of ‘listening.’ Listening has been neglected as a term in media, communications and cultural research, which has commonly emphasized the importance of voice. While it is important to understand how voice circulates, who gets to speak, and how communities express themselves, we will consider the role of listening in a range of diverse spaces: everywhere from mobiles in Indian villages to application programming interfaces in networked newsrooms.

Mike Ananny
What does a public right to hear mean in networked environments and why does such a right matter?
In this talk I’ll describe how this right to hear has, in part, historically and implicitly underpinned the U.S. press’s claims to autonomy. I’ll trace how this idea of hearing appears in contemporary networked news production, and show how three networked news organizations have used Application Programming Interfaces to simultaneously listen to and distance themselves from their readers. A modern public right to hear — and thus the press’s claims to autonomy—depends, in part, upon networked technologies and practices that mediate among different groups and professions struggling for identity and legitimacy through what Bowker and Star (1999) call “boundary infrastructures.” It is through these technosocial systems—powerful yet often invisible infrastructures that I call “newsware”—that the contemporary, institutional press signals how it is willing to listen to, with, and for publics.

Mike Ananny

Mike Ananny is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Microsoft Research New England, a Fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and a Visiting Researcher at Harvard Law School. He researches social uses of digital technologies, concentrating on how technological, institutional and normative forces both shape and reflect the networked press and a public right to hear. He earned his PhD from Stanford University Communication), his Masters from MIT (Media Laboratory) and his Bachelors from the University of Toronto (Computer Science & Human Biology). He was also a founding member of the research staff at Media Lab Europe as part of the Everyday Learning group. He has held fellowships and scholarships with Stanford’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, the Trudeau Foundation, LEGO Corporation, Interval Research Corporation, and has worked or consulted with LEGO, Mattel and Nortel Networks, helping to translate research concepts and prototypes into new product lines and services.

Kate Crawford
How are mobile phones being used by women in Indian villages,and what role do phones play in wider social and cultural dynamics?
During fieldwork in Gujarat, India in 2010-2011, I was part of a team of anthropologists and media researchers who worked with SEWA, the SelfEmployed Women's Association, a significant trade union for female workers. We asked women about their relationship with the mobile withinthe broader ecology of other media devices such as radio, television and computers. I’ll share some insights about the complex and evolvingrelationship between community organization, women as instigators of economic growth, and as hubs for family communication. Beyond assisting in ‘micro-coordination’ (Ling 2004), the mobile phone opens up new spaces for listening, including an increased ability to have a private conversation. The ability to listen across distance has powerful and sometimes destabilizing effects, but old structures and power relations remain, particularly when we ask the question: ‘who gets to listen?’

Kate Crawford

Kate Crawford is Associate Professor and Deputy Director of the Journalism and Media Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. Her research focuses on social change and media technologies, particularly the terrain between humans, mobiles and social networks. She has published widely on cultures of technology use, and the way media histories inform the present. Kate recently completed the largest study of mobile media use by 18-30 year olds in Australia, funded by the Australian Research Council. She is now conducting ethnographic research in India on the growing significance of the mobile. In the second half of 2011 she is a Visiting Researcher at Microsoft Research New England.