A ECREA Communication History Section Workshop, co-sponsored by the ICA Communication History Division
History of Digital Media and Digital Media Historiography
2-4 February 2022, Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C2DH), University of Luxembourg
The digital turn has had a transformative effect on all media, and it has also influenced the way in which media and communication history is shaped, written and disseminated.
First, it has had an impact in terms of devices, distribution, production and content, as well as access and participation. Looking at these changes with the lenses of history is beneficial, because it helps contextualizing “revolutions” and continuities with the past. Consequently, the history of digital media can be seen as a new label for media histories related to digital politics, economics, technologies and cultures shaped by digitalisation. But it also deals with analogue media which have been digitised or have resisted digitisation is a new and relevant field.
But at the same time, the digital turn is also affecting the shaping of media and communication history in various ways. It has changed the way in which media historians work at several levels, from access to sources and the creation of corpora based on digitised press outlets to audiovisual databases and web archives containing online press coverage, social media posts, tweets from journalists, etc. Moreover, the impact can also be seen in the tools scholars use to research and write media history, which often now rely on computational methods (network analysis, sentiment analysis, text mining, etc.) or new forms of storytelling.
For this workshop, the ECREA Communication History Section is therefore calling for scholarly presentations that shed light on changes and continuities in the process of digitalisation, both now and in the past, or that explore historical practices, with the aim of providing a new perspective on media and communication studies and historiography in the digital age.
The goal is to improve our understanding of the transition to digital technologies in various media (e.g. computerisation in media devices, digital production and practices, hybrid broadcasting or online switching), the overlaps between analogue and digital and the various issues raised by this transition, and the challenges, patterns, adaptations and controversies that have emerged during the process.
The legacies of analogue and past models in current digital practices are also crucial if we are to understand the media response to the emergence of digitalisation. Proposals that explore the co-shaping of technological, economic and cultural changes and their influence on media professions, users and audiences are also very welcome.
The way in which these changes have affected and transformed the work of media and communication historians is also a central theme of the workshop. We will also explore the way in which media and communication historiography has adapted, integrated, questioned and analysed media history in recent decades as a result of digital technologies, whether digitised or born-digital sources, databases, the “data deluge”, computational methods and new digital narratives. The workshop therefore aims to assemble a broad portfolio of perspectives on the topic covering a variety of historical periods, national or supranational settings and media stakeholders. We are interested in research that addresses the full scope of media and communication history from the advent of printing to the digital age.