Technology has forever changed the way we consume and distribute information.
When a plane landed in the Hudson River, it was a commuter with his iPhone who captured the most compelling photo. When thousands took to the streets in Iran, the #iranelection hashtag on Twitter was the best way to track the chaos. And when friends and family want to share information, they’re more likely to use Facebook than the phone as their tool of choice.
These new media have transformed everyone into a potential content creator and publisher. While this explosion of voices has put more power in the hands of ordinary citizens, it has also drained the resources available to the traditional journalism outlets that have served as the watchdogs of our democracy. Can millions of voices replace those sources? And what shape will our public discourse take as a result of this shift in media?
The 2012-13 theme year, Voices Unbound: Social Media and the Future of Democracy, is devoted to exploring how media and technology are changing the way we communicate and interact, and the implications for journalism and democracy.
This year’s voices include a journalist who was captured in Iran and accused of being a spy, a filmmaker who used social media to fund his documentary efforts, and a noted author who questions what the Internet is doing to our brains.
Throughout the year, local artists, writers, and musicians will share their insights about how their work has evolved and changed in these new media spaces.
In the spirit of the era, the community will have the opportunity to use the new media to connect, create, and participate in the theme year, with a flash-fiction event, a remix contest, and online activities.
Now is the time to think more critically about these vast changes. We must challenge ourselves to consider not just what we’re gaining, but what we might be losing with the unbridled mass of voices made possible by the new media.
Professor of Communication
Theme Year Director