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Dr Paolo Gerbaudo: React: The Public Sphere at the Time of Reactive Media

React: The Public Sphere at the Time of Reactive Media


Dr Paolo Gerbaudo

Senior Lecturer in Digital Culture and Society, Director of the Centre for Digital Culture at King’s College London

“React: The Public Sphere at the Time of Reactive Media” is a talk taking place on:

Wednesday 20 November


OC 0.02

Followed by a wine reception.

At the dawn of the digital era we were told we would live in a participatory utopia where every individual would have been able to make choices on everything and be heard. The interactive affordances of digital media were said to usher in the potential for an interactive politics. However, things have gone otherwise. Rather than interaction we have been delivered “reaction”, a situation in which most of the messages we send are in the form of responses to stimuli coming from celebrities or large news media. From the various emojis we use to express our response to posts on Facebook, to the metrics used by various social media, reactions have shaped and will continue to shape the digital public sphere. They are not simply functionalities that may be used for different purposes. They also imply a politics which operates at mass scale and whose ethos is strongly plebiscitary. The talk will discuss the nature of reactions and the reactive politics they project and consider their implications for our society at the time of populism, fake news and online hate.