Event details

MEA @ NCA 2021

  • 18 Nov 2021
  • 21 Nov 2021
  • Seattle, WA

At this year’s 107th annual NCA convention, the MEA is proud to sponsor the following slate of panels.

Thursday, 11/18

2:00 PM–3:15 PM

Sheraton Leschi - Third Floor

Live Music and Technology During a Pandemic: Transforming Musicians

During the pandemic, musicians have had to find creative ways to continue their craft, often relying on new forms of technology to remain connected with their fans and audiences. The purpose of this panel would be to interview two local Tacoma musicians about how they have had to embrace mediums they had previously not used to remain current in the public eye during the pandemic. Ideally this would be a double panel to allow for the musicians to answer questions in one panel, and perform in the other, which they would live stream to their social media platforms.

John H. Saunders, University of Alabama, Huntsville

Jared Fredeen, Independent Musician
Jessi Fredeen, Independent Musician

Friday, 11/19

9:30 AM–10:45 AM

Sheraton Willow B - Second Floor

Media Ecology Grab Bag

This panel is a collection of outstanding submissions in the area of media ecology. The topics vary across the intersection of culture and technology.

Michael Plugh, Manhattan College


Caught in the (Amazon) Web (Services): Articulating Infrastructure, Fossil Fuels, Technology, and Culture

In this work, we explore Amazon Web Services (AWS), a subsidiary IT company of Amazon, and its relationships with oil companies. We seek to bridge conversations within media studies, putting them in conversation with Cultural Studies, to work through an “agri-cultural approach” (Striphas, 2019) to understanding data mining and oil extraction; digging deeply to expose long-standing strata of tensions between technology, culture, and the environment. Relying upon an article published by Greenpeace titled “Oil in the Cloud” (Donaghy et al., 2020), we examine the assemblage(s) created between Big Tech and Big Oil, to understand the role AWS plays in the three portions of the extraction and marketing oil and natural pipelines. We then unpack these tensions through exploring narratives of progress, energy consumption, and advocating for a more holistic understanding of culture in relation to technology and climate. Rather than approaching studying infrastructure from the stakes of a political economy analysis, our work aims to provide a reframed way of understanding how infrastructure (or otherwise “absent” structures) bolster and enable cultural understandings and practices, and technological ecologies.

Malinda Dietrich, Dept of Communication

Bailey Troutman, University of Colorado, Boulder

Confronting the Contemporary: Buried as Affective Critique of Corporate Culture and Technology

As a “one-person show,” the 2010 film Buried mobilizes a uniquely multi-layered affect of fear/isolation/claustrophobia in order to “equip” viewers to deal with the social anxieties of corporate culture, neoliberalism, and technology, specifically within America’s post-9/11 political and social milieu. Buried grotesquely points to the dehumanization of corporate culture and the isolating, anxiety-producing effects of technology by both eliciting disturbing “presence-effects” throughout the film and by combining this affective experience with symbolically constructed meanings. This analysis further illustrates the possibility of favoring affect over symbols when examining rhetorical media texts; in order to effectively analyze cinematic rhetoric, it remains vital to move beyond the symbolic, discursive representations within films toward the aesthetic and affective dimensions. Additionally, this analysis argues that a closer attention to affect and materially is warranted when drawing from Kenneth Burke’s conception of “equipment for living,” specifically when media texts uniquely move audiences on a visceral level toward collective resistance. Ultimately, Buried affectively and symbolically “equips” viewers to deal with the dehumanization of neoliberalism and the isolating effects of technology by serving as a warning; this subsequently motivates audiences to collective critique and resistance. This essay begins by situating Buried within a theoretical framework of new materiality, cinematic rhetoric, and Kenneth Burke’s theory of “equipment for living.” Then, the material components of Buried that lead to a multi-layered affective experience, which partners with the film’s symbolic dimensions, are analyzed. Finally, the essay addresses the rhetorical implications of Buried in relation to contemporary American late-capitalist society, the broader scholarly conversation surrounding the rhetorical power of affect in film and media texts, and the use of “equipment for living” within media studies.

Meredith Moore, Colorado State University

The Sense Ratios Evoked by Shenbao during the First Sino-Japanese War

Following the perspective of media ecology theory, this article will describe what Shenbao evoked sense ratios during the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1896) to understand the new media environment in which Chinese people lived that time. The First Sino-Japanese War is a significant turning point in Chinese history. Since the war’s defeat, the Far East’s traditional international order was shattered. The reformists and revolutionists of China began to step onto the historical stage to establish a modern nation. In the late 19th century, Shanghai was the center of modern printing, publishing, and western-style newspaper, promoting a new media environment forming in China. Shenbao, established in Shanghai in 1872, was the most important Chinese-language newspaper at least until 1905. In this article, Shenbao will be chosen as an example to research the new environment in China during the First Sino-Japanese War.

According to Marshall McLuhan, sense ratios are the key point to comprehend the media environment. There are two basic sense ratio patterns: audile-tactile space, which is kinetic, simultaneous, resonant, and multi-locational, and visual space, which is static, sequential, uniform, and homogeneous. Moreover, audile-tactile space relates to traditional tribalism, and visual space connects to modern nationalism and individualism. Furthermore, McLuhan highlighted that any artifact could be considered a medium to analyze, whatever hardware or software. As a result, this research reveals that based on the traits of the two basic patterns, a mixed space, including audile-tactile space and visual space, and a new possibility of perceiving and organizing the world was provided by Shenbao through analysis of several representative mediums: language, editing, publishing, fundamental principles, style of writing, punctuation, movable type and printing machines.

JING LI, Hokkaido University

The Work of Aura in the Age of Frankensteins

Given contemporary concerns with replication, technology, and authenticity, I turn to Walter Benjamin’s writings on the concept of aura and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. By revealing the potential of creators, creations, and audiences to cocreate humane ecologies through recognition and play, Shelley offered a critique of technological determinism. The construction, experience, and fate of Shelley’s posthuman character enacts a theory of aura that vivifies three nuances often overlooked in Benjamin’s writings: 1) its definition as a medium and, 2) thus, its constructedness, and 3) its potential relationship with play. Shelley reminds us that artificial intelligence and new media are not new encounters and that authenticity should not be our obsession. By reimagining aura as an ecological relationship, not a condition, we remain open to the play and ethical reflection necessary for navigating any age of technological reproducibility.

Misti Yang, University of Maryland

Transforming our thinking for a data-driven society: Algorithm, aphorism, and alternatives

The following paper revisits Gozzi Jr.’s (2002) probing of algorithmic and aphoristic thinking. In his writing, Gozzi Jr. (2002) lamented the dominance of algorithmic thinking and called for increased use of aphorism as a mode of thinking about our world and its issues. Twenty years later, our world is much different than that of which Gozzi Jr. was commenting. Digital media forms, and the data-driven processes and practices that they spawn, have proliferated and employed in healthcare, transportation, commerce, economics, policing, welfare and many more industries (Cheney-Lippold, 2017; O’Neil, 2016; Pasquale, 2016; West & Allen, 2020). These algorithmic processes often serve to target and oppress minorities, homeless, and other disadvantaged populations (Eubanks, 2018; Noble, 2018)

I will contend that Gozzi Jr.’s (2002) argument was necessary and preferred, but no longer substantial within a contemporary society so deeply engrained with algorithmic technologies. Drawing on literature from media ecology, surveillance studies, and new materialism, the following paper argued that dichotomies between algorithmic and aphoristic thought reinforce a cartesian dualism between self and object that makes impossible meaningful discourse about, and subsequent alteration of, our data-driven technologies and policies. While Gozzi Jr. (2002) was careful to note that aphoristic thinkers did often employ algorithmic thinking in practice and principle, the current data-driven nature of society drives a wedge deeper between these two modes of thought. Instead, a mode of thinking for the 21st century requires competency in both aphoristic thinking and ideation and algorithmic comprehension and application. If this mode of thinking is reflexively and cyclically employed, the walls between self and society shrink and space for discourse on a variety of topics increases.

Erik Gustafson, North Dakota State University

12:30 PM–1:45 PM

Sheraton Willow B - Second Floor

How Non-Being Haunts Being: On Possibilities, Morality, and Death Acceptance

Sponsor: Media Ecology Association

This panel explores Corey Anton’s recently published book, How Non-Being Haunts Being: On Possibilities, Morality, and Death Acceptance published by Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.

The book, in outlining the moral possibilities liberated through death acceptance, offers ample opportunities for “renewal and transformation.” By showing how living beings-who are of space not merely in it-are fundamentally on loan to themselves, How Non-being Haunts Being details how meaning and moral agency depend upon forms of non-being, and it argues that death acceptance in no way inevitably slides into nihilism. Thoroughgoing death acceptance, in fact, opens opportunities for deeper levels of self-understanding and for greater compassion regarding our common fate.

Panelists will offer summarizing observations, insights and criticisms of the book and the author will respond.

Michael Plugh, Manhattan College

Bryan Crable, Villanova University
Barry Liss, University of Wisconsin-Waukesha
Lee M. Pierce, State University of New York, Geneseo
Erik Garrett, Duquesne University
Michael Plugh, Manhattan College

Corey Anton, Grand Valley State University

Saturday, 11/20

9:30 AM-10:45 AM

Sheraton Willow B - Second Floor

Domestic Transformations: Technological Incursions, Posthuman Parenting and Other Pandemic Accelerations

This paper session will examine how digital technologies are reshaping homelife and parenting, a process of transformation that has been accelerated by the pandemic. Pre-, mid- and post-COVID, ours is an age when it is typical for all family members—no matter their age—to have devices close at hand and connecting each of them 24/7 to disparate worlds well beyond the embrace of home and family life. These and other technologies are changing the way we practice relationships within families and are reconfiguring shared material spaces and allocations of household resources. We will discuss the dissolution of privacy, intimacy and barriers in home life, the influx of smart technologies into the world of young children, and new barriers to communicating with families about the impact of technology and popular media.

Michael Plugh, Manhattan College

Carolin Aronis, University of Colorado, Boulder


Domestic Space: Walling In or Walling Out

The pandemic has led to reconfiguring actual space in many houses, putting physical walls in place to limit congress with inmates and to protect uninterrupted connection to online others. Moves to wall ourselves in can be spurred by fear of contamination (or, optimistically, by desire for safety); yet erecting physical barriers to escape the noise and presence of others and to secure virtual contacts is a dystopic turn if carried into post-pandemic recovery.

Jaqueline E. McLeod Rogers, University of Winnipeg

Posthuman Pedagogies: Reflections on Artificial Intelligence and the Digital Well-Being of Young Children

What does it mean to raise a child in our posthuman era of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data? I begin by scoping the intensifying presence of networked, smart technologies in the home life of infants, toddlers and preschoolers; I examine recent policy frameworks regarding AI, ethics and children. Finally, I turn to Bernard Stiegler’s philosophy of technology to provide insight for parents and educators as they consider “smart” technology choices for children.

Cathy Adams, University of Alberta

Transforming the Ways We Communicate about Popular Media and Technology in Relation to Young Children

There are barriers separating academic, home, medical, and school “turfs” that hinder communication with families about the impact of technology and popular media on the physical health, social-emotional development, and behavior of preschool children. This paper addresses the questions: What practical steps involving language, critical thinking, and empathy can transform those relationships to serve the needs of the family and child? What is the influence of the global COVID experience on that effort? What now?

Mary Rothschild, Healthy Media Choices

11:00 AM-12:15 PM

Sheraton Willow B - Second Floor

Media Ecology Potpourri

This panel features a selection of outstanding papers submitted to our media ecology program. A variety of topics will be covered in the areas of culture and technology.

Michael Plugh, Manhattan College


Experience Report: Changes in School Practices of Students, Teachers, Managers and School Comunity Caused by Covid Pandemic 19

The article presents the report of the experience of a school community of the municipal public school system of the city of Rio de Janeiro, with the offer of remote educational activities due to the closure of schools imposed by the Government as a necessary measure.

The school unit to wich the report refers serves students of Early Childhood Education and the first years of Basic School,coming frim the Favela of Rocinha, in Rio de Janeiro. Modifications and adaptation of the school’s regular educational practices to other media and formats and to other times and avoid school dropouts.

To meet this goal, managers and teachers organized themselves to study and invent, collectively and collaboratively remote educational activities that could be carried out by children, in different supports and in different housing contexts,considering the deep social and digital inequality that affects Brazilian poor communities.

The account of this experience describes, critically, the process of creating remote activities, the difficulties and achievements experienced by the team in their implementation and the responses of children and families to the school’s emergency pedagogical proposal.

Stand out, in particular,the literary fair and the science fair,extensive an successful projects,which conquered strong engagement from the school community.

Lílian De Souza Cavalcante, GRUPEM/PUC-Rio

Regina Célia Abreu Cadena, SME RJ

Renewal and Transformation in Podcast Advertising: A Media Ecology Perspective

Podcasting represents a fundamental shift in the new media technology (Garcia & Martinez, 2021). The advertising industry is enthusiastically supporting dynamic ad insertion and novel monetization options, as worldwide podcast advertising revenue totals nearly US$ 1-billion per year. Complex algorithmic tools promise to target and monitor audiences precisely and continuously, powering the next era of podcasting (PodMatch, 2021). Audiences undergo their own significant changes in the scale, pace, and patterns of everyday life. This study explored podcasts in the media ecosystem of everyday life; the ways in which audience gender moderates podcast listeners’ attitudes, preferences, and behaviors; and the connections between the COVID-19 pandemic, and audience perceptions of podcast content, production, consumption, and advertising. Key findings and insights focused on gender-based differences, mental health, companionship, desirable characteristics for podcast advertisements, and the critical role of the podcast host in audience engagement.

M. Olguta Vilceanu, Rowan University

Kristine Johnson, Rowan University
Alexis Burns, Rowan University

Towards a Construction of Dehumanization: A Critical Rhetorical Analysis of Baldwin’s Notes of Native Son

This manuscript acts as a first stage in the construction and understanding of how American ideological and linguistic racialized dehumanization occurs implicitly and explicitly. To do this, I first briefly overview Omi and Winant’s term racialization, coined in their book “Racial Formation in the United States,” which the authors assert comes to fruition through microprocesses they call racial projects. Rhetorically, I argue dehumanization reappears again and again, mercilessly underpinning the creation and reproduction of this racialization. To demonstrate that, throughout this piece I conduct a critical rhetorical analysis of choice passages from James Baldwin’s “Notes of a Native Son”; integrating insights from bell hooks (1992) “Selling Hot Pussy” in order to contextualize some gendered differences. To ground this critical analysis, I pull from Balibar, Stoler, and Roediger; stitching together a framework through which to analyze Baldwin and hooks manuscripts as rhetorical artifacts. The main thrust of this piece is an attempt to rhetorically deconstruct and synthesize Baldwin and hooks respective works to illustrate the means through which dehumanization is grounded and reproduced via racialization.

Author Bernadette Ann Bowen, Bowling Green State University

What Do Non-trending Hashtags Do? Alternative Uses for Hashtags Beyond Visibility

Hashtags as communicative tools are often explored either for their linking functions and connective properties or their role in digital activism. This paper asks a different set of question: What do hashtags do? What do hashtags do when they do not trend? When they are invisible? Hashtags, broadly, are a visible part of our digital environment, but there exist tags that do not circulate in the same ways that more traditional hashtags circulate. I argue that non-trending tags serve important purposes in our digital ecology through their roles as style-markers and memory-makers. To make this argument, I interrogate several example of hashtags that were only used once to tease out their purpose when clearly they are not connected to other conversations. These hashtags are difficult to find, but rather consider them a curious challenge to media ecological work, I argue that their invisibility offers an important point of exploration. It is precisely that they are difficult to find that they require further exploration. This paper seeks to transform our understanding of hashtags as communicative tools to one that looks beyond the obvious linking functions. Rather than a case of form following function, this paper argues that form is function. Hashtags have communicative agency and non-trending tags offer a vision of that utility. By altering how we view hashtags as communicative tools and extending their functions beyond simple linking, we open the door to other questions regarding the power a hashtag has inherently as a communicative tool rather than merely focusing on the power people assign to a tag.

Jennifer Jean Reinwald, University of Pittsburgh

“Nobody Lies On the Internet”: Human Pseudo-Events and Propaganda as Transformative Tools of Social Media Influencer Marketing in a Social Age

In consideration of this year’s theme, the following essay explores the differences between pseudo-events and propaganda, as explicated by Boorstin and Ellul. Both scholars’ insights emerge from the historical moment of the 1960s, a decade characterized by mass protests, civil rights movements, and image-based media, finding historicity with this era of narrative and virtue contention (Samuelson, 1997; Arnett, Fritz, and McManus, 2018). The first section, Boorstin and the Human Pseudo-Event, looks to Boorstin’s work on the pseudo-event, explicating the term and situating the consequences of the human pseudo-event for this particular moment. The second section, Propaganda and Integrated Marketing Communication: An Ellulian Perspective, explicates Ellul’s major work considering propaganda, utilizing his unique understanding of this communicative act in order to understand acts of advertisement as propaganda. Finally, the third section, Social Media Influencers, Propaganda, and Human Pseudo-Events situates the social media influencer as both a human pseudo-event and a potential propagandist, which becomes contextually dependent upon the way in which they advertise products and organizations to their followers. This final section emphasizes this interplay between pseudo-event and propagandist as transformative for social media influencer marketing through the examination of Zoe Sugg, a major social media influencer who connects with her audience via her YouTube channel and Instagram profile. Overall, this essay utilizes media ecological insights in order to further understand the role of the social media influencer for integrated marketing communication within a postmodern era as well as the tools they utilize to encourage interaction and increased monetization of their lives.

Kati E. Sudnick, University of North Carolina, Wilmington

See https://ww4.aievolution.com/nca2101/ for more information and/or email the MEA’s NCA liaison Michael Plugh at mplugh01@manhattan.edu.

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