Digital media seem capable of promoting everything from a vibrant cultural democracy to a world torn by social polarization. These disparate visions are often premised on the belief that anywhere, anytime media empower people to act on their best, or worst, instincts. Foretelling the future, therefore, lies in understanding how individuals will use the affordances of digital media. But this micro-level perspective vests too much power in the hands of users and turns a blind eye to all the forces that shape public attention.
In this talk, James G. Webster, Professor of Communication Studies at Northwestern University, describes a dynamic model called the “marketplace of attention” in which users, media, and metrics affect one another through constant interaction. He also discusses how this way of thinking informs theorizing about digital media and its power to change society.
James G. Webster is a Professor of Communication Studies at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. His research focuses on media audiences. Recent publications include The Marketplace of Attention: How Audiences Take Shape in a Digital Age (2014, MIT Press) and the fourth edition of Ratings Analysis: Audience Measurement and Analytics (2014, Routledge). He’s received University of Amsterdam’s Denis McQuail award and the Broadcast Education Association’s Lifetime Achievement in Scholarship award. For more information and copies of his work see his website at http://webster.soc.northwestern.edu/
Kim Christian Schrøder is Professor of Communication at Roskilde University, Denmark. He is co-author of The Languages of Advertising (Blackwell, 1985) and Researching Audiences (Arnold, 2003), and co-editor of Media Cultures: Reappraising Transnational Media (Routledge, 1992). His research has dealt with discourse analysis and reception analysis of advertising and televised serial fiction. He has published widely on the theoretical and methodological aspects of qualitative audience research. His current research deals with political discourses and the media in a combined text/audience perspective.