Radu Meza

Associate Professor

Educator and researcher in the field of new media communication, R.M. Meza is part of the permanent faculty at the Journalism Department in the College of Political, Administrative and Communication Sciences since 2009. He graduated Bachelors in Computer Science and Journalism. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology with a thesis on the structure and dynamics of popular online networking systems. His research focuses on combining approaches from computer science and media studies in the study of the Internet and Internet-related phenomena. Research interests include popular online media, social network analysis, formal concept analysis, automated data collection, analysis and visualization and computational journalism. In 2016 he became the coordinator of the first Digital Media Bachelor program in Romania.

Title of lecture

Are We Human, or Are We Hamster? 

Reflecting on Memes, Algorithms and the Transcoding of the Public Sphere (English)

Consumer capitalism of the twentieth century saw the rise of mass-production, mass media and public relations. Shoshanna Zuboff’s concept of surveillance capitalism draws attention to new media companies business models - from automating user information flows processing to potentially automating user behaviors. The crisis of journalism is connected to its business models and revenue streams which are linked to consumer capitalism. Media institutions’ past attempts to compete with new media companies on the attention market seem to have been self-detrimental and have led to click-baiting, the hamsterization of journalism and generalized loss of credibility. No matter how much journalists and media institutions are willing to sacrifice quality over timeliness, the inescapable fact is that they cannot compete with crowd-sourced content (and attention seeking behavior) and algorithms in terms of speed or volume. Citizens, NGOs and politicians have joined journalists on the hamster wheel described by Dean Starkman in 2011, all competing for each-other’s attention on the Web and social media, running a race run by seemingly occult algorithms. Some members of online networked publics on Facebook idealize the platform as the locus of the contemporary public sphere. But is it an arena for consensus building based on rational debate, or is it shaping consensus and dissent by the characteristics of evolutionary computation and machine learning algorithms? This lecture reflects on the algorithmic traces and narrative-database transcoding in social communication by bridging Lev Manovich’s principles of new media language with Shoshanna Zuboff’s theories on surveillance capitalism.

Venue of lecture, timing Campus Bloemenhof - 05/12/2019 - 09:00 t 10:30