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Accepted Paper:

Beyond proper interpretation: the limits of technological mediation as social media literacy  
Jordi Viader Guerrero (HvA)

Short abstract:

This contribution offers a discussion on the advantages, limitations, and political implications of technological mediation theory as a hermeneutic and epistemic model of technological engagement for the case of social media.

Long abstract:

In the past decades the post-phenomenological tradition has proposed the technological mediation framework (Verbeek, 2011) as a scheme to reflect upon how people use, misuse, reclaim and overall experience technology (Idhe, 1990). However, when confronted with digital technologies such as social media –an assemblage of software interfaces, statistic algorithms, and social practices in which individual interactions are a single element of lager operational data chains arranging people in time and space–, post-phenomenology is constrained by its commitment to the micro perspective of individual users. In this contribution, I will argue that mediation theory’s shortcomings when dealing with social media spur from an image of agency with technology modeled after reading and interpretation: that of a single user handling a well-delimited tool that stands in between them and the world and functions as a medium of meaning. In this scenario, the implicit normative goal of post-phenomenological analysis is enabling correct interpretation, that is, responsible user engagement (i.e., Kudina, 2022). Drawing an analogy between mediation theory and discourses about media literacy as a departure point, I claim that both share the humanist and enlightened goal of “proper” interpretation as the ethical and political ideal of technologically mediated practices. In brief, that the problem of agency with technology is ultimately an epistemic and hermeneutic one. This contribution offers a discussion on the advantages, limitations, and political implications of this hermeneutic and epistemic model of technological engagement for the case of social media.

Traditional Open Panel P250
Understanding and interpreting technology in STS and Philosophy of Technology
  Session 1 Friday 19 July, 2024, -