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Back to the Future: Telling and Taming Anticipatory Media Visions and Technologies

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Deadline: 1 December 2018


Special Issue of Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies

Guest editors:

Christian Pentzold (University of Bremen, Germany), Anne Kaun (Södertörn University, Sweden), and Christine Lohmeier (University of Bremen, Germany)

Digital media, networked services, and aggregate data are beacons of the future. These incessantly emerging tools and infrastructures project new ways of communication, bring unknown kinds of information, and open up untrodden paths of interaction. Yet digital technologies do not only forecast uncharted times or predict what comes next. They are, it seems, both prognostic and progressive media: they don’t await the times to come but realize the utopian as well as dystopian visions which they have always already foreseen. At the same time, all calculation of anticipations has to rely on past data that profoundly shape our ability to manage expectations and minimize uncertainties.

In these fast forward dynamics, the special issue of Convergence examines the future-making capacity of net-worked services and aggregate data. We ask contributions to consider: What role do digital technologies and data play in the construction and circulation of future knowledge, e.g., through forecasting, modelling, predic-tion, or prognosis? What expectations and anticipatory visions such as promise or warning do accompany the creation and diffusion of new media? Over the course of history, which imaginaries of social and technological futures have been propelled by the media innovations at that time? How do new media technologies and dis-courses contribute to the production and reproduction of social time that is future oriented? How do they impact on the ability to exert control over the future?

Papers in this special issue will explore the future making dimension of new media and may include the following topics:

       Role of media in reconfiguring the relations and distances among present, past, and future times

       Communicative construction of differently vast and (un)certain horizons of expectation

       Data-based modes of anticipation (e.g., prognosis, prediction, prevention, precaution, pre-emption); calculative practices and other kinds of speculative accounts of possible events

       Historical succession of past future visions around media innovations and mediated social life

       Imaginaries of futures related to digital media

       Interventions into the plans, efforts, and processes of constructing futures

       Backwards-orientation of forecasting and conservative aspects of future scenarios

       New media in the production of simultaneity, coincidence, or (non)contemporaneity



Proposals should include the author's name and affiliation, title, an abstract of 500 words, and 3 to 5 keywords, and should be sent to the e-mail address no later than 1 December 2018:

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Invited paper submissions will be due 1 June 2019 and will undergo peer review following the usual procedures of the journal. The invitation to submit a full article does not guarantee acceptance into the special issue. The special issue will be published in 2020.