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Digital Truth Making (Arbeitstagung 2020)

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Digital Truth-Making

Ethnographic Perspectives on Practices, Infrastructures and Affordances of Truth-Making in Digital Societies

7th conference of the Section “Digitization in Everyday Life” of the German Association of Cultural Anthropology and Folklore Studies (dgv)
Institute for European Ethnology & Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage (CARMAH), Humboldt University of Berlin (Germany)

7-9 October 2020

Organizers: Christoph Bareither, Dennis Eckhardt, Alexander Harder, Julia Molin

About the Conference

The Conference “Digital Truth-Making: Ethnographic Perspectives on Practices, Infrastructures and Affordances of Truth-Making in Digital Societies”, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), is the 7th conference of the Section “Digitization in Everyday Life” of the German Association of Cultural Anthropology and Folklore Studies (dgv), hosted by the Institute for European Ethnology & the Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage (CARMAH) at the Humboldt University of Berlin (Germany) (Conference organizers: Christoph Bareither, Dennis Eckhardt, Alexander Harder, Julia Molin, Antonia Sladek and Vanessa Zallot). 

The conference addresses the fact that the ubiquity of digital infrastructures has brought about numerous drastic changes to a globalized world. One of the most pressing socio-political questions in this context is how digitisation has changed the ways in which particular truths are enacted and established in everyday life. While the vague concept of “post-truth” has played a major role in public discussions on political and societal meaning-making throughout the last years, there is a lack of analytical contributions offering insights into the everyday information and knowledge practices in the “post-truth” era, especially when it comes to the particular role that digital technologies play in this context. Thus, the core objective of the international conference “Digital Truth-Making” is to provide empirical insights, conceptual approaches and theoretical reflections on how the making of truths is increasingly entangled in complex digital infrastructures and dependent on the relation between human activities and programmed algorithms.

Today, these digital infrastructures and algorithms and the policies inscribed in them decisively contribute to and shape everyday truths. Taking this into account, the event aims for a discussion of the particular role of algorithmic affordances in relation to everyday practices and how truths are constituted in-between these dimensions. In so doing, the conference does not follow one coherent definition or conceptualisation of “truth”, “post-truth” or “digital truth-making”, but instead allows for exploring the potentials of such concepts through approaching relevant practices inductively and in situ. A particular strength of the conference, making the in situ approach to digital truth-making especially productive, is its focus on ethnographic perspectives. While questions of truth-making related to digital media are often approached through large quantitative data sets, we argue that it is the how of digital truth-making that requires particular attention. This means that ethnographic approaches, combining “online” and “offline” analysis, as well as interdisciplinary approaches that rethink the relationship between the digital and non-digital, are well-suited to address this question.

Our Online Conference Concept: How it Works

The conference “Digital Truth-Making” will take place online. As digital anthropologists, we hope to have created an ambitious conference concept that goes beyond established (non-digital) conference structures. Our aim is to explore new means of conference participation and interaction online by combining pre-produced audio-visual presentations, in-depth live discussions and online socializing.

Free registration is open until September 21, 2020. As the number of participants is limited, make sure to register early enough.

Pre-produced Presentations

Starting October 1, 2020, registered attendees will find pre-recorded and professionally edited presentations of all conference papers on the conference website – allocated to the 5 panel themes. These 20-minute videos can be watched asynchronously, meaning that you can choose your personally preferred times throughout a full week to fully acknowledge individual papers. This way, we hope to avoid the typical ‘video presentation overload’ that usually comes with online conferences, instead allowing you to dive into the variety of presented topics on your own terms.
We encourage all participants to leave comments and questions after watching each video, which will inform the panel discussions (see below). For each panel, you will choose one presentation that you wish to discuss in-depth during the live session.

Full-day Live Conference on October 8-9, 2020

The live conference is divided into: a) live keynote presentations with follow-up discussions, b) five conference panels with various discussion and participation formats directly connecting to the pre-watched videos, c) a lively conference sandbox, including a socializing program in-between sessions, workshops, poster presentations and more.
The five conference panels are structured as follows: First, there will be break-out sessions in which panelists answer questions and discuss further materials with a relatively small group of participants, directly connecting the discussion to the pre-watched videos. In the second part, all panelists and break-out groups join a virtual fishbowl discussion exploring overarching questions and insights specific to the panel. In the 30-minute breaks between all panel discussions you are free to relax, socialize with other participants, or you can have a (second) look at the pre-recorded presentations.

Accessibility

As many of the participants are located in Central Europe, the conference schedule is optimized for Central European time zones. We hope that pre-recorded content increases the accessibility for all participants and that at least some of the live sessions will be available to all interested participants.
Although we use video presentations and video-conferencing, most of the content will be transmitted auditorily. If you need assistance in fully participating in the conference, for example through a personal assistant helping with the participation in video/audio-based live events, please feel free to contact us. We will try our best to assist you with the help of our student assistants.