Online digital platforms, which are overwhelmingly American-based and operated, have penetrated every sector of American and Western-European societies, disrupting markets and labor relations, circumventing institutions, and transforming social and civic practices. This lecture concentrates on the position of European (private and public) interests vis-à-vis the interests of an American online ecosystem, driven by a handful of high-tech corporations (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) that have become global data mining companies. The emerging ‘platform society’ involves an intense struggle between competing ideological systems and contesting societal actors—market, government and civil society—raising important questions like: Who is or should be responsible and accountable for anchoring public values in a platform society? Public values and the common good are the very stakes in the struggle over the platformization of societies around the globe. At the heart of the online media’s industry’s surge is the battle over information control: who owns the data generated by online social activities? Particularly in the European context, governments can be proactive in negotiating public values on behalf of citizens and consumers.
José van Dijck is a distinguished university professor at the University of Utrecht (The Netherlands). Her academic discipline is media studies and her field of interest is the ‘digital society.’ From 2015-2018, she was the president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was also a visiting professor at MIT (Boston), the Annenberg School of Communication (Univ of Pennsylvania) and University of Technology Sydney (AUS).
Van Dijck is the author of seven books, three co-edited volumes and approximately one hundred journal articles and book chapters. Van Dijck’s book The Culture of Connectivity. A Critical History of Social Media (Oxford UP, 2013) was distributed worldwide and was translated into Spanish, Chinese and Farsi. Her latest book (co-authored by Thomas Poell and Martijn de Waal) is titled The Platform Society. Public values in a connective world (Oxford University Press, 2018) and will be published in Italian in June 2019 (Guerni e associate).
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