Go Back Up

Day Two April 30 4:15pm-4:45pm

What are we paying attention to? The commercial determinants of what we see and how we feel on digital media platforms

Over the past couple of decades digital media devices and platforms have moved to the centre of our everyday lives. Our smartphones are full of fast-flowing feeds of images, videos, opinions, information. Things to buy, and watch, to like and comment on. Many of us spend hours each day swiping and tapping on the screens of our smartphones, and many of us have a feeling that our phones and apps and social media platforms are doing something to us, are affecting our brains, are maybe even 'addictive'. In this presentation, I draw on research into the algorithmic and advertising models of digital platforms to address these concerns in two ways. I'll suggest that instead of thinking about whether or not digital media are changing our brains, let's begin by thinking about how they attempt to maximise and optimise our attention and what this means for us and for our societies. I'll then suggest that rather than focus our energy on whether the technology itself is harmful, we should instead direct our attention toward its use by harmful industries and what we might do about it. The relationship between digital media platforms and industries that sell harmful and addictive products deserves our attention and tells us a lot about how our public culture and intimate lives are changing.
  • Nicholas Carah

    Nicholas Carah

    Associate Professor Nicholas Carah, Director of the Centre for Digital Cultures & Societies at The University of Queensland

About the Speaker

Nicholas Carah is Director of Digital Cultures & Societies in the Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences and Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Arts. He is an Associate Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society, and a Chief Investigator on ARC Discovery and Linkage projects. His research examines the participatory cultures, automated systems and advertising models of digital platforms, with a sustained focus on digital alcohol marketing. Nicholas is a Director and Deputy Chair of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education.