An accidental book
The backstory for this book is on record, in a whimsical video in June 2019, media interviews and the filmed proceedings of a two-day international conference in Malta in October 2019, convened with media scholars, blockchain experts, film-makers, philosophers, anthropologists, politicians, public prosecutors, data lawyers, bankers, activists, journalists, rock star technology editors and teenage students. The conference was activist by design. Assemble a bunch of brilliant thinkers and doers, get them to spar around the esoteric subject of the post-truth society in a historic building in Valletta, and develop a collective manifesto to combat post-truths. By the end of the two days, the plan was for the 3CL to set up an interdisciplinary global network and reconvene in a different geographical context early in 2020 and explore pilot projects for collaboration.
The pandemic shelved many big ideas and plans. When the world closes down, the premise is that the failings of the post-truth society are swept away in the collective, urgent need to secure factual information, survive, adjust to a new age of social distancing and prepare for probable, impending economic collapse. Instead, with the pandemic in its second wave, this collection surfaces with contributions from some of the original cohort in far-flung places, and others who reached out after the conference. Perhaps a book is an unexpected but necessary deviation from the intended pathway. It also may be a more permanent and resilient outcome in the age of the often temporary, fleeting and forgotten outputs in digital format.
The problem remains
You would think that in the ongoing crisis, fake news, trolls, platform capitalism, misinformation, bankrupt education systems and mistrust in emerging technologies would have taken a back seat. If anything, the pandemic has taken a megaphone to the challenges of the post-truth society: accusations that social media is “killing people” or the call for governments to regulate tech platforms as media outlets are now mainstream stories. On June 25th, I joined an expert panel convened by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on disinformation and self-regulation in the digital society. Inevitably, my presentation dovetailed into the need for a better understanding of the various intersections between media, technology and education to identify pragmatic solutions that may help society tunnel out of the current historic impasse. My slides for the OSCE meeting are available on this link.
Beyond the book
At the 3CL, digital and media literacies are cornerstones of our strategic plan. We continue to research and monitor the linkages between emerging technologies and disinformation, and facilitate the development of content-rich projects which may in turn be shared as a public good. This is also activist work and we will get back to organising face to face encounters on these topics once we can safely assemble a group of people in the same physical space.
Media, Education and the Post-Truth Society is available in print and digital format from all online stores, including Emerald, Amazon and Book Depository. Online inspection copies are available from Emerald via this link.