Digital and Social Media

Thursday 24 May 2012, 6:00pm
The Royal Institution of Great Britain, London

Digital media technologies and their cultural, social and political impacts

This debate will address developments in digital technologies that are shaping the public and private life of societies and citizens, and re-organizing cultural and political relations.

  • What kinds of digital technologies will emerge in the next 50 years – and what kind of technologies should we create?
  • How can we better understand the potential cultural, social and political impacts of these technologies?
  • Is the digital revolution producing a new cultural cleavage between the arts and sciences?  What kinds of convergence can be, or should be developed?

This conversation brings together computer scientists, communications, media and cultural theorists, sociologists, and artists to explore whether the old divide between the 'two cultures' of art and science is now re-inscribed in digital terms. 


Matthew Taylor is Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Arts. He is a frequent media commentator on policy and political issues, and has written for publications including The Guardian, The Observer, New Statesman and Prospect, and is a well-known blogger.  Previously, he has worked as Director of Policy for the Labour party’s central election strategy team and was the Director of the Institute for Public Policy Research.


Professor Helga Nowotny is President of the European Research Council and Emerita Professor of Social Studies of Science, ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology). She is a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, member of the Academia Europaea and was listed as one of the Financial Times ‘most influential women in Technology and Science 2011’.  Her research interests range from macrosociology and its methodology to social studies of science and technology.

Professor Jodi Dean is Professor of Political Science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, New York, and Erasmus Professor of the Humanities in the Faculty of Philosophy at Erasmus University, Rotterdam. Her research and writing focuses on the contemporary space or possibility of politics. She is the author or editor of nine books, including Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies: Communicative Politics and Left Politics (2009) and Blog Theory: Feedback and Capture in the Circuits of Drive (2010).

Professor Tom Rodden is Professor of Interactive Systems at the Mixed Reality Laboratory at the University of Nottingham. His research focuses on the development of technologies emerging from physical and digital interaction. Since 2001, he has been director of Equator IRC, a six-year programme of research to explore new technologies that interweave the physical and digital worlds, supported by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Sussex Respondents:

Dr Caroline Bassett is a Reader in Digital Media and leader of the Digital and Social Media Research Theme. Her research explores cultural impacts of digital media focusing on gender, narrative, mobile media and public space. She is currently completing a monograph exploring cultural hostility to computerisation and undertaking two funded projects: the first exploring science fiction and innovation and the second, digital economies in relation to cultures and communities.

Dr Dan Chalmers is a Senior Lecturer in Informatics. His research interests include the adaptation of systems, with a particular focus on the interaction of device and network characteristics, user interests and locations, and social context. His work explores ideas to make computing more inclusive, natural and trusted at a human level, rather than a divisive advantage to the technically able.

Professor Sally-Jane Norman is Professor of Performance Technologies and Director of the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts. Her research explores the relationship between art and technology, interdisciplinary/transdisciplinary practice, collaborative creative endeavour and disruptive innovation.