Digitally linked media can be understood as a conglomerate of cooperative tools, platforms, and infrastructures. In the course of digitalization, the regulation and design of technical and media infrastructures has given rise to numerous public controversies as well as institutional negotiation processes and will continue to do so. On the one hand, infrastructures elicit public debates within societies about their design, while on the other hand, the actual configuration of digital and media infrastructures, i.e. the ‘infrastructuring’, usually occurs out of reach of public perception, within organizations or committees of standardization. Infrastructures often subside into a deceptive invisibility from which they are only raised into the spotlight by maintenance or repair work or noticeable malfunction. With the progressive digitalization particularly of information technology, (media) infrastructures permeate ever more societal domains. Systems of societal functioning were and are permanently configured and reconfigured by media infrastructures. At the same time, infrastructures change the media practices of people and are in turn changed by them. Section A of the cooperative research center ‘Media of Cooperation’ and its projects foreground the ‘infrastructuring’ of media infrastructures in its various dimensions. The projects firstly address variable modes of scaling―from networks within hospitals up to national ISDN-networks―; secondly, different states of operating―from online/offline to interruptions of service―; and thirdly, the three elements of cooperative tools, platforms, and infrastructures.
Moving away from Habermas’ concept of a single universal public, recent research on publics has increasingly focused on the investigation of partial publics and the heterogeneous processes and spaces of publishing. Against this background the Collaborative Research Center (CRC) ‘Media of Cooperation’ examines concepts of publics and publishing that are suited to capture their mutual making, therefore enabling the CRC to assess current media developments. Addressing the specification of publics as mediatized publics, the CRC will adopt the notion of ‘issue networks’ in which the emergence of media publics is characterized by the recursivity of media. ‘Issues’ are always already designed, accomplished, and reused as mediatized ‘issues’. The recursivity of public media does not begin and end with the publications themselves. It already occurs where publications are planned and worked on: in the formal and informal exchange of opinions as well as in the technical negotiation of the appropriate media practice of cooperative production. What constitutes the recursivity of media in a public is therefore posed as an empirical and historical research question. The projects of the section B of the CRC ‘Media of Cooperation’ focus on the cooperative production of (media) publics. The projects address a) publics in their historical formation, b) media practices of the creation of publics; and c) the mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion of cooperatively produced publics.
The lecture and workshop series on Practice Theory aims to develop a new perspective on media history and media analysis. It is giving primacy to “practice” while focussing on processes of media production and work. We set out exploring media practices related to “coordination”, “delegation”, “registration & identification”, both with regard to a sound empirical foundation and to theoretical reflection.
These categories are used to investigate media practices that specifically interconnect publics and infrastructures. Our lecture and workshop series on Practice Theory is dedicated to “Theoretical Empiricism” and will assemble international research that addresses questions of theory and empirical research symmetrically. For this purpose, three further categories are brought into play as part of the practice turn, namely repair work, experimentation, and actualization.
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