Technical sciences and media education: convergence or one-way street?

Kiriya, Ilya Vadimovich
PhD, professor HSE, professor MIPT, Moscow, Russia

The education in field of mass-media (journalism, movie studies, television etc.) always has been associated with so called humanities. Such a disciplines has been included into humanities groups of the education specializations while its students called themselves “scribblers” and never has been interested in mathematics, economics, informatics etc. Until quite recent times this segment of education has been considered as pragmatic part of philological education (ability to express orally and literally your own thoughts).
Development of new technologies, social media, algorithms are progressively changing media landscape and media consumption. We can mention such a changes:
·        Huge role of AI technologies affecting search results, access to the information messages and their dynamics and distribution.
·        Seamlessness if media consumption and huge integration of media consumption with platform economies, ICT and telecommunications
·        Universalization of media consumption devices
·        Changes of media production’ context: uniqueness of products, project production organization, team production, coordination
To fit education to realm of contemporary mass-media the literary-oriented journalism has been enlarged to media communication studies where technological competences (such as basic tasks on coding, project thinking, algorithmic thinking etc.) are intertwined with competences of making content public. But today we would like to speak not about the ‘one way convergence’ of technical into humanities but also about a back direction transfer.
In technological and media studies technologies has been historically considered as a driver. It has been considered that technologies are transforming society, communications itself and are contributing to the participatory self-expression and culture of participation (Jenkins, 2004), rise of global collective intelligence (Levy, 1997), transformation of public into private (Papacharissi, 2010). From here we may see such a domination ‘top-down’ regard of technologies and their proponents on media and social fields. This is related to the fact that techno deterministic thinking dominates within media and technologies studies in social sciences. Such techno deterministic vision is based either on assumption that technologies are magically positively affecting people’s life or on idea that such technologies are making harm on them. We should assume that techno determinism – is just one polar vision of media and technologies studies while the opposite pole is called ‘social determinism’  (McQuail, 2010). According to it the development of technologies is caused by social and communicational changes. The realistic approach between such two polar vision seems to be in the middle between such polar visions. Technologies are in reality techno-social systems when functionalities of technical devices is just forming pre-conditions for some social interactions (Fuchs, 2017). And if we would like to drive this realistic approach we should be oriented toward the question how media competences respectively may be introduced into technical education realm.
Media communications despite they are a field of professional knowledge, are also becoming a soft skills. So such skills become necessary for technical field also. We mean such skills as:
·        Storytelling (ability to tell stories) in order to be able to attract people to technical innovations. At the same time storytelling is actually framing any interfaces and IT products design (such as video games)
·        Understanding of connection between communications and technologies and realistic understanding of causalities between them
·        Ability to create a content
So we may see a growing demand to think technologies, interactions between people dependent on them, to make a research converging technologies and social contexts of their implementation. In Russia we are colonized by techno-deterministic thinking. That’s why there is a lack of realistic regard on technological ability to change the social. While the science in this field – media studies – is just on the way. At the same time we may see how such laboratories connecting technical and social are created in leading technological universities of the world: Media laboratory of Bruno Latour at Ecole des Mines in Paris or MIT Medialab.

Дженкинс, Г. Конвергентная культура / пер. с англ. М. Рипол-классик, 2019.
Levy, P. 1997, Collective intelligence, New York: Plenum.
Papacharissi, Zizi A. 2010. A private sphere: Democracy in a digital age. Cambridge: Polity.
McQuail, Denis. 2000. McQuail’s mass communication theory (4th edition). London: SAGE.
Fuchs, Christian. 2017. Social media: the critical introduction (2nd edition), London: Sage.

Keywords: media, technology, education, soft skills, techno-determinism, media laboratories, media education