Mapping Social Media
Detail of map by Randall Munroe

Mapping Social Media

A research project aimed at identifying the “logics” of social media

In his paper “The Case for Digital Public Infrastructure,” published by the Knight Institute in January 2020, Ethan Zuckerman makes a strong case for building public service-minded digital media as a counterweight to the current platform-dominated internet that is destabilizing news production and distorting public discourse. Observing that “[o]ur responses to the challenges of the contemporary media ecosystem are marked by failures of imagination,” Zuckerman argues for thinking beyond the present proposals for regulating the tech giants and their platforms and constructing new models designed specifically to support and further open, democratic discourse.

As the Institute’s Visiting Research Scholar for the 2020-2021 academic year, Zuckerman will work closely with Institute staff to map the current social media space and to identify paths toward possible “alternative” social media. We hope the work will inform efforts to build new online spaces for healthy public discourse and civic and cultural engagement. The work will culminate in a convening of scholars and technologists in the Spring of 2021.

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