Tag Archives: Sociocybernetics

Dark Ages 2.0”: Social Media And Their Impact

Vom 25. Bis 29. Juni 2019 find­et in Urbino, Ital­ien, die »15th Inter­na­tion­al Con­fer­ence of Socio­cy­ber­net­ics« mit dem Titel »“Dark Ages 2.0”: Social Media And Their Impact« statt. WISSENSKULTUREN ist mit mehreren Vorträ­gen vertreten. Hier ein Auszug aus der Konferenzankündigung:

In 2009 the ISA Research Com­mit­tee 51 on Socio­cy­ber­net­ics host­ed its annu­al con­fer­ence in Urbino. The title of the con­fer­ence was »Moder­ni­ty 2.0: emerg­ing social media tech­nolo­gies and their impact«. Along the line of vision­ary found­ing fathers of cyber­net­ics and sys­tems the­o­ry, the call solicit­ed inter­dis­ci­pli­nary con­tri­bu­tion to explore the pos­si­bil­i­ties and tack­ling the chal­lenges of a “new extra­or­di­nary change that we can bare­ly describe today”. A decade lat­er, hav­ing wit­nessed the first impact of social media on soci­ety, it is about time to call for a new socio­cy­ber­net­ic forum to reflect on what we learned so far and the future perspectives. 

The antic­i­pat­ed dis­rup­tive poten­tials of dig­i­tal and social media unleashed on our soci­ety but the out­comes appear to be dark­er than what envi­sioned by schol­ars ten years ago. The entire indus­try is heav­i­ly con­cen­trat­ed in the hands of few orga­ni­za­tions (Face­book, Google, Ama­zon, Apple and Microsoft). Our medi­at­ed pri­vate and pub­lic con­ver­sa­tions increas­ing­ly take place on pow­er­ful plat­forms owned by pri­vate orga­ni­za­tions that, in a clas­sic feed­back loop, lever­age these data to tar­get adver­tise­ments tai­lored to our tastes and pref­er­ences. Con­tents on these plat­forms are sort­ed and fil­tered by pro­pri­etary algo­rithms that pri­or­i­tize most engag­ing con­tents. Traf­fic to news source is increas­ing­ly dri­ven by these algo­rithms and so are their rev­enues. For the first time in his­to­ry, a hand­ful of glob­al pri­vate orga­ni­za­tions are more pow­er­ful and rich than an entire coun­try. At the same time, their man­age­ment appears unable to address prob­lem­at­ic issues such as mis­in­for­ma­tion and dis­in­for­ma­tion spread­ing ram­pant on social media plat­forms and mes­sag­ing apps. The goal of mak­ing the “world more open and con­nect­ed” comes with unin­tend­ed con­se­quences. Bil­lions of peo­ple inter­act­ing in an unprece­dent­ed com­plex medi­at­ed dig­i­tal envi­ron­ment proved to be hard to gov­ern even for the own­er of the plat­form itself. 

Once again, the orig­i­nal issues of steer­ing and con­trol­ling at the roots of cyber­net­ics seems to be a core con­cept to under­stand a soci­ety where human beings increas­ing­ly inter­act through and with machines. The dialec­tic between con­trol of this plat­forms (and lack of there­of) is cen­tral to face some of the main chal­lenges of con­tem­po­rary soci­ety. The exploita­tion of behav­iours and indi­vid­ual choic­es, of con­tents gen­er­at­ed and shared by users feed the algo­rithms and cre­ate the inter­nal order. And, at the same time, the vari­ety pro­duced by indi­vid­u­als is used to increase the inter­nal com­plex­i­ty of the sys­tem itself. Vis­i­ble per­ma­nent pub­lic con­ver­sa­tions and inter­ac­tions are increas­ing­ly scru­ti­nized and ana­lyzed to get a real time pulse of the pub­lic opin­ion. As a result, these real time quan­ti­fied atten­tion indi­ca­tors become a tar­get worth to be hacked through unau­then­tic users and behav­iours aimed at inflat­ing likes, shares and reach­es of cer­tain con­tents and ideas. In a quin­tes­sen­tial exem­pli­fi­ca­tion of the effects of self-obser­va­tion in social sys­tems, the pub­lic opin­ion observed through the dis­tort­ed mir­ror of social media affects cit­i­zen opin­ions and behav­iors. The whole mis­in­for­ma­tion and dis­in­for­ma­tion issue filed under the “fake news” label calls into account the role played by the observ­er and the divi­sive­ness, point­ed out by Heinz von Foer­ster, brought by those claim­ing to speak the Truth. Claude Shannon’s orig­i­nal con­cept of infor­ma­tion as a func­tion of the prob­a­bil­i­ties help to explain why made up news tend to trav­el fast and spread quick­er than legit­i­mate news sto­ries. Fur­ther­more, Luhmann’s descrip­tion of the codes that dif­fer­en­ti­ate func­tion­al sys­tems in mod­ern soci­ety sup­ports the idea of a co-exis­tence of mul­ti­ple dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive that goes beyond the dis­tinc­tion between true and false (or the domain of the sys­tem of science). 

14th International Conference of Sociocybernetics,
Medellin, Colombia, June 20–24, 2017

A Con­fer­ence of Socio­cy­ber­net­ics is a unique and ide­al aca­d­e­m­ic forum for dis­cussing on inno­va­tion and social con­flicts, one that goes beyond the bound­aries of tra­di­tion­al dis­ci­plines. The Con­fer­ence has no par­al­lel ses­sions, thus we encour­age all par­tic­i­pants to con­tribute to and prof­it from the full stream of dis­cus­sions dur­ing the Con­fer­ence, which, as a devel­op­ing con­ver­sa­tion, usu­al­ly embraces all of the pre­sen­ta­tions, sys­tem­i­cal­ly and over-arch­ing­ly. The goal of the 2017 Con­fer­ence is, there­fore, bring researchers from dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines togeth­er to explore, with­in a socio­cy­ber­net­ics approach, the chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties relat­ed to the com­plex rela­tion­ships between inno­va­tion and social conflicts.

We invite the sub­mis­sion of pro­pos­als to dis­cuss inno­va­tion and social con­flicts from a socio­cy­ber­net­ics per­spec­tive. Top­ics may include:

  • Con­flict resolution
  • Cul­ture clash and sys­temic change
  • Cybercultur@ and knowl­edge communities
  • Inno­va­tion systems
  • Inno­va­tion vs. Tradition
  • Media, protests and polit­i­cal action
  • New forms of social organization
  • News pro­duc­tion, cir­cu­la­tion and consumption
  • Pri­va­cy, con­trol and surveillance
  • Sim­u­la­tion and com­pu­ta­tion­al social science
  • Sus­tain­able Development

Con­fer­ence Website:
The Details of the Con­fer­ence can be obtained here!


Third “ISA-Forum of Sociology” in Vienna, July 10 ‑14, 2016

Session 11 of Research Committee on Sociocybernetics (RC51):
»Steering of Transitional Justice: The Question of
Civil Societal’s Democracy«

Tran­si­tion­al Jus­tice is a very high com­plex approach to achiev­ing jus­tice in times of tran­si­tion from con­flict and/or state repres­sion. It needs a strong goal-ori­ent­ed but also empa­thet­ic and flex­i­bel steer­ing process, which has to achieve account­abil­i­ty and redress­ing vic­tims, tran­si­tion­al jus­tice pro­vides recog­ni­tion of the rights of vic­tims, pro­motes civic trust and strength­ens the demo­c­ra­t­ic rule of law. But the ade­quate con­sid­er­a­tion of the com­plex­i­ty of all exist­ing dri­ving-fac­tors is very dif­fi­cult and requieres usu­al­ly a sec­ond order obser­va­tion process by includ­ing a vari­ety of social move­ments of civ­il soci­ety. But this requiere­ment seems to be after all avail­able expe­ri­ences the weak point of tran­si­tion­al jus­tice. The ses­sion will dis­cuss papers which describes prac­ti­cal expe­ri­ences and sci­en­tif­ic analy­sis of steer­ing process­es of tran­si­tion jus­tice and wants to analyse this weak-point and ask­ing for solu­tions from a socio­cy­ber­net­ic point of view.


Michael PAETAU, Cen­ter for Socio­cy­ber­net­ics Stud­ies, Ger­many — michael.paetau[ät]sociocybernetics.eu and

Pedro J. ESCRICHE, Uni­ver­si­dad de Zaragoza, Spain, pescrich[ät]unizar.es

For more infor­ma­tion: https://isaconf.confex.com/isaconf/forum2016/webprogrampreliminary/Symposium305.html