#MCB18 and #rp18 opened with a joint keynote by danah boyd, one of the most influential thinkers on the topic of society and technology in the world. Boyd spoke about safety risks and called for a fight against algorithmic prejudice, contradictory machine learning and media manipulation: “The assumption of responsibility is one of the focal issues we have to tackle.”
In a Fireside Chat jointly presented by MCB and re:publica, Theresa Züger (mabb) and Geraldine de Bastion (re:publica) spoke with whistle-blower Chelsea Manning about her new life as a free person, civil disobedience and the consequences of uncontrollable state power. “The time to talk about reform passed 40 years ago. We cannot wait any longer,” said Manning. “Every single one of us has the power to change things within a certain radius. Us developers in particular have influence on the programs we write.”
Another conference highlight was the appearance of Anne Will. The TV host appeared at MCB18 as part of the 3rd anniversary edition of the event and podcast series Role Models founded by Isa Sonnenfeld and David Noël. “There are not enough women in leadership positions. Since things are not changing fast enough, I am pro quotas,” said Will. New hosts introduced this year also became audience favourites: Louis Klamroth, Helen Fares, Friederike Lina Schüler, Daniel Budiman, Tarik Tesfu and Duygu Gezen served as guides through the programme and hosted various sessions.
In his keynote for the session Failure by design? How the digital advertisement industry drives the info sphere, former Obama advisor and Facebook Policy Advisor Dipayan Ghosh explained that “Facebook ad revenues over the last years have increased way more than its number of users. This is due to highly complex adjustments which were made to enable personalised advertising.” Theresa Züger, project leader of mabb’s Media Policy Lab, presented the Lab’s 10 theses for digital media pluralism as an invitation for a dialogue on future media regulation: “We have to become quicker, more interdisciplinary and agile to ensure future-appropriate regulation.” The panel Say it to my Face! How to achieve Transparency for political Advertisement on Facebook had Liz Carolan (Transparent Referendum Initiative), Thomas Kralinski (director of the Minister-President’s Office of the German state of Brandenburg & media officer for the state of Brandenburg), Semjon Rens (Facebook Germany) and Anja Zimmer (mabb) discussing the reasons for making political advertising more transparent on social media in the future and how to manage this endeavour. Anja Zimmer called for clear rules regarding political advertising, not only for broadcasting and the press, but also for intermediaries.
During the panel Criticism and reforms aplenty: Rebooting the public state broadcasting system, #MCB18 brought together directors of various European TV stations with Patricia Schlesinger (rbb), Anne-Marie Dohm (DR Denmark) and Ladina Heimgartner (SRG SRR). “This exchange with European TV colleagues regarding national laws and particularities was incredibly fascinating. Border-transcending meetings of this type are rare – thank you for the invitation!”, said a delighted Dohm.
The topic of Making knowledge work on YouTube: TerraX Lesch&Co. featured Harald Lesch, Friederike Haedecke and Mirko Drotschmann in discussion with host Louis Klamroth: “Making people think is my target group.” (Harald Lesch) A packed Media Cube saw Toni Nolde, Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim and Tom Erdmann debating the topic of Education 3.0: Are YouTubers better teachers? with Amanda Brennan. One of Brennan’s answers was: “YouTubers can’t transfer knowledge in a way that is didactically impeccable, just like teachers can’t be entertainers all day long. What we have to do is create a useful combination.
During the session #MeToo as a wakeup call: Bringing more women behind the camera, Nanni Erben (Wiedemann & Berg Film), Steffi Ackermann (Warners Bros. Entertaiment, Anna Winger und Kirsten Niehuus (MBB) demanded active measures to reinforce the presence of women in front of the camera, but more importantly also behind it. Gabriel Valdivia, Frank Govaere (UFA Serial Drama) and Danny Lopez (Blippar) spoke on the panel VR-Produktion: new realities, new production methods and new rules regarding opportunities and best practices in immersive design. Graham Roberts (New York Times) spoke on the topic of Augmenting Journalism at The New York Times w/ immersive Storytelling and alternate reality (AR) entering the newsroom.
The panel Smart Regulation. Safeguarding media pluralism and the digital public debated the question of which criteria should be used to rate and display content on platforms like Google and to what extent media authorities should influence the process. Thomas Fuchs, Nicola Balkenhol, Johannes Dimroth, Katrin Ruther, Hubertus Gersdorf and Kristian Kunow used the session Can they do that?! What’s the deal with governments on Facebook & Co.? to discuss the question of whether or not the concept of broadcasting in Germany should be overhauled altogether since it appears to fall short in the digital age and in the face of new Internet services.