Interface blog – We are launching an online platform for debate about the societal relevance and impacts of our work, as well as to inspire a wider discussion of related themes and issues.
Today, we are excited to launch Interface, an online platform for debate about the societal relevance and impacts of our work, as well as to inspire a wider discussion of related themes and issues. We’re part of the Collaborative Research Centre ‘Media of Cooperation’, an international and interdisciplinary research community with more than 60 researchers working across the humanities, social sciences, information sciences, and medical sciences based at the University of Siegen, Germany.
We explore a variety of themes and issues that emerge at the intersection of digital media technology and society.
As part of the Collaborative Research Centre ‘Media of Cooperation’, Interface explores a variety of themes and issues that emerge at the intersection of digital media technology and society. We explore the normative, technological, legal, and political foundations of digital culture and publics.
Reflecting the diversity of our research community, Interface aims to be a resource for those who study or practice within the areas of digital media, anthropology, history, philosophy, language and literature, education, jurisprudence, information science and engineering, and medicine. As such, this blog is aimed at colleague academics, researchers, students, journalists, activists, and anyone else interested in thinking about the societal relevance and impacts of the work – or the themes and issues – associated with this research centre.
Entitled Interface, this platform aims to facilitate the collective exploration of how the diverse research areas studied by the research centre’s members and associates may connect to – or interface with – current issues and broader societal debates – both within and beyond academia.
From a technological viewpoint, an interface is a touchpoint where two or more elements, subjects, systems, or organisations meet and interact. As a name for this platform, the term highlights the cooperative aspects of what is studied at our centre, as well as the practice of connection or coordination by way of the digital interfaces we study and use on a daily basis. As a platform and interface for the collective exploration of how our research areas connect to current themes and issues, we hope that the Interface will spark lively debate on topics or issues related to our academic work, encourage scholars to share their experiences and views relating to (digital) scholarship and contemporary academia, and reach out to audiences beyond their home academic communities.
To say this another way, it would be a pity if our collective research efforts would remain in the narrow sphere of academic conferences, seminar rooms, and ‘paywalled’ scientific publications. We conduct research within and about society and it is essential that we interact with society during all stages of the circular process of scientific discovery – questioning, collecting data, formulating ideas, and raising further questions. All too often, research findings are only published in academic journals and books, which are not necessarily easily accessible to a wider public. Even when researchers manage to publish ‘open access’, they are often obliged to adhere to strict publisher guidelines and encouraged to address narrow scientific audiences. Many people who could be interested in such topics would be unlikely to come across the relevant publications by chance.
Additionally, when scholars do present findings to the public, they tend to report on individual research projects or accomplishments. We would like to see a more open debate to embrace an entire research field – or indeed, a centre – and the diversity of its research foci and practices. With the Interface blog, we hope to facilitate interconnections at the collective level of the research centre, across all its research foci and projects, providing a resource as well as relevant insights into the collective and individual aspects of our own academic work.
Several related initiatives inspired our efforts and serve as guides going forward, including the well-known LSE Impact Blog, the Internet Policy Review’s ‘News and Opinion’ section pieces, which explores regulatory issues and technology, policy, and governance developments, or the Boasblogs, which publishes anthropology-related blog series.
How to Connect With Us
As a newly launched online platform, we welcome contributions or contribution ideas that explore themes and issues close to our research centre but also ideas for the blog. We particularly look forward to receiving submissions from colleague academics (at our research centre or beyond), civil society, and practitioners in the field (public or private sector).
We welcome contributions of the following types:
Interfacing the broader themes and issues related to your research
We firstly welcome contributions that explore how the themes and questions addressed by our research centre interface with broader societal issues, current affairs, and public debates. We are interested in sharing news, commentaries, and opinions on topics and events related to your academic work or research area. These could be contributions about the societal impacts of online and digital media (tools, products, services; apps, platforms, infrastructure), or that review current policy developments.
Interfacing the practical side of (digital) scholarship and your academic work practice
We also welcome contributions that explore the practical side of doing academic work. This could include tips and tricks for presentations of research findings, reflections on research practices and methodologies (broadly conceived), or on academic writing and publishing. For example, to discuss different ways of writing or writing genres, and the specifics of formats ranging from academic journal articles and reviews to chapters in edited volumes, dissertations, applications and proposals, summaries and abstracts, and author biographies, to name just a few. We are keen to include contributions in the form of practical guides, instructions, ‘how-tos’, and ‘best practices’, as well as interviews, experimental formats, and multimedia content (recordings, podcasts, field notes).
We further look for reflections on the experiences and challenges of doing academic work. This could include sharing research field notes, reading and discussing notes, ‘live’ blogging and collaborative note-taking formats during conferences and workshops, reviews of new or popular writing or research tools and strategies, or work formats for (remote) collaboration and experiences of working with local communities and partners. Or about the unique challenges of doing research during the current global coronavirus pandemic.
Interfacing the societal impacts of your research or research area
Finally, we welcome contributions that explore the impacts of our research areas and academic work. These could include reflections on the broader impacts of (prior) research as well as calls for action on the basis of research findings, with the aim of bringing about social change in relation to topics addressed by our research centre, such as digital data and privacy, human rights, development, care work, or education – whether on a local, regional, national, or international level. Additionally, we look for contributions that explore how our research projects and findings may contribute to, inform, or challenge public opinion, policymaking, or regulation in specific domains of society.
Given the diversity of the research areas covered by our research centre ‘Media of Cooperation’, and the backgrounds of those involved with it, we hope to reach a broad, international and interdisciplinary audience both within and beyond academia. We aim to publish regularly, and where relevant, we provide the option to ‘cross-post’ contributions on Medium to attract the attention of established (often more specialised) audiences. The editorial team coordinates the Interface blog and maintains its quality. You can visit our section for contributors for practical information and instructions on how to submit an idea or draft. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions about the appropriateness or fit of a contribution idea.If you would like to contact us, or contribute or share ideas for the blog, please reach out via firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us at @interfaceblog. To follow updates from the blog, please subscribe to our RSS feed, or find us on Twitter. We hope to hear from you.