Digital paths

Submitted by Isto Huvila on Thu, 10/27/2011 - 15:34

I was yesterday in Helsinki (Helsingfors) in Finland at #m11i, Media 2011 information: Digital spår symposium organised by Brages Pressarkiv together with YLE The Finnish Broadcasting Company, KSF Media and the Swedish School of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. My own presentation was about information seeking and source criticism. The main point was to dichotomise our assumptions of the present realities of information seeking and to underline the necessity of reality checks and being very well aware of what we are really looking for when we make decisions about the reliability of information on the web.


Jens Finnäs, a freelance journalist, gave an interesting talk about data journalism as a current hot trend in journalism. He emphasised the significance of the typically not so liked course on statististics in the journalism programme and the importance of learning about data analysis and cooperating with data nerds. He also made an observation of the tendency of journalists to expect others to open their data and to keep their own data as closed as possible.


Mikael Hindsberg (YLE) gave a talk on the public sphere (offentlighet in Swedish) 2.0 and the possibilities to filter and navigate the abundant flow of information. I am somewhat inclined to see the problem not as much as a problem of abundance of information per se but as our tendency to inscribe and document more and more information, to make it accessible and an inability to cope with that particular kind of flow of information. But I certainly do agree with the need to learn to manage the that flow.


Sofia Miriamsdotter, a well-known Swedish journalist from Sundsvall, asked a question about where the public sphere is nowadays. She had excellent examples about the clash of the emerging use of new media by public figures and the very conservative assumptions of the relevance of digital engagement in the press. There was something comic and tragicomic with the described reactions, but at the same time, they were highly enlightening of how people navigate in the information landscape.


In the final presentation Emil Sandin told about his thesis work on the preservation of blogs and underlined the problems of preserving other than textual information and integrating the preservation as a part of the ordinary workflow of bloggers.


Finally, in the closing discussion Jessica Parland-von Essen, the director of Brages Pressarkiv, presented a highly relevant question about the contemporary expectations of the future role of press archives. What should be preserved, are newspaper article, blogs and Twitter enough or not, and how all this should be done.


The entire symposium was streamed live on YLE Arenan, the media portal service of the Finnish Broadcasting Company, and will be available on the same portal site in the near future and is available for watching at