Fausto Colombo

Title of the presentation:
Trust and power. A Foucaultian perspective on trust and interactive media

Short abstract of the presentation:
In the traditional media (i.e. analogical and non-interactive ones) the mechanism of trust reflects a double articulation (Silverstone 1994, Livingstone 2007). On one hand, the reception of media content by the receiver is conditioned by the confidence he (or she) has in the truthfulness of information/communication (credibility: Gili 2010, Meyer 1974, Sorice 2010,). On the other hand the choice of media devices depends on the confidence the consumers have in different brands and standards (reliability). In both cases the relationship between producer and receiver is clearly asymmetrical. Nevertheless, the receiver/user can shape the meaning of the device. Therefore, trust is a quality of the act of media reception/consumption provided by the autonomy of the receiver/user. The conditions of this autonomy are basically two: opacity of the receiver/user and the episodic (not continuous) ritual flow of communication. In the digital, interactive media, both caracteristics have changed: on one hand every single act of the receiver/user can be read by the system (think for example about the use of social networks); on the other hand the communication flow is practically continuous (Andreevic 2007). The differences between these features and those of traditional media reflect the classical distinction made by Foucault (between the power of sovereignty and the power of discipline: Foucault 1975, 1997). My analysis will focus on the relationships between trust and power in digital, interactive media. I’ll try to demonstrate how surveillance and “interveillance” deconstruct the classical idea of trust in the media.

Short biography:
Professor of Mass Communications Theories and New Media and Digital Communication at the Faculty of Political Sciences, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan. He is Director of OssCom, a media research center based at the Università Cattolica of Milano. He has published several books and essays; between his latest publications: Tv and Interactivity in Europe. Mythologies, theoretical perspectives, real experiences (Vita e Pensiero, Milano 2004); Boom. Storia di quelli che non hanno fatto il 68 (Rizzoli, Milano 2008); Broadband Society and Generational Changes (ed. with L. Fortunati), Peter Lang, Berlin 2011. His main research interests are: media digitization, generational media, social history of media. AREAS OF EXPERTISE: Sociology of media, sociology of technology, sociology of culture.