Big data, computer networks and machine-mediated communication are influencing how media are produced, marketed and consumed. The growing use of computer-assistance in the management of media products/services, media organisations, and the everyday life of audiences calls for critical examination by media management scholars and practitioners. Whether machines are framed as being dystopian or utopian, they are affecting the way we work and play. For Floridi (2014), the ‘Infosphere’ is reshaping human reality; for Tapscott and Tapscott (2016), the technology of Blockchain will produce an economic and value-exchange ledger that could become “the foundation of trust” (2016), and for Brynjolffson and Saunders (2010), the strategic value of technology to businesses is still increasing. We don’t yet know what is to come, but we do know that the media and associated creative industries are being challenged and disrupted.
Since 2015, Professor Stephen Hawking has been issuing warnings that machines will eventually become cleverer than their creators. Many traditional media companies are struggling to adapt to the high technologies, the new amount of data and the new machine- related practices, both from cultural and organisational perspectives. Others, such as Google, Netflix, and Amazon Prime, see Artificial Intelligence simply as a means to offer new ways to access media services in the right place, at the right time, and on the right platform. The so- called Generation Z expects media portability and instant access and grows up with augmented or virtual reality technologies and applications. The question is not whether to adapt to high technologies, big data and machine-related practices, but how?
2018 Annual Conference of the European Media Management Association (emma) in Warsaw, Poland, seeked to answer to the question of whether and how media enterprises are adapting to the age of machines. This included the following sub-questions:
- How to conceptualize media enterprises and media management in order to take advantage of ‘high technologies’?
- In what ways have computer networks changed the organisational structures and business economics of media firms?
- Can live streaming, podcasting, eSports, and media players offer a solution for legacy media?
- What are the cultural changes taking place in the ‘information age’, or the ‘age of high technologies and robots‘?
- Will quality journalism be replaced by automated flows of data, filter bubbles, and fake news?
- Are participatory and spreadable media and prosumerism an opportunity or a threat to media managers and producers?
- How are power structures changing in the age of big data, high technology and machine-related practices?
- Is national and international media policy fit for the high technologies?
- What do we know about Generation Z and their media habits and why should we care?