Virtual conference to explore the intersection of policy, culture and digital platforms

ComCult conference speakers, from left to right (top): Susan Brinton, Sharon McGowan, Jesse Wente; (bottom) Joan Jenkinson, Edward Greenspon

It’s not an understatement to say digital platforms are well and truly entwined with everyday life.

Digital platforms – and their implications for many aspects of Canadian life – will be the subject of a five-day international virtual conference starting at McMaster next week.

Beginning May 3, the Communication and Cultural Policy in the Age of the Platform conference will explore the presence of digital platforms in the Canadian media and cultural landscapes, and the role that communication and cultural policy could – or should – play as platforms continue to influence media consumption and communication.

“Algorithms and digital platforms increasingly mediate how we communicate with each other, how we engage with culture, and how we find and consume news and other information,” says Sara Bannerman, one of the conference organizers and McMaster’s Canada Research Chair in Communication Policy and Governance in the Faculty of Humanities.

“There are countless questions to explore about how media institutions, government and regulatory bodies should respond to the ongoing integration of digital platforms into our communications, media and cultural systems. We’re looking forward to hearing from some of the leading researchers and thinkers in the field.”

Hosted by the Communication Governance Observatory and Centre for Networked Media and Performance, both connected with McMaster’s Faculty of Humanities, the conference will feature keynote talks from several high-profile figures in Canadian media, including:

  • Jesse Wente (broadcaster and executive director of the Indigenous Screen Office)
  • Sharon McGowan and Susan Brinton (board members of Women in Film and Television Vancouver)
  • Joan Jenkinson (producer, director and executive director of the Black Screen Office)
  • Edward Greenspon (president/CEO of the Public Policy Forum)

A large part of the conference will focus on how policy can help ensure a greater diversity of voices in the Canadian cultural landscape.

For Wente, who is an Ojibwe member of the Serpent River First Nation, there is an inextricable link between empowering Indigenous storytellers with creative and financial control over their stories, and the ongoing fight for Indigenous political sovereignty.

“The ability to control your own narrative and define how you are seen by other people is one of the ways you attain political and physical sovereignty … you can’t have one without the other,” he says. “Indigenous storytelling, sovereignty and education is not just for Indigenous people – it’s key to this experiment of a country. It’s a key ingredient to how Canada can work.”

The Communication and Cultural Policy in the Age of the Platform conference is free and runs from May 3 to May 7. To register, go to Eventbrite.

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