UNESCO IITE co-organised the conference on tangible and intangible impact of information and communication in the digital age

The international conference “Tangible and Intangible Impact of Information and Communication in the Digital Age” was held within the X International IT Forum in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russian Federation on June 4–8, 2018. The event was organized by the Russian Committee of the UNESCO Information for All Programme and its working body, Interregional Library Cooperation Center, in cooperation with the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education and with the support of the Government of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug – Ugra and the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO.

The conference was aimed to contribute to balancing the pace of development in the field of information, communication and related technologies and the ability of science and the society to comprehend the changing reality and thus influence the vector and nature of progress. The interdisciplinary forum brought together academicians and researchers from the fields of ICT and media, cybersecurity, social and political science, philosophy, linguistics, library services, museum and archival studies, as well as diplomatic officials, policy-makers, representatives of public authorities, NGOs, businesses and media from 40 countries.

Conference activities included four plenary sessions: “Expanding Digital Universe”, “Transformations of Social Communications”, “Openness or Exclusiveness in Cyberspace: Quo Vadis?” and “Digital Present: Expectations and Reality”; the thematic discussion “Media and Information Literacy” and two sections: “Culture and Languages in the Digital Age” and “Access to Information: Right and Equity”. A special seminar on digital preservation challenges” was organized as the conference satellite event. The conference professional programme included about 50 reports.

The thematic discussion “Media and Information Literacy” included the following speeches:

  • Media Education in the Age of the 4th Industrial Revolution: Theory and Practice
    CHERNY Yury, Head, Centre for Informatics Problems, Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences, Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow, Russia)

Participants of the conference argued on the problems, phenomena and trends of the technological expansion in the information and communication field – both those that have come into focus in the last decade and those that are less evident today, but might significantly impact the socio-cultural landscape in the nearest future.

The conference considered modern socio-cultural processes accompanied by the widespread introduction of digital technologies and the digitisation of various spheres of life from the humanistic perspective of the UNESCO Information for All Programme, sharing the commitment to the principles of social justice, inclusion and non-discrimination, balance of rights, opportunities and responsibilities. Experts noted that due to the high rate of changes the society did not have time to interpret and thoroughly understand them, nor to respond progressively. Most studies focus on the receding reality; those trying to describe and analyse the current state-of-the-art and to forecast possible development lines and their consequences follow out-of-date models and approaches. At the same time, experts and the general public reached a relative consensus on the socio-cultural challenges coming into particular prominence:

  • oversupply of information, resulting in its devaluation and loss of trust to professional media;
  • pervasive communications accompanied by ever more sophisticated communicative technologies;
  • people gradually getting excluded from generating meanings and values and turning into functional supplements to communication flows;
  • traditional cultural regulators of social relations and processes being displaced by automated social algorithms;
  • blurring the borders between the real and the digital world, wide spread of simplified virtual mockups and simulacra;
  • post-truth in its heyday, with public perception shaped more by means of addressing feelings and personal opinion rather than operating real facts, with fakes, clickbaits, hypes and other tools introduced to form post-reality in the political and media culture.

Participants repeatedly noted that while the convergence of digital, physical and biological environment was gaining momentum, traditional pre-digital interaction and management models were still used thus causing a wider range of problems, in particular those considering ethical and legal issues. In this context, the promotion of competencies (skills, knowledge and attitudes) incorporated in the term “media and information literacy” and providing a safe and responsible critical use of networks and digital services, is gaining great importance. The need for such competencies is becoming ever more urgent.