[rohrpost] Call for Papers: Media Transatlantic IV – Traffic

Theo Röhle theo.roehle at uni-paderborn.de
Don Mai 19 11:23:16 CEST 2011

Call for papers

Media Transatlantic IV – Traffic
March 29 – 31, 2012
University of Paderborn, Germany

Harold Innis taught us to look at the media as a form of traffic.  
Media products/signs travel just like things and people; constantly  
flowing, they overcome space and time, partly on communal and partly  
on dedicated networks.

Traffic is the sum of its parts, made up of an infinite number of acts  
of transport and transfer. It is, however, more than that, because  
traffic has its own logic and forms its own structures and rules.

Traffic is frequently compared with water: it finds a way, forms  
trickles, raging currents and dissipative structures. In certain  
places it collects, accumulates, stands still; or seeps away. Traffic  
and sign traffic cannot be stopped: they overcome any obstacle,  
penetrate everything and wear away anything fixed: one can plan, steer  
and direct them, but probably not control them.

Sign traffic poses a particular problem when it comes to observation.  
There is no “royal over-looking position” from which there would be a  
view of the entire proceedings; it is difficult to describe in  
qualitative terms, while empirical approaches must rely on counting.

This conference is intended to take up the image proposed by Innis and  
view the media as a form of traffic. To this end, the following  
questions, for example, are of relevance:

•	Which media phenomena can be described in traffic terms more  
accurately than in another perspective? Is it just a metaphor, or more?
•	Which conceptions of traffic are represented in which fields of  
knowledge? Which of them are viable in an analysis of the media?
•	Is a comprehensive traffic science, encompassing the traffic of  
commodities, people and signs alike, conceivable?
•	Would this be identical to a kind of media ‘logistics’? Or to a  
theory about society on the whole, if Marx speaks of ‘forms of  
intercourse’ and Luhmann of ‘communication’?
•	Which associations do the different connotations of the term  
entail?  In English drug traffic, illicit transactions und air traffic  
control, in German communication in general, and sexual intercourse…
•	What is the relationship between traffic and infrastructure? Is  
traffic only possible on the basis of established infrastructures, or  
does infrastructure come as a consequence of traffic’s requirements?  
What is the relationship between traffic and technology?
•	Are there specific economic rules that steer the flow of traffic?
•	Does traffic –as an adaptive system– allow for a bridging of media  
theory, fluid dynamics and the analysis of complex systems?
•	What do network theories contribute to the understanding of sign  
•	What role does storage –Innis refers to staple production– play in  
relation to flow and traffic?
•	Are there also traffic accidents, tail-backs or blocks in the media  

The scheduled conference continues a series of events, which started  
in 2007 and aim to bring together media scholars from the USA, Canada  
and Germany:

- Re-Reading McLuhan:
An International Conference on Media and Culture in the 21st Century,
Feb. 14-18, 2007, Schloss Thurnau, University of Bayreuth, Germany
Hosts: Klaus Benesch, Kerstin Schmidt, Martina Leeker, Derrick de  
Publ.: de Kerckhove, Derrick; Leeker, Martina; Schmidt, Kerstin (ed.):
McLuhan neu lesen. Kritische Analysen zu Medien und Kultur im 21.  
Bielefeld: Transcript 2008

- Media Theory on the Move.
Transatlantic Perspectives on Media and Mediation
May 21-23, 2009, University of Potsdam, Germany
Host: Dieter Mersch	

- Media Transatlantic
Media Theory in North America and German-Speaking Europe
April 8-10, 2010, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Hosts: Norm Friesen, Richard Cavell

The Media Transatlantic IV – Traffic conference is organised by the  
Graduiertenkolleg “Automatisms” (Research Training Group) at the  
University of Paderborn, Germany

The Research TG will cover part of your travel expenses.

Please send your title and an abstract of about 500 characters to:
Prof. Dr. Hartmut Winkler [winkler at uni-paderborn.de]

Deadline for submissions is July 31, 2011.

PDF-Download: http://www.uni-paderborn.de/fileadmin/gk-automatismen/CfP_Media_Transatlantic_IV_Traffic.pdf

Theo Röhle
Post-doctoral researcher

University of Paderborn
Research Training Group "Automatisms"
Warburger Str. 100
D-33098 Paderborn
Tel:	+49-5251 / 60 - 3230