Sunday, February 17, 2013

Getting to Know Pablo Boczkowski

Pablo J. Boczkowski is a professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Northwestern University with an affiliate appointment in the Department of Sociology. He is also the Director of Northwestern's Program in Media, Technology and Society, which seeks to "provide a graduate environment for innovative research in the study of media and communications technologies." 

Boczkowski was born and raised in Argentina, and he received his undergraduate degree and a graduate degree in Psychology at the University of Buenos Aries. According to a 2011 interview by Figure/Ground Communication, Boczkowski said that he first "encountered technology, computing, and the internet" in 1992 near the end of his graduate training in Psychology. He was "mesmerized" by the topic, and he explained: "I began to read more and more about technology and social relations, and the more I read, the more I became fascinated with that and less interested in clinical practice." As a result, he shifted his academic focus, and he received his Ph.D. from the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Cornell University in 2001. Before arriving at Northwestern, he taught at MIT's Sloan School of Management.

Boczkowski describes his research as laying "at the intersection of technology, media, and organization" (Figure/Ground Communication), and, more specifically, he writes on his official department homepage that his research "examines the transition from print to digital media, with a focus on the organizational and occupational dynamics of contemporary journalism." His first book, Digitizing the News, from which two of our weekly readings originated, was published in 2004 and won several Outstanding Book Awards from scholarly organizations. 

His most recent book, News At Work: Imitation in an Age of Abundance, came out in 2010, and Boczkowski's argument seems to hew closely to the ideas of Google's Krishna Bharat as explained in the James Fallows article. In his 2011, interview, Boczkowski said: 
"So far there is a massive decrease in the amount of original information out there; of stuff that is new, which doesn’t show up instantaneously in ten other sites after it first appears. I would say that this has been one of the defining trends over the past five or seven years: an increase in information coupled with a decrease in the diversity of the content" (Figure/Ground Communication).

Boczkowski is currently working on several new book projects, including a study of news preferences of readers and journalists in North America, Latin America, and Western Europe and a book about the decline of traditional print newspapers in Argentina, France, and the United States. These transnational studies should provide interesting perspectives about the similarities and difference that these profound historical changes have had across different nations and cultures.

Boczkowski teaches several undergraduate classes about technology and the media, but, interestingly, despite his long interest in technology, he did not allow students to use computers in his classes until very recently. He explains that "I made the argument that people learn just fine with just pen and paper; [and] that not so long ago those were the only media technologies that people could bring into the classroom to record their thoughts and conversations" (Figure/Ground Communication). One wonders how Boczkowski the scholar would react to a newspaperman who voiced similar thoughts about the sufficiency of ink and newsprint that not so long ago, were among the only media technologies that people could use to organize, print, publish, and deliver the news!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.