Three weeks as a “visiting professor” at the Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia in Jakarta was a short stay. Still, it is enough time to know this beautiful community and exchange academic knowledge, experiences, and social and cultural activities.
The Faculty of Business Administration and Communication Sciences community’s generous and friendly treatment marked my stay in the city, which mainly had stayed the same since my last visit six years ago, crowded, and heavily populated with a permanent traffic jam.
Coming from Le Havre Normandy University in France, with the full support of my research laboratory IDÉES Le Havre and its director Professor Fabien Liénard, I brought my french toolbox of works developed on Trace and digital culture. I added various works (especially North American) that I have been studying for several years on the history of the Internet, social participation and inclusion.
There are many stories to tell about my Indonesian academic mission in this text. I can spend days writing about it. Nevertheless, I want to resume my experience and limit it to the scientific work that I did.
I brought to Jakarta the questions I usually carry on understanding the digital as an environment and a culture and how the Internet was built and works. Moreover, one essential preoccupation concerns participatory culture in the digital era and how to include and empower communities to inhabit the digital and, participate in managing its systems and benefit from its advantages.
These questions travelled with me in the last ten years from France to Brazil, Indonesia, Switzerland, Thailand and now back to Indonesia. While debating these issues with Indonesian colleagues and students, I wanted to lay a foundation stone for the bridge I would like to see between Jakarta and Le Havre. How do we approximate the two institutions and create joint projects in the communication field, exporting the debate to other places, scholars and events?
The seminars, workshops and conferences I conducted were about understanding the history of the Internet, the digital culture and the political dimension of the calculation society. We questioned the history of the Internet as a body (pipes and infrastructure), a language (protocols, software and writing) and an environment (platforms and online malls), referring to the works of Ben Tarnoff, Nicole Starosielski, Emmanuel Souchier, Marcello Vitali-Rosati, Louise Merzeau and others. We treated questions related to some characteristics of the digital environment, like the trace, the hashtag, the algorithm and the role of memory in this context. We evoked some risks and challenges of the digital as cybersecurity and how to manage and archive digital traces and how we can reappropriate them.
Established on the works directed by Béatrice Galinon-Mélénec on the trace and other French scholars, we presented digital traceability as an essential character that describes digital today. We discussed the various definitions of a trace and how we can understand the digital trace and its types.
Furthermore, based on the works of Milad Doueihi on the digital, we tried to describe the cultural revolution and the technical evolution and their impacts on our societies. We referred to the work of Pauline Escande-Gauquié and Bertrand Naivin on digital culture to talk about the hashtag as a technical object and an index that allows attaching messages, users and groups. We spoke about the algorithm as a technical, strategic and political tool that dominate our communication today and create the worlds in which each lives.
We related Dominique Cardon’s book on algorithms to talk about algorithm models linked to different objectives: popularity, authority, reputation and prediction. Moreover, as the School of Communication at Atma Jaya specializes in Corporate Communication, Marketing Communication, and Media and Communication, we debate stakeholders management, network, community and market. We argue that the Internet started as networks that built communities and became markets. One of the biggest challenges we face today is reinventing the Internet for people and communities and not an Internet limited to profit.
I left Jakarta for a one-week international conference in other Indonesian cities before leaving back home. I took much affection from Atma Jaya and “orang Indonesia” (Indonesian people) and new ideas about academic collaboration that need to be developed and realized soon.
“Temanku, kita akan segera bertemu kembali”.