IJoC Publishes Special Section on “The Management of Visibility in the Digital Age

IJoC Publishes Special Section on “The Management of Visibility in the Digital Age

What we see, what we show and how we look are fundamental social concerns made ever more salient by developments in digital technology. Contemporary organizing practices are awash with material, mediated and managed visibilities:  Organizations erect glass buildings with open and networked office spaces to efficiently share information, purchase software to enable deliberative decision making, respond to stakeholder demands by crafting extensive transparency policies, and orchestrate massive flows of information online in the name of accountability. Transparency is the organizational buzzword for good governance and seen as a solution to many societal ills.  But in the digital world, transparency does not simply create insight and cleansing — it also has ominous and ambiguous effects. The dynamics of digital visibility management are far more complicated than suggested by both skeptics and celebrants.

In this Special Section on the Management of Visibility in the Digital Age, edited by Mikkel Flyverbom, Paul Leonardi, Cynthia Stohl and Michael Stohl, the tight bond between communication and the good life via “making transparent” is loosened in a number of ways. The eight contributors each question the presumed unvarnished value of transparency and/or the denigration of secrecy and opacity in communicative acts. Collectively they get to core features of communication: transmuting the hidden to the visible, bringing the submerged to the surface, and turning the private into the public. The contributors rethink transparency in the digital age in four ways: they remind us that that transparency does not emerge sui generis—it is managed visibility; they disentangle visibility from transparency; they turn our attention to the variety of metaphors and mechanisms through which we enact transparency; and they put transparency in a context of power relations and asymmetrical capacities.

Taken together, these articles illustrate the need for further examination of the technological and mediated foundations of transparency and the dynamics of visibility practices resulting from efforts to make people, objects and processes knowable, visible, and governable.

Authors for this Special Section include:

  • Clare Birchall, Kings College, London, UK
  • Jack Bratich, Rutgers University, USA
  • Mikkel Flyverbom, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
  • Shiv Ganesh, Massey University, New Zealand
  • Luke Heemsbergen, University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Paul Leonardi, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA
  • Cynthia Stohl  University of California, Santa Barbara, USA
  • Michael Stohl, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA

We invite you to read these papers that published January 6, 2016 at http://ijoc.org