What role do publishers play in times of self-learning recommendation technologies?

On 18/07/2013, I held a keynote presentation to introduce a panel discussion at the Munich School of Philosophy with the title “Digital normal: Publishing world in upheaval!?”. There followed a thought-provoking and inspiring discussion with Prof. Dr. Brüntrup, Prof. Dr. Dr. Wallacher, Dr. Bornebusch, Dr. Tomas van Dorp and Prof. Dr. Grottel.

Christopher Koska (wissenmedia) at the Munich School of Philosophy.

Christopher Koska (wissenmedia) at the Munich School of Philosophy.

Digitisation does not only cause changes in the primary output medium (from print to digital), but also in regard to established editorial processes. With conventional methods, the flood of information on the World Wide Web cannot be evaluated and reasonably edited anymore. Research work must therefore be increasingly carried out by self-learning software agents. Beneath the surface of adaptive user interfaces relevant Big Data is structured by trained classifiers and obtained by using crowdsourcing and social analytics. Via personalised recommender systems the filtered content is then delivered context sensitive to the particular user – so far the vision for an intelligent web.

Is there still space for professionally researched and by editorial policy compiled content in this scenario? Dr. Bornebusch, CEO of Klett-Langenscheidt GmbH, emphasised the importance of the gatekeeper function that was previously in the hands of publishers. Professor Brüntrup, who has research interests in Philosophy of Language and Applied Ontology, clearly stated that it will take much longer until the vision of an intelligent web becomes reality if the semantic structuring of knowledge is left to the present evolutionary process.

Conclusion from the audience: Particularly against the background of statistical probability theories and hidden agendas there should (still) be a trustworthy gatekeeper, an authority that offers verified information and creates transparency within the algorithmic black box for consumers.

Consequently, if publishers want to shape the future, they need to redefine their role, both on the level of primary media and information technology. With the EEXCESS project, Brockhaus has the opportunity to face this challenge.

Christopher Koska
IT-Project Manager at wissenmedia in der inmediaONE] GmbH
E-Mail: Christopher.Koska@Bertelsmann.de

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