Christian Pentzold

Digital media, networked services, and aggregate data are beacons of the future. These
incessantly emerging tools and infrastructures project new ways of communication, bring
unknown kinds of information, and open up untrodden paths of interaction. Yet digital
technologies do not only forecast uncharted times or predict what comes next. They are, it
seems, both prognostic and progressive media: they don’t await the times to come but
realize the utopian as well as dystopian visions which they have always already foreseen. At
the same time, all calculation of anticipations has to rely on past data that profoundly shape
our ability to manage expectations and minimize uncertainties.
In these fast forward dynamics, the special issue of Convergence examines the futuremaking
capacity of networked services and aggregate data. We ask contributions to
consider: What role do digital technologies and data play in the construction and circulation
of future knowledge, e.g., through forecasting, modelling, prediction, or prognosis? What
expectations and anticipatory visions such as promise or warning do accompany the creation
and diffusion of new media? Over the course of history, which imaginaries of social and
technological futures have been propelled by the media innovations at that time? How do
new media technologies and discourses contribute to the production and reproduction of
social time that is future oriented? How do they impact on the ability to exert control over the
future? The full special issue can be read here.