Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters: Free Academy Evening talk examines politics in the age of social media

Contact: Jason A. Smith, communications director, 608.263.1692 x21

Jennifer Smith, Academy Evenings director, 608.263.1692 x12

MADISON—Facebook users are soon expected to hit the one-billion mark and Twitter users are posting upwards of 200 million tweets per day. Social media is a fast-growing phenomenon that is here to stay, and it’s no surprise that politicians and citizens alike have found ways to use it for political means. From Facebook pages for politcal groups of every stripe to politicians announcing their candidacies via Twitter, social media is redefining the rules of political discourse and campaigning.

In a free Academy Evening talk entitled Social Media and Political Organizing: Slacktivism or Game-changer hosted by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters, Lewis Friedland and Michael Xenos will address social media as a rapidly growing force in American politics. This public event will take place Monday, September 24, at 7:00 pm in the lecture hall of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 227 State Street. There will be ample time for audience Q&A and lively discussion with these leading experts. While the talk is free, interested attendees can reserve a seat through the Wisconsin Academy website at http://www.wisconsinacademy.org. Reserving a seat is encouraged, though some seats will be saved for walk-in attendees.

About the Presenters

Lewis Friedland is a professor in the UW–Madison School of Journalism & Mass Communication and an affiliated professor in the Department of Sociology. Friedland founded and curently directs the Center for Communication and Democracy at UW–Madison. Michael Xenos is an associate professor of communication arts at UW–Madison who studies new media and civic engagement. Xenos is currently working on a research study with an Australian colleague that investigates patterns of social media use and political engagement among young people in three countries: Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Friedland and Xenos will discuss the latest research at the intersection of politics and social media. They will explore questions like: Does social media enable real dialogue among citizens with differing views, or merely create an echo chamber that reinforces previously-held opinions? Will social media augment or erode traditional media coverage of political campaigns and events? What role does social media play in person-to-person engagement in our 21st-century democracy?

About Academy Evenings

Academy Evening talks engage citizens in a wide variety of topics of public interest and feature leading thinkers, scholars, and artists from across Wisconsin and beyond. These free forums are intended to encourage participation in an intimate atmosphere that fosters discussion and builds community. The Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters sponsors Academy Evenings regularly in Overture Center for the Arts in Madison and at other venues across the state. For more information on Academy Evenings, visit wisconsinacademy.org/talks.