Visibility in the digital age: Introduction
In the digital age, calls for transparency and openness as well as for privacy and confidentiality prevail: Struggles for visibility occur simultaneously with conflicts regarding invisibility and hidden battles for power and privileges of interpretation. Concerns about a loss of digital self-determination exist, just like those regarding the “right to be forgotten” or the right to become invisible and unseen. While the idea of a “transparent user” – as the ultimate notion of (in)voluntary visibility – has caused a broad outcry in society and in scientific debates a few years ago (Palfrey & Gasser, 2008), the discussion has shifted toward considerations of Internet governance and regulation (Camenisch, Fischer-Hübner, & Hansen, 2015). Brighenti (2010, p. 109) has pointed out that visibility has long been one of the key aspects “associated with the public sphere” and that in today’s digitized publics, the “project of democracy can no longer be imagined without taking into account visibility and its outcomes” (Brighenti, 2010, p. 189). Visibility and invisibility, along with their societal outcomes, are increasingly being discussed and analyzed, as they are becoming important dimensions in the accurate description and explanation of digital communication.
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