But what about next to a news article about alleged animal cruelty in the leather supply chain? Where would you draw the line? In the responsive digital world we live in, every user experience is truly unique. What I see online is different to what you see. We can never truly know what strategy lies behind the adverts we are shown. Second, what is the societal cost of brands steering away from important subjects including race and religion through advertising placement decisions?
For example, an article about fashion in is a much safer place for the moccasins brand to advertise alongside, compared to the article on animal cruelty. The message to the digital platform? Content which is pedestrian, not polarising, pays.
This brings powerful ramifications for democracy and freedom of speech. It is exactly this point that leads many to question the sustainability of digital advertising. Indeed, Facebook is experimenting with ad-free subscription. Finally, in the increasingly automated world of targeted marketing, algorithms are not good at spotting context.
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But algorithms cannot always differentiate content in a meaningful way. When outcomes are unknown, brands will opt for the safest and potentially most sanitised option. This may mean that algorithms shift from being neutral tools to value-laden ones. Worryingly, the only real way to overcome this algorithmic bias is for real live humans to verify content. The human toll of the safety drive should not be underestimated. All of this raises serious questions about the role of marketing in society, and the ethics of big tech.
What is the role of arts education when it comes to issues of social justice? How does the summit community address that? Greenberg: The arts in education community is getting broader and more cross-sector and so we are really working to welcome individuals from all different sectors, bringing all different perspectives.
Often times the artist in the education sphere can take on the role of the squeaky wheel and bring that into the classroom.
I think educators do these things in many different ways, not just the in arts, but the arts offer a really accessible and open way to delve into these questions with students. If you think about it, wearing a sticker in general is an artistic statement so that can even be a really big catalyst. It takes a broader view of the field than a lot of other programs might so the folks that we reach out to are not all art teachers. We have such an amalgamation of people that touch on the arts in their work … it allows the conversation to have a bit more flavor and a bit more complexity.
And we give space and we give voice to that. Why is that? Greenberg: We, as arts educators, are already taking such a risk just to be arts educators because of the financial strain and challenges that come with trying to make that work happen in any setting. I think it can be very hard to raise questions in a workplace setting or school. A veteran singer-songwriter goes back to school to find better ways to advocate for students with mental illness and addiction. More than educators from the AIE community gathered last fall for a two-day summit to paint, create, and continue the conversation.
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