ICA 2019 Post-Conference


DATE:  Wednesday, May 29

TIME: 9am-6pm


Stuart Cunningham, Queensland University of Technology

Patricia Aufderheide, American University

Tarleton Gillespie, Microsoft Research

Colin Maclay, USC Annenberg Innovation Lab

David Craig, USC Annenberg


Members of ICA Divisions and Interest Groups (with particular reference to Media Industries interest group and Communication Law and Policy and Popular Communication divisions) are invited to submit 400 word statements outlining the contribution they could make to this workshop. Acceptance will be based on relevance to the themes of the workshop. If your contribution is accepted, you will be placed in a panel or roundtable and may be expected to make a very short presentation of your contribution, respond in an Q&A style format, and contribute generally across the day. You may also be expected to prepare a longer version of your contribution for subsequent publication.

Submit statements in WORD clearly labelled “Last Name-ICA 2019-Creator Conference”

Email to


Deadline to submit: 1 February 2019


Variously termed influencers, Youtubers, vloggers, or livestreamers, online creators operate centrally within social media entertainment (SME), a term coined by Cunningham & Craig (2019) to describe an emerging industry that communicates at scale beyond boundaries.  SME creators are native social media entrepreneurs hacking the commercial and network affordances of platforms to aggregate participatory and engaged fan communities for cultural and commercial value. As alternative forms of creative labor, creators disrupt the industrial norms of legacy media.  With varying levels of agency, creators represent diverse forms of expression that offer an alternative to 20th century mass media hegemony while often seeming to hyper-inscribe consumption-based capitalism. Creator culture can comprise nodes within a precarious gig economy fostering new artisanal business often outside of “media capitals” (Curtin 2007) and agglomerative media capitalism.

In the wake of the “Techlash” (The Economist 2018), the clarion call for improved platform governance has raised vital concerns around hate speech and fake news, platform surveillance, data breaches and privacy violations.  In response, platform self-regulation has left creator careers in its wake, with demonetization due to the “Adpocalypse” affecting marginalized and civic-minded creators. Scholars have recently identified creators as stakeholders in these concerns, including Gillespie (2018), who calls for platforms to treat content moderation as a “defining service” rather than a “necessary evil”.  Children’s social media policies and activists collapse distinctions between creators, advertisers, and naïve users. FTC rules on disclosure have placed more onerous burdens on creators than their counterparts in legacy media or advertising. There is an Atlantic faultline between European and US media and platform policies that exposes deep differences over principle and practice. The EU’s Amendment 13 would not only have challenged US provisions of Fair Use and the DMCA, but also threatened creator viability.

This ICA post-conference workshop will explore the range of policy, governance, and regulatory concerns that most directly impact creators operating with social media entertainment.  The workshop will convene scholars, creators, activists, bureaucrats, and platform executives. Organizations and individuals to be invited include the FCC and FTC, prominent creators like Hank Green, the Internet Creators Guild, and Freedom of Music Coalition.   The program will feature panels, working lunches, and roundtable debates; curated content will appear in a white paper along with other publication opportunities. The event is hosted by Communication Studies, School of Communication, American University with sponsoring support from USC’s Annenberg Innovation Lab and QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre.

This is an invitation-only event.

FEE:    Scholars are to pay US$25 fee to contribute to catering and venue costs.

VENUE: American University/ School of Communication

4400 Massachusetts Ave NW

Washington, DC 20016