Professor Black Mirror

Helge Hansen

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I have been planning to do something on Black Mirrorfor quite a while. It’s excellently written (predominantly by Charlie Brooker) and the anthology format is fascinating to work with.

ViSmedia researcher Øyvind Vågnes was recently promoted to professor at the University of Bergen. In addition to his academic career he has published five novels, and his creativity is also present when he uses Black Mirror in a new master program in scrip writing (https://www.uib.no/studier/MASV-MAN). 



He explains that the speculative fiction of Black Mirror provides case studies that work very well as a departure for discussion about current and urgent questions concerning human interaction with technology.

- In the context of the Vismedia project we have talked about how these cases can sometimes resemble future scenarios debated by tech industry and politicians, where questions of innovation, responsibility and regulation are central.  

Professor Vågnes let his script writing students team up with a group of students from a research course who are learning about the critical perspectives and research methods that are central to the Vismedia project. 

- We met rather intensely over the course of a couple of days, experimenting with how we could mutually increase our understanding of the ethically urgent questions that are raised in Black Mirror.

Mixing students from a class in creative writing with students from a research methodology course proved to be a productive setting for conversation. 

- Developing technology is all about being creative, of course, but it is also about being able to imagine challenges ahead. The relationship between how minds work in the tech industry and in the realm of creative writing is interesting, difficult and fun to explore.

The feedback from the students on this way of teaching have been positive. 

- My impression is that they liked it. It’s always refreshing to see something from a new perspective as it might change your own outlook on things. And in general students tend to know Black Mirror well and like to talk about it, so the starting point could have been worse!