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What Is Editorialization?

What is editorialization and why is it useful?

For philosopher Marcello Vitali-Rosati, editorialization is no less than a philosophical theory: it allows us to understand and build the world.

Because it underlines the structure, editorialization gives us the possibility of understanding digital space and understanding the meaning of our actions in that space: it reveals us the relationships between objects, dynamics, the forces, the apparatuses of power, the sources of authority.

(Marcello Vitali-Rosati, «Pour une théorie de l’éditorialisation» in Humanités numériques, vol. 1, 2020.)

The theory of editorialization has an epistemological aspect (it allows us to understand the world).

In a digital connected world, to exist is to be editorialized.

To be an individual with social connection means being on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn; to be a restaurant means being “findable” on Google, Apple or Yelp maps.

From this existential observation, the theory has an ontological aspect (it tells us something about being and the mode of existence of things).

Marcello speaks of a true architecture—not a metaphorical one—of spaces that we actually inhabit.

Digital space is not a parallel space, it is the main space of our life, or to be more precise, the space where our lives emerge. It is therefore fundamental that we keep a watch so that this space promotes—or at least permits—the values which are important to us—whatever those values are.

(Marcello Vitali-Rosati)

Human future in these new spaces has its own issues regarding individual and collective autonomy. The theory of editorialization, with its political aspect, also allows us to reflect on the issues regarding power and sovereignty.

Digital literacy becomes a condition of possibility to avoid us becoming puppets animated only by the constraints and the determinations of the forces constructing our space.

(Marcello Vitali-Rosati)

To understand the world (digital or not), it is also being able to act upon it.

A broadened definition

Definition of editorialization in 2016:

Editorialization is the set of dynamics that produce and structure digital space. These dynamics can be understood as the interactions of individual and collective actions within a particular digital environment.

(Marcello Vitali-Rosati, 2016)

Revised definition of editorialization in 2020:

Editorialization is the set of dynamics that constitute digital space and that allow, following this constitution, the emerging of meaning. These dynamics are the result of different forces and actions which determine after the fact the appearance and the identification of particular objects (people, communities, algorithms, platforms…).

(Marcello Vitali-Rosati, 2020)

The fusion of these two definitions:

Editorialization is the set of dynamics that produce and structure constitute digital space and that allow, following this constitution, the emerging of meaning. These dynamics can be understood as are the result of different forces and actions the interactions of individual and collective actions within a particular digital environment which determine after the fact the appearance and the identification of particular objects (persons, communities, algorithms, platforms…).