Call: Mediating Justice: The Changing Nature of Presence in the Era of Ubiquitous Technology (special issue of AI & Society)

Special issue AI & Society, Journal for Knowledge, Culture and Communication

Mediating Justice: the changing nature of presence in the era of ubiquitous technology

Editors: Dr. Caroline Nevejan, Professor Inge van der Vlies, Dr. Satinder Gill

Papers are presented at EIT Conference Mediating Presence, 2-4 December 2013 Delft University of Technology.

Dates: abstracts: August 30th, acceptance September 15th, paper submission November 15th, Conference 2- 4 December 2013 Delft University of Technology, final papers March 15th, publication AI & Society 2014.


The ubiquitous use of media and networks has fundamentally changed social and organizational processes in today’s societies. The speed and scale of information and communication is challenging the process of Justice. The mediated courtroom, in on- and offline contexts, with new types of evidence, and new ways of presenting evidence are emerging in many different Courts of Law.

The International tribunal in The Hague has been broadcasting its sessions for more than a decade. What is the effect of this media use? Has the Tribunal acquired more authority and/or respect? Is the process of justice affected by the live broadcast, and if so, how?

A number of nations have been experimenting in their courts with the use of audio and visual mediated witnesses. What are the issues witnesses, lawyers, prosecutors and judges face when dealing with witnesses at a distance? In the courtroom emotions play an important role (Dahlberg 2009). How are emotions sensed in mediated presence? How well is body language perceived? And can the tacit and the unsaid be sensed? These simple yet complex questions about justice, the process of justice, and the place of justice in a globalizing world, are the focus of this special issue.  These need to be understood.

Does mediation offer an extra quality to the process of justice? Can a Judge be mediated? Is a completely mediated online courtroom desirable, and If so, under what conditions? Can the process of justice be mediated?

High quality media and smart design of the physical environments (i.e. architecture) ameliorate the sense of realness when mediating presence.  Representations in full media cities have surpassed the era of mechanical reproduction and acquired media-auric effect. How can we (how can we not) place our trust in images? Are processes of signification transformed in endless data streams and real time interactions? What anchors or authorizes visual images when the original no longer matters? The iconoclash in this era of digital baroque demands for a new visual literacy and metaphysical outlook, argues Richard Sherwin (Sherwin 2011). How can such literacy be built? What is foundational to a new metaphysical outlook?

Digital traces are automatically generated on many servers around the world and these servers are mostly owned by commercial multinational businesses that deal with different judicial contexts in a variety of nation states in which they operate. Participating in networks generates a new sense of causality in which political and commercial boundaries are opaque. How can people accept responsibility for their words and deeds in these complex distributed network environments?

In global networks the dynamics of net-etiquette is developing and global communication skills are being learned. The idea of justice, Amartya Sen argues, is intuitively understood by young and old and is affected by what people can do. How is the idea of justice in networks emerging? Can the impact of violence be sensed in mediated presence when so many games and media productions desensitize its participants? How are criminal acts noticed and by whom? What obstacles does the prosecution face because of the scale and speed of network communication and transactions?

Cryptology and closed networks create zones of non-interference in which the ‘local’ culture decides what is true or false, what is good or bad. The public domain and the public good are fundamental for the process of justice, but the public domain seems to be disappearing in the globalizing commercial world. Can there be justice without a public domain? With no privacy and no public domain, can the frame of law survive in future networked societies?

This special issue seeks to explore the fundamental judicial issues we face in the decades to come. We welcome, amongst others, contributions on the following subjects:

  • Emerging architectures for justice
  • Emerging architectures of presence
  • Emerging visual literacy for justice and law
  • New metaphysical outlook for justice in the network society
  • Mediating Justice
  • Mediating Presence in the Courtroom
  • Mediated Judicial Persona (judge, witness, prosecutor, lawyer, offender, victim)
  • Network action as judicial deed
  • Being witness to mediated action
  • Justice in networks with no use of court
  • Capacity for justice in networks
  • Capabilities needed for network justice
  • Mediating justice outside the courtroom
  • Servers as the new public domain
  • Effect of no privacy on judicial processes
  • Causality in network society
  • Judicial dynamic between commercial and political realm
  • The place of justice in a globalizing world


Dahlberg L., 2009.  Emotional tropes in the courtroom: On representation of affect and emotion in legal court proceedings, Nordic Theatre Studies 21 (2009), pp. 129-152; also published in Law and Humanities, Vol. 3, No. 2 (2009), pp. 175-205

Sherwin R., 2011. Visualizing Law in the age of digital baroque: arabesques and entanglements. Routledge, New York.

Sen A., 2009. The idea of Justice. Penguin Books, London


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