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When the ‘Messiah’ went to ‘Mecca’: Envisioning and reporting the digital future at the CeBIT tech fair (1986–2018)

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Schwarzenegger C., Balbi G.
Articolo pubblicato in rivista scientifica
At consumer and tech fairs, the future of digital technologies has always been imagined. In this study, we investigate how the annual CeBIT tech fair (held in Hanover, Germany, from 1986 to 2018) and a keynote speech given there by Bill Gates in 1995 have been constructed, framed, and substantiated through media coverage and in mediated memory. Thanks to a qualitative content analysis, based on more than 500 articles published in general interest media and technology magazines, the ways the future of digitization was, and partially still is, imagined and narrated at tech fairs emerge. It is a quasi-religious future, predicted in quasi-religious gatherings (the ‘Mecca’ of digital futures), where gurus (Messiahs) and new ideas emerged, are celebrated, criticized, or rejected. During fairs, there is also a political and strategic use of the future because the ways digitization is forecast can shape and drive its future through investments and obliged visions. Keywords: Bill Gates, CeBIT, digital history, digitization, future in the past, media history, Microsoft, tech fairs, digital media
Convergence, online first
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