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[Nettime-nl] Reminder: Amsterdam New Media Summer Talks, 11 augustus 200
Digital Methods Initiative on Wed, 6 Aug 2008 17:49:47 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-nl] Reminder: Amsterdam New Media Summer Talks, 11 augustus 2008, 13-17u Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam.

Hallo Nettimers,
op 11 augustus 2008 organiseert het Digital Methods Initiative een  
lezingenmiddag genaamd 'Amsterdam New Media Summer Talks: Networked  
Content', met bijdragen van: Warren Sack, Alex Galloway, Greg Elmer en  
Anat Ben-David. De voertaal is Engels, entree is gratis en het vindt  
plaats in het Allard Pierson Museum van 13-17u.
Zie hieronder voor een uitgebreide beschrijving van het programma en  
de afzonderlijke presentaties.
Vriendelijke groet,

///// Amsterdam New Media Summer Talks: Networked Content

Monday, 11 August 2008, 1 - 5 pm
Location: Nina van Leer Zaal, Allard Pierson Museum, Oude Turfmarkt  
129 (“Bijzondere Collecties” Entrance), Amsterdam.
Free entry, followed by drinks, 5 - 6.30pm

Warren Sack, Alexander Galloway, Greg Elmer and Anat Ben-David explore  
the contents of networks. The Summer Talks are hosted by Richard  
Rogers. The program is part of the 10-year Jubilee of Govcom.org, the  
group responsible for the Issue Crawler and other info-political tools  
for the Web. It is also part of the Digital Methods Summer School as  
well as the New Media Research Lecture Series, Media Studies,  
University of Amsterdam. See http://www.govcom.org/, http://www.digitalmethods.net/ 
, and http://mastersofmedia.hum.uva.nl/.
Further information: info {AT} digitalmethods.net

///// Digital Methods Summer Program Substance

Networked Content: Turning Away From the User
The Amsterdam Digital Summer program re-introduces the turn away from  
the user as content-organizing agent on the Web. Instead, it puts  
forward a device-centric approach to the study of what may be termed  
networked content. As valuable as the importation of fan studies has  
been in showing how a participatory culture gives rise to collective  
intelligence, it neglects what may be termed algorithmic consequences,  
that is, the manner in which content is delivered by devices in the  
first instance. The turn away from the user is at once a  
methodological as well as techno-epistemological program. Instead of  
placing video cameras over the users' shoulders or affixing eye  
trackers, for example, a Web device diagnostics is preferred. How are  
the scanners, crawlers, scrapers and all other manner of content  
capturing devices changing the way Web effects are analysed? In engine  
critiques, the question remains which content is  served, when and  
where? In sphere critiques (websphere, blogosphere, newssphere,  
tagosphere), similarly the question concerns the distance of certain  
content from the surface, and how it may make itself known or hidden.  
For the new spaces, e.g., syndication and other feed arenas, content  
spread and coverage are under-interrogated.

///// Summer Talks I

Software Studies

Warren Sack
University of California, Santa Cruz, USA

 From the start, computer science has been concerned with automation,  
the means to replace people with machinery, in other words, to move  
people “out of the loop.” This is evident even in the founding,  
theoretical document of the field, where A.M. Turing (1936) states  
that his focus is on “automatic machines” which can run without  
intervention by an external, human operator. But, as computers and  
networks moved out of the lab and into homes, businesses and social  
spaces, software and hardware designers turned to social science –  
psychology, sociology and now, increasingly cultural anthropology – to  
understand the interface between people and machines and to rethink  
computers as a medium of communication between people. In its initial  
move to articulate a new field of study, computer science focused on  
machinery to the exclusion of people and has, subsequently, had to  
supplement its focus with ideas from social sciences to engage  
individuals, society, and most recently culture. Lucy Suchman’s (1987,  
2007) pioneering work at Xerox PARC fundamentally changed computer  
science (especially artificial intelligence and human-computer  
interaction) to the extent that now most large, industry research labs  
(e.g., IBM, Intel, etc.) include cultural anthropologists. Bruno  
Latour and other Actor-Network Theorists have argued that social  
science has, unfortunately, tried to limit its scope to humans and  
exclude technology from its descriptions. In many ways, this is the  
converse of computer science’s opening move to leave people “out of  
the loop” in order to focus exclusively on technology. ANT opens  
social theory to technology both in its analysis and its vocabulary.  
Especially in newer manifestations, ANT redeploys the vocabularies of  
computer science to interrogate sociotechnical couplings (cf.,  
Latour’s (2005a) usage of “object-oriented programming” and his  
extended analogy between web browser “plug-in” software and the  
circulation of subjectivity (Latour, 2005b)). So, “translation” (a la  
Callon and Latour) is happening in both directions: from computer  
science to science studies and back. This double translation  
constitutes a locus of activity in which computer science is executed  
as science studies and vice versa. The software of Richard Rogers,  
Andrei Mogoutov, and others in science studies demonstrates one aspect  
of this activity and the software of Phil Agre, Paul Dourish and  
others in computer science demonstrates another. Following new media  
theorists, I call this area of activity “software studies.” “Software  
studies” is a phrase coined by Lev Manovich in his book, The Language  
of New Media, and is the title of a recent collection edited by  
Matthew Fuller, Software Studies: A Lexicon. In this paper, I propose  
a definition of this emerging field of inquiry, software studies, and  
demonstrate some possibilities by using software I have written with  
colleagues and students over the past decade to summarize and  
visualize debates and discussions that take place in Open Source  
Software development efforts and in newsgroups and blogs devoted to  
politics and culture.

///// Summer Talks II

Alternative Algorithms (On Method)

Alexander Galloway
New York University, USA

It happens from time to time that a certain amount of reflection  
becomes necessary, not simply concerning the objects of the mind, but  
as to the actual manner in which intellectual work is done. This  
typically comes under the heading of methodology, which today has a  
distinctly liberal profile. With method, it is often more a question  
of suitability than existential correctness, often more a question of  
personal style than universal context. Hence methodological  
discussions these days often devolve into a sort of popularity  
contest. Who advocates what method and for what purpose? Which general  
equivalent trumps all others--is it race, or is it class, or is it the  
logos, or the archive, or the gaze, or desire, play, excess,  
singularity, resistance, or perhaps life itself--elevating one  
methodological formation above all others in a triumphant critique (to  
end all future critique)? In this paper I examine what sorts of  
methodological approaches make sense today, making the case that the  
proper methodological position for those working critically within  
techno-culture is the creation of alternative algorithms.

///// Summer Talks III

Code Politics: Networking through Traffic and Tags

Greg Elmer
Ryerson University-Infoscape Research Lab, Canada

This presentation provides an overview of the theory, tools, and  
methods developed as part of the three year SSHRC funded Code politics  
project housed at the Infoscape Research Lab, Ryerson University,  
Toronto. The presentation will review the scrapers, analytical tools,  
data sets and visualizations that were developed from three case  
studies: 1) a blog analysis tool underdevelopment for the forthcoming  
Canadian federal election, 2) a YouTube study of networked/embedded  
videos during the Australian federal election and 3) a study of  
political issues circulating on Facebook groups during the Ontario  
provincial election in 2007. The presentation concludes with a  
discussion of cross platform, networked forms of analysis that  
highlight both users and researchers abilities to map and perform  
politics in the webosphere.

///// Summer Talks IV

The promised Cyberland: Does the state of Palestine already exist on  
the Web?

Anat Ben-David
Science, Technology and Society Program, Bar-Ilan University, Israel

Whilst the current status of Palestine is that of a "national  
authority", "(occupied) territories", but not a state, one can say  
that the state of Palestine already exists on the Web since March  
2003, when the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers  
(ICANN) delegated the dot.ps country code Top Level Domain, after the  
two-letter suffix was officially included in the U.N. list for  
recognized countries and territories (ISO3166-1). The official  
representation of Palestine on the Web was seen by many as entailing a  
great and unprecedented potential for creating a "promised cyberland",  
an idealized and imagined cyberspace which will be used as a model for  
the anticipated state on the ground. In a complex geographic reality  
of unconnected Palestinian territories, and restraints put on  
Palestinians from physically contacting each other caused by  
derivatives of the Israeli occupation and the ongoing Palestinian- 
Israeli conflict such as the physical separation between Gaza and the  
West Bank, the Separation Wall, curfews and checkpoints, the  
Palestinian Web takes the discussion of the "imagined" in cyberspace  
beyond imagined communities and identities, to imagined places and  
geographies. Facilitated by ICTs, the Palestinian cyberstate bypasses  
the geographic reality on the ground and provides both continuously  
demarcated space and communication means for advancing public debate,  
polity, and establishment of the kind of statehood the anticipated  
Palestinian state wishes to realize on the ground. From a Web-studies  
and information politics perspectives, the .ps top level domain forms  
an unprecedented opportunity for studying relationships between the  
Web and the ground. Which is mirroring which? Which is anticipating  
which? Do they behave differently? This paper will describe an ongoing  
research project of the Palestinian Web as representing and  
anticipating Palestinian statehood, performed by Govcom.org in  
collaboration with the Advanced Network Research Group, Cambridge  
Security Programme. The various analyses examined different aspects of  
Palestinian statehood on the Web, touching on the physical vs. virtual  
location of Palestinian Websites, Palestinian politics, academia,  
civil society, etc. In an attempt to demarcate and characterize the  
Palestinian Web, we often asked what kind of project has the .ps Web  
become: who is coming to use the .ps domain?  If not demarcated by  
the .ps top level domain, where can the Palestinian Web be found, and  
how can it be defined?  After providing some answers to these  
questions, this paper concludes by discussing the unique contribution  
of Web studies and non-biased, automated internet-based tools in  
mapping politically sensitive issues such as the Palestinian case in  
particular, and asymmetric conflicts in general.

///// Acknowledgments
Digital Methods Summer acknowledges the generous support of the  
Mondriaan Foundation's Interregeling Fund. The Digital Methods  
Initiative is coordinated by Sabine Niederer and Esther Weltevrede,  
PhD candidates, Media & Culture, University of Amsterdam. Further  
information: info {AT} digitalmethods.net
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