Richard Rogers on Mon, 6 Sep 1999 17:09:10 +0200 (CEST)

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nettime-nl: Announcement: Internet Knowledge Symposium - Amsterdam

6 September 1999

Please forward where appropriate, and excuse cross-postings

Symposium Announcement by the Design & Media Fellowship, Jan van Eyck
Academy, the Netherlands


Preferred Placement: The Hit Economy, Hyperlink Diplomacy and Web Epistemology.

at Theatrum Anatomicum, de Waag, Society for Old and New Media, Nieuwmarkt,
Saturday, 16 October

Preferred placement is a term employed by search engine companies for
boosting sites in query returns. Organisations pay engine companies to have
their sites placed higher in search engine returns, in order to receive
more hits. When they add up, hits count. In the hit economy, organisations
hope to gain banner advertising revenue and demonstrable net presence. Hit
counts show presence. They indicate measures of site popularity and
reliability. Or do they?

A different measure of reliability and reputability may be found in
hyperlinks. Quantities of 'links in' single out the authoritative voices on
the web, according to the latest engine logics. Hyperlinking is telling in
other ways, too. It shows which organisations acknowledge the presence and
relevance of others. It also may indicate trust between organisations. When
larger sets of organisational interlinkings are mapped, networks of power
and knowledge, and landscapes of discourse and debate may be found.

Exploring new engine logics and information visualisation techniques, the
symposium will focus on how knowledge is being gained these days from
'reading between the links'. We refer to these new forms of knowing as web

The symposium includes presentations on the following:

Web epistemology: Tracking and authoring reliability
Banners, clicks and rings: In defense of the hit economy
The Web as political economy
Cybergeographies: The new Mappae Mundi
Footprints in the snow: Subjective and contextual social navigation
Hyperlink diplomacy: Inside the emerging link economy
Playing with search engines and mapping geographies of power & knowledge Experimenting with the persistent pluralist potential
The debate engine: Dynamic systems for public dialogue
10 years of social theory of the net
Virtual Society?
A visual language for hyperlink theory

Speakers and discussants include:
Prof. Steve Woolgar, Brunel University; Martin Dodge, University College,
London;  Dr Matthew Chalmers, University of Glasgow; Nick Durrant,
MetaDesign, London; Korinna Patelis, Goldsmiths College, London; Dr Richard
Rogers, University of Amsterdam/Royal College of Art; Michael Murtaugh,
Jam! Media for Public Dialog, Amsterdam; Prof. Gillian Crampton-Smith,
Computer Related Design, Royal College of Art, London; Dr Gerald Wagner,
Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung, Berlin; Michael Kay, Electronic Publishing
Programme, Open Society Institute, Budapest

Pre-registration recommended. Information and registration:
Further information: Richard Rogers, 31.43.350.3576,

Programme Description

The symposium takes up one of the everlasting challenges of the Web. In
1994, before the advent of search engines, portals, Netscape Navigator and
Internet Explorer, the Millenium Whole Earth Catalog posed the classic
problem as follows.

"The least discussed, but most important aspect of what's ahead is quality
assurance. The democratic nature of the Net, where eminent scientists and
isolated crackpots can publish side by side, leads to wide variations in
the self-policing. . . . Authenticating that a resource is the definitive,
unedited version is next to impossible."

Various strides have been made towards not only authenticating the 'real
source', but also determining and then boosting the more reliable sites
over the less reliable. The symposium opens by taking stock of these
efforts to distinguish between the eminent and the crackpot, and to
establish levels of reliability and reputability.

In the introduction dr. Richard Rogers, design & media fellow at the Jan
van Eyck Academy, sets up some of the problems to be tackled during the
symposium. From virtual mastheads and red star reliability graphics to
collaborative filtering and network mapping, he will describe the various
attempts made thus far to create voices of authority on the web, and to
move the net beyond the rumour mill. He also will introduce the day's

If the Web comes closer than most media to date in creating a condition of
perfect information, perhaps the market is able to separate the wheat from
the chaff. In defense of the hit economy, Nick Durrant, information
designer and corporate web consultant at MetaDesign, London, explains what
we can learn from interpreting hit counts. He also will take us through the
emerging cache economies.

Infomediaries, as they are called, are one of the forces that configure
what we come to know from the web. Combined browser and portal providers,
such as America On-Line, perform on-line power by putting up signs and
directions on their opening pages. Speaking about the phenomenon of
signposting, Korinna Patelis, lecturer in the political economy of the
Internet at Goldsmiths College, London, will relate how these cultural
environments construct information and knowledge much like langugage
constructs perception.

Perhaps the most palpable method for understanding new spaces is mapping.
Cybergeographers, as Martin Dodge of University College London will show
and tell, employ techniques of yesteryear in charting the latest mappae
mundi, as medieval world maps were called. New data mining technologies
also are driving the development of contemporary visualisation techniques.
Novel ways to read data traffic and information trafficking are at hand;
they also give an indication of what we do not know about the Web.

Situating knowledge involves situating the author. In the ongoing
information authorship debate, ushered in decades ago by hypertext
theorists, two distincts positions have emerged, represented at the
symposium. The early afternoon will be devoted to fleshing out the value of
tracing the path of the surfer, and reading and sharing the stories
authored. Dr. Matthew Chalmers, lecturer in information visualisation at
the University of Glasgow, will explain how the single and the collective
journey may be utilised. He will present Recer, a social navigation tool
based on subjectivity and context.

Are journeys and stories also being authored by webmasters? Another
approach to the navigation debate looks for the discourses and stories made
through strategic hyperlinking by webmasters. Noortje Marres,
theorist-in-residence at the Jan van Eyck Academy, will delve into the
methods by which a network may be rubbed, before stories through it are
traced. Introducing, the fellowship's conceptual URL, Richard
Rogers joins her in explaining the kinds of transdiscursive stories they
are seeking.

In close collaboration with the Fellowship theorists, the designers at the
Academy have been developing a visual link language. The design project
shows how authority and reliabiliy on the web may be authored. Stephanie
Hankey, designer-in-residence, Ian Morris, programmer-in-residence, and
Alex Bruce Wilkie will present how one may locate the authoritative voices
in specific discourses, in a glance. They'll also introduce the working
design outcomes of not hypertext, but hyperlink theory.

In one model of social innovation, dialogue is being sought between .gov's,
.com's and .org's; in another it must be driven by public participation.
Michael Murtaugh, formerly of newMetropolis and now of Jam! New Media for
Public Dialog in Amsterdam, will show how dynamic narrative structures
place authors and audience in a continual dialog. He also will demonstrate
the public debate engine, first developed at the Amsterdam science &
technology center as an input device for public policy-making.

In the final portion of the day, meta-perspectives are put forward. Dr.
Gerald Wagner, Feuilleton journalist for the new Berlin pages of the
Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung, will comment critically on the last ten
years of social theory of the Net. Steve Woolgar, professor of sociology at
Brunel University and head of the major U.K. ESRC Virtual Society?
programme, will provide the most counter-intuitive results of the 22
research projects on virtuality. Finally, Gillian Crampton-Smith, Professor
in Computer Related Design at the Royal College of Art, will open a
discussion with the symposium about what electronic publishers, designers
and theorists may learn from new notions of web epistemology.

Upon conclusion the directorship of the Jan van Eyck Academy will receive
the symposium.

The Symposium is held in association with Computer Related Design Research
at the Royal College of Art. The Fellowship is supported by the City of
Maastricht, the Province of Limburg, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and
the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

Day Design by Peter Bilak.


If ARPANET's first 'ping' is taken as its birth, the Net is 30 years old on
the 20th of October, 1999.


Limited seating is available, so please register for the Symposium before 1
October. Registration is fl. 35,-

All registration, symposium and fellowship information are available at For immediate registration jump to Server runs on Linux.

For more detailed information on the Fellowship research work, contact
Richard Rogers,, tel. 31 43 350 3756.

The symposium papers will be compiled in an edited volume. Publication
information will appear on the web site in November. Registrants
will receive that information by email.

Symposium programme subject to change.

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