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Call for Conference Papers: Emerging technologies, social media and the politics of the algorithm

The Centre for Critical Media Literacy (CCML) at TU Dublin is seeking proposals for papers and panels at its third annual interdisciplinary conference, which seeks to look more deeply at now-familiar concepts such as Artificial Intelligence (and the ubiquitous algorithms that it powers), Big Data, and the Internet of Things. In the last three years talk of these concepts has taken on a pessimistic tone, with concerns about surveillance, manipulation and lost privacy having largely replaced utopian promises of equal and participatory platforms.

Technological University Dublin – City Campus, Aungier Street

October 18 & 19, 2019

For non-computer-scientists, the computation behind today's evolving technology is something of a black box: lack of understanding of how software has evolved is a weakness even in sophisticated social-science and media-studies research. Interdisciplinary encounters are vital also for computer scientists: the evolution of software has brought them into new terrain where they too urgently need to discuss fundamental changes in their own paradigm with other people – researchers whose work demands that they analyse complex and dynamic systems, social and otherwise. Social media algorithms are characterised by a dizzying web of emergent properties and unintended consequences, in societies where most people seem to believe computers are ‘scientific’ and therefore always deterministically behave as programmed to do.

The politics of the algorithm, or what Zeynep Tufekci calls ‘computational politics’, happen in the real world, amid struggles for inclusion and justice; and ‘technopoly’ (Siva Vaidhyanathan’s term) is a vital matter for anyone seeking to address political and economy power. What are the implications of technological change for the people who use systems for communication and social media? What do these complex systems of computation mean, in particular, for those who have been using social media to organise networks and disseminate information? This conference will take an interdisciplinary approach that puts human equality, inclusion and social change – rather than commercially driven techno-enthusiasm or fears of popular engagement – firmly at the centre of the discussion. We encourage researchers to look beyond various symptoms of the social/computational crisis to address its deeper causes. As Vaidhyanathan quips, there are just two things wrong with social media, ‘how it works and how people use it’. We seek challenging, unpatronising and non-reductive explorations of both these ‘hows’.

Proposals are welcome from various disciplines, on themes including computation for social, gaming and information networks; participation and engagement; and pedagogy in and beyond digital media and information literacy. The conference will employ and encourage universal design, for maximum participation from communities often excluded from academic events.

Abstracts and panel proposals of no more than 250 words in length should be sent to harry.browne@dit.ie by June 20th, 2019. 

Committed to equality and participatory research, to inclusion in education at every level, to media as tools for creative engagement, and to 'literacy' that is broad, systemic and critical, the Centre for Critical Media Literacy hosts ongoing projects include experiments in using social media and other tools to promote journalistic transparency in a diverse urban neighbourhood; public events that link academic research in media and technology with community education and production practice, expanding the concept of included ‘publics’ to incorporate people often left out by barriers of, e.g., intellectual and developmental disabilities, age and class; research into systemic dimensions of such exclusions; and study of potential consequences of computational advances on media and communication. For further information, contact deborah.brennan@dit.ie or see criticalmedialiteracy.org

Previous events and publication: The Centre hosted its second annual conference, 'Taking Back the Web', in October 2018, and an inclusive family-friendly parallel event, 'Making the Web'‌. About 200 people attended The inaugural conference of the Centre took place in October 2017. Speakers have included Irish journalist and broadcaster Vincent Browne, artist and activist Grace Dyas, author Gavan Titley, the British Labour Party’s digital consultant Dr Richard Barbrook, Prof David Buckingham, Facebook executive Niamh Sweeney, and many others. The peer-reviewed open-access journal Irish Communications Review has published papers given at the first conference.

Collaborations

 

Contacts

Tel: +353 1 402 3146
Email: harry.browne@dit.ie, deborah.brennan@dit.ie

Featured Projects

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Irish Communications Review: a forum for media-related research

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http://clicnews.ie/

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