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Come to Critical Algorithm Studies workshop

Everywhere on the internet, algorithmic systems try to trap, hook, grab, or otherwise capture users through recommendations. This workshop focuses on how critical scholars can gain from analyzing recommendation systems through this entrapment analogy. DATALAB co-organizes the exciting PhD symposium at AIAS on May 27.

Recommendation systems are a ubiquitous feature of contemporary cultural life online. Through them, users receive suggestions for music, films, books, and other materials. Nick Seaver’s anthropological studies have revealed a particular tendency among recommendation developers to describe their purpose as ‘hooking’ people – enticing them into frequent or enduring usage.

This PhD symposium explores various ways that algorithmic systems are designed to trap, hook, grab, or otherwise capture users. As recommendation systems spread and become practically inescapable, how can critical scholars analyze the epistemic, economic, and technical contexts through the lens of entrapment? Seaver notes, “as recommenders spread across online cultural infrastructures and become practically inescapable, thinking with traps offers an alternative to common ethical framings that oppose tropes of freedom and coercion” (2019).

Announcing an exciting PhD symposium at Aarhus University’s Institute for Advanced Studies, co-sponsored by DATALAB, the Digital Living Research Commons (DLRC), and the Future Making Research Consortium (FMRC).

Dr. Nick Seaver (Tufts University), a leading thinker in this area, joins us for this symposium, along with digital materialities scholar Dr. Debora Lanzeni (Monash University). They, along with Aarhus University Professors Anja Bechmann and Annette Markham, will facilitate a workshop for thinking about how such systems relate to broader infrastructural ecologies of knowledge and technology.

The symposium is targeted to PhD students, but any participant is welcome, up to 20 seats, from any discipline or location. No fee for participation, but registration required. Click here to register

Format: This PhD workshop will include a lecture, panel discussion among algorithm and affordance scholars, and a speculative design workshop to consider how “speculative traps” could be used as tools to think about how common recommendation systems are working, or how everyday users might consider ‘trap’ metaphors as a tool to think about the ethics and politics of recommendation systems.

Schedule of Events:

  • 13:00 (sharp) – 14:15 Speculative design workshop
  • 14:30 – 15:30 Keynote by Nick Seaver: “Algorithmic systems as traps”
  • 15:45 – 17:00 Panel discussion with Nick Seaver, Anja Bechmann, Debora Lanzeni, and Annette Markham
  • 17:00 – 18:00 Wine reception

Time and Place:

  • 27 May 2019
  • 13:00 to 17:30
  • AIAS Room 201
  • Høegh-Guldbergs Gade 6B, 8000 Aarhus

Click here to register.

For more information, contact gpereira@cc.au.dk