“algorithmic governance” – recent ‘algorithm’ debates in geography-land

Over on Antipode’s site there’s a blog post about an intervention symposium on “algorithmic governance” brought together by Jeremy Crampton and Andrea Miller, on the back of sessions at the AAG in 2016. It’s good that this is available open access and, I hope, helpful that it maybe puts to bed some of the definition wrangling that has been the fashion. Obviously, a lot draws on the work of geographer Louise Amoore and also of political theorist Antoinette Rouvroy, which is great.

Reading through the overview and skimming the individual papers provokes me to comment that I remain puzzled though by the wider creeping use of an unqualified “non-human” to talk about software and the sociotechnical systems they run/are run on… this seems to play-down precisely the political issues raised in this particular symposium – that the kinds algorithms concerned in this debate are written and maintained by people, they’re not somehow separate or at a distance… It’s also interesting to note that a sizeable chunk of the debates concern ‘data’ but the symposium doesn’t have “data” in the title, but maybe ‘data–’ is passé… 🙂

I’ve copied below the intro to the post, but please check out the whole thing over on Antipode’s site.

Intervention Symposium: “Algorithmic Governance”; organised by Jeremy Crampton and Andrea Miller

The following essays first came together at the 2016 AAG Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Jeremy Crampton (Professor of Geography at the University of Kentucky) and Andrea Miller (PhD candidate at University of California, Davis) assembled five panellists to discuss what they call algorithmic governance – “the manifold ways that algorithms and code/space enable practices of governance that ascribes risk, suspicion and positive value in geographic contexts.”

Among other things, panellists explored how we can best pay attention to the spaces of governance where algorithms operate, and are contested; the spatial dimensions of the data-driven subject; how modes of algorithmic modulation and control impact understandings of categories such as race and gender; the extent to which algorithms are deterministic, and the spaces of contestation or counter-algorithms; how algorithmic governance inflects and augments practices of policing and militarization; the most productive theoretical tools available for studying algorithmic data; visualizations such as maps being implicated by or for algorithms; and the genealogy of algorithms and other histories of computation.

Three of the panellists plus Andrea and Jeremy present versions of these discussions below, following an introduction to the Intervention Symposium from its guest editors (who Andy and Katherine at Antipode would like to thank for all their work!).

Read the whole post and see the contributions to the symposium on the Antipode site.

Simondon and Technics event recordings

If you were not in Kingston earlier this week but have a desire to be part of the ‘next big thing in theory’, or you’re actually interested in the philosophy of technology, it appears that the talks were recorded… via dmf / Stuart Eldon.

Simondon on Technics: On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects

Please join the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP) for a workshop to discuss Gilbert Simondon’s 1958 On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects, finally now translated into English in its complete form.

Speakers: Andrea Bardin (Brunel University), Giovanni Carrozzini (CIDES, MSH Paris-Nord), Xavier Guchet (Paris 1 Sorbonne), Cécile Malaspina(translator), Simon Mills (De Monfort University), Pablo Rodriguez (University of Buenos Aires)

The 2016 English translation of Gilbert Simondon’s 1958 On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects finally introduces the Anglophone reader to a complete version of the French philosopher’s great work: a complex crossover between ontology, epistemology, psycho-sociology and the philosophy of technology. With the participation of international specialists on Simondon’s writings, this workshop aims to explore the main themes of Simondon’s philosophy of technology, connecting them to the relational ontology of communication processes outlined in Individuation in the Light of the Notions of Form and Information.

Embarrassing ourselves… translations and mental flounderings

A colleague shared this fascinating and perhaps difficult piece in the LARB by the highly regarded Derrida scholar Geoffrey Bennington on the publication of the anniversary edition and revised translation of Of Grammatology by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, with a new ‘Introduction’ by Judith Butler. I really encourage anyone with an interest in Derrida’s work, in language and in translation to read this article, I think it’s really quite something.

What is perhaps extraordinary about Bennington’s incisive analysis of the new edition is the acute nature of the problems he reveals with translating Derrida’s insight, which Bennington asserts: “is quite simple, yet in its very simplicity hard to grasp”. For “il n’y a pas de hors-textes is just as apposite to the issues Bennington highlights as it is to the understanding of Derrida’s wider project.

I won’t attempt to précis what is an erudite and rigorous article that also necessarily confronts some perceived (it appears fairly) problems and/or errors in understanding on the parts of Butler and Spivak. In this regard, it’s also worth paying attention to the footnotes

CFP: “The mediatization of time: New perspectives on media, data and temporality”

Via Tim Markham.

This looks interesting… hopefully a bit of Derrida, Kittler, Stiegler and such will feature…


December 7-8, 2017, Bremen

Recent innovations in the digitalization and datafication of communication fundamentally affect how people conceptualize, perceive and evaluate time to create the kind of world they live in. The conference invites participants to think through the interplay of media and data in respect of the way social time is constructed, modulated, and experienced. This allows to appreciate how new technologies and representations deeply affect the temporal organization of today’s media suffused societies, and it also sheds light on transformations in mediating time. We assume that mediatization as a fundamental societal change that interweaves with the development and spread of communication and information technologies leaves its mark on the ways we process and order the pace, sequence, rhythms and of social reality.

This conference invites to think through the role of media and data people have or had at hand to time their interactions, relations, and states of being. It encourages submissions related to the mediation of time and the timing of media(ization), and includes, but is not restricted to, the following themes:

  • Transformativity of mediatization processes: How can we grasp the historically changing mediation of time and the relation to diachronic processes of mediatization? What are the dynamics between the transforming construction of time and the ongoing formation of mediatization?
  • Temporality and mediation of time: Are there temporal affordances of media and how do they influence the experience of mediated time? What time principles characterize today’s media-saturated life? How do media technologies relate to the various temporalities of media practices?
  • Memory and the rearrangement of the tenses: What temporal meanings are generated by the media? How are media used in order to knit together past, present and future?

Please send a 300-word abstract, along with your name, e-mail address, academic affiliation, and short bio to: mediatizedtime[at]uni-bremen.de

Abstract submission deadline: September 1, 2017
Acknowledgment of acceptance:
 September 15, 2017
Conference dates: December 7-8, 2017

Confirmed speakers include: Staffan Ericson (Södertörn University): Mediatization in Time; Andreas Hepp (University of Bremen): Datafication and Temporal Media Practices; Johan Fornäs (Södertörn University): Media as Third-Time Tools; Helge Jordheim (University of Oslo): Modes of Synchronization; Emily Keightley (Loughborough University): Zones of Intermediacy; Irene Neverla (University of Hamburg): Media/Time Rhythms; Elizabeth Prommer (University of Rostock): Work, Time, Media; Espen Ytreberg (University of Oslo): Networked Simultaneities.

The conference is organized by Christian Pentzold and Christine Lohmeier from the ZeMKI, Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research, University of Bremen in cooperation with Anne Kaun, School of Culture and Education, Södertörn University, Stockholm.

For more information, please contact christian.pentzold[at]uni-bremen.de

Download the Call for Papers

Geography’s phlogiston?

“Affect” is to early-21st century human geography what “phlogiston” was to late-18th century chemistry. Discuss.

An idle heretical thought for a Monday morning of marking… I’m not especially interested in rehashing the “emotion vs. affect” debate – just curious about how ideas take hold, get pushed, warped and then maybe break in favour of other ideas… I’m not saying that’s what’s happening with affect, but it’s a vaguely interesting thought experiment… I’m also not especially interested in the heated arguments that “affect” seems to attract… concepts are as good as the work they do, if they hide more than they explain, maybe its time for other concepts… that’s up to individual researchers probably.

It was actually while I was listening to Alice Evans talking to Ben Anderson in her podcast Four Questions that this thought began to crystallise… so, that’s the mark of a good podcast probably isn’t it..?

If I was a good ambitious REF-ready type I’m sure I’d write this up into an article or commentary for Transactions or something…

Back to marking (some good work)


Reblog> CFP – Online Vitriol: Advocacy, Violence, and the Transforming Power of Social Media

Call for Papers

Online Vitriol: Advocacy, Violence, and the Transforming Power of Social Media

A Joint Conference of the International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture & the Zentrum für Medien und Interaktivität, Giessen, Germany
Wednesday June 29th – Saturday July 1st, 2017 (optional opening lecture by dr. Sarah Kendzior on the evening of June 28th)
For whom:
Researchers in the fields of culture and (digital) media, and related fields

Professionals dealing with online advocacy and social media presence of their organization

Journalists and others dealing with social media and (violent) online discourse

PhD and MA students in culture and media studies

Conference aim:
To employ our collective knowledge, experience, research and intelligence to arrive at a conceptual and practical understanding of the medial and cultural dynamics of online vitriol.

To work towards “A Rough Guide to Online Vitriol: Dealing with Violence and Activism on Social Media in Theory and Practice” (working title). To be published later.

Social media have become inescapable, and they have an overwhelming impact on sociality and public life. Platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram give rise to a diverse range of discourses and communication styles. This conference wants to understand the power of social media, not only – as it has often been perceived – as democratizing, but also as powerful vehicles for politically driven bullying and violence. Relevant to people, organizations, and other agents across twenty-first-century society, this topic is increasingly studied from a range of disciplines and perspectives. Virtually everyone has to deal with social media and the discourses it enables and produces. But while the technology exists and seems at first sight intuitively accessible, the agency, dynamics and ethics of social media platforms are not yet well-understood.
‘Trolls for Trump’, online virus ‘scares’, fake news – social media discourse has become a formidable, yet elusive, political force. This conference wants to begin to address some of the issues around the power of online vitriol, by studying discourses, metaphors, media dynamics, and framing on social media. What is it? How does it work? What does it do? And how can it be addressed or countered?
To fruitfully question the political impact of contemporary communication structures and discourses, the conference goes beyond the traditional presenter/audience dichotomy. Instead, it works towards producing a book for academics and professionals confronted with social media violence, provisionally titled “A Rough Guide to Online Vitriol: Dealing with Violence and Advocacy on Social Media in Theory and Practice”. The conference combines academic theorizing with perspectives from professionals active in media, communication, the public sector and journalism, so as to arrive at conceptually rigorous and useful conclusions to guide our own and our organizations’ use of social media.
Possible topics
Bringing together media and communication specialists from various professions (e.g. public sector, press, NGOs) and cultural and media studies students and scholars, the aim is to create crosspollination between theoretical approaches from cultural and media studies on the one hand, and practical challenges and experiences ‘from the field’ on the other.
Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
Privacy and surveillance through social media platforms

Liveness and online temporalities

Tweeting while female

Clickbait as political activism

Shares, likes, profile clicks and other platform-specific metrics

The impact of Facebook’s platform structure and changing algorithms on what can be expressed

‘Communicative capitalism’ and the dynamics of online virality

Politics of trolling and reporting

Representing social media in popular culture

How ‘new’ are online communication practices?

Framing narratives and ideals in a potentially hostile environment

The conference is free of charge. However, we ask that, during the conference, all participants agree to be offline, and try to be fully present and contemplative.
We welcome proposals of papers, case studies, ideas, and discussion topics from scholars and professionals in the listed fields, as well as related areas of specialization. Please submit a 300-word abstract and a short biography (100 words) to Sara Polak (s.a.polak@hum.leidenuniv.nl), Rahel Schmitz (rahel.schmitz@gcsc.uni-giessen.de), and Ann-Marie Riesner (ann.m.riesner@gcsc.uni-giessen.de) by May 15th, 2017.

Reblog> Workshop: Reshaping Cities through Data and Experiments

This looks interesting (via Programmable City):

Workshop: Reshaping Cities through Data and Experiments

When: 30th May 2017 – 9.30am to 3.30pm
Where: Maynooth University, Iontas Building, Seminar Room 2.31

The “Reshaping Cities through Data and Experiments” workshop is part of the Ulysses research exchange programme jointly funded by Irish Research Council and the Ambassade de France. It is organized in collaboration with researchers from the Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation (i3-CSI) at the École des Mines in Paris – David Pontille, Félix Talvard, Clément Marquet and Brice Laurent – and researchers from the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA) in Maynooth University, Ireland – Claudio Coletta, Liam Heaphy and Sung-Yueh Perng.

The aim is to initiate a transdisciplinary discussion on the theoretical, methodological and empirical issues related to experimental and data-driven approaches to urban development and living. This conversation is vital in a time when cities are increasingly turning into public-private testbeds and living labs, where urban development projects merge with the design of cyber-infrastructures to test new services and new forms of engagement for urban innovation and economic development. These new forms of interaction between algorithms, planning practices and governance processes raise crucial questions for researchers on how everyday life, civic engagement and urban change are shaped in contemporary cities.

Read the full blogpost on the Programmable City site.

Field notebook apps?

As part of a conversation with our Masters students about their dissertation projects the topic/idea of using tablet/ phone apps as field diaries or notebooks… I remember some coming out a few years ago, which seem to have mostly fallen by the wayside, like “Field Notes App” (which still has screenshots from pre-iOS 7)

This is not something I have really engaged in as a late-comer to smart phones (yes, really) and not exactly the most successful bidder for research funding…

I wanted to ask the few folks who read this – do you use anything like this? If so, what? and can you provide any links or info? Please do use the comments section below.



Podcasts I’m listening to ~ how I spend my commute

I’ve tweeted and blogged a little about podcasts and so I’m just going to do a list of what I’m listening to, in case its of any interest to anyone else… I suppose I am recommending them, but maybe some more than others…

Maybe you can make recommendations for things I should listen to… I’d welcome them!

UPDATE: I stumbled upon another podcast today… The Economist has a podcast concerned with computing called “Babbage“. Also: the Institute of Network Cultures Zero Infinite podcast looks interesting too.

Africa Today – the BBC’s news and analysis with a focus on Africa.

Algocracy and Transhumanism – in spite of the modish keywords of the title, this is a really well presented and interesting podcast by John Danaher on interesting research about digital tech.

The British Dream – a highly irreverent  podcast from Vice on British politics, becoming more regular through the GE2017 campaign.

Data & Society – a podcast of the talks from visiting speakers to the Data & Society institute in NYC.

The Digital Human – the Radio 4 programme with Aleks Krotoski (a bit too disciplined by psychology but interesting).

Fifty things that made the modern economy – A Beeb programme that explores what the title says.

Fortunately – Jane Garvey and Fi Glover make irreverent comments and recommendations about the week’s programming on Radio 4.

Four Questions – geographer Alice Evans talks to other researchers.

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads – does what it says on the tin.

London Review Podcasts – the LRB podcast.

The Ruck – the rugby podcast from The Times.

Podcasts that were finite (now finished) and worth checking out:

Cargoland – behind the scenes at America’s largest port complex with KCRW’s Lu Olkowski.

Containers – Alexis Madrigal looks at containerisation through the lens of the Port of Oakland and how this relates to global capital and automation, amongst many things. Recommended!

Cultural Technologies – a podcast by media theorist Bernard Geoghegan with some interesting guests.

Culture Machine Live – a podcast related to the excellent open access journal.

Some podcasts I don’t subscribe to but pick from:

Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything – a look at interesting issues in America, from surveillance to drones to gentrification.

The Oxford Comment – OUP staff talk to authors about stuff being published by them.

Talking Politics – David Runciman does some politics wonking…

Team Human – Douglas Rushkoff “intervenes on behalf of humans” as only he can… I don’t always make it through an episode but there’s been some good guests.

Deum ex machina? a journey into transhuminism as/via religion

Machines from the gods… or…

God in the machine: my strange journey into transhumanism – podcast

After losing her faith, a former evangelical Christian felt adrift in the world. She then found solace in a radical technological philosophy – but its promises of immortality and spiritual transcendence soon seemed unsettlingly familiar

An interesting and compelling podcast of a ‘long read’ for the Graun by Meghan O’Gieblyn that eloquently articulates the not-so-crypto-theistic nature of (some) transhumanism(s).

Here’s a paragraph to whet the appetite:

By this point I’d passed beyond idle speculation. A new, more pernicious thought had come to dominate my mind: transhumanist ideas were not merely similar to theological concepts but could in fact be the events described in the Bible. It was only a short time before my obsession reached its culmination. I got out my old study Bible and began to scan the prophetic literature for signs of the cybernetic revolution. I began to wonder whether I could pray to beings outside the simulation. I had initially been drawn to transhumanism because it was grounded in science. In the end, I became consumed with the kind of referential mania and blind longing that animates all religious belief.