Michael Krona: The media world of ISIS – Post-caliphate media strategies and digital expansion of terrorism

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Michael Krona, Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication Studies, K3

The title of the seminar is The media world of ISIS – Post-caliphate media strategies and digital expansion of terrorism.

This will be an online seminar, carried out through Zoom, and it will take place on Wednesday, September 30 at 10.15-12.00. Please join here:

https://mau-se.zoom.us/j/63267841499?pwd=SU9YaE9MVEJRdnlQT05NbDRjajgxdz09 (please note that the link has been changed from previous announcements)

Below you will find an abstract for the talk:


Since 2014 and the declaration of the proto-state caliphate in Iraq and Syria, the terrorist organization Islamic State (ISIS) has received not only international political- and media attention, but also maintained a strong online presence with the help of devoted supporter networks around the globe. These networks have been and are still essential in ISIS modus operandi, as they amplify the brand, help recruit and further propagate the ideological framework of Salafi-jihadism under which ISIS continues to operate.

In 2018 the caliphate dissolved in its original form, and since then a post-caliphate era has emerged in which ISIS has transformed into a social movement using guerrilla tactics to promote ideology and inspire attacks. A key element in this transformation is the use of encrypted platforms online for galvanised supporters to disseminate propaganda and act as ‘media mujahideen’ in ISIS hybrid warfare.

Strategies on these platforms are vast and innovative, and considering the success of ISIS and its supporters in maintaining such a strong presence and outreach of messaging in online spaces, the aforementioned transformation is interesting to mirror through the lens of propaganda and participatory engagement online by supporters. I will therefore present findings and empirical examples of the role of online spaces and supporters in ISIS current transformation and expansion – as an illustration of the rapid development in how contemporary terrorist organisations deliberately and strategically use media platforms and supporter networks as weapons in information warfare.

Dario Salvi: Supporting clinical research through citizens science: The Mobistudy app

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Dario Salvi, Associate Senior Lecturer in Design, K3.

The title of the seminar is Supporting clinical research through citizens science: The Mobistudy app.

This will be an online seminar, carried out through Zoom, and it will take place on Wednesday, September 23 at 10.15-12.00. Please join here: https://mau-se.zoom.us/j/61395132889

Below you will find an abstract for the talk:


“Mobile health”, or m-health, is the application of mobile technologies to healthcare. M-health is on the rise. As of today, thousands of health and fitness apps are available on the app stores and private and public investments in this technology are soaring. This is also being amplified by the current pandemic, in which health care systems are struggling to balance the need for visits versus the need to keep patients safe at home.

But how effective are these technologies? What are their potentialities and their limitations? These are subject of current research.

In order to help this research we have been developing an open source platform for mobile-drive health research: Mobistudy. The platform is both a tool for clinical researchers who want to test the effectiveness of mobile health, and for citizens who want to be involved in interesting research.

In this talk, I am going to introduce what Mobistudy is and what the roadmap for its development is. In addition to the engineering effort, there are important design aspects that need to be addressed, which could be of interest to researchers in K3. With this short seminar, I hope I will be able to engage with some of you in this journey, which (I won’t hide my ambition!) could become a prominent research initiative within the University.

Oscar Hemer: Contaminations and ethnographic fictions. Southern crossings

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Oscar Hemer, Professor of Journalistic and Literary Creation.

The title of the seminar is Contaminations and ethnographic fictions: Southern crossings, and it is based on Oscar’s new book with the same name, published by Palgrave (https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783030349240). Kristin Järvstad, Associate Professor in Comparative Literature, will function as discussant.

This will be an online seminar, carried out through Zoom, and it will take place on Wednesday, September 16 at 10.15-12.00. Please join here: https://mau-se.zoom.us/j/63720123243.

New date set for seminar with Johan Farkas

A new date is now set for Johan Farkas’ K3 seminar, which is also his 50 percent PhD seminar. It will take place online on October 6, 10.15-12.00 (https://mau-se.zoom.us/j/62158060741). The title is Beyond fake news: Disguised propaganda as socio-technical struggles in digital media.

Aske Kammer, docent in Media Innovation at the Danish School of Media and Journalism, will function as discussant (https://www.askekammer.dk/).

Bojana Romic: Artificial Creativity. The robot as a techno-cultural icon

Welcome to this term’s first K3 seminar. It will be held by Bojana Romic, researcher and Marie Skłodowska Curie ‘Seal of Excellence’ Fellow at K3.

The title of the seminar is Artificial Creativity. The robot as a techno-cultural icon, and it is based on her ongoing Marie Sklodowska Curie research project.

This will be an online seminar, carried out through Zoom, and it will take place on Wednesday, September 9 at 10.15-12.00. Please join here: https://mau-se.zoom.us/j/62851677275.

Below is an abstract for the talk:

From Terminator to Roomba: the robot occupies a special place in our cultural repository.  On the one hand, it represents cutting-edge scientific research; on the other hand, the robot is a figure of fiction and science fiction (Kakoudaki, 2007). The nascent field of cultural robotics aims to critically address this tension, and show how it reflects on the strategies of communicating science (Latour, 1996; 2000).

During my talk I will make an effort to explain why we are facing some terminological obstacles when researching AI and robots (also referred to as embodied AI), taking into account the history of this technology and cultural context. These matters become even more complicated when we discuss the status of the artefacts produced by AI and robots. The structuralist approach I am using in my research aims to avoid “othering” of this technology, which results in a dualistic “man vs. machine” discourse – prevalent in the Western popular culture.

Linda Hilfling Ritasdatter: Unwrapping COBOL – Lessons in Crisis Computing

On Friday, Septemer 4, at 15.15, Linda Hilfling Ritasdatter will defend her PhD thesis “Unwrapping COBOL – Lessons in Crisis Computing”. Professor Nishant Shah, ArtEZ University of the Arts, Arnhem, will function as opponent.

It will primarily be an online event, but there are some possibilities to attend the seminar. For more information, go to https://mau.se/en/calendar/linda-hilfling-ritasdatter/.

Below is an abstract for the thesis. The thesis as a whole can be downloaded from here: http://mau.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?dswid=-7689&pid=diva2%3A1455515&c=1&searchType=SIMPLE&language=sv&query=linda+hilfling&af=%5B%5D&aq=%5B%5B%5D%5D&aq2=%5B%5B%5D%5D&aqe=%5B%5D&noOfRows=50&sortOrder=author_sort_asc&sortOrder2=title_sort_asc&onlyFullText=false&sf=all

UNWRAPPING COBOL : Lessons in Crisis Computing
This research project examines the hidden global politics and economics underlying information architectures – which manifest themselves in choices and legacies of programming technologies and network services, that create their own specific, outsourced and ”crowdsourced” labor markets. The overall aim is to investigate the notion of Crisis Computing by focusing on execution, crisis, maintenance and materiality as core concepts in the understanding of the politics of global information architectures.

Over the last seven years, I have engaged with the programming language COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language), an encounter which has led me to reflect on the relations between code, execution and maintenance on a global scale. Computational execution may appear as a smooth, seamless process of automating commands, but as I argue throughout this thesis, such presumptions are based on a universal vision, which omits the underlying, blackboxed triangular entanglement of the three concepts:execution; crisis and maintenance, which constitutes any applied automated execution process, and which I label Crisis Computing.

COBOL is a case in point for this entanglement and thus this thesis is structured through a series of lessons, reflecting my own process of learning and reflecting on and in this supposedly obsolete language. These lessons extend from my artistic research practice, of which this doctoral thesis as well as several exhibitions, interventions, performative lectures, workshops and an “infinite” publication is the outcome. The lessons take form as an iterative close reading, a defractive re-turn, to use Barad’s concept (Barad 2014), of COBOL. Where each lesson turns to one of the main components of crisis computing and interrogates this concept through a close reading of different aspects of COBOL. A fourth concluding section transports my findings from the first three lessons to a discussion of automation in a more general setting.

The first lesson, EXECUTION, examines utopian visions of automated management as it manifested in the initial visions and early implementations of COBOL in the late 1950s/early 1960s. Here COBOL is analysed as representing one of, if not, the first instance of the classical dilemma of interaction design: in which technology is black boxed in order to make it more user-friendly and reach a larger audience, but at the same time this results in the user experiencing a lack of control on another scale than the user-friendliness and a fundamental lack of understanding the technology. The lesson complements this analysis with a theoretical discussion of automated management and high level programming’s integral relation to spatiality, (post-)modernity, capitalism and colonialism. 

Through a close reading of the Y2K bug, as a prime example of technological crisis, the second lesson,CRISIS, argues that crisis is integral to execution. The lesson examines how power mechanisms of maintenance and execution are mutually dependent, by exposing how, the bug which was to be fixed “once and for all”, was an integral feature of technology, as something that needs to be continuously maintained in order to eventually execute. As argued by thinkers from Heidegger to Latour, technological systems only become visible to us when they fail and break down. Subsequently, this lesson examines how, a crisis like the Y2K Bug, not only exposed the entangled relations between execution, crisis and maintenance, but furthermore, the power structures integral to global information flows.

The third lesson, MAINTENANCE, examines maintenance work done on back-back-end systems, as sites of crisis computing, where human labour is maintaining the overall information architectures and systems and thus keeping the flow, flow. Here my analysis also attended to the meta production of global flows as seen through the perspective of the teaching of COBOL. I discussed the contradiction of how engineers of the developing world is supposed to develop, by learning a presumably dead programming language and thereby being able to sustain the business critical legacy systems of the developed world.

A concluding fourth section, CRISIS COMPUTING, discusses and expands on the previous three lessons by transporting them into a broader discussion of Crisis Computing in relation to current understandings of automation.The section examines how recent years’ buzzwords and terms such as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, “Second Machine Age” or “Industry 4.0 and their claims for new eras promoting automation boosted by neural networks-based machine learning AI, as key to rudimentary economical and societal changes, are grounded in Utopian visions of automation and execution, which neglect crisis and maintenance and human labour as integral to the execution/automation processes themselves. A call for designers to get materially engaged with Crisis Computing, wraps up this final lesson.

Fall program 2020 ready

The program for the fall 2020 K3 seminar series is now ready, and you can find it by clicking on “Seminar Series Fall 2020”. Beside the seminars, you can there also find information about this fall’s three PhD defences. At this point in time, it is not clear whether the seminar series will be an online series, or a physical one, or a combination. Stay tuned for information about that.