Gunnel Pettersson: Experiments with Utopias

Welcome to a K3 seminar on Experiments with Utopias, based on the exhibition held at Ystad Art Museum this summer. The seminar is organized by Gunnel Pettersson, Senior Lecturer in Moving Image, K3.

It will take place on Wednesday, September 26 at 10.15-12.00 in The K3 Open Studio, NIC 0541, Niagara. It includes a small exhibition, which will open at 10.00 on September 26.

Seminar structure and content

1 “Continued Conversation” – Exhibits from Experiments for Utopia: Anders Emilson, Gylleboverket, Gunnel Pettersson and Amit Sen.

2 ” Experiments for Utopia – Rough concept for a comic based on the exhibition of the same name at the Ystad Art Museum, June 2018″ A reflection on the exhibition by the cartoonist and archaeologist John G. Swogger. Contribution from Visual Communication-workshop 2018 (Jakob Dittmar)

3 Documentation and press material from Experiments for utopias (partly in Swedish) www.experimentutopier.org

4 Presentation and conversation

 

In this seminar I want to problematize the exhibition practice and, if possible together with the participants, identify research questions that may be a matter of interest for knowledge production within exhibition design and cultural production linked to K3’s research areas.

The starting point is the museum and gallery as a public space dedicated to “knowledging” dialogues and the creation of meaning. I see art as a platform for societal- and existential questions.

A concrete experience is presented from “Experiments for Utopia” at the Ystad Art Museum 2018. A production that I curated and participated in together with fourteen other artists and researchers. It is about efforts to create dialogues between the exhibitors, between the exhibited and the audience, with focus on the process and with the art institution’s tradition of mediation as context.

In the presentation I refer to Chantal Mouffe’s writings on artistic practice as something that still play a critical role in society, and Sarah Pennington, who uses the concept of “care” in design research, with examples that criticize galleries and museums reproduction of a dominant and normative tradition of representation and sentence construction.

 

Mouffe, Chantal, Agonistik: texts about thinking the world politically, Atlas 2016

Pennington, Sarah, Design as a catalyst for change: Vol 2, Paper 6, Taking care of issues of concern: Feminist possibilities and the curation of Speculative and Critical Design, DRS 2018, Limerick

Pille Pruulmann Vengerfeldt: Proof of concept. Affordances of civic and cultural engagement?

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Pille Pruulmann Vengerfeldt, Professor of Media and Communication Studies. The title of the seminar is:

Proof of concept: Affordances of civic and cultural engagement?

It will take place on Wednesday, September 19 at 10.15-12.00 in The K3 Open Studio, NIC 0541, Niagara.

Here is an abstract for the talk.

I am planning to put together a proposal for a European Research Council (ERC) grant (https://erc.europa.eu/funding/consolidator-grants) concerning museums and public broadcasting organisations, the project aim being to develop an inventory of affordances that relate to cultural engagement. At the seminar I would like to discuss with you:

1) whether the research can be considered frontier and ground-breaking, and

2) whether there are colleagues in K3 who could consider this topic something they would like to contribute to.

Here are the rudiments of the idea:

The context:  In today’s media-rich cultural landscape, one could argue that with the raise of user-generated content, do-it-yourself movements and increasing number of cultural activities to diverse tastes and preferences, there is also continuing discontentment and feeling of lack of possibilities for engagement. On the one hand, we have an increasing number of digital cultural resources that are made available to the public, on the other hand, these resources are not used to the extent that their creators imagined. On the one hand, we have a diversity of opportunities to engage with different media outlets or create your own media; on the other hand, there is an increasing group of people who justify their actions by arguing that their voice is suppressed. These contradictions make me ask if there could be a way to investigate what kind of engagement opportunities are offered by the different content creation organisations and how these offers are received and understood by the public. Can we identify specific affordances that address people well in concrete contexts, where the affordance of the programme is recognised, and engagement possibilities are perceived by the audience members?

The cases: The investigation would draw on two sets of similar, yet very different cases – museums and public broadcasting organisations. Both of these organisations are publicly funded, and there are perceived public duties, among which is upholding the democratic order within society. Both of them are increasingly facing the challenge of digitalisation where their existing practices are both undermined and vastly enhanced by the idea of digitalisation. They both need to address large societal groups and need to create content that is engaging to the highly demanding audiences. Both organisations are losing on their traditional standing in society, but are in general agreed to be a valuable part of societal structures. Both organisations are turning to public participation as a way to overcome the above-listed challenges and have successes and failures to account. Both also deal with highly specialised knowledge for which they have had authority for a long while and at the same time that knowledge is challenged by digitalisation making skills more easily accessible.

The how: The project will consist of case studies and being inspired by grounded theory, the iterations of data collection and work with theory and literature, will allow the building of analytical framework that supports understanding as well as designing affordances for cultural participation.

 

Makers Receivers Non-audiences [Programme]
Interviews with selected programme/content makers about their imaginations about the affordances Interviews/focus groups to discuss the perception of the affordances of cultural engagement. Where possible, people with different degrees of engagement Focus group studies with non-museum goers on investigating their perceptions about the invitations to cultural engagement Content/discourse analysis of the programmes provided by selected museums to explore the affordances

 

Theoretical premises: Audience engagement discussions from audience theories as well as civic engagement and cultural engagement discussions. Affordances in design studies. Democracy and cultural institutions as part of their democratic assignment. The broader sociological framework through societal domain theories from Layder, discussing how individual choices and practices can lead to societal change.

Comics triple header to start off the K3 seminar serie on September 12!

The K3 fall seminar series will start on September 12, and there will be three talks on comics.

At 10.15-12.00, Jakob Dittmar, Senior Lecturer and Docent in Media and Communication Studies, K3, will talk about Narrative Strategies – African Types and Stereotypes in Comics.

At 13.15-15.00 Jacob Habinc, Master’s Graduate, Lund University, and Magnus Nilsson, Professor of Comparative Literature, K3 will give a joint seminar on Klass och arbete i samtida svenska serier.

Below is an abstract for Jakob Dittmar’s talk.

The use of types and stereotypes of Africans in comics is looked into. Focus is put on some distinct strategies of representing and negotiating race in comics, most notably one example by Birgit Weyhe and several by Anton Kannemeyer a.k.a. Joe Dog because of their exceptional high quality of reflected experimentation. Keep in mind that there is a close relation between the genre of a comic and its visual style: a distorted, caricatural representation is expected in humoristic comics. This is different from the notion of prototypical figures and behaviours argued for from a narratological perspective, where specific figures have to act according to their own and the stories’ established formal demands. To be able to discuss types and stereotypes in comics, some backgrounds and contexts need to be introduced. Some brief reminders about comics storytelling and character design are given before looking into several distinct ways of depicting Africans in recent comics. The discussion of figures and their uses in comics narratives is centring on the way in which comics place information on various visual layers that combine to become their narratives.

Jacob Habinc’ talk will focus on his Master’s thesis Arbetartecknaren: Svenska serieromaner som arbetarlitteratur. You can download it here: http://lup.lub.lu.se/luur/download?func=downloadFile&recordOId=8953144&fileOId=8953145

Magnus Nilsson will discuss his article Working-class comics? Proletarian self-reflexiveness in Mats Källblad’s graphic novel ”Hundra år i samma klass”, to be published in Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics. You can download it here: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21504857.2018.1500383

The morning seminar will be in English, the afternoon one in Swedish. Both will take place in the K3 Studio.

Johan Farkas: Beyond Fake News. Exploring Digital Propaganda, While Arguing Against the Post-Truth Era

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Johan Farkas, PhD student in Media and Communication Studies. The title of the seminar is:

Beyond Fake News: Exploring Digital Propaganda, While Arguing Against the Post-Truth Era

It will take place on Wednesday, May 30 at 10.15-12.00 in The K3 Open Studio, NIC 0541, Niagara.

Here is an abstract for the talk.

With the rise of digital media, new ‘platformed’ modalities of disinformation and propaganda have emerged. This has lead multiple scholars, journalists and politicians to argue that we live in a ‘post-truth era’ flooded by ‘fake news’. PhD Fellow at K3, Johan Farkas, is not one of them. Through a series of empirical studies, Farkas’ ongoing research on the one hand explores the dynamics and workings of new forms of disguised propaganda online. On the other hand, his theoretical work argues against the notion of fake news and the post-truth era, criticising both their conceptual unclarity and problematic democratic underpinnings. At the K3 seminar, Farkas will present these two different ‘pillars’ of his ongoing research, posing the open question for discussion, whether the arguments connected to each of these pillars complement each other, contradict each other or occupy two different spheres with few direct connections. Moving forward, this question remains the primary uncertainty of his PhD thesis.

Veera Virmasalo: Discursive construction of bourgeois civic culture(s) in the tech innovation scene of post-apartheid Namibia

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Veera Virmasalo, PhD student in Media and Communication Studies. The title of the seminar is:

Discursive construction of bourgeois civic culture(s) in the tech innovation scene of post-apartheid Namibia

It will take place on Wednesday, May 23 at 10.15-12.00 in The K3 Open Studio, NIC 0541, Niagara.

This is Veera Virmasalo’s 30 percent PhD seminar. Jacob Svensson, Docent and Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication Studies, will function as discussant.

If you would like to read the text that the seminar is based on beforehand, please send a mail to Veera (veera.virmasalo@mau.se).

Here is an abstract for the talk:

Namibia, a southern African country of 2.2 million inhabitants, and my home since 2007, is one of the most unequal societies in the world. 28 years into independence from South Africa, a new black elite and middle class has emerged but little is known about how they see their role in the unequal society, or whether the new generation of white Namibians has adopted dispositions different from their parents. My PhD project explores these questions through the lens of ‘tech innovation’, focusing on discursive negotiation involved in attempts that aim to persuade the Namibian bourgeoisie to support inclusive tech innovation, which is purported to benefit the marginalised.

Using a combination of ethnographic and practice-based methods, the research will produce thick descriptions of discourses circulating around tech innovation in Namibia. It will also challenge dominant discourse(s) through scenarios, counter-images and coproduction of media. Much of the work will be based on my involvement in a 2-year project called The Inclusive and Collaborative Tech Innovation Hub. The project is implemented by the faculty of computing and informatics at the Namibia University of Science and Technology and funded by the Finnish government as part of its support for developing an ‘inclusive economy’ in Namibia. The Hub trains marginalised youth in skills needed in developing for-profit innovations, promotes their inclusion in innovation projects undertaken by local ICT companies, and rallies to engage the local private sector as supporters for its work. Finally, it will also organise a series of workshops to co-design digital media concepts with the aim to increase social justice thinking among privileged Namibians.

The research aim is to explore the role of international development industry as a discursive vassal of global ideologies and simultaneously chart possibilities and instances of resistance by local actors, as well as from within the development industry. In this way, it is a research project within the ethics of Communication for Development and Social Change, calling development organisations and communicators within them to reflect on whether the discourses used by them in fact promote what they are purporting to promote. This call is not restricted to international development organisations, as there are also many local actors from government entities to non-governmental organisations and private citizens reproducing discourses, which at least at first sight seem to erode the potential of collective action towards a more just society. This research takes a closer look of such discourses and their specific articulations, trying to understand what is actually suggested by and understood through them in today’s Namibia. 

With an emphasis on Communication for Social Change and the communication aspect in Media and Communication Studies, my project will contribute to existing research on discourses of development, and the role of media and communication in promoting civic culture.

Keywords: Communication for social change, civic culture and privilege, digital innovation; discourse theory (Laclau & Mouffe / Essex school)

 

Hugo Boothby: Music for Universities

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Hugo Boothby, Lecturer in Communication for Development. The title of the seminar is:

Music for Universities

The seminar will be held on May 16 at 10.15-12.00 in the K3 Open Studio, fifth floor of Niagara.

Here is an abstract for the talk:

In this K3 seminar I present the first prototype and initial findings from the artistic research project “Music for Universities”. This is a practice-based intervention that employs transversal media tools to interrogate the affordances and materialities of the MP3 audio format and the iPod digital media player. In this work the MP3 and iPod are used as the principle tools in a generative music composition.

Generative music is produced using a machine or system in which degrees of randomisation are defined by the composer, this partial removal of authorial control allows the system to play the composition indefinitely (Eno, 1996, p. 330). The composition that I present during this seminar, titled “Music for Universities pt1: Haunted Format”, is written for 12 iPods, sampled voice and the MP3. For this generative composition the randomisation engine is the shuffle algorithm of the iPod. Timbral variation in the composition is achieved by encoding the voice sample multiple times as an MP3. The MP3 is an audio compression format engineered to reduce the data needed to encode a piece of audio, facilitating transfer and storage within digital systems. Every time a piece of audio is encoded as an MP3 more data is removed producing loss at certain frequencies, and noticeable digital artifacts and aliasing.

Within the conventional aesthetics of sound recording or broadcasting the sounds of the MP3’s processing would be considered undesirable. However, for this composition these imperfections become part of its aesthetic, an important sonic texture. Combining together 12 iPods to create a musical instrument also emphasises the compositional potential of the iPod’s shuffle mode, working to reveal how shuffle’s reordering of our music collections, the seemingly random juxtapositions and repetitions that occur, can be understood as a significant process of musical composition, one that has become a routine and mundane part of many people’s lives.

This generative music composition using iPod and MP3 seeks to operationalise a transversal media practice employing the transversal media tools, “residual media”[i] and “eventualisation”[ii] (Gansing 2013). Hauntology (Derrida 1994; Reyonlds 2006 and 2011; Harper 2011 and Fisher 2014), is used to compliment these transversal media tools. These concepts are used because they all work to disrupt established narratives of technological development within audio media. Specifically, the powerful linear narrative of progress towards increased verisimilitude. What Jonathan Sterne defines as “the idea that a new medium is closer to reality and more immersive and interactive than its predecessor” (2012, p. 4). This composition also works to disrupt audio media’s equally significant linear narrative of compression. The narrative of compression is understood here as the drive to build “additional efficiencies into channels and to economize communication in the service of facilitating greater mobility” (Sterne, 2012, p. 5).

This generative music composition is an “eventualisation” that manifests both the narratives of verisimilitude and compression, revealing how as “residual media” the MP3 and iPod can embody both stories and hold them in tension. Hauntology draws attention to processes whereby music production and composition in itself can be used as a tool for music criticism and analysis. I propose specifically this methodology as an exercise in combining theory and practice in media and communication studies research.

References:

Derrida, Jacques (1994) Specters of Marx: The State of Debt, the Work of Mourning and the New International. London: Routledge

Eno, Brian (1996) A Year with Swollen Appendices: Brian Eno’s Diary. London: Faber and Faber.

Harper, Adam (2011) Infinite Music: Imagining the Next Millennium of Human Music-Making. Winchester: Zero Books

Fisher, Mark (2014) Ghost of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures. Winchester: Zero Books.

Gansing, Kristoffer (2013) Transversal Media Practices: Media Archaeology, Art and Technological Development. Malmö: Malmö University. Doctoral dissertation

Reynolds, Simon (2011) Retromania: Pop Cultures Addiction to Its Own Past. London: Faber and Faber

Reynolds, Simon (2006, November) Haunted Audio. The Wire Magazine pp. 26-33

Sterne, Jonathan (2012) MP3: The Meaning of a Format. Duke University Press.

Further listening:

Basinski, William (2002) The Disintegration Loops. Track nr1 “dlp 1.1”

Eno, Brian (1978) Music for Airports. Track nr2 “Music for Airports: 1/2”

[i] Residual media is “near-obsolete or naturalised media devices and practices that increasingly inhabit and enact a powerful influence on everyday life” (Gansing, 2013, p. 301).

[ii] An eventualisation is “a specific form of intervention which exploits the performative rationale behind any technological development and in this sense it is intervention as a process of invention, adapting existing developments to tell new stories or instigate new events” (Gansing, 2013, p. 301)

 

Michelle Westerlaken: Imagining Multispeciesism

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Michelle Westerlaken, PhD student in Interaction Design, K3. This will be her 50 percent PhD seminar. The title of the seminar is:

Imagining Multispeciesism

The seminar will be held on May 2 at 10.15-12.00 in the K3 Open Studio, fifth floor of Niagara. Jonas Löwgren, Professor of Interaction and Information Design, University of Linköping, will function as discussant.

If you would like to read the text that the seminar will be based on beforehand, send an email to Michelle (michelle.westerlaken@mau.se).

Here is an abstract for the talk:

The more we are willing to research the complexity of animals, the more we learn about their sentience, their cognitive capabilities, their preferences, and their unique traits. These new insights are potential springboards for a deeper and better-informed concern about the way we conceptualize, treat, and exploit animals. However, rather than pursuing interests that can put an end to animal (or human) exploitation or can minimize their suffering, within Western culture we have mostly used this knowledge to develop technology and practices that extract profit and increase productivity (Hribal 2007). Rather than working towards better animal (or human) treatment, I argue that technology ranging from horse shoes, barbed wire, restraining devices, and automatic feeders all the way to genetic manipulation, specialized breeding, animal tracking, and artificial insemination has only allowed for more efficient exploitation and control of animals. It also enabled us to operate factory farming on much larger scales. In other words, we can argue that generating scientific insights concerning animal welfare and animal suffering does not necessarily lead to an improvement in their life conditions.

Following a more situated theoretical perspective in my PhD research, I suggest that contextually and personally engaging with the life of another animal is a much more powerful way to develop compassion and care. It helps to develop a kind of affective gut feeling regarding other animals’ needs, perspectives, preferences, and potential suffering. This instinctual kindness towards other animals arises out of certain perspectives, projections that are created in our minds, local knowledges, and specific situations.  Furthermore, I argue that, specifically in the attempt to articulate a ‘worldview’ (Redström, 2017) that we can design with, it is unhelpful to maintain a focus on critique and negations regarding the notion of speciesism and critical theory. Instead, I propose to do ethics and philosophy as a form of ‘multi-speciesist’ thinking, through creating stories of our engagements with animals that are just big enough to inspire alternative ways of thinking but do not attempt to explain or define our relationships with other beings once and for all. They consist of stories of surprises, joy, play, and unexpected responses we get from interacting with other animals (Haraway, 2016, Bogost, 2016), they involve intense moments of caring for other species (Puig de La Bellacasa, 2017; Tsing, 2015), they are re-interpretations of past engagements that we can attempt to understand in a new light (Berardi, 2017), they include the articulation of new concepts that allow for new modes of thinking about the world (Deleuze and Guattari, 1994/1991), they consist of deliberate practices of self-fashioning and re-structuring our lives through values that are currently located outside of our norms (Foucault, 1988; Gibson-Graham, 2008), and they encompass constructions of hopeful or utopian narratives (Le Guin, 2016; Zylinska, 2014).

In this 50% seminar, we will focus on discussing the main proposed structure of the PhD thesis, the general argument it tries to make, and the method that is used for attempting to construct the proposed ‘multispeciesist worldview’.

References

Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi. (2017). Futureability: The Age of Impotence and the Horizon of Possibility. London, UK: Verso.

Ian Bogost. (2016). Play Anything: The Pleasure of Limits, the Uses of Boredom, and the Secret of Games. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. (1994/1991). What is Philosophy. London, UK: Verso.

Foucault, M. (1988). Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault. Edited by Martin L. H., Gutman, H. and Hutton P. H. London, UK: Tavistock Publications.

Gibson-Graham, J.K. (2008). Diverse economies: Performative practices for “other worlds”, Progress in Human Geography, pp. 1-20.

Donna J. Haraway. (2016). Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Jason Hribal. (2007). Animals, agency, and class: Writing the history of animals from below. In Human Ecology Forum, 14(1), pp. 101-112.

Ursula K. Le Guin. (2016). A non-Euclidean view of California as a cold place to be. (Part III: Essays). In Utopia, by More, Thomas, London, UK: Verso Books, pp. 161-194.

Maria Puig de la Bellacasa. (2017). Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in more than Human Worlds. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Johan Redström. (2017). Making Design Theory. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Anna L. Tsing. (2015). The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton, NJ:  Princeton University Press.

Zylinska, Joanna. (2014). Minimal Ethics for the Anthropocene. London, UK: Open Humanities Press.

Anuradha Reddy: “Feeling at home” with the Internet of Things

Welcome to a seminar with Anuradha Reddy, PhD student in Interaction Design, K3. This will be her 50 percent PhD seminar. The title of the talk is:

“Feeling at home” with the Internet of Things

The seminar will take place on April 25 at 10.15-12.00 in K3 Open Studio, fifth floor of Niagara. Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt, professor of Media and Communication Studies, will function as discussant. 

If you would like to read Anuradha’s text before the seminar, send her a mail (anuradha.reddy@mau.se). 

Here is an abstract for the talk:

Whereas the frameworks and infrastructures supporting the ‘Internet of Things’ have operated in domestic spaces for over a decade, their strong ties to the industry have left little room for understanding what it means to ‘feel at home’ with a technology that is largely networked, distributed, and hidden. In this regard, my thesis is concerned with the increasing gap between the logics that dominate distributed networks of the Internet of Things and that of situated, material and embodied contexts of use. As various sources of computation and capacities for agency are being exploited to ‘care’ for our well-being, there is a crucial need to understand what kind of logics are at play in the way care is enacted through networked devices of the Internet of Things. In that, the concept of care provides for an analytical provocation to examine and probe into the tensions that might surface from the disjointed logics operating in situated contexts of technology use, and in turn explore what new perspectives and possibilities arise for our sense of ‘feeling at home.’

Based on the theoretical commitments of feminist scholars who acknowledge ‘interdependency’ as the ontological state in which humans and countless other beings live (Bellacasa, 2017), my research into the Internet of Things engages with care in domestic contexts in human and more than human ways (Mol et al., 2010; Latour, 2005; Hill-Collins, 2002). Seeing domestic spaces as vital sites for ecologies and human and non-humans relations is a necessary step to imagine how care might ‘take place’ in meaningful ways (Latimer and Munro, 2009). The research embodies a form of ‘design anthropology’ (Gunn et al., 2013) that is able to bring to design the tradition of theorising concepts like ‘Internet of Things’ through the contexts of its usage and the acknowledgement of nonhuman agencies, their relationalities and the emergence of new materialities in the configuration of reality (Lucy and Wakeford, 2012). To sum up, the purpose of my thesis is to create a conceptual space for reframing the role of the Internet of Things in domestic contexts beyond a culture of what is technologically possible and consumable to a broader context of thinking critically about its alternative role in everyday life.

References:

Collins, P. H. (2002). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. Routledge.

de la Bellacasa, M. P. (2017). Matters of care: Speculative ethics in more than human worlds. University of Minnesota Press.

Gunn, W., Otto, T., & Smith, R. C. (Eds.). (2013). Design anthropology: theory and practice. A&C Black.

Latimer, J., & Munro, R. (2009). Keeping & dwelling: Relational extension, the idea of home, and otherness. Space and Culture, 12(3), 317-331.

Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor-networktheory (Clarendon Lectures in Management Studies).

Lury, C., & Wakeford, N. (Eds.). (2012). Inventive methods: The happening of the social. Routledge.

Mol, A., Moser, I., & Pols, J. (Eds.). (2015). Care in practice: On tinkering in clinics, homes and farms (Vol. 8). transcript Verlag.

Jakob Svensson: Behind the Algorithm

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Jakob Svensson, Senior Lecturer and Docent in Media and Communication Studies, K3. The name of the talk is:

Behind the Algorithm

The talk will take place on Wednesday, April 18 at 10.15-12.00 in  room NIC 0541 (K3 Open Studio), Niagara.

Here is an abstract for the talk:

Algorithms are on the agenda today. Scholars argue that algorithms start to replace many things, from production to consumption of media, from editors to journalists, and might even influence election results. Still algorithms are far from perfect. There is a debate whether Amazon is homophobic, whether Google is racist and then we had the scandal over Microsoft’s chat program Tay that quickly turned to obscene and inflammatory language after having interacted with Twitter users. Studies have also found gender biases as a consequence of image search algorithms and that black people are not recognized as humans in face-recognition algorithms.

This research project contributes to this with a much-needed sociological approach to research on algorithms by focusing on the humans behind them. Hence, algorithms are approached as non-neutral and as socially constructed. Being engineered by humans, they embody rules, ideals, imaginations/ perceptions and cultures. They are encoded with human intentions that may or may not be fulfilled. Still, algorithm programmers and software engineers have largely been ignored in empirical studies. Nonetheless it is known that programmers and software engineers mostly belong to the youth, are to a majority white and male. Does this have any influences on the algorithms, and by extension our internet experiences?

The question the research project seeks to answer is: What logic, or combination of logics, informs the practices of designing and programming algorithms?

This question will be answered through a study software engineers and their intentions, imaginations/ perceptions, rules, ideals, different cultures and how this feeds into their programming and designing of algorithms. The question will be addressed in two different studies:

1) An interview study targeting software engineers, algorithm programmers and designers at in particular social media and search engine organizations

2) An ethnographic study of a news organization. The study will take place at a leading Swedish daily and study the programmers’ work with their webpage and the ranking/ placing of news.

Algorithms should be understood as systems. These systems are not standalone little boxes, but massive networked ones, with sometimes hundreds of hands reaching into them, tuning, tweaking and experimenting with them. We thus need to examine the logics that guide these hands. The methodological framework is therefore inspired from the concept of media logics. For this project, the media logics framework has been adjusted and will based around five so-called “sensitizing concepts” that interact with, and inform, each other in a dynamic circuit informing the practices of programming and designing algorithms. These concepts are rules, ideals, intentions, cultures and imaginations/perceptions. It is important to underline here that these sensitizing concepts are not separate. They intersect and inform each other.

In the seminar I will present the first result of this 2 year research project (funded by the Swedish Research Council).