For this year’s Association of Internet Researchers Conference 2016 in Berlin, I hosted a roundtable on “Hacking Cultures: Hack all the things?” together with Tim Jordan, Sebastian Kubitschko, and Karin Wenz. Starting at 9am on the first day, the panel was not overly busy yet… But: we had a great, small round of participants and hence a fascinating discussion. Thanks to everyone who joined in, and a special thanks to Angela Krewani for moderating the session! If you missed the roundtable and are curious what it was about, read more about the session and the ‘lightning talk’ which I contributed.
Earlier this month, I started working on a paper which will be published in an edited volume on Geographies of Digital Culture. My article will explore how developments in ‘neogeography’ and big data-mapping have influenced the field of public health surveillance. It will deal with questions such as: How can social media content be used in order to monitor and map infectious disease developments? What kind of challenges do public health services face which are based on users’ self-diagnoses and rely on citizens’ willingness to participate? How can researchers encourage users’ involvement in “participatory epidemiology” (Freifeld et al. 2010) and how can these crowdsourced data be combined with other sources from e.g. news websites or social networks? The following draft is an excerpt from my introduction.
Together with my Maastricht University colleague Karin Wenz, I will edit the fourth issue of the Digital Culture & Society journal. The issue will be dedicated to the topic: “Hacking and Making: Meanings, Practices, Spaces”. We look forward to receiving exciting submissions to our call for papers:
In 2014, hackerspaces in the Netherlands issued an open letter to the Dutch Public Prosecution Service (PPS): In this document, members of hacker communities from Amsterdam, Heerlen, Utrecht and other cities called upon the governmental institution to revise the definition of ‘hacking’ as it was presented on its website. While the PPS defined hacking as “breaking into computers without permission”, the hackerspace members highlighted that hacking means to creatively engage with technologies and to explore them in ways which were not foreseen by their original producers. Opposing the reduction of hacking to illegal activities, they described hacking as exploration of technological boundaries and possibilities.
The inaugural issue of Digital Culture & Society on “Digital Material/ism” has just been published (October 2015): It presents case studies as well as methodological reflections and theoretical insights into digital materiality and materialism. The issue contains articles by Tim Barker and Conor McKeown, Till A. Heilmann, Stefan Werning, Laura Forlano, Grant Bollmer, Ashley Scarlett, Yuk Hui, Moritz Hiller, Evelyn Wan and Sabrina Sauer.
Moreover, for the first issue I have interviewed media theorist Jussi Parikka about his book “A Geology of Media” (2015), the relevance of new materialism and the need for critical, digital humanities. My Maastricht University colleague Karin Wenz spoke to sociologist Tim Jordan about his book “Information Politics” (2015), reflecting on issues of power, control and politics in digital culture.
The Media Fields journal recently published the latest issue on “Spaces of Protest“. It includes papers on drone vision and zones of protest (Anthony McCosker), the Gezi-movement – with regards to the “politics of being-there” (Sinem Aydinli) and “intertopian space” (Çağrı Yalkın and Suncem Koçer) – and urban art as playful protest (Sam Hind).
Google Flu Trends and the Methodological Shift from ‘Supply’ to ‘Demand’
In June this year (2014), transcript published an edited volume on “Big Data“. I contributed a chapter to this publication, on a topic which fascinates me: data obtained through search engine queries – and hence based on the digital traces which users leave behind. While I have looked into this topic more generally with regards to Google Trends before, this paper analyses Google Flu Trends and the connection between Big Data and epidemiological surveillance more specifically. The paper is in German, but I recently discussed the topic with Max Haiven and Anna Sauerbrey at the SLOW Politics conference in Berlin. Below you can find a summary of the paper and a video of our discussion.