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Conference: High Noon in the Summer of Social Media.

High Noon in the Summer of Social Media:
Sandvig & Lovink on Alternatives, Algorithms, Critical Internets, Power & Platforms

University of Sydney, Wed 9 December 1.30-5pm. RSVP essential.

Sponsored by Everyday Social Media Research Group & Media @ Sydney

1.30-3pm: Christian Sandvig (Michigan), ‘Awakenings of the Filtered: Folk Theories of the Facebook News Feed’

3.30-5pm: Geert Lovink (HvA, Amsterdam), ‘Critical Internet Cultures from Selfie Cult to Mask Design’

Venue: Seminar Room (S226), Department of Media and Communications, John Woolley Building (A20), level 2, University of Sydney
(entry off Manning Road – diagonally opposite Faculty of Education building map)

About the talks & presenters

Christian Sandvig, ‘Awakenings of the Filtered: Folk Theories of the Facebook News Feed’

Abstract: Online life is full of curated social media feeds, recommendations and search results. Concerns about the power of algorithmic curation to shape mediated experience without the user’s knowledge or consent have produced a uniform industry response: a proliferation of new options and messages (“See first,” “Hide,” “Why am I seeing this?”). These labels and knobs are meant to bolster the idea that we individually control the social media curation algorithms that act on us. One problem with this premise is that it assumes user awareness and a particular conceptualization of algorithmic filtering in the first place. In this talk I will discuss a project that helped a diverse group of Facebook users compare a filtered vs. unfiltered Facebook news feed to elicit their “folk theories” of what they thought the news feed was doing. I discuss the range of elicited folk theories — from “fresh blood” to “Narcissus” — in order to investigate social media’s contemporary co-production of mediation and relevance.

Bio: Christian Sandvig is Associate Professor in the School of Information and the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Michigan. His current research investigates the consequences of algorithmic systems that curate and organize culture. He was named a “next-generation leader in science and technology policy” in a faculty competition organized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He previously received a Faculty Career Development Award from the US National Science Foundation in the area of human-centered computing. He holds the Ph.D. in communication research from Stanford University.

Geert Lovink, ‘Critical Internet Cultures from Selfie Cult to Mask Design’

Abstract: In this monopoly phase of platform capitalism, selfies and Anonymous are two sides of the same coin. Both emerge from the same root in Western enlightenment that emphasises individualism and liberation of the Self. Narcissistic self-promotion as well as politically motivated protection of privacy operate under the neo-liberal umbrella of individual empowerment. This raises the strategic question whether alternative network architectures arise out of a critical reading of such consumer cultures? What’s the state of the art in critical internet cultures in this post-Snowden era? What does it mean when the tactics of mainstreaming subcultural practices is running empty on the long run and the realtime meme politics is incapable of solidifying itself in alternative protocols and infrastructures?

Bio: Geert Lovink is a media theorist, internet critic and author of Zero Comments (2007), Networks Without a Cause (2012) and Social Media Abyss (2016). Since 2004 he is researcher in the School for Communication and Media Design at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA) where he is the coordinator of the Institute of Network Cultures. Recently his centre organized conferences, publications and research networks such as Unlike Us (alternatives in social media), Society of the Query (the culture of search), MoneyLab (bitcoins, crowdfunding & internet revenue models) and a project on publishing and future of art criticism. In 2015 their digital publishing research was split off into the Publishing Lab. Since 2009 he is professor at the European Graduate School (Saas-Fee) where he supervises PhD students.

For further information about this event: Contact Gerard Goggin –


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