Digital Methods Summer School 2008: Govcom.org Jubilee and Workshop

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GovCom Jubilee

Jubilee Project Pages

Studying Software

Studying Software Project Page

Do software studies have a dominant approach? The early days witnessed the study of the imagined user built into the software. Subsequently, one of the neglected 'users' became the trade industry press, which, it was argued, was responsible for the 'feature mountain' -- software packages bloated by the weight of their drop-down menus. Studying developers, whether in closed or open coding cultures, continues in strands of work concerned with the founding documents, from the Requests for Comment (RFCs) to documentation of the early versions of software. Questions arise about whether studying software requires particular expertise beyond the standard tools. Can the study of software become as distinctive in its approaches as it is in its object?

Cyber Lands

Cyber Lands Project Page

Affixing cyber to a term for space, person, activity and more is often accompanied by both the fantastic and the banal. Whilst the imagination of an everyday, working community online has fit well with Internet cultures, that of nations and the national has not. Rather than being embraced by a nation, country domains occasionally were sold off, largely by small countries to particular professional and commercial cultures associated with its two letters. Mauritius's .mu received interest from musical groups, Armenia's .am from AM radio, Djibouti's .dj from disc jockeys, Tuvala's .tv from television stations, Congo's .cd from compact discs, Micronesia's .fm from FM radio, and most recently, personalized radio, last.fm. Contrariwise, .ps has been an explicitly national project, with the Palestinian NIC promoting it as a means to communicate the Palestinian identity. Recently, the questions of national Web study have evolved from a concentration on the political economy of domain names to the info-political consequences of IP-geography, with Websites configured to detect a user's location and push nationally (and linguistically) customized information accordingly.

Alternative Algorithms

Alternative Algorithms Project Page

When slashdot created a post-editorial system to assign authority to postings, the algorithm shifted the focus from the tyranny of editors to the intelligence of crowds. Wikipedia similarly stands out for its method, however much the attention continues to be on three issues conveniently summarized by Encyclopedia Britannica Online's marketing slogan: "Educational. Safe. Up-To-Date." Can Wikipedia be used in schools, is it not open to abuse and is it too fresh to be true? Following through on the challenge, however specific to the market, one may ask, must alternative algorithms address the question of the authority of the editor, which is a follow-up to the once burning question of the quality of information online, or may it safely leave such a debate behind by insisting on distinctive Web epistemologies relying on activity dynamics?

Code Politics

Code Politics Project Page

Classic code politics lie in locked-down programs or systems that preclude any user tinkering or peaking inside, summarized in the interactivity critique, "you must!" as opposed to "you may." Where once analysts would seek to deconstruct the device (the prying open of the proverbial black box), later the questions revolved around the force of the protocols, and the improbability of working outside the system. Most recently, code is developed to show politics. What are the kinds of politics that code may be made to display? Perhaps it is fruitful to strive to show the politics in code. Is there something peculiar and distinctive to "political code"?

Networked Content

Networked Content Project Page

We turn away from the user as content-organizing agent on the Web, and instead seek to put forward a device-centric approach to the study of what may be termed networked content. As valuable as the importation of fan studies has been in showing how a participatory culture gives rise to collective intelligence, it neglects what may be termed algorithmic consequences, that is, the manner in which content is delivered by devices in the first instance. The turn away from the user is at once a methodological as well as techno-epistemological program. Instead of placing video cameras over the users' shoulders or affixing eye trackers, for example, a Web device diagnostics is preferred. How are the scanners, crawlers, scrapers and all other manner of content capturing devices changing the way Web effects are analysed? In engine critiques, the question remains which content is served, when and where? In sphere critiques (websphere, blogosphere, newssphere, tagosphere), similarly the question concerns the distance of certain content from the surface, and how it may make itself known or hidden. For the new spaces, e.g., syndication and other feed arenas, content spread and coverage are under-interrogated.

Programming, Design, Method

Anybody can also add to the Tools Wishlist, if the tool required does not already exist on DmiTools

Technical Facilities

Scripts and Tools

A list of Govcom.org and DMI tools can be found here. You can also take a look at DMI Methods or start from the homepage to see what we have done previously.

Shared Folder

Share info

Jubilee Programme (archived)

Public Programme: Amsterdam New Media Summer Talks

New Media Summer Talks: Networked Content
Monday, 11 August 2008, 1-5pm

Location:
Nina van Leer Zaal
Allard Pierson Museum
Oude Turfmarkt 129 (Bijzondere Collecties Entrance)
1012 GC Amsterdam

Free entry, followed by drinks, 5-6.30pm

Warren Sack, Alexander Galloway, Greg Elmer and Anat Ben-David explore the contents of networks. The Summer Talks are hosted by Richard Rogers. The program is part of the 10-year Jubilee of Govcom.org, the group responsible for the Issue Crawler and other info-political tools for the Web. It is also part of the Digital Methods Summer School as well as the New Media Research Lecture Series, Media Studies, University of Amsterdam.

The full programme and abstracts can be found on the Summer Talks Page

Workshop programme

Tuesday, August 12

Location:
Media Studies, University of Amsterdam
Turfdraagsterpad 9, 1012 XT Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Room 0.13

Morning Presentations:

National Webs: Diagnosing the Condition of a Country by Studying 'its' Web
By Esther Weltevrede and Erik Borra

Related Content: Climate Change Skeptics and their Adjacent Issues
By Sabine Niederer

Internet Archive: How to Study the History of the Web? Answer: Through the Study of the History of Single Sites (Pages)
By Anne Helmond and Laura van der Vlies

Afternoon:

Split up into project teams and start working.

Wednesday, August 13 - Friday, August 15

Working on projects.
Topic revision: r21 - 29 Oct 2012, ErikBorra
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