CfP for Special Issue “Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Digital Experiment in Museology and Museum Design” of Herança Journal

Guest edited by Dr Gabriele Salciute Civiliene and Dr Kristen Schuster, DDH, King’s College London, the forthcoming Special Issue of Herança – Revista de História, Património e Cultura invites you to submit papers in English or Portuguese on the topics related to the issue’s title “Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Digital Experiment in Museology and Museum Design”.

Don’t hesitate to contact Gabriele at gabriele.salciute-civiliene@kcl.ac.uk and Kristen at kristen.schuster@kcl.ac.uk if you have questions.

More information on the scope and the important dates here, and details of the call are copied below.

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Welcome to Rahel Süß, visiting researcher at the Department of Digital Humanities ✨

We are delighted to announce that Rahel Süß will be joining us as a visiting researcher at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London.

During her stay, she will continue her research on a political theory of digital democracy. A key question regards what the task of democracy has become in digital-mediated societies. Beyond demands for scaling deliberative problem-solving, she poses the problem differently. Her main contribution to contemporary debates is a conceptual framework that calls for a better understanding of digital democracy as a practice of problematisation. More about her research interests can be found in her bio (below) and she can be found on Twitter at @RahelSuess. Welcome Rahel! 🎊

Rahel Süß is a political theorist and the founding director of the Data Politics Lab at Humboldt-University of Berlin. Her work explores new forms of power relations that shape possibilities for democratic renewal. Drawing on democratic theory, critical algorithms studies, and activist political theory she is currently investigating how ‘a right to disidentification’ can enhance collective self-governance in the context of automated systems. By engaging with a series of examples, from ‘the right to be forgotten’, to the project DECODE and disruptive technologies, she shows that digital democracy requires not simply adequate mechanisms of recognition but also the capacity for non-identity—for anonymity (at times)—to engage in transformative processes.

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Welcome to Jean-Christophe Plantin, visiting researcher at the Department of Digital Humanities ✨

Jean-Christophe Plantin (@JCPlantin) is joining the Department of Digital Humanities over the coming months as a visiting researcher. In the following post he discusses what he will be working on. Welcome Jean-Christophe! 🎊

It is an honor to be a Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of Digital Humanities during Fall 2021. I have been a long-time admirer of the groundbreaking work of its Faculty members, regarding both digital humanities and key aspects of digital culture and economy. As the concept of infrastructure is central to my work, I look forward to engaging in discussions on this niche (but fascinating!) topic with its researchers.

While at King’s College London, I will carry on my work on my current book project, currently with the working title: The Infrastructural Power of Platform Companies. This book argues first that US-based tech companies (Google, Amazon and the likes) are now akin to infrastructures in society, due to their indispensability and capacity to shape the economic and social life. It moreover adopts the material focus from science & technology studies to show, second, how the same tech giants are literally and materially becoming infrastructure in four segments of the global networking infrastructure: data centers, subsea cables, terrestrial cables networks, as well as non-terrestrial connectivity.

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“Interrogating Global Traces of Infrastructure” workshop, 18th November 2021

A workshop on “Interrogating Global Traces of Infrastructure” will take place on 18th November 2021, organised by Urszula Pawlicka-Deger as part of her Marie Skłodowska-Curie DH Infra project. The event is organised together with the King’s Digital Lab, the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London and the Critical Infrastructure Studies collective.

The schedule is available here and copied below, and you can register here.

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“You don’t own that data” – Btihaj Ajana on self-tracking in the Guardian

Btihaj Ajana has been interviewed in The Guardian about a piece on “Intimate data: can a person who tracks their steps, sleep and food ever truly be free?”. Here are some quotes from the piece:

Such quandaries will only become more common and complex, says Btihaj Ajana, a reader in media and digital culture at King’s College London and a specialist in self-tracking. She traces our tracking instincts in the digital age to the “quantified self” movement. It took shape in 2007 as a way for individuals to use technology to optimise themselves like machines. “What started as a positive phenomenon then got hijacked,” Ajana says.

Constant advances in tracking have given tech companies new ways to keep selling their latest devices, while happily collecting the data we generate and sign away without reading the terms and conditions. “You don’t own that data,” Ajana says. Apple promises to encrypt and guard the multiplying streams of health data it collects for us. But much of the concern about privacy in this growing market is what we consent to share with third-party apps and services that have their own privacy policies. “We are so blase about privacy,” Ajana says.

It is easy to imagine the value of health data not only to insurers, but also advertisers and employers. Around 2014, a number of big businesses started giving Fitbits to staff, collecting information on their sleep, activity and location. The rise of corporate tracking, which is presented as an employee perk (free watch! Better health!), may be hastened by Covid. LifeSignals, a California startup that has developed a chest patch to measure signals including breathing, temperature and even posture, noted a spike in demand last year from big businesses that wanted to screen staff for Covid symptoms.

“Some employers ask employees to compete with each other to be more healthy,” Ajana adds. “It can all seem benign and nice – but what if that data also gets used to decide who gets the next promotion or whose health insurance policy needs adjusting?” Opting out of such programmes can feel like a career risk of its own.

#FacebookOutage highlights our social media addictions – Rachael Kent interviewed in The Independent

Rachael Kent was interviewed for a piece in The Independent on “What happens psychologically when we’re cut off from social media?”, exploring what the recent outage of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp tells us about our social media addictions. Here are a couple of quotes from the piece:

This showed just how addicted many of us are to social media. “It was hugely challenging and immediately forced us to not only have a digital detox, but also confront our addictive relationship with not only our phones, but also the applications themselves,” explains Dr. Kent.
For Kent, this relationship “really illustrates how much they’d have become an extension of our physicality, as a mediating tool to enable so much: community, connection, communication, sociality. The inability to stop picking it up despite the fact that you know it’s not working really illustrates that dependence.”

“Techno-snitching is definitely a thing” – Kate Devlin interviewed for Wired piece on Amazon Astro robots

Kate Devlin at the Department of Digital Humanities was recently interviewed for a piece in Wired on how “Amazon’s Astro robot uses fear to get into your home”. You can read the article here, and below is the transcript of the interview that Kate did with Jack Needham

 

From what you have seen so far, what’s different about an Amazon robot to other home robot products that have been on the market for a while? I imagine the sheer monster that is Amazon brings some huge differences.

A lot of the robots we have in our homes aren’t robots like this. Most common are robot vacuum cleaners, for example. The Astro robot aims to provide more broad service (such as video calls on wheels – essentially a telepresence robot) and also some scope to deliver small objects from one room to another.

Yes, Amazon has a lot of market power, but will people be happy to fork out for essentially a screen on wheels?

 

These things are billed as being a convenience – something that switches on lights, makes video calls etc. But it’s still a product that’s designed to make money and gather data. Do you think the everyday person forgets that? Why?

There’s a tendency to overlook or disregard privacy if it’s a barrier to convenience. We’re pretty much all guilty of that. How many of us read through pages of terms and conditions to use an app or service that we need? But in some instances, consumers may not be aware of just how much data is being gathered about them, or what happens to their personal information.

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Looking for academics to help with our MA dissertation marking

The Department of Digital Humanities (DDH) currently has opportunities for academics in marking MA dissertations. The dissertations are covering research in areas such as digital platforms and social media, critique of digital economy, digital humanities and digital asset management and are 15,000 words long. The marking is starting now and feedback and marks are due to be back at the beginning of November. 

First marking and second marking are twinned, so a unit of first marking also comes with a unit of second marking. The payment is – 4 hours payment per dissertation for first, and 2 hours for second marking plus. The payment is £21.27 per hour. Markers need to have a PhD or equivalent expertise. They also need the right to work in the UK.

If you are willing to take on 5/5 or 10/10 or 15/15 dissertations for marking or know of someone who could be interested, please get in touch with mercedes DOT bunz AT kcl.ac.uk

Speaker series with UNC Chapel Hill on “Digital Aesthetics: Critique, Creativity and Selfhood in Computational Culture”

As part of an ongoing collaboration between between Kings College London and UNC Chapel Hill, Doug Stark and Carly Schnitzler are convening a series of talks with researchers at the Department of Digital Humanities.

The series will start with a workshop with Conor McKeown, followed by talks with Feng Zhu, Mercedes Bunz and Zeena Feldman. If you’re interested in joining Conor’s workshop you can RSVP below, and you can contact Doug and Carly if you’re interested in joining for the talks.

  • Workshop: Dr. Conor McKeown, Tuesday, October 5, 5pm BST (“Virtual World-Building in Unity (C#)). RSVP here!
  • Lecture: Dr. Feng Zhu, Wednesday, October 20, 5.30pm BST
  • Lecture: Dr. Mercedes Bunz, Friday, November 12, 5pm GMT (“Creative AI as a Critical Technical Practice: Inquiring the Backend of Machine Learning Artworks”)
  • Lecture: Dr. Zeena Feldman, Thursday, December 2, 3pm GMT (“Quitting Digital Culture: Rethinking Agency in a Beyond-Choice Ontology”)

Joanna Zylinska joins Department of Digital Humanities as Professor of Media Philosophy and Critical Digital Practice

We’re delighted to announce that Joanna Zylinska has been appointed as Professor of Media Philosophy and Critical Digital Practice in the Department of Digital Humanities.

Professor Zylinska is a writer, lecturer, artist and curator, working in the areas of digital technologies and new media, ethics, photography and art. Prior to joining King’s in 2021, she worked for many years at Goldsmiths, University of London, including as Co-Head of its Department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies. She has held visiting positions as Guest Professor at Shandong University in China, Winton Chair Visiting Scholar at the University of Minnesota, US, and Beaverbrook Visiting Scholar at McGill University in Canada.

Zylinska is the author of eight books – most recently, AI Art: Machine Visions and Warped Dreams (Open Humanities Press, 2020, open access), The End of Man: A Feminist Counterapocalypse (University of Minnesota Press, 2018, open access) and Nonhuman Photography (MIT Press, 2017). Her work has been translated into Chinese, French, German, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish. Zylinska combines her philosophical writings with image-based art practice and curatorial work. In 2013 she was Artistic Director of Transitio_MX05 ‘Biomediations’: Festival of New Media Art and Video in Mexico City.

Professor Marion Thain, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities comments:

The King’s powerhouse in Digital Humanities is going from strength to strength, and we are delighted to welcome Joanna Zylinska (whose expertise spans digital technologies, new media, art, ethics and photography) as Professor of Media Philosophy and Critical Digital Practice. Her appointment cements DDH as a world-leading centre for the study of the contemporary Digital Humanities.
Professor Stuart Dunn, Head of the Department of Digital Humanities says:

I am delighted to welcome Joanna to DDH. She brings a distinguished record of scholarship and academic leadership in digital arts, AI and new media which will expand and enrich the Department across our research, our teaching programmes and our service to society and London. We are thrilled that she has joined us.