Relaunch!

After almost 6 years with my old website, I finally found the time and patience to create a new one. I chose WordPress because I wanted a more lively site which is also easier to handle than pure HTTP while giving me a lot of flexibility, too. So far I´m very happy with it. It´s still under construction, so it´s not complete and probably contains some errors here and there. Feedback is very welcome, of course!

I also would like to thank my friend Philipp Randt and his agency Mit Überblick who have been very helpful with my old site. If you ever need some (web) designers I highly recommend these guys!

New book: Society of the Query Reader. Reflections on Web Search

After co-organizing the Society of the Query #2  conference I had the chance to edit a related book with Miriam Rasch as part of the Institute of Network Cultures´ exciting reader series. It´s out now and it´s completely open access!

Read it online, download it or order a copy for free here.

About the book: Looking up something online is one of the most common applications of the web. Whether with a laptop or smartphone, we search the web from wherever we are, at any given moment. ‘Googling’ has become so entwined in our daily routines that we rarely question it. HSociety of the Query coverowever, search engines such as Google or Bing determine what part of the web we get to see, shaping our knowledge and perceptions of the world. But there is a world beyond Google – geographically, culturally, and technologically.

The Society of the Query network was founded in 2009 to delve into the larger societal and cultural consequences that are triggered by search technology. In this Reader, which is published after two conferences held in Amsterdam in 2009 and 2013, twenty authors – new media scholars, historians, computer scientists, and artists – try to answer a number of pressing questions about online search. What are the foundations of web search? What ideologies and assumptions are inscribed in search engine algorithms? What solution can be formulated to deal with Google’s monopoly in the future? Are alternatives to Google even thinkable? What influence does online search have on education practices? How do artists use the abundance of data that search engines provide in their creative work? By bringing researchers together from a variety of relevant disciplines, we aim at opening up new perspectives on the Society of the Query.

“Science and the Beta-Society”: My talk at the Science 2.0 Conference, 26 to 27 March, Hamburg

I was very happy that I was invited to give a talk at the very interesting Science 2.0 Conference in Hamburg. Thanks to the perfect organization, the event was also documented very well with videos of the presentations (find them here). Here´s my talk:

Abstract: We live in a Beta-Society: Software is structuring almost all niches of society, including academia, and more often than not, it is in a permanent beta state. As such, it is never stable nor ready and we – the users – are constantly monitored for its improvement, subjects of an ongoing real-life experiment. At the same time, users and their data have become a commodity and their interactions the foundation of Web 2.0 platforms. Therefore, developers have lowered the interaction barriers as far as possible while hiding the complexity and actual social costs of their platforms and keeping them within their “walled gardens”. Specifically, scholarly communication is increasingly mediated and structured through these services, posing a number of challenges to the academic system: opaque algorithms re-ordering scientific relevance, new forms of peer review and quality management, lay participation and privacy threats to name just a few. The talk will address these issues by focusing on concrete examples of popular Web 2.0 platforms.