Machines of Knowledge
Full course description
This course will introduce students to the transformation of the World Wide Web from an information space to one that is increasingly seen as a series of dynamic knowledge sites. These new types of sites take advantage of the aﬀordances of Web 2.0, including more dynamic multimodality, interactivity, user-generated content and enhanced usability. These changes in how content is generated, shared, and delivered raise new issues, including the ethics and challenges of creating, curating, archiving, and preserving digital content.
New media players, such as Google and Facebook, have the power to shape public opinion. Wealth and power determine the circulation and visibility of information and as a consequence fake/junk news, misinformation, deep fakes, and propaganda undermine media independence while creating polarisation and bias; human- or machine-generated echo chambers, filter bubbles, and micro-celebrities/ influencers all have an influence on how information is transmitted and consumed. The fragmented nature of reporting and its remix with entertainment, together with more recent phenomena, such as shitstorms and ‘cancel culture’ have given new meaning to the notion of public sphere. Do these new ways of generating, distributing, and consuming information lead to the creation of new machines of knowledge or can they potentially lead to the gradual depoliticisation of public communication?
By the end of this course, students will be able to problematise approaches to the digitisation, curation, and preservation of web-based content while interrogating the role of World Wide Web in the production of knowledge. Students will also learn how to apply distant reading, text mining, and visualisation tools to explore a research question pertinent to generation, use, sharing, delivery, and presentation of data on the web and will be able to discuss this within postcolonial and feminist frames.
D’Ignazio, C. and Klein, L. (2020). Data Feminism. MIT Press.
Fuchs, C., Hofkirchner, W., Schafranek, M., Raffl, C., Sandoval, M., & Bichler, R. (2010). Theoretical foundations of the web: cognition, communication, and co-operation. Towards an understanding of Web 1.0, 2.0, 3.0. Future Internet, 2(1), 41-59.
Michael A. Peters & Tina Besley (2019) Digital archives in the cloud: Collective memory, institutional histories and the politics of information, Educational Philosophy and Theory, 51:10, 1020-1029.
Mirowski, P. (2018). The future (s) of open science. Social studies of science, 48(2), 171-203.
Sinclair, S. and Rockwell, S. (2016). Text Analysis and Visualization: Making Meaning Count, In S. Schreibman, R. Siemens, and J. Unsworth (Eds.) A New Companion to the Digital Humanities (pp. 274–90). Wiley Blackwell.
Tong, J. (2015). The formation of an agonistic public sphere: Emotions, the Internet and news media in China. China Information, 29(3), 333–351.
See the course book for required and recommended reading.