conferences and writings providing criticism of social media
I read Mark Andrejevic‘s article on “Social Network Exploitation” yesterday (in Paparcharissi (ed) A Networked Self, Routledge 2011), and its marxist critique of the ways companies might and/or do exploit our use of social media is excellently chilling. I’m going to be teaching this article this semester, and have a half-written blog post on it, so more of that later.
But anyway, inspired by Andrejevic’s article, I poked around a bit and found two interesting conferences this spring:
Critique, Democracy, and Philosophy in 21st Century Information Society: Towards Critical Theories of Social Media is an academic conference to be held in Uppsala near Stockholm on May 2-4. Andrejevic is on the list of speakers, as are many other interesting thinkers, including Christian Fuchs, Trebor Scholz, Ursula Huws, Andrew Feenberg and Charles Ess. I’m not impressed that only two of the listed 14 speakers are women – you’d think balanced representation would be key in a critique of social media, and I certainly hope they improve upon that before the program is final. They do also have an open call for papers, with abstracts due Feb 29. Here’s some of the topic description:
This conference deals with the question of what kind of society and what kind of Internet are desirable, what steps need to be taken for advancing a good Internet in a sustainable information society, how capitalism, power structures and social media are connected, what the main problems, risks, opportunities and challenges are for the current and future development of Internet and society, how struggles are connected to social media, what the role, problems and opportunities of social media, web 2.0, the mobile Internet and the ubiquitous Internet are today and in the future, what current developments of the Internet and society tell us about potential futures, how an alternative Internet can look like, and how a participatory, commons-based Internet and a co-operative, participatory, sustainable information society can be achieved.
Unlike Us 2 is an event to be held in Amsterdam on March 8-10 which is hosted by a “research network of artists, designers, scholars, activists and programmers who work on ‘alternatives in social media’”, with the subtitle “Understanding Social Media Monopolies and their Alternatives.” David Berry tweeted this one to me after I mentioned the Uppsala conference, and he is one of the confirmed speakers. So is Anne Helmond, whose research blog I’ve been following for years. There are also some interesting videos from the first Unlike Us event on their blog.
Andrejevic’s chapter, and in fact the whole of Papacharissi’s anthology, is available as a PDF on Scribd, which is presumably not even remotely legal, so I won’t link.