Analog/Digital Cultures: Algorithms & Culture

Clemens Apprich
Fine Arts and Media Art, Media Theory
2022W, Lecture and Discussion (VD), 2.0 ECTS, 2.0 semester hours, course number S04308

Description

What are digital cultures? The question is typically answered by reference to social media platforms, online services, or the computer in general. However, despite the ubiquity of digital media technologies in our everyday culture, a lack of knowledge prevails as to what ‘the digital’ actually is. The lecture series poses this seemingly simple, but all the more complex question by interrogating the ‘deep history’ of the digital in relation to non-digital (i.e. analog) cultures. Based on key references from media as well as cultural studies, we will look into the transition from analog to digital cultures not simply in terms of a linear media change, but rather as a complex, often complicated interweaving between the two – an interrelation which affects the way we think, perceive and act in the world.

This semester, the focus will be on the relationship between algorithms and culture with regard to digital media technologies. Algorithmic cultures can be understood as the 'cultivation' of a certain logic that works by breaking down (continuous) problems into a set of (discrete) steps in order to automatically process them. As such algorithms are indeed "tricky objects to know" (Nick Seaver), not least because they combine technical knowledge with a wide range of cultural phenomena (e.g. sorting, filtering, curating). We will look into the 'black box' of algorithmic cultures and discuss their economic, legal and political implications for our everyday media life with a special focus on data bias and algorithmic discrimination.

Examination Modalities

Students will be responsible to write a final essay (ca. 15.000 characters, including spaces and footnotes, but excluding appendices, references, or figures) by the end of the term. The essay should demonstrate a critical engagement with the semester's topic of the lecture, applying some of the discussed literature. Further inspiration on the question of what constitutes digital cultures can be found in this interview series.

Comments

The lecture will be held in English. Essays can be submitted in English or German. A course outline with assigned readings will be made available online.

Key Words

digital culture, media theory, media history, medientheorie, algorithms, recommendation systems, machine learning

Dates

04 October 2022, 10:00–11:30 Seminar Room 20
11 October 2022, 10:00–11:30 Seminar Room 20
25 October 2022, 10:00–11:30 Seminar Room 20
08 November 2022, 10:00–11:30 Seminar Room 20
15 November 2022, 10:00–11:30 Seminar Room 20
22 November 2022, 10:00–11:30 Seminar Room 20
29 November 2022, 10:00–11:30 Seminar Room 20
06 December 2022, 10:00–11:30 Seminar Room 20
13 December 2022, 10:00–11:30 Seminar Room 20
20 December 2022, 10:00–11:30 Seminar Room 20
10 January 2023, 10:00–11:30 Seminar Room 20
17 January 2023, 10:00–11:30 Seminar Room 20
24 January 2023, 10:00–11:30 Seminar Room 20
31 January 2023, 10:00–11:30 Seminar Room 20

Course Enrolment

Via online registration

co-registration: possible

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