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Science & Technology Studies "Food for Thought" Event: Warren Sack

When May 13, 2011
from 12:00 PM to 01:30 PM
Where SSH 1246
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Science & Technology Studies "Food for Thought" Event

Warren Sack
Chair, Digital Arts & New Media MFA Program
Associate Professor, Film & Digital Media
University of California, Santa Cruz

"Mutual Recursion: What Happens When Politics Becomes Code?"

Friday May 13, Noon, with Pizza
SSH 1246 - http://tinyurl.com/1246ssh
(please read paper / watch video first, then come to eat and discuss)

Abstract: There is a growing appreciation for what has been called "back-end politics" (Richard Rogers), specifically how the detailed, internal workings of search engines, social networking sites, databases, electronic voting machines, and other computer and networking technologies have clear political implications.  As more and more people go online to participate in the so-called "network society" (Manuel Castells), the need for this kind of work in the domain of computers and networks is especially crucial and has been developing, in the last few years, under a few different labels including "infrastructure studies," "platform studies," "digital methods," and, "software studies."  What I want to propose today is that work of this sort needs to be complemented by another kind: "software design."  Specifically, now that the language of politics is inextricably woven into the code base of the Internet, a new form of political philosophy should be pursued by academics: the translation of democratic values and ideals from prose into programs.  In short, my proposal is this: not only should we be studying the political implications of existing software, we should also be designing and writing software that articulates democratic ideals so that industry and government alike have "gold standard benchmarks" for what they aim to achieve when they go about building large-scale platforms that increasingly mediate our personal, professional, social, and political institutions.

Paper: http://tinyurl.com/Sack-MutualRecursion
Prezi for the paper:
https://prezi.com/secure/dbf98bb210c73c864d6736290b778623b476d87c/
Video of paper presented last October at the Ryerson University
symposium on Network Politics:
http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/10372311
Site: http://people.ucsc.edu/~wsack/

Supplement: At the end of the paper, I start into some specific, technical details.  Some of these I worked out further and presented in December at the Expressive Intelligence Studio, Computer Science
Department, UC Santa Cruz: http://danm.ucsc.edu/~wsack/Plan/


Additional directions: 1246 SSH (aka Deathstar), easiest way to find it is to enter the parking lot between Young & SSH off A St. At the end of the parking lot turn right and walk between two buildings. Off to your left is a sliding glass door. 1246 is inside to your left.

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