event & panel discussion: google, governance, & possible interventions

On the 12th of April we’ll host a big event at the newly renovated Austrian Academy of Sciences. I’ll first present the results of my long-standing habilitation project “Algorithmic Imaginaries” (funded by the Austrian Science Fund; Elise Richter Program), followed by a panel discussion with leading search engine scholars from all over Europe. Together with Elizabeth Van Couvering, Rosie Graham, and Bernhard Rieder we’ll discuss Google, surveillance capitalism, and discrimination; moderated by Ov Cristian Norocel and Richard Rogers. All infos and registration on-site can be found here; there’ll be a stream too!

googleBefore the public event we’ll be holding a writing workshop at the Institute of Technology Assessment to discuss the manuscripts for our special issue “From Google Critique to Intervention” to be published by Big Data & Society. I’m already looking forward to this get-together!! The video of the event can be found here. aaw

If you’d like to learn more about my project “Algorithmic Imaginaries” you might watch this video of the lecture I gave in Feburary as part of the ÖAW’s gender & diversity lecture series (in German). This lecture sparked quite some media attention including a cover in Der Standard’s “Forschung Spezial” :)


conference travels from the past..

In Austria, we’re diving through the “4th Corona wave” right now including a hard lockdown. Yet again, I’m sitting in my home (office) with the kids on my lap in case more than two school kids get infected in the same class. The responsibility has been fully shifted onto teachers, parents, and their kids by now. Politics has given up on the Covid-management of schools, as it seems. In the middle of this chaos, I’m enthusiastically thinking back to my (real!) trip to Lund two months ago. Olof Sundin and Alison Gerber invited me to give a keynote lecture at the interdisciplinary symposium In Search of Search (and its Engines). This workshop was a kind of gathering of pioneering search engine scholars that accompany me since my PhD (more than 15 years now). I finally met Elizabeth van Couvering, for example, whose work on the commercialization of Google and the creation of its business model based on the “traffic commodity” had a great impact on my PhD research. Also, Richard Rogers, Dirk Lewandowski, Jutta Haider, and other great scholars were there and it was FUN! (and not only because of the real food & drinks!) The best part is that we keep the lively debates about search engines, search engine research, and its academic & sociopolitical impact alive. We’re currently working on a special issue for Big Data & Society called The State of Google Critique and Intervention co-edited by Ov Cristian Norocel, Richard Rogers, and myself. We’re planning a workshop and a public event in Vienna (12 April 2022), which I love to organize in the middle of this 4th wave as a possibility to work towards a light at the end of the tunnel.. 😉 So stay tuned!

blogMoreover, almost as an exception to the rule, I attended a great 4S online session this year: Wiring digital justice: Embedding rights in Internet governance by infrastructure organized by Stefania Milan, Niels ten Oever, and Francesca Musiani. Despite the shitty online platform the conference was running on, the session organizers managed to trigger fruitful discussions by providing thoughtful comments after each of the presentations. My paper was titled “Encoding Freedom: Analysis of open search technology between German hacker ethics and Asian start-up culture” and triggered debates about Chinese tech development and the “metrics of freedom” that I’m still thinking about – now that I finally have time to analyze my rich empirical materials on open source communities and other alternative search projects.

lecture @ technical university of vienna

In January I was kindly invited to give a lecture on my habilitation project “Algorithmic Imaginaries“. This talk was part of the lecture series “Aspects of the Digital Transformation” at the The Centre for Informatics and Society (CIS) of the Faculty of Informatics. Thanks a lot to Florian Cech and Hilda Tellioglu for the warm welcome including fine wine and bread! Thanks also to the audience who triggered really interesting discussions! You can find the video on the C!S website if you want to watch it (in English):

tu wien

“netzpolitischer abend”

meme-evil-toddler-netzpat14Genau vier Wochen nach dem letzten Netzpolitischen Abend AT gibt es am ersten Donnerstag im Monat, konkret dem 2. MĂ€rz, wieder drei spannende VortrĂ€ge zu netzpolitischen Themen – wie ĂŒblich ab 19:30 Uhr im Wiener Metalab in der Rathausstr. 6:


  • Astrid Mager (Institut fĂŒr TechnikfolgenabschĂ€tzung, @astridmager): Suchmaschinen in Europa. EuropĂ€ische Suchmaschinen?
  • Maximilian Schubert (@ISPA_at): „Netzsperren in Österreich“
  • Wolfie Christl (@WolfieChristl): Big-Data-Business, Profiling & Privacy

C6fm4W3WYAALsrrUnd hier der Link zum Nachsehen und Nachhören. Danke an alle, va Herbert Gnauer (von Idealism Prevails) fĂŒr’s streamen & schneiden, war sehr fein!!


events events events

Much has happened in the past weeks! First, the presentation of the results of my project “Glocal Search” (funded by OeNB, nb 14702) has taken place at the end of April: “Europe against Google & Co?” (see blog post below). The event was a success; and not only because of my research on search engines in the European context, but also because we had a really good panel discussion with representatives from policy, data protection, consumer protection, and the Internet economy. As a consequence, my project was featured in several newspapers (e.g. Der Standard) and in the radio broadcast “Digital Leben” on Ö1. A short summary of my results can be found on the ITA Website (in German and in English; coming soon). In addition, my project was part of the video ITA produced to present the institute and our research on the website of the Austrian ministry of science, research, and economy.

At the beginning of June there were two more exciting events: 1) the Technology Assessment Conference (TA15) annually taking place at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW); organized by ITA and 2) the IS4IS summit at the Technical University of Vienna with the title “THE INFORMATION SOCIETY AT THE CROSSROADS”. At this conference we organized a panel on “ICTs and power relations. Present dilemmas and future perspectives” (Doris Allhutter, Stefan Strauss & me). Since we got a great deal of abstracts we were able to put together three sessions, which was fun! I took the opportunity to present my work on the emergence of the European “sociotechnical imaginary” (Jasanoff & Kim) of search engines and its translation and transformation in the Austrian context (hopefully to be published soon!!). After that we decided to organize another panel at next year’s TA16 to further sharpen and extend our research focus.

Finally, I presented my work on alternative search engines and their ideologies at the book launch of Anton Tantner, who is a historian working on early, pre-Internet search technologies like AdressbĂŒros or FragĂ€mter (whatever that is in English). Since our research nicely fits together, we were invited to be studio guests in the radio broadcast “Dispositiv” by Herbert Gnauer (Radio Orange 94.0), which was really nice! Download here.

Now I’m done with presenting and communicating my results to various publics 😉 After my holidays I’ll get back to writing again. YAY!

talk talk talk

In the upcoming weeks I’ll be talking a lot 😉 First, I’ll be part of a discussion on surveillance – “WIR: DER SOUVERÄN” organized by the Emergence of Projects and Quintessenz (11 September, KĂŒnstlerhaus Passagegalerie). Second, I’ll participate in the presentation of the demands the net politics convent formulated for Austrian politicians. That’s gonna take place at the conference Daten. Netz. Politik 13 (14-15 September, Kabelwerk). Finally, the next day, I’ll talk about “MĂ€chtige Netze – Vernetzte Macht” at the Paraflows Festival (13-15 September, MQ).

All events are taking place in Vienna.

The abstract on MĂ€chtige Netze – Vernetzte Macht reads like this:

Google, Facebook, Amazon & co. Sie alle haben sich geschickt in Stellung gebracht. Die offene Struktur des Netzes durch geheime Algorithmen, digitale ZÀune, und Werbenetzwerke beschnitten und dem Konsum ausgeliefert. Sie sind zentrale Knoten in einem dezentralen Netzwerk. MÀchtige Player in einem per se machtfreien Raum. Doch ihre Macht ist nur geliehene Macht. Sie ist Produkt unserer Vernetzung. Unserer Gier nach Aufmerksamkeit, Zuspruch, Klicks und Likes. Ihre Macht ist ein Netzwerkeffekt, wie ich vor dem Hintergrund der Akteurs-Netzwerk Theorie diskutieren möchte. Doch was passiert wenn wir uns ausloggen aus dem System? Ausklinken aus dem mÀchtigen Netzwerk?

digital methods seminar

We (Katja Mayer and I) have just finalized our course on digital methods for next summer term. We’ll be teaching at the Department of Social Studies of Science, University of Vienna. The seminar will be part of the master program “Master of Arts – Science. Technology. Society”, but, in principle, everyone can join – if I understood it correctly. I’m not really familiar with the new curriculum yet though.. But I’m sure it will be fun since theoretical inquiry will be mixed with hands-on empirical research – fed by our own research and recent studies from our colleagues.

© image credit: Digital Methods Initiative (Amsterdam)

Here’s the syllabus. Join us if you like! Or otherwise, follow our seminar blog (which we plan to write if we find the time to do so 😉 )

Digital Methods – How Do We Know?

New information and communication technologies (ICTs) and social media like Google, Facebook and co. crucially change our daily lives. The “computational turn”, however, also affects the social sciences and humanities. Applications and software programs – ranging from simple presentation to complex network visualization tools – increasingly intrude into and shape scientific practices and the ways we conduct, present, and disseminate research. Rooted in the tradition of Science and Technology Studies (STS) this seminar addresses the central question of how digital methods of all kinds influence “how we know”. We will experiment with and critically examine various software tools and visualization techniques to better understand the growing number of digital methods used not only in the natural sciences, but increasingly also in the social sciences and humanities. We will ground these new tools respectively in older research traditions, discuss implications digital methods have in the process of knowledge production, and how to meet new challenges arising in the growing field of “digital social sciences and humanities”.

Drawing on literature from STS and critical new media studies, we aim to discuss the following questions: What are “digital methods” and what kind of knowledge(s) do they create? How do (digital) methods organize our research objects and what realities are enacted by them? How can hyperlink networks and Google analyses be used to analyze controversies like climate change or biofuels? How can social networking services, and Twitter in particular, be used to analyze political discourses and “hacktivist mobilization”? What information hierarchies and biases does commercial software trigger in the research process, and how can we handle this problem? What is “big data” and what are the benefits and dangers of large-scale computational science? And, finally, what are the implications of open access, creative commons, and Wikis in the context of both research and politics?

Pics & press coverage from APA eBusiness event

Last week we had a very lively discussion on new media – search engines and facebook – and privacy (see blog post below). Central questions were how these new online services use personal data to create profit, what privacy violations that involves, and how to meet these challenges with (EU) regulations and strategies of digital self-defense. It was a highly diverse, but really interesting combination of people on the round table including Johannes Juranek (CMS), Helmut Waitzer (Navax), Max Schrems (Initiative “Europa gegen Facebook”) und Markus Deutsch (WKO) and me.

© photo credit: APA-Fotoservice/Rossboth

Check out the fotos & press coverage (e.g. APA Science & futurezone) of the event for more information!

Talk at eBusiness Community Event/ APA

Next week I’ll be giving the “Impulsreferat” at the eBusiness Community Event organized by the Austrian Press Agency (APA). I’m already curious how the Austrian eBusiness community will react to my rather critical reflections on corporate Internet services and their business models. Guess it will be fun!

Here’s the abstract of the evening (from the EBC website) and my “statement” for the presentation and the panel discussion that follows (in German):

Privacy: Wie Daten zur Ware und WĂ€hrung werden.
In etwa zehn Jahren werden digitalisierte Produkte und Dienstleistungen laut Experten weltweit fĂŒr ein Viertel der jeweiligen Bruttoinlandsprodukte verantwortlich sein. Dieser Trend fĂŒhrt dazu, dass immer mehr persönliche Daten im Netz herumschwirren.

Auf Unternehmen kommen dadurch große Herausforderungen zu: Sie mĂŒssen den Kunden wie auch dem Gesetzgeber nachweisen, dass sie fĂŒr Sicherheit und Schutz der PrivatsphĂ€re sorgen. SchĂ€rfere Vorgaben in diesen Bereichen könnten den Entscheidern zusĂ€tzlich das Leben erschweren.

Aber auch im Privatleben tauchen neue Fragen auf: Wie viele IdentitĂ€ten, Accounts und Passwörter hat man eigentlich? Wie wird man kĂŒnftig damit umgehen? Wie komplex ist es inzwischen, sein digitales Leben im Griff zu haben? Welche Szenarien gibt es fĂŒr den Datenschutz der Zukunft?

Datum: Donnerstag, 26. Juli 2012
Ort: Haus der Musik, SeilerstÀtte 30, 1010 Wien
Happy Hour: ab 18:30 Uhr
Podiumsdiskussion: 19:30 – 21:00 Uhr, Vortragssaal, Dachgeschoß

Bitte um Anmeldung unter ebc@apa.at

Globale Internetriesen wie Google, Facebook und co. spielen eine zentrale Rolle in gegenwĂ€rtigen online Praktiken von UserInnen. Gleichzeitig haben diese Akteure neue GeschĂ€ftsmodelle geschaffen, deren Grundlage zielgruppenspezifische Werbung; und damit Userdaten und deren Verarbeitung und wirtschaftliche Ausbeutung darstellen. Kommerzielle Internettechnologien können damit als Spiegel unseres kapitalistischen Wirtschaftssystems betrachtet werden. Diese Informationsökonomie hat drastische gesellschaftspolitische Auswirkungen, insbesondere auf historisch gewachsene und kulturell bedingte Bereiche wie PrivatsphĂ€re, Datenschutz und IdentitĂ€t. Globale Wirtschaft und lokale Gesellschaftspolitik stehen hier in einem interessanten SpannungsverhĂ€ltnis. Welche Maßnahmen hier greifen können – von digitaler Selbstverteidigung, Privacy by Design, bis hin zu neuer Gesetzgebung – mĂŒssen wir lokal, EU-weit und global diskutieren, wenn wir die Kontrolle ĂŒber unsere Daten in Zukunft nicht völlig an „den Markt“ abgeben wollen.

Come along if you’re in town!

“Black Box Suchmaschine” Video Archive

Yesterday we had a great event at the Museumsquartier in Vienna: our “Themenabend Black Box Suchmaschine” (see program below). For those who missed the event and can’t wait to watch it online (or parts of it 😉 ) we archived the video stream here:

Thanks to Axel Kittenberger for the technical support & the stream! & everyone, who participated and made this evening a great contribution to the politics of search, modes of ordering knowledge, privacy and regulation (which triggered a heated debate, as you can see towards the end of the video)..

Finally, RenĂ© König presented the newly formed network Re:Search – a mailinglist established in co-operation with the Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam (Geert Lovink). Subscribing to the list is only the first step, further activities will follow – Blog posts on the Society of the Query Blog, events, a publication hopefully! So stay tuned 😉