Society of the Query #2
Online Search: about 4.720.000.000 results
November 7 – 8, 2013
Main Building Amsterdam Public Library (OBA)
This fall the Institute of Network Cultures invites you to the second Society of the Query conference on search and search engines, 7 and 8 November in the OBA (public library) in Amsterdam. Together with René König from the ITAS Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, we are working on putting together the program with different sessions and discussions, that will hopefully be complemented with exciting workshops, an art program and a hackathon. We aim to give new energy to the discussion on search and search engines by bringing together researchers from different disciplines, with artists, programmers and designers. In early 2014 this will also result in the publication of the Society of the Query Reader.
November 7 (afternoon):
1. Google domination
Even though it is the aim of the Society of the Query to broaden the scope of search beyond Google, it is nonetheless inevitable to pay attention to the dominance of Google in the search engine market – especially from the perspective of the Netherlands, where Google has a market share of around 95%. Despite the growing diversification of Google in terms of revenue, search is still its main source of income, while users still see Google as a free service. Lately the battlefield has shifted to search on mobile phones – could this change or even end Google’s domination? What are the implications of the low resistance of the Google monopoly against PRISM? Has the time come for alternative, independent search engines?
With Siva Vaidhyanathan (US), Astrid Mager (AT), Dirk Lewandowski (GE)
2. Search across the border
It is little known in the west that elsewhere in the world Google is not a major player. Can we speak of cultural differences in the architecture of search technology? And in the way users search in for example the rural parts of India? In China there is a separate search engine domain, leading to a different political economy of online search – geopolitical, linguistically and culturally. How can we oppose this to the libertarian, North-American values of Google?
With Payal Arora (NL), Min Jiang (US)
3. Reflections on search
Is it possible to analyze the search engine as a cultural artifact? Does it have a philosophical agenda and how can we read it? Search is often overlooked as an important part in the fast changing field of knowledge production. It is only dealt with in a mathematical and statistical fashion or with a focus on its economic significance as a tool of corporate power. But search did not commence in the late 90s – it has been around for centuries. It’s important to stress the media-archeological approach, since the history of search, digital or analogue, offers many insights into its cultural meaning.
With Antoinette Rouvroy (BE), Anton Tantner (AT), Kylie Jarrett (IRE), Ippolita (IT)
4. Search in context
There is a long-term cultural shift in trust happening, away from the library, the book store, even the school towards Google’s algorithms. What does that mean? How are search engines used in today’s classrooms and do teachers have enough critical understanding of what it means to hand over authority? We think we find more and in a faster way, while we might actually find less or useless information. The way we search is related to the way we see the world – how do we learn to operate in this context?
With Maarten Sprenger (NL), Simon Knight (UK), Thomas Petzold (GE), Martin Feuz (UK), Sanne Koevoets (NL)
5. The filter bubble show
Since Eli Pariser’s influential book The Filter Bubble appeared in 2011, a range of researchers have empirically tried to validate or debunk the proposition of the filter bubble. Is it truly so that the person sitting next to you gets a different search result while using in the same keywords? What do you actually see when you type ‘9/11’ in the Google autocomplete search bar in Baghdad and in New York? What are the long-term effects of personalization and localization and their tendency to a ‘relative truth’? We need to find a way to take our Twitter, Facebook and search engine profiles to burst the bubble and understand society.
With Pascal Jürgens (GE), Noortje Marres (NL), Carolin Gerlitz (NL), René König (GE) and others
The Society of the Query project started in 2009 with a conference and research blog, in parallel to the Deep Search series of events, organized by the World-Information Institute in Vienna. While these efforts have contributed to a better understanding of the impact of search engines, many open questions remain. Moreover, dynamics in the field have led to new questions: How does the rise of the social web affect search engines and the practices around them? Which consequences do innovations like personalization, localization or autocomplete have? How can we re-think the established search routines?
If you have research, art projects or alternative search engines which might be of interest to Society of the Query, don’t hesitate to let us know about it (contact: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Keep an eye on the website for more information: https://networkcultures.org/query/
You can also subscribe to the [re-search] mailing list: http://listcultures.org/mailman/listinfo/re-search_listcultures.org
See you in November!