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Tag Archives: TtW2011

I want to reflect on Theorizing the Web 2011 by asking for a discussion about what academic conferences should look like. In fact, let’s forget the term “conference” for a moment and ask how thinkers should best organize to discuss intellectual work in public?

Theorizing the Web 2011 was PJ Rey and I’s first attempt at tackling this question [read PJ’s review of the event here]. We started this blog to provide a public forum for ideas and the conference was intended to do the same. Many reviews of the event have emerged (some posted on this blog over the past ten days). What has surprised me most is the degree to which the conference itself has been a main topic of discussion. And while we are very proud that the reviews have been so overwhelmingly positive about our view of an academic event, we understand that this is also a result of the failing of traditional venues for the intellectual exchange of ideas. Academic conferences are too often suffered through and individual sessions often poorly attended. Media outlets tend to ignore anything that smells too much like intellectualism, a term itself that has come to be viewed pejoratively because, at least in part, intellectuals have so poorly communicated ideas to the public. As graduate students, we know we needed to create a world that is better prepared to communicate the critical theories so important to understand our changing realities.

And the result on April 9th went well above our expectations.

We attempted to bring in art, multi-media, interdisciplinarity, and even non-disciplinarity to this event. Registration was pay-what-you-want. The event began with beers in an alley and finished with a loud band. We tried lots of things and will try much more if we do this again next year [we want to].The art was fun, and us organizers can take credit for that. Read More »

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The Cyborgology editors are throwing a conference on April 9th called Theorizing the Web. Leading up to the event, we will occasionally highlight some of the events taking place. I will be presiding over a paper session simply titled “Cyborgology” and present the four abstracts below. As readers of this blog already know, we view cyborgology as the intersection of technology and society. We define technology more broadly than just electronics, but also to things like architecture, language, even social norms. And the four papers on the Cyborgology panel offer a broad scope of what cyborgology is and how it can be used.

First, we have David Banks’ paper titled, “Practical Cyborg Theory: Discovering a Metric for the Emancipatory Potential of Technology.” David discusses what theoretical cyborgology is and what it can do. Bonnie Stewart offers a discussion of the social-media-using-cyborg as a sort-of “branded” self in her paper, “The Branded Self: Cyborg Subjectivity in Social Media.” Bonnie pays special attention to, in true cyborgology fashion, the way in which digital and physical selves interact and blur together. Next, Michael Schandorf argues that Twitter norms are akin to the non-speech gestures we make while talking (e.g., like moving our hands). What makes his paper, titled, “Mediated Gesture of The Distributed Body,” so appropriate for the Cyborgology panel is Michael’s focus on the physically and socially embodied nature of digital communication. Even digital communication does not exist alone in cyberspace but in an “augmented reality” at the intersection of atoms and bits. Last, Stephanie Laudone’s paper, “Digital Constructions of Sexuality,” empirically describes how sexuality is both affirmed and regulated on Facebook. This, again, highlights the embodied nature of Facebook while looking at how digital space operates differently than physical space.

Find the four abstracts below. Together, they will make for an exciting panel. We invite everyone to join us at the conference in College Park, MD (just outside of Washington, D.C.) on April 9th. And let’s start the discussion before the conference in the comments section below. Thanks! Read More »