Computational Culture

a journal of software studies

CFPs & Events

Call for Abstracts
Apps and Infrastructures

A special issue of Computational Culture, a Journal of Software Studies
Edited by Carolin Gerlitz, Anne Helmond, David Nieborg, Fernando van der Vlist

Outline:
Apps have become an important new cultural, technical, and economic software form. Most of today’s apps are designed to run on smartphones and other mobile devices and provide functions previously possible with other software forms (Morris and Elkins, 2015). However, they represent new ways in which software artefacts are developed, tested, packaged, promoted, distributed, monitored, monetised, downloaded, integrated, updated, stored, accessed, archived, interpreted, and used. To foreground the relational and material dimensions of apps, research should not only account for them as discrete media objects, but needs to approach apps as part of their multiple infrastructures and environments including app stores, development platforms, advertising technologies, analytics tools, and cloud services, among others.

App stores set the conditions for users and developers to distribute, browse, promote, monetise, rate, and download apps developed for Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, or other mobile operating systems. Developers draw on a variety of both official and third-party developer tools, including developer pages and reference documentation, application programming interfaces (APIs), software development kits (SDKs), integrated development environments (IDEs), and dedicated programming languages. Such resources are commonly employed in order to build, test, and monitor apps whilst appropriating the features and constraints of particular platforms and devices, thereby participating in the re-interpretation and re-evaluation of platform features and data. Furthermore, apps may also utilise a device’s built-in sensors for continuous data collection of movements, practices, and environments whilst being wirelessly connected to the cloud or other infrastructures,without the user necessarily knowing exactly when, how, or where (Mackenzie, 2010).

Approaching apps from an infrastructural perspective allows attending to the various socio-technical actors, layers, and inscriptions that inform app development, distribution, and usage in situated, distributed, and often dissimilar ways. Within such stacked intermediary infrastructures, platform logics of negotiation among heterogeneous stakeholders are multiplied and nested. This raises questions about the material and technological boundaries of apps and the subsequent need for methodologies to study apps’ socio-technical assemblages on multiple scales, attending to inbound and outbound data flows, governance and power, valuation, their political economy, and material semiotics. Previous research on apps – initially emerging at the intersection of mobile studies and media studies – considered mobile apps as a form of mobile or location-based media transforming and generating new forms of communication and sociality, places, and publics through the affordances and practices associated with mobile artefacts (Goggin and Hjorth, 2014). While these studies raised general questions about the boundaries of apps, attention was primarily directed to apps as compartmentalised software applications and their relations with affect, bodies, and locales (Farman 2012; Matviyenko et al., 2015; Morris and Elkins, 2015). A second strand of app research has moved beyond such a single app focus and directed primary attention to the materialities and infrastructures of apps by engaging with their data cultures, material connections, political economic underpinnings, and ecologies (Albury et al., 2017; Farman, 2015; Goldsmith in Goggin and Hjorth, 2014; Horst, 2013; Nieborg, 2017; Wilken, 2015).

This special issue of Computational Culture welcomes proposals and projects from scholars and practitioners from across different disciplines interested in the advancement of app studies at the intersection of apps and infrastructures. Studies of mobile apps, platform native apps, and web browser apps or extensions are particularly encouraged. We specifically seek articles that bring together conceptual work with a technically and empirically grounded perspective, addressing the methodological challenges associated with the critical study of apps and their intricate relations to other software, platforms, and infrastructures. Contributors are encouraged to move beyond studies of single apps and their users in favor of approaches that explore apps as material artefacts alongside the infrastructures, political economy, and environments in which they are embedded and situationally enacted. We thus encourage interdisciplinary contributions that traverse boundaries between the fields of software studies, platform studies, cultural and media studies, science and technology studies, as well as political economy and data critique.

Topics and projects might include:
● The relations between apps and their wider material and infrastructural environments, including app stores, development platforms and toolkits, analytics tools, advertising technologies, and cloud services.
● The methodological and empirical challenges associated with the critical study of apps, including concerns about accessibility to mobile app backends and the limits of data retrieval through APIs or scraping methods as used in web research.
● Studies of apps as articulations of technicity (e.g., how they are designed, built, maintained, and updated) and the data cultures they produce (e.g., what data do they collect or require).
● Detailed empirical and critical studies exploring apps’ data cultures, usage tracking, technical dependencies and app permissions, sensor technologies, and wireless access points.
● Inventive methods to conceptualise how apps are located or situated, given they are utilising a mobile device’s built-in sensors as well as accessing other resources from remote cloud infrastructures.
● Studies of the political economy of apps (e.g., how apps are valued and monetized), the role of industry partnerships and third parties (e.g., how apps are re-interpreted or extended), and the politics of operability (e.g., how apps negotiate among stakeholders or interests).
● Explorations of the techno-economic relations between the web and app ecosystems, including the dependencies of apps on web platforms and cloud services, as well as the regulations and limits of app development by device manufacturers and mobile operating systems like Android and iOS.
● Explorations of the ways and mechanisms through which multiple apps are interconnected, forming collections, ecologies, and chains of apps in specific practices (e.g., task and content automation).
● Media archaeologies exploring historical constellations of apps and their wider material and infrastructural environments and other historical approaches to app research.
● Explorations of app stores as the primary environment or infrastructure for mobile apps, including contributions focusing on non-Western apps and app stores, apps’ update cultures, and their development cycles.
● The ways in which different material and infrastructural environments, such as app stores, cater to distinct mobile operating systems, devices, and geographic regions.
● Critical artistic interventions and research software tools that repurpose the affordances of apps, app stores and other native environments, and explore their data cultures.

Schedule
750 word abstracts should be emailed to apps.infrastructures@gmail.com by April 1, 2018.

Any queries can be addressed to the editors at apps.infrastructures@gmail.com.

Abstracts will be reviewed by the Computational Culture Editorial Board and the special issue editors.

Authors of selected abstracts will be notified by May 1, 2018 and invited to submit full manuscripts by September 15, 2018.

These manuscripts are subject to full blind peer review according to Computational Culture’s policies. The issue will be published in March 2019.

Computational Culture is an online open-access peer-reviewed journal of interdisciplinary enquiry into the nature of cultural computational objects, practices, processes and structures. http://computationalculture.net/

REFERENCES
● Albury K, Burgess J, Light B, et al. (2017) Data cultures of mobile dating and hook-up apps: Emerging issues for critical social science research. Big Data & Society 4(2).
● Farman J (2012) Mobile Interface Theory: Embodied Space and Locative Media . New York: Routledge.
● Farman J (2015) Infrastructures of Mobile Social Media. Social Media + Society 1(1).
● Goggin G and Hjorth L (eds) (2013) The Routledge companion to mobile media . Oxford: Routledge.
● Goldsmith B (2014) The Smartphone App Economy and App Ecosystems. In: Goggin G and Hjorth L (eds), The Routledge Companion to Mobile Media , New York: Routledge, pp. 171–180.
● Horst HA (2013) The infrastructures of mobile media: Towards a future research agenda. Mobile Media & Communication 1(1): 147–152.
● Mackenzie A (2010) Wirelessness: Radical Empiricism in Network Cultures . Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
● Matviyenko S, Ticineto Clough P and Galloway AR (2015) On Governance, Blackboxing, Measure, Body, Affect and Apps: A conversation with Patricia Ticineto Clough and Alexander R. Galloway. The Fibreculture Journal (25): 10–29.
● Morris JW and Elkins E (2015) There’s a History for That: Apps and Mundane Software as Commodity. The Fibreculture Journal (25): 63–88.
● Nieborg, DB (2017) Free-to-Play Games and App Advertising: the Rise of the Player Commodity. In: Hamilton JF, Bodle R and Korin E (eds), Explorations in Critical Studies of Advertising , New York: Routledge, pp. 28–41.
● Wilken R (2015) Mobile media and ecologies of location. Communication Research and Practice 1(1): 42–57.

 

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Previous CFPs

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Critical Approaches to Computational Law
Special issue of Computational Culture, a Journal of Software Studies
Edited by Simon Yuill

Outline

There is a long-standing relationship between the development of modern computing and legal theory and the application of computer systems to legal practice that can be followed through the modelling of legal problems in terms of Game Theory, the creation of AI based legal expert systems, in ideas of cyberspace as a distinct legal realm and the legal framing of cyber warfare. In recent years several new developments have raised significant questions as to how law is practised and what constitutes legal ‘thinking’ in the 21st Century. These include the delegation of aspects of legal reasoning and process to algorithms in areas such as automated vehicle and robotic combat devices, automated contractualism in high-velocity trading and new digital currency systems, the use of machine learning and large scale data sets (Big Data) in gathering evidence and identifying behavioural and normative patterns that may be subject to legal scrutiny, and the use of physical and agent-based simulation in developing new legal regimes and frameworks. Whilst there has been substantial critical writing on the application of law to the use of computing, as in issues such as copyright and IP, there has been less analysis of how law and computing may be changed by the integration of legal and computational systems into one another. What questions do these developments raise and what critical and theoretical approaches are required to address them?

This special issue of Computational Culture welcomes proposals from researchers and practitioners within law and computing, legal and computational cultural studies, and others from across different disciplines interested in the topic of computational law. Documentation and analysis of artistic and activist responses and interventions are also encouraged. We specifically seek articles and projects that focus on critical, theoretical and methodological questions rather than on ‘black letter’ law or primarily practical evaluations of the applications of technology and law in this context.

Topics or projects might include:

. The relations between computing and law as forms of applied ‘logic’, what logic might be and how it is situated/performed/constructed within each area.

. How the use of computational systems within law such as machine learning, agent-based simulation or computational dialectics might change how law is practised and what legal ‘thought’ might be.

. How approaches to law such as, but not restricted to, critical law theory, feminist law theory and critical race theory may be developed in analyses of computational cultures and law.

. How different critical approaches to law, software and computing may relate to and learn from one another.

. How automated and algorithmic forms of legal practice relate to debates on formalist versus hermeneutic approaches to law.

. The relation between protocols and contracts in regard to issues of social structure, control and governance.

. How computational law systems potentially alter the relation between the law, the state and the citizen.

. The delegation of legal process onto algorithms, i.e. automated contracts.

. The delegation of legal reasoning to algorithms, i.e. forms of automated risk assessment or verification, identifying valid targets in robotic warfare.

. The algorithm as a form of legal ‘thinking’ or genre of legal writing.

. What the limits of computational law might be, how do law and computation fail one another?

750 word abstracts should be emailed to sos01sy (at) gold.ac.uk by 31st August 2016.
Any queries can be addressed to Simon Yuill at sos01sy (at) gold.ac.uk.

Abstracts will be reviewed by the Computational Culture Editorial Board and the special issue editor. Authors of selected abstracts will be notified by 30th September 2016 and invited to submit full manuscripts by 1st March 2017. These manuscripts are subject to full blind peer review according to Computational Culture’s policies. The issue will be published in May 2017.

Computational Culture is an online open-access peer-reviewed journal of inter-disciplinary enquiry into the nature of cultural computational objects, practices, processes and structures.

Issue Six

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CALL FOR ABSTRACTS
Computing the Corporeal
Special issue of Computational Culture, a Journal of Software Studies
Edited by Nicolas Salazar Sutil, Sita Popat and Scott deLahunta

Outline

Intersections between human movement, computer science and motion-tracking/sensing technologies have led to novel ways of transferring body data from physical to digital contexts. From a practical perspective, this integration requires engagement across key disciplines, including movement studies, kinesiology, kinematics, biomechanics, biomedical science and health studies, dance science, sports science, and computer science. This development has also provoked theoretical and critical discourse that has tried to preserve, based on its grounding on bodily and kinetic practice, the differentiation of lived-in and body-specific knowledge. Here is a mode of datarization perhaps closer to what Deleuze (1988) called “immediate datum”: i.e. information stemming not from an abstract and re-moved conceptualization, but from real-world experience of movement, and the immediate perception or capture of kinetic information through physical or sensorial means. Within the field of software studies, advancing a sense of digital materialism has raised concerns for the materiality of technological media, for instance by focusing on the physical constraints of data storage, or the material dimension of computing. But what about “immediation”, i.e. immediate computation of bodily movement by machines for immediate expression, representation or enactment in digital contexts? And what of the representability of such immediation? How can we describe movement and preserve its datum of difference within a scriptable or graphicable computer language without falling into a universal sameness, a movement without bodies?

Whilst the idea that immediate data may demand a “bodying forth” (Thrift 2008), a traffic of bodiliness from biological to technological contexts, it is necessary to de-homogenise the ‘body’ category. Perhaps what is needed is an understanding of “corporeality” that assume multidimensional and relativistic realities of bodies instead, opening up nuanced discourses based on specific body-related ontologies (corpuscles, builds, anatomies, skeletons, muscle systems) all making up a non-singular sense of the bodily real. As such, this collection poses the problem of criteria. Our question is this: how and to what effect does the research community adopt arbitrary criteria in order to compute the body and bodily movement? Can we define narratives emerging from this body-computing arbitration to provoke a critique?

There is a possible tension between “bodying forth”— the idea of a single body operative across both biological and computational contexts—and corporeal relations. We would like to focus this critical edition on the relations between differentiated anatomical or bodily systems (skeletal, muscular, nerve, etc.), and different modes of computation, as well as different theoretical discourses stemming from this experiential basis. If we recognize the problem of relationality we must assume that more than one complex set of co-relations meet when the machine computes the moving human body. How do we start the process of computer-generated learning in terms of selecting body parts, functions, organs, processes, on the one hand, and key languages, code, or indeed technological tools for capture on the other? To what extent does corporeal computing contribute to certain bodily systems (or perhaps even body types) becoming the key agents of action, and indeed learning, in such contexts? How do we respond critically to privileged systems (the skeletal, the muscular), and body types (so called ‘normal bodies’)? To what extent are computational paradigms still dominated by spatial, extensive and quantitative determinations (i.e. the tracking of skeleton, body geometry, kinematic shapes, etc.) that hide other, more intensive, modes of corporeality? And finally, how do we reintegrate the multiplicity of the corporeal in a computational synthesis? For instance, how can we understand the quantitative and qualitative (dynamics, effort, tone, intensity, etc.) as overlapping data priorities?

Topics or projects might include:
· Computable relations between bodies and digital avatars, digital dance representations, digital sports representations, digital health representations, digital animation— digital bodies in general.
· Computable relations between biological bodies and robotic systems.
· Computing relations between physical movement and abstract thought, automated thought (AI) or machine learning.
· Computing mobility studies (i.e. relations between body and automobile, body and assisted mobility machines, body and prosthetics).
· Computing sociokinetic material (i.e. computing the movement of groups of bodies).
· Affective corporeal computing— the capacity to process psychophysical and cognitive processes within corporeal movement (e.g. computing effort, dynamics, tonicity, emotion).
· Integration of quantitative and qualitative body datasets.
· Metabody theory and notions of meta-anatomy, meta-strata in the ontological literature (i.e. movement of digital ghosts, sprites, techno-animism, etc.)

750 word abstracts should be emailed to n.salazar(at)leeds.ac.uk by April 17th.
Any queries can be addressed to Nicolas Salazar Sutil at n.salazar(at)leeds.ac.uk, or Sita Popat at s.popat(at)leeds.ac.uk, or Scott deLahunta at scott(at)motionbank.org.

Abstracts will be reviewed by the Computational Culture Editorial Board and the special issue editors. Authors of selected abstracts will be notified by April 24th and invited to submit full manuscripts by September 26th. These manuscripts are subject to full blind peer review according to Computational Culture’s policies. The issue will be published in January 2017.

Computational Culture is an online open-access peer-reviewed journal of inter-disciplinary enquiry into the nature of cultural computational objects, practices, processes and structures.
http://computationalculture.net/

  • Computational Culture – ISSN 2047-2390

    Computational Culture is an online open-access peer-reviewed journal of inter-disciplinary enquiry into the nature of cultural computational objects, practices, processes and structures.
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