Category: Lectures


Slides from my introduction to APIs at SETUP in Utrecht (bonus: ducks!)

Last night I gave an introduction to APIs at the API skillswap workshop organized by SETUP in Utrecht. Here are my slides, including suggested literature that deals with APIs from a humanities perspective. During my introduction I also showed some of my favorite websites, tools, and services, including: If This Then That: Putting the internet to work for you Programmable Web: a good source for APIs. ThinkUp: To archive and analyze your own Twitter, Facebook and Google+ data After the introduction Heinze Havinga taught us to create our own mashup using APIs from different sources with Yahoo! Pipesand IFTTT. We created a Produckanator (inspired by the Procatinator) that reads out aloud tweets containing the word ‘duck’ while playing music in the background and showing duck images from Flickr. A fun way to learn how to use a variety of APIs and tools ;)

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My Notes for Geert Lovink’s book launch of Networks Without a Cause: A critique of Social Media

The Institute of Network Cultures, Eva van den Eijnde and myself would like to welcome you to the official book launch of Geert Lovink’s new book Networks Without a Cause. A Critique of Social Media. Thank you very much for being here. Today I would like to start with a brief introduction to Geert’s new book and how it relates to his previous work. Afterwards Geert will talk about his new book, followed by a few questions and comments from Eva van den Eijnde and myself, and of course questions from the audience. Networks Without a Cause is the fourth book by Geert in his series of studies into critical internet culture. For those unfamiliar with Geert’s work, the first book in this series is Dark Fiber (2001) which deals with early internet culture, from cyber culture to dot.com-mania. His second book My First Recession (2003) describes the aftermath of the dot.com mania and looks at the transition period of the dot.com crash to the early blogging years. His third book Zero Comments (2008) looks back on the blogging hype that has commenced since and addresses blogs as an unfolding process of “massification” and blogging as a “nihilistic venture.” It […]

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Video: Reworking the fabric of the web: The Like economy

Conference presentation at Unlike Us #2: Understanding Social Media Monopolies and Their Alternatives. Session 4: Software Matters Anne Helmond (NL) and Carolin Gerlitz (UK) – Reworking the fabric of the web: The Like economy. Conference Day 2: March 10 2012 Amsterdam, 11.00 – 12.30 Abstract In recent years, Facebook has increasingly expanded beyond the limits of its platform, first through social buttons and the Open Graph, and more recently through new possibilities of app development, frictionless sharing and differentiated Facebook actions. These digital devices allow Facebook to turn user interactivity instantly into valuable data, creating what we have described as a Like Economy. In this paper, we explore how the platform produces a very particular fabric of the web with its software design by focusing on social buttons, apps and actions. The introduction of social buttons and social plug-ins allowed for a partial opening of the platform as walled garden – carefully regulated by its Graph API – and led to an increasing decentralisation of the web. Yet, the new apps, sharing possibilities and actions introduce a recentralisation as content and user activities are designed to remain within the platform. By tracing the data- and content flows enabled between the platform and […]

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Photos Unlike Us 2 Conference in Amsterdam

“Unlike Us #2 is the second event on ‘alternatives in social media’, where artists, designers, scholars, activists and programmers gather. This international research network examines the economic and cultural aspects of dominant social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Through workshops, conferences, online dialogues and publications, the Unlike Us network intends to both analyze the economic and cultural aspects of dominant social media platforms and propagate the further development and proliferation of alternative, decentralized social media software.” Continue reading by downloading the program booklet in pdf. Photos taken at the Unlike Us 2 conference, March 9-10, 2012 in Amsterdam. More photos from the Unlike Us conference in Amsterdam on Flickr. Blogposts from the conference are available at the Institute of Network Cultures Unlike Us blog.

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Visualizing Facebook’s Alternative Fabric of the Web

On March 9, Carolin Gerlitz and I presented our paper Reworking the fabric of the web: The Like economy at the Unlike Us conference in Amsterdam. We showed the outcome of some empirical work, building on a previous Winterschool project with the Digital Methods Initiative called Track the Trackers. For Unlike Us we visualized the relative presence of Facebook trackers in the top 1000 Alexa as a way to make visible the alternative fabric of the web Facebook is creating. More information about the tool and method to create these maps can be found on the Tracker Tracker tool wiki page. Click image to enlarge or download full PDF. Click image to enlarge or download full PDF. The third map shows Google presence, which is the biggest of all three because Google is an established player in multiple categories with Google Analytics, Google Adsense/Adwords and the Google+ button. Facebook, although not the most dominant player, is still present on 18% of the websites with the most traffic. Click image to enlarge or download full PDF. Download combined Facebook, Twitter, Google image (not displayed) as PDF. The following map shows the overall presence of different types of tracking devices and allows us to […]

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Video Bobcatsss 2012: The Like Economy and the Politics of Data in the Social Web

On the 23rd of January I had the honor to give a keynote lecture at the Bobcatsss 2012 conference. I talked about ‘The Like Economy and the Politics of Data in the Social Web’ based on a co-authored paper with Carolin Gerlitz titled ‘Hit, Link, Like and Share. Organizing the social and the fabric of the web in a Like economy’ (2011). After providing a medium-specific take on Facebook’s way of organizing the social web through a data-intensive infrastructure enabled by social plugins and the Social Graph I moved into the politics of data and dataflows. How can Facebook users and non-Facebook users respond to their (un)willing contributions to the emerging Like Economy? What is the current state of data-mining practices of social media platforms and what tools, techniques and alternative platforms are available to make these these practices visible, address them and possibly subvert them? During the talk I showed some tools that will disable dataflows between websites, users and social media platforms, including: Facebook Disconnect, Disconnect, Ghostery and the Facebook Privacy List for Adblock Plus. The whole talk (40 minutes) is available as a web lecture.

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