Tiziana Terranova, University of Naples ‘L’Orientale’, Italy

Hypersocial Networks: for a critical genealogy of the social network topos

Peter Thomas, Brunel University London, UK

Title TBA

Donatella Della Ratta, John Cabot University, Rome, Italy

Twenty-Twenty Critical Theory Toolkit: Take the Red Pill and live happily in the age of algorithmic (in)humanity

Abstract: What is the role of Critical Theory in this new decade of the 21st century? Are we finally succumbing to the power and outmost fascination of big data? How do we confront algorithms, A.I.s and posthuman entities who seem to know us better than we know ourselves? Can we react to the data deluge instead of being overwhelmed and annihilated by it? Does better data mean a better humanity? Does predictability imply a more stable future? Can statistics determine what’s best for us and the environment, and solve the social and political questions we are most concerned about? Is there life out of big data? Is there a way out of the social (media) hegemonic?  Is Critical Theory alive, and does it have anything to offer to confront algorithmic (in)humanity?  Drawing on my ethnographic and auto-ethnographic work combining the critical legacy of the Frankfurt school with feminist ethics of empathy and care, this talk will explore the notion of empathic criticism and other antidotes to live a happy, out-of-the-Matrix hereafter.

Speaker’s bio: Donatella Della Ratta is a scholar, writer, performer, and curator specializing in digital media and networked technologies, with a focus on the Arab world. Donatella holds a PhD from the University of Copenhagen and is former Affiliate of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. Donatella has managed the Arabic speaking community for the international organization Creative Commons from 2007 until 2013. In 2012 she co-founded the website SyriaUntold, recipient of the Digital Communities award at Ars Electronica 2014. She has curated several international art exhibitions and film programs on Syria, including “Syria off frame”, (Fondazione Luciano Benetton and Fondazione Cini, Venice, 2015), and “Syrian New Waves” (The Eye Film Museum, Amsterdam, 2017). Shooting a Revolution: Visual Media and Warfare in Syria (Pluto Press, 2018) is her latest essay.


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