Speaking of conferences in November that I am unable to attend, Geert Lovink and Shirley Niemans at the Institute of Network Cultures have organized the Society of the Query conference, November 13-14 in Amsterdam. With the tagline “Stop Searching, Start Questioning!”, this event hopes to critically reflect on the information society and the dominant role of the search engine in our culture:
This two-day Query conference aims to examine the key issues that are emerging around web search, and to contextualize developments within the fields of knowledge organization and information design. The Institute of Network Cultures aims to do so specifically by bringing together researchers, theorists and artists, creating room for speculation and open questions, as well as concrete projects and research. The questions this conference raises are:
- How does the idea of machine understanding influence the fields of knowledge organization and information retrieval?
- How is the legal framework surrounding search engines changing shape?
- Is Google’s increased ubiquity affecting the production and dissemination of art and cultural practice?
- What influence does the existing hegemony of a few large search engines exert on the traditional flow of knowledge and the diversity and accessibility of web content, and in what way might regulation be possible?
- Considering developments in the fields of art and information architecture, how can we get to more sophisticated ways of interface design and the presentation of search results?
- What alternative ways of search are visible on the software level, the network level and the user level that challenge the engine as the major search paradigm?
Again, the collection of presenters is top notch, and I regret I was not able to accept their invitation to engage and learn from this community of critical thinkers. If you’ll be there, please be sure to blog/tweet about it!