Sun, Sand and GikII VIII

It’s GikII time.

When robots, drones, autonomous agents, Facebook stalking, teleportation, 3D printing, MMORPGS, science fiction, computer games and superhero justice are discussed within the realms of the law and LOL cats, you know the time for the annual GikII workshop has arrived! Yes it’s time for GikII VIII – and a time to immerse ourselves in debates about cutting-edge technology, popular culture and the law.

This year GikII will be “in sunny, golden-sandy Southern city of Bournemouth with its sparkling sea and almost California-like-but-not-quite atmosphere. It will be held on 16-17 September 2013″

All the info you need is over here.

Social Media for Coping with Grieving and Bereavement

My colleague Ylva and I are hoping to organize a panel at IR14 in Denver on the use of social media for coping with grieving and bereavement.

If you are interested in participating please send us your short paper. In order to put together the panel application we need your submission by 1 March, please email your work to us. We will then put together the panel and submit everything to the final deadline by 14 March.

Here are the instructions
SHORT PAPERS (individual or multi-author) – Minimum 1000 words, 1200 word maximum not including bibliography. Papers should include:
- Description/summary of the work’s intellectual merit with respect to its findings, its relation to extant research and its broader impacts.
- A description of the methodological approach or the theoretical underpinnings informing the research inquiry.
- Conclusions or discussion of findings.
- Bibliography of work cited.
- Submissions must adhere to the template for the conference.

Online instructions

We are also interested in gathering or joining a larger international network in this topic in order to carry out cross-cultural comparisons.

Ylva Hård af Segerstad

Mathias Klang

Science Roulette

Most of the time my work is interesting, even fascinating, but sometimes I even get to do cool stuff. One such job is to be part of the organizers of the Gothenburg Science Festival where I get to bring together interesting people for one of Europe’s popular science events.

The organizational work is almost done. The program is in the proofs and will be sent to the publishers and I am now working on last minute corrections and amendments. Most fun today? To find additional participants for the science roulette.

What is the Science Roulette?

On Friday 26 April between 5pm-6pm at the Liseberg amusement park the Ferris Wheel will be filled with scientists. One researcher per car will present his/her research to the other passengers of the car. The researcher has 15 minutes to explain his/her research. The process is repeated four times.

Your research here:

Lisebergshjulet på Liseberg, Göteborg Sweden by Solvarm (Creative Commons BY)

Seriously whacky! Get to present your research while the car goes around and up to a height of 60m. Isn’t this a cool way to spend a Friday? If you would like to participate then email me but its the last day so email me today!


Slut Shaming: Notes from a panel

My university has decided that it must act more quickly to join into a larger social debate on current events and to this end they arranged an open event on cyber bullying. The topic was well chosen as in December Göteborg experienced “slut shaming riots” when groups of youths attempted to catch and punish the person they thought was behind a local slut shaming account on Instagram.

The event was in the form of a panel with psychology professor Ann Frisén, police commissioner and chief of the youth section Birgitta Dellenhed, and myself. The university vice chancellor Helena Lindholm Schulz moderated the panel and three thoughtful and perceptive school teenagers were given the role of questioning the panelists before the audience were given time for questions.

The event was held in the old university main hall and was very well attended.

Professor Frisén opened with a presentation of what the concept of cyber bullying was and presented the findings from her research. Her worked confirmed that many children and young people experienced cyber bullying. I was next and then the presenters session was completed by commissioner Dellenhed explaining how the youth section worked and the basics of the recent slut shaming riots.

My role was to talk was on the technological side of the problem. As the reason for the panel was the result of slut shaming I focused my talk on technology’s role in slut shaming. I began with a restatement technology as neutral by using the well know “Guns don’t kill people”. In this perspective I explained that technology is not misogynistic per se but it is important not to forget that the technology is embedded with the values of the creators and adapted by the users.

I used a timeline of the last decades social media innovations to show that we have in a particularly short time evolved a whole new communications infrastructure. This infrastructure has enabled us to do things which we previously could not. This enabling has created new behaviors that may previously been unacceptable.

The ability to do new (and maybe unacceptable) things through technology means that it is our use that brings into question the rightness or wrongness of the situation. Users need social cues and guidance to know the ethics of their actions. Carrying on in technology at time minimizes the ethical social cues and makes behavior online morally complex.

As the whole event was focused on slut shaming and the riots there was a call for order and justice underlying everything that was being said. So I tried to bring back some balance by pointing out that the value of freedom and freedom of expression is important to our lives and societies. Yes I raised a warning finger against moral panic.

What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.
Salman Rushdie

The questions from the students were very interesting and deep. They reflected a need for both space and security. The complexity of this paradox (surveillance and control) was not lost on them. The questions from the floor were mostly good but towards the end was a gruff man demanding more surveillance, law and order. If we know who did it why don’t we prosecute and punish? His comments were applauded which made me think that some of the finer points were lost on the crowd.

The police explained that they do not ignore prosecutions but finding the guilty is not easy. She also pointed out that the person behind the account is also a victim (in some ways). I tried to argue that to catch the guilty in the way he was proposing would entail surveillance of all the innocent and was not compatible to a free and open society. But he denied that he was talking surveillance.

Most of the questions carried the discussion along nicely and the whole event seemed to be enjoyed by all.

The panel and the venue

Slut Shaming, misogyny and technology

This evening I shall be participating in a panel on slut shaming. The university has been quick to organize this panel in response to the slut shaming riots in December. The panel has the Swedish title NÄTMOBBNING – vad är det och vilken roll spelar den nya tekniken? which places the focus on two things (1) what is cyberbullying (2) what role does the new technology play.

Obviously the technology is vital. You just can’t have cyberbullying without the cyber. But there is an interesting undertone to the second question and my role will be to try to strike a balance between explaining why the technology does create or aggravate human behavior at the same time ensuring that the technology itself is not a problem.

Misogyny is not created by technology. BUT… the social norm systems embedded in the technology and the technology users MAY create misogynistic socio-technical systems. Therefore it would be strange not to place some of the (moral) social responsibility on systems developers.

Guns don’t kill people. But gun designers develop superior killing machines and placed in the hands of people with intent they become much more efficient at killing people than a bag of soft toys. (Gotta love an odd metaphor…)

So that’s the plan. Please drop in, if you happen to be in the neighborhood. It’s at 6pm in the university aula at Vasaparken.

I am Docent Klang

A couple of weeks ago I tweeted about good news but wanted to wait until it was official.

It’s still not formally official but it is established enough to spread. My application to the next level of academia has been accepted. I have been deemed qualified to be titled Docent.

The docent is the second highest grade in the Swedish academic system (the next is Professor) its not a job description but a rank (like the PhD), a mark of expertise. Wikipedia writes:

A docent qualification is required of all head doctoral student supervisors. For conferment of the title, there is a requirement that the researcher has a good overview of his research area and has demonstrated both the ability to formulate research problems and to independently carry through research programs. It is a requirement that the researcher should be able to lead research projects. The researcher must have substantial scientific research experience and be well published in scientific journals.

The application is a very rigorous description of the applicants merits and experience in both research and teaching. In addition to which the applicant needs to show an impact inside and outside of academia.

The position still has to be confirmed at the Swedish School of Library and Information Science but the expert has notified the department so this is just a formality.

Translating the title is somewhat confusing but in the states I would be a tenured Associate Professor and in the UK I would be a Reader. But you must admit, Docent sounds much cooler. The only thing missing is a black belt or a cane with a silver handle.

Whether it’s better to be right or to be relevant?

An interesting statement was made here in a discussion on the attribution of photographers.

“who told me” becomes more important than “who made it”. Sandra Snan

The whole interesting back-story to this discussion, and the quote was passed on to me by Kristina Alexanderson (Yes, she of Stormtrooper fame) and the words have stuck. Have we come to this? Is it really more important to source things by the person who spreads information than the creator?

Certain libraries, archives and art museums have certainly been in this position (where the collection is more than the individual creators) for some time. But this is a question of collecting and aggregating. Does it really apply to the fast moving flows of information online.

One of the truisms of the digital age is that we have moved from an era of information scarcity to an age of information surplus. What does this mean?
Take the example of Television. It has evolved from a limited number of channels to more channels than most can follow, in addition to view-on-demand services and a whole pile of online viewing options. The content on YouTube alone is mindboggling: 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute (

This change in access to culture changes the ways in which we relate to, and consume cultural expressions. We can longer, alone or with the help of others, maintain any form of useful overview over the content. This situation is aggravated by the huge number of alternative sources of material (other video sources), in addition to the large number of other sources (texts, still images).

With two many creators vying for our time and attention the role of the information organizer becomes more interesting.

The increase in information has also created a challenge to many “scientific truths”. Not a day goes by without the media reporting from several scientific studies proving one thing or another. With alarming regularity these scientists are contradicting each other.

Actually in many cases they are not really contradicting each other but much of the nuance and understanding is lost between the laboratories to the media. Ben Goldacre’s excellent book Bad Science is a good place to begin to explore this.

So if we are drowning in information, without the tools or the time to carry out rigorous background checks the question must change. If faced with a choice between Truth and Relevance. The answer used to be truth, but today its relevance. This is particularly true in the shift from blogging to microblogging. In blogging we followed the source, the producer of information. In Twitter we follow the people who point at the most interesting things.

What will this mean for academics, libraries, archives and society in general might be interesting to think more deeply about.

Bileta 2013 Call for papers

I have a soft spot for the Bileta conference. It’s one of the earliest technology law conferences I began to attend and many of the people I met at the early conference are still colleagues. Bileta is the British and Irish law education and technology association and this years conference will be held between 10th – 12th April 2013 at the Liverpool Law School, University of Liverpool.

The extended call is here:

Important Dates

January 18, 2013: Submission of abstracts and panels (subject to double blind review).  February 1, 2013: Notification of acceptances.
March 15, 2013: Full Papers (between 7,000 and 10,000 words, excluding footnotes).