CFP: Algorithmic Practices

Algorithmic Practices:
Emergent interoperability in the everyday

RGS-IBG 2015

Sponsored by:
the History and Philosophy of Geography Study Group

Sessions organisers:
Chris Speed, Eric Laurier & Monika Büscher

An ever-increasing proportion of the interactions that we have with digital platforms, apps and devices are mediated according to complex algorithms. Whether it be the real time analytics that draw us into playing a game on our phone, or tailored recommendations built from our historical searching and buying habits, we structure our daily lives in response to ‘performative infrastructures’ (Thrift, 2005: 224), most of them hidden deliberately by their makers.

Yet, in responding to the summons, the predictions, the recommendations, the help, the calculations that occur as platforms try to anticipate our next actions, we are learning how they work and don’t work. In our ad hoc assemblies of devices, apps and screens we short cut and re-make algorithms. For instance, in disaster response, ad hoc interoperability and agile response are creating incentives for ‘systems of systems’ that allow locally accomplished convergence of diverse information systems, with implications for data surge capacity as well as protection and privacy (Mendonça et al 2007).

Described as “a structured approach to real-time mixing and matching of diverse ICTs to support individuals and organizations in undertaking response”, emergent interoperability maybe becoming common place in less dramatic daily practices as individuals negotiate the range of algorithms that “react and reorganize themselves around the users” (Beer 2009).

This panel invites papers and presentations that provide insight into conditions and settings in which emergent operability and interoperability occurs within society.

Areas of interest:

– Dashboards, decongestion, security and the other promises of smart cities (Kitchin 2014)
– Wayfaring, wayfinding and other mobilities with map apps (Brighenti 2012)
– Changing forms of participation and collaboration through social media algorithms
– Responding to and attempting to manipulate predicted actions and recommendations
– The production of calculated publics (Gillespie 2014)
– Political contestation of algorithms
– Ad hoc systems
– Textures of communication in digital and traditional media

The deadline is Friday 6th February 2015.

Email speakers, title and abstract of around 250 words to


Beer, D. (2009) Power through the algorithm? Participatory web cultures and the technological unconscious. New Media & Society. London: SAGE. Vol 11(6): 985–1002.

Brighenti, A. M. (2012). New Media and Urban Motilities: A Territoriologic Point of View. Urban Studies, 49(2), 399–414.

Gillespie, T (2014) The Relevance of Algorithms, pp167-194 in Media Technologies, Essays on Communication, Materiality and Society ed. Tarleton Gillespie, Pablo Boczkowski, and Kirsten Foot. Cambridge, MA: MIT

Kitchin, R. (2014). Thinking critically about and researching algorithms. The Programmable City Working Paper 5, Maynooth

Mendonça, D., Jefferson, T., & Harrald, J. (2007). Emergent Interoperability: Collaborative Adhocracies and Mix and Match Technologies in Emergency Management. Communications of the ACM, 50(3), 44-9.

Thrift, N. (2005) Knowing Capitalism. London: Sage.


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