Whether studying, designing or using algorithms, researchers need to understand how their questions intersect with the logics of automation and scale underpinning networked, computational platforms. In this lecture, VJ Um Amel presents a hybrid approach to analyzing various procedural algorithms, their relationship with their structured data (for example, tweets), and their impact on an Arabic-speaking virtual body politic. This investigation theorizes mediations of Middle Eastern activism, revolution, and migration. It begins by working through the challenges in producing knowledge that is analytically rigorous, durable, and is independent from various power centers and policy circles, securitized and militarized — and then exploring the emergence of new modes of knowledge production in an era of virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and large-scale violence.
Laila Shereen Sakr (a.k.a. VJ Um Amel) is Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara. Her creative and scholarly works use digital logic and technique to map global participation in virtual worlds and networked publics.