who am i and why the “networked social”?

the dinner table

the dinner table

in preparation of the course “the networked social”, femke, nicolas and i, decided to start the first day with reflecting on why we want to offer this course at erg and what we would like to share with everyone during the course. for that, maybe it is nice to know where each of us are coming from in terms of the things we want to inquire during the course.

i am seda and i have been living in brussels for the last five years. for many years i have been actively involved in many community projects and also like to organize my life around these communities. these can be friends with whom we do things, communities that are based in the neighborhood i live in, colleagues i work with in or outside of institutions, or sometimes a surprising constellation of people who somehow decide to come together and do something. i also like to see people from different communities come together in different ways, be it around a dinner table or in a meeting room. part of my interest for the networked social hence from this community perspective: how do we as members of these communities take up the digital networks of our times (or resist them) and how do the digital networks of our times accommodate and shape  our communities. Maybe, in other words, how do we negotiate space in the networked social?

i am also a researcher with a background in computer science (among other things). i currently work at the ku leuven. we mainly work on research projects on questions about hardware and software design, security, and privacy. currently one of the main projects that we work on is about online social networks and privacy. in this project, we do elaborate on why online social networks are designed the way they are, what consequences this has for the different communities that are involved and how we could design these systems otherwise, given the interests of these different communities.

finally, throughout the last years, i have had the pleasure of working with people who ask critical questions about technology design and computer science. i have been especially intrigued by feminist critiques of computer science within which both the neutrality of systems and the power position of that scientists and engineers have with respect to designing the systems that we use. i have also been very interested in participatory design and how the free and open source software philosophies can play a role in developing such practices. i have also had the great joy of working both with designers and artists who ask similar questions from their point of practice.

so, all of these experiences and questions brought me to the “networked social”. during the course i will especially focus on algorithms, web tracking and the design of privacy technologies. i especially hope to reflect on topics like what makes an algorithm? what makes an algorithm a “good” algorithm? what is web tracking? what could it have been? what can it become? and finally, i would like to take some time to ask what it means to negotiate the public and the private? how do we do this individually but also in our communities? what is the role that networked digital technologies plays in these negotiations? how can we negotiate what these technologies are or can be?

i look forward to teaching together with femke and nicolas starting tomorrow and i look forward to meeting all the ergians!