Digital Criticism

Unconference October 21—22, 2021 📅



Higher education research centres from all over Switzerland are joining forces to host the first unconference on ‘digital criticism’. Free of charge and open to all, this unique event will take place online-only the 21 and 22 October 2021.

After a decade of research on the ‘Digital Turn’ and its impact on both research and society at large, this event aims to offer a space to network, share insights, and discuss future trends in digital studies / digital humanities among scholars from Switzerland and beyond. Join us and register for the event !


  • Foster networking within the digital studies / digital humanities research community in Switzerland and beyond
  • Talk and learn about ongoing research (including yours) on digital-related phenomena
  • Identify common challenges across disciplines for future research
  • Discuss the characteristics of digital research methods

What is an unconference?

An unconference is an informal, participant-driven meeting that tries to avoid hierarchical aspects of a conventional conference. The format, which encourages networking, open discussions, and participation, first appeared in the Silicon Valley in the 2000’s as a tool to foster new innovation models. Unconferences contributed to the birth of social media and ‘Web 2.0’.

In concrete terms, the conference unfolds as follows

  1. Register for the conference
  2. In a plenary pitching session on the first day of the conference, participants are invited to come up with ideas and discussion topics
  3. Proposed topics are listed on a whiteboard and opened to a vote by participants
  4. Most voted topics are included as panel slots of 45 min. in the finalised conference programme.
  5. Participants freely decide which panels they want to attend.
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The conference programme includes two plenary sessions, three keynotes by leading scholars in the field of digital studies, as well as a series of parallel panel sessions on topics that the participants themselves have proposed and chosen by voting.

October 21
08:45 On-boarding BigBlueButton
Provided by CH-Open
09:30 Introduction by the Organizers &
welcome by Dr. Markus Zürcher
10:00 Pitching-Session
11:00 Grasping the digital world through its uses.
The example of information and journalism
Keynote by Nathalie Pignard Cheynel
Voting in progress
12:00 Presentation of program & lunch break
13:30 Panelslot 1
André Cardozo Sarli: Algorithms as normative tools 📝 Etherpad
Arjun Sanyal: Critical digital literacy in the libraries for persons from different socio-cultural milieux (empowerment) 📝 Etherpad
Victoria Fleury: Combining information from diverse collections and sources. Accessing visualizations 📝 Etherpad
14:15 Break
15:00 Panelslot 2
Enrico Natale: Essential readings on digital criticism 📝 Etherpad
Laetitia Gern: Political discourse online on YouTube 📝 Etherpad
Widmer & Schneider: Premodern data for NLP 📝 Etherpad
15:45 Panelslot 3
Melanie Boehi: Transparency and democratizing archives by digitization 📝 Etherpad
Moritz Mähr: Micropublications (secure research data, do something participant driven, new ways for preprints) 📝 Etherpad
Adrien Tournier: 5G - history of telecommunication 📝 Etherpad
16:30 Break
17:00 What is the Place of History of Computing in Critiques of Computing?
Keynote by Mar Hicks
October 22
09:30 Welcome Back
10:00 Panelslot 4
Geffroy Valérian: Non-uses of digital technology (unnecessary or unwanted tools) 📝 Etherpad
Elias Kreyenbühl: From papyri to photographs. Doing research with images. 📝 Etherpad
Tobias Hodel: DH Summerschool 📝 Etherpad
11:00 Digital explorations at the Sciences Po medialab
Keynote by Dominique Cardon
12:00 Panelslot 5
Lorenz & Berg: Social Media as a source for research (ethical, technical, legal) 📝 Etherpad
Isabelle Marthot-Santaniello: How much advertising for DH research while doing it? 📝 Etherpad
Jennifer Rabe: Digital Selfcare tools and utilities 📝 Etherpad
13:30 Presentations of Results and Outlook
14:15 Round Table and End of Event


Mar Hicks (Illinois Institute of Technology)

Mar Hicks (Illinois Institute of Technology)

Mar Hicks is an author, historian, and professor doing research on the history of computing, labor, technology, and queer science and technology studies. Her research focuses on how gender and sexuality bring hidden technological dynamics to light, and how the experiences of women and LGBTQIA people change the core narratives of the history of computing in unexpected ways. Hicks’s multiple award-winning book, Programmed Inequality, looks at how the British lost their early lead in computing by discarding women computer workers, and what this cautionary tale tells us about current issues in high tech. Her new work looks at resistance and queerness in the history of technology. She also has a new co-edited book coming out in Spring 2021 from MIT Press called Your Computer Is On Fire, about how we can begin to fix our broken high tech infrastructures. Read more at:

What is the Place of History of Computing in Critiques of Computing?

This talk looks at the historical connections between computing’s development in the 20th century and issues of marginalization in tech in the 21st century that have been exacerbated by particular computing tools and platforms. Drawing a throughline from the centralizing tendencies of digital technologies in the 20th century to the power imbalances fostered by digital platforms in the 21st century, this talk invites listeners to consider the history of computing’s focus on triumphal “progress narratives” as part of the problem we face when confronting computing’s flaws in the present.

Dominique Cardon (Médialab Sciences Po)

Dominique Cardon (Médialab Sciences Po)

Born in 1965, Dominique Cardon has been a sociologist, researcher, professor and Medialab director at Sciences Po since 2016. A member of the Orange Labs research centre from 1996 to 2016 and an associate professor at the University of Marne la Vallée Technical Laboratory, he defended his thesis ‘The expanded public space. Opinion, Criticism and Expressiveness in the Internet Age’ (« L’espace public élargi. Opinion, critique et expressivité à l’ère d’internet ») in 2015. A former member of the Centre for Social Movement Studies at the EHESS and a member of the editorial committee for the journal ‘Réseaux’, his work and research initially led him to focus on different forms of expression in traditional media. He then went on to study the uses of communication technologies such as collaborative tools, the relationships between cultural practices and social life and the changes in the ways we work brought about by the digital revolution. Homepage

Digital explorations at the Sciences Po medialab

Nathalie Pignard-Cheynel (Université de Neuchâtel)

Nathalie Pignard-Cheynel (Université de Neuchâtel)

Nathalie Pignard-Cheynel is a full professor of journalism and digital communication at the University of Neuchâtel, where she heads the Academy of Journalism and Media. For the past 15 years, she has been studying the mutations of journalistic practices and the changes in newsrooms in the digital age. She also works on the links between journalists, media and audiences, and has recently developed projects on the informational practices of young generation as well as disinformation phenomena. She co-edited in 2018 the book #info: Commenting and sharing news on Twitter and Facebook and co-authored in 2019 Mobile Journalism: Informational Uses Editorial Strategies and Journalistic Practices.

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Registration is free of charge. Upon registration you will receive a link to access the conference virtual space. Additionally, we will send you a small gift per postal mail as a souvenir.

Please register online here.

Pitching and voting procedures

On the first day of the event (21st of October, 10:00) we will have a pitching session. If you come up with an idea, just raise your hand and we will call you up, so you can explain your idea. Make sure to have a title for your panel at hand. If you already pitched your idea online: great, we will call you up and you can elaborate if you wish.

An unconference is an open space. Every topic is worth considering and discussing. From data management, funding, and privacy to digital methods and tools: everything is welcome.

You don’t know if people want to discuss this? Pitch it! Are you unsure if the topic belongs to ‘digital criticism’? Pitch it!

Once we’ve collected all panel propositions, those will be submitted to a majority vote by all participants. Panels who get more consent will be integrated to the conference programme as panel slots of 45 min. More information about the voting system are to be found here.

The definitive programme will then be published on this website. Participants are then free to move among the various virtual rooms and attend the panels they are interested in.


Panels are 45-minute discussion and exchange sessions on a given theme. The person who proposed the theme moderates the discussions.


As we are in Switzerland, a country with four official languages, we are committed to promote plurilingualism. We’re keen to use English throughout the conference as lingua franca, but will also encourage participants to speak their own languages.

  • Keynotes will be in French (with live subtitles in English) and English.
  • Plenary communication will be in English, but in the pitching session people may feel free to speak in their own language and we’ll translate live for those who don’t understand.
  • In the panels, the language mix can vary. Panel moderators should decide how they want to deal with it according to the participants.


Who should attend ? This event is especially suitable but not limited to PhD students, in all stages of completion. Postdocs, research staff and master students are also welcome. There are no requirements of specific fields, as long as there is a connection with your work or studies.
Is it necessary to send an abstract, a paper or a presentation?

No. As an unconference, Digital Criticism does not need to follow a traditional scientific event, but rather works as an open space where the presenters, organizers and participants choose the topics. It’s a collaborative way to debate, share information and build knowledge.

How do I register in Big Blue Button?
0:00 click anywhere to play / drag to seek ...
Conference Software and Platform

The conference will take place on BigBlueButton (BBB), an open source visio-conference software developed by CH-Open, a Swiss organisation promoting open source software, online privacy, and open data standards. A manual and tutorials on how to use BBB are available.

Voting on the programme will take place via the application Information on the concept of majority judgment can be found here

Content and Structure

The content and structure of the day are driven by the participants. See for instance the concept of BarCamp. We follow the four flow principles:

  • Whoever comes are the right people
  • Whatever happens, is the only thing that could have
  • Whenever it starts is the right time
  • When it’s over, it’s over
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