[WebCultures] Call for Papers: Socialbots!

Robert W. Gehl rob at robertwgehl.org
Tue Sep 16 15:17:09 CEST 2014

This is a second call for chapters for an edited collection Maria
Bakardjieva and I are putting together on socialbots. Below is the full
CFP. It can also be found at http://robertwgehl.org/blog/?p=245. The
deadline for abstracts is October 15, sent to socialbotbook at robertwgehl.org

- Rob Gehl

Many users of the Internet are aware of the existence of ‘bots:
automated programs that work behind the scenes to come up with search
suggestions, check the weather, filter emails, or clean up Wikipedia
entries. A new form of software robot has been making its presence felt
in social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter lately – the
socialbot. Unlike more familiar bots, socialbots are built to appear
human. While a weatherbot will tell you if it’s sunny and a spambot will
incessantly peddle Viagra, socialbots will ask you questions, have
conversations, like your posts, retweet you, and become your friend. All
the while, if they’re well-programmed, you won’t know that you’re
tweeting and friending with a robot.

Socialbot makers have suggested or demonstrated many uses for these
‘bots, including exposing security flaws in Facebook, healing social
rifts, bringing brands to life, quelling dissent on the behalf of
governments, creating the appearance of popular support for politicians,
infiltrating activist networks, or correcting misinformation circulating
online. Socialbots can automate friending, liking, and tweeting, playing
the odds to gain followers. They are built out of datasets produced by
social media users and thus reflect our social media use back on us.
They exploit our penchant for “hot” profiles, the triadic closure
principle, and our need to make an impression and to get feedback. But
they also give us a neutral sounding board, a means to pass the day, and
a new form of friendship.

As a cutting-edge AI technology, socialbots are only the latest in a
long line of mechanical and software-based creations that humans live,
talk, work, love, and struggle with. From the Mechanical Turk to the
Turing Test to ELIZA to Cleverbot, from robotic factory workers to
emotionally-attuned customer service telephone systems, from Rossum’s
Universal Robots to Robby to HAL to Colossus to Data to Samantha, AI
presents us with a wide range of philosophical, ethical, political, and
economic quandaries. Who benefits from the use of robots? Who loses?
Does a robot deserve rights? Who pulls the strings of these ‘bots? Who
has the right to know what about them? What does it mean to be
intelligent? What does it mean to be a friend? Can research be done to
create these bots but still uphold the ideal of informed consent?

As a way to explore these questions – and many others – we seek chapter
proposals for an edited book. Potential topics could be:

    Socialbots and artificial intelligence
    Genealogies of bots on the Internet
    Socialbots and big data
    Utopian and dystopian socialbot futures
    Uses of socialbots
    Socialbots and politics
    Socialbots and marketing
    Socialbots and posthumanism
    Human/machine relations
    Political economy of socialbots
    Sociable bots in popular culture
    Ways to program socialbots
    What socialbots tell us about social media
    Socialbots and human sociality
    Socialbots and anonymity
    Socialbots and identity politics
    Socialbots versus spambots

We encourage proposals from people working in a wide range of fields,
including communication, humanities, social sciences, computer science,
software engineering, software studies, science and technology studies,
philosophy, marketing, and media and cultural studies. We want
accessible, well-researched chapters that not only inform others about
these ‘bots, but also establish socialbots as a new object of inquiry
from many perspectives.

We are currently talking with several academic publishers about this
edited collection.

500 word abstracts due to socialbotbook at robertwgehl.org: October 15, 2014

Notification about abstract acceptance: November 15, 2014

Full chapters due: March 15, 2015


www.robertwgehl.org | robert.gehl at utah.edu

Robert W. Gehl is an assistant professor in the Department of
Communication at the University of Utah, USA. His book is Reverse
Engineering Social Media: Software, Culture, and Political Economy in
New Media Capitalism (2014, Temple). His work is at the intersections of
science and technology studies, political economy, and cultural studies
and explores network culture. He has published research that critiques
the architecture, code, culture, and design of social media sites such
as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and blogs in Social Text,
Lateral, The International Journal of Cultural Studies, New Media and
Society, Television and New Media, Computational Culture, and First
Monday. He is a member of the editorial board of Communication and
Critical/Cultural Studies. His current project is a genealogy of
software engineering.


www.ucalgary.ca/~bakardji | bakardji at ucalgary.ca

Maria Bakardjieva is full Professor in the Department of Communication
and Culture, University of Calgary, Canada. She is the author of
Internet Society: The Internet in Everyday Life (2005, Sage) and
co-editor of How Canadians Communicate (2004 and 2007, University of
Calgary Press). Maria held the position of editor-in-chief of the
Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication from 2011 to 2013. Her
research has examined Internet use practices across different social and
cultural context with a focus on the ways in which users understand and
actively appropriate new media. Her work on the topics of Internet use
in everyday life, online community, e-learning and research ethics has
been published in numerous international journals and edited collections
including Media, Culture and Society, New Media and Society, The
Information Society, Philosophy and Technology, Ethics and Information
Technology, Sage Benchmarks in Communication, Volume 4 and others. Her
current projects investigate the social and political implications of
social media and look at the interactions between traditional and new
media with the objective to identify opportunities for broad democratic
participation in the public sphere.

Robert W. Gehl
Assistant Professor, Department of Communication
Affiliated Faculty, University Writing Program
The University of Utah
www.robertwgehl.org | @robertwgehl
Sent from our OS on our Internet

Please read my book: Reverse Engineering Social Media

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