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Expert Meeting organized by the Utrecht University research program Back to the Book and ASCA’s research group Data Drive. A dialogue between the humanities and the hard sciences, asking what algorithms are, rather than what they do.

Event details of Algorithm and the Humanities
Date 11 June 2014
Time 14:30 -17:00
Location Universiteitsbibliotheek
Room University Library, Vondelzaal

The expert meeting on Algorithm and the Humanities aims to rethink the conceptual potential of the ‘algorithm’ at the crossroads of the humanities and the hard sciences. Under the influence of an increasing interest in for instance 'big data' the term 'algorithm' is quickly making its way into both popular discourses and the humanities, but not always supported by a thorough idea about what 'algorithm' actually means.

Therefore, instead of merely considering algorithms as a new tool available for research, we aim for a more fundamental discussion about algorithms and algorithmic thinking, exploring the tension between its use as a relatively well-defined term in computer science, and a, both mathematically and culturally, much hazier and complex term outside that discourse. We want to open up a space to critically reflect on what and algorithms are and how they operate, rather than merely ask what they can do.

Following an interdisciplinary approach, we plan on inviting several speakers to address firstly, the basic ‘logic’ behind algorithms (both mathematical or cultural), secondly, innovative historical and conceptual scholarship on algorithm, applying it to and connecting it with topics in the humanities and thirdly, artistic applications of algorithmic thinking that question its operations and explore its creative potential.

With: Shintaro Miyazaki - “Experimental Data Aesthetics and Algorhythmics.” Media theorist, Lecturer at University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland and the University of Basel.)

Simon Morris - “Viruses from Outer Space.” Artist and Reader at the School of Arts and Media, Teesside University, UK …and others.

Free and open to the public / Readings will be disseminated online. Contact: Melle Kromhout (E:


Room University Library, Vondelzaal

Singel 425
1012 WP Amsterdam