Colloquia: Dr. Fenwick McKelvey

Reverse Engineering Algorithmic Media: Reflections on the Politics and Policy Implications of Software Embedded in Communication Networks.

Wednesday, January 16
CMU 126, 3:30-5pm

Fenwick McKelvey

Although network management is often framed as a debate over Network Neutrality, Dr. Fenwick McKelvey, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the UW Department of Communication, suggests it concerns a broader issue of algorithmic media or what others have called software-defined networks. Software and algorithms embedded in media like the Internet have a greater computational capacity to observe and control information flows.

McKelvey’s talk begins by defining algorithmic media then discussing how it informs his research project into the broadband measurement in Canada. His project attempts to represent algorithms in political and policy contexts. By default, algorithms lack scrutiny because they operate in an instant of time and deep within private networks. McKelvey’s research into broadband measurements questions how the public might study the operations of Internet algorithms to help inform Internet policy making. More broadly, his project reflects on how public methods offer the best way forward to investigate and govern algorithmic media. He will conclude by providing some next steps for exploring the political and policy implications of algorithmic media drawn from his current postdoctoral research on political campaign management software.