[Air-L] CFP for an edited collection of essays exploring SOCIALBOTS

Maria Bakardjieva mpbakardjieva at gmail.com
Mon Jul 14 02:55:01 PDT 2014

Dear colleagues,

Robert Gehl and I would like to invite you to consider contributing to our
proposed edited collection exploring the technological, social, cultural,
and ethical aspects of *socialbots*. Please see our Call for Papers below
and do not hesitate to contact us with questions, or to discuss the idea


Dr. Maria Bakardjieva
Professor, Department of Communication and Culture
University of Calgary,


Robert W. Gehl, University of Utah
Maria Bakardjieva, University of Calgary


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, 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

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

bakardji at ucalgary.ca

Maria Bakardjieva is a 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.

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