Search & Surveillance is a multi-part workshop series that enables scholars from different disciplines to engage fundamental search algorithms that have come to govern the ways in which we access and navigate digital and analogue spaces. Algorithms like Google’s Pagerank tend to be experienced through clean interfaces that imply the limitless possibilities of search while actually enforcing boundaries on digital environments through browsing history, links, and lexical patterns. As illustrated in issues ranging from advertising, to political movements, to academic disciplines, search has altered the organizing logic of nearly every type of social structure. This series is designed to seed research projects that examine the consequences of digital media by learning and interrogating the foundational assumptions of burgeoning algorithmic paradigms.

Our first workshop, led by Collin Jennings, shepherded participants through the process of setting up a programming environment suited for research projects that combine technical and critical material. We installed the Anaconda distribution of Python and Jupyter notebooks, which allow users to switch easily between text, code, and visualization in a dynamic interface. We concluded the workshop by testing out this environment with data from the NYPD on stop and frisk.

Organized by: Collin Jennings, Gretta Tritch Roman, and Heidi Knoblauch

Photos by: Anya Kopischke
Video by: Matthew Rowinson
Editing by: Heidi Knoblauch