Message posted on 16/01/2023

Environmental crises in digital culture: investigating networked silences — A panel at the Nordic STS conference

                Dear all,
The Nordic STS Conference call for paper contributions is now open. I specifically would like to invite you to the panel “Environmental crises in digital culture: investigating networked silences” which is organized by Prof Nina Wormbs (KTH Stockholm), Prof Jutta Haider (Swedish School of Library and Information Sciences) and myself (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences). Abstract see below.

Please get in touch with any questions you may have!
With best wishes from Sweden,

Submission Deadline 1 March 2023
Conference: 7-9 June in Oslo
More here:
Environmental crises in digital culture: investigating networked silences
Contemporary digital culture is constituted through an information infrastructure made up of commercial platforms optimized to generate revenue through data extraction and advertising. This can mean encouraging certain forms of engagement, like on social media, or ranking information based on an understanding of relevance driven by consumer satisfaction, as is the case with search engines and Google in particular. Together, these platforms provide an information infrastructure designed to distribute content according to various interlinked commercial logics, which are almost completely beyond the control of democratic institutions. Much of the critical research on the role of social media and search engines related to environmental crises is concerned with the readily noticeable effects on, for example, larger discourses, extremist views, or polarisation. However, social media and search engines also shape everyday meaning-making on crises—such as the climate emergency or species extinction—by not only bringing certain understandings to the surface, but also pushing others to the background. Social media and search engines implicate engagement with everyday life and environmental crises on a constitutive level: Algorithms and affordances of social media and search engines, and the people and organisations that use them, co-produce what we call ‘networked silences:’ discourses, practices, and communicative norms that implicitly or explicitly obscure or conceal concerns and perspectives, render some relations invisible, and/or reinforce or generate ignorances and doubt specifically around environmental issues. As part of collective meaning-making around environmental issues, such networked silences have real implications for knowing and doing in everyday life, society and politics, and thus shape the possibilities for meaningful environmental transformations. It is therefore of great importance to map these networked silences and understand the specific mechanisms that enable and sustain them. This open panel will explore the ways in which social media and search engines co-create networked silences, and how they can be interacted with following two questions: What is lost when contemporary environmental crises are increasingly negotiated through algorithmically mediated spaces? How can these ‘networked silences’ be understood, explored, made visible, and possibly unmade? We welcome all sorts of approaches including theoretical and exploratory ones. Examples from previous research, conversations, and a symposium at SLU Uppsala (please google “networked silences SLU”) during October 2022, help to illustrate the broad range of topics that we hope to discuss in this session which is not limited to the following: - popular or professional understandings of algorithms and platforms which shape people’s communication practices - limiting discourses on nature, climate, or environment that emerge or are reproduced through algorithms and affordances - semantic interpretations of search and recommender systems that conceal relations to environmental issues - media ecosystems, ‘rabbit holes’, ‘data voids’ and other exploitations of algorithmic logics which create or maintain ignorances about environmental issues. Submission here:

Questions: just ask!

Malte Rödl
Forskare i Miljökommunikation | Researcher in Environmental Communication

Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Institutionen för stad och land | Department of Urban and Rural Development
PO Box 7012, SE-750 07 Uppsala
Visiting address: Ulls väg 27, SE-756 51 Uppsala |

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