Author: Yuk Hui

Future for the Annotation of Digital Objects

Organizer: Dr. Yuk Hui, Simon Worthington, Hybrid Publishing Lab, Centre for Digital Cultures, Leuphana University Lüneburg

Participants: Bob Stein (Institute for the Future of the Book, SocialBook), Christina Kral (A-machine), Claudius Teodorescu (University of Heidelberg), Andre Gaul + Nico (PaperHive), Thomas Kollatz (DARIAH), Paul-Emile Greffroy (IRI of Centre Pompidou), Johannes Wilm (Fidus Writer)

Date: 12th May (midday) – 13th May (evening)

Venue: Cent­re for Di­gi­tal Cul­tu­res, Sülz­tor­str. 21–35, 21335 Lüne­burg, 2. Floor

In the past decades, the proliferation of digital objects, the emergence of new technologies, and the globalisation of cultural objects, demand new conceptualisations and practices of annotation. Ontologies (formal ontologies, web ontologies) find their limits to fully contextualize the modes of existence of digital objects, since most of them are still derived from a narrow reflection and without considering the nature of the digital. Annotation finds its place, not only in the sense of assisting information processing and enhancing the searchability of digital objects (for the objects themselves, or in the objects), but also as interaction and concretisation of relations between the users and the objects with which they interact. This recalls us of what the ancient call Scholia, a commentary and annotation practice which finally shaped the scholiast and also the scholar. Annotation in this sense is less about classification, but closely related to learning, meaning that one learns and concretizes his or her knowledge through annotating or writing. With digital technologies, the concept of annotation has to be taken further, since it introduces semantic technologies, collaboration, sharing, recommendation. However annotation is either not taken seriously or shadowed by mere interaction, or slowly taken over by automation as in the case of Google and other semantic technologies. The workshop “Future for the annotation of digital objects”, hosted by the Hybrid Publishing Lab is an attempt to gather researchers from different disciplines, and to look into different practices and tools that have been developed and concerns which have yet to be resolved.

This two days workshop is an occasion to discuss further collaborations among researchers. We will invite international researchers who are working in the field to participate in this workshop, to map the current state of affairs and to look at different approaches to annotation of digital objects. The second aim of the workshop will be to discuss the challenges ahead and to figure out an agenda for development and for collaboration.


Noon – 19H, 12th May

Presentation of individual projects (20 minutes + 10 minutes discussion)
13:15 Introduction: Yuk Hui + Simon Worthington
13:45 -14:15 Simon Worthington + Christina Kral (A-machine)
14:15 -14:45 Claudius Teodorescu (Heidelberg)
14:45 – 15:15 Andre Gaul + Nico (PaperHive)

15:15 – 15:45 Coffee Break

15:45 – 16:15 Thomas Kollatz (DARIAH)
16:15 – 16:45 Paul-Emile Greffroy (IRI of Centre Pompidou)
16:45 – 17:15 Johannes Wilm (Fidus Writer)
Coffee Break 15 Minutes
17:30 – 18:30 Questions and Challenges
19:00 Dinner

10H – 17H, 13th May
10:00 – 11:00 Retake on Questions and Challenges from the last day
11:00 – 12:30 Bob Stein Lecture
12:30 – 13:30 Lunch
13:30 – 16:30 Addressing Problems, Challenges, Collaborations

Inquiries: Dr. Yuk HUI, yuk.hui[a] Simon Worthington, simon[a]
Download Program and Abstracts


The Hybrid Publishing Lab is organizing a series of workshop under the theme Philosophy of the Web, on 17th Feb 2014 Dr. Harry Halpin gave a talk titled “Collective Intelligence and the Web”. The audio recording can now be accessed: Harry Halpin: Collective Intelligence and the Web.

Abstract: The Internet and Web, as originally conceived by Licklider and Engelbart, was supposed to be co-evolutionary platform for collective intelligence in order to enable humanity to tackle problems that they could not otherwise tackle with their limited biological cognitive resources. To a large extent, their nearly Hegelian vision for a universal information space has been realized as a global technological system. Yet the outcome of this is not a scientifically enlightened collective intelligence, but the creation of a global secret state apparatus based on mass surveillance, as the NSA/GCHQ revelations have shown. The future of this apparatus of control will be discussed in both in its theological and strategic aspects, as well the alternative posed by the project of Wikileaks.

Bio: Dr. Halpin has been a member of the World Wide Web Consortium where he worked with the inventor of the web Tim Berners-Lee. He is currently a Marie Curie visiting researcher at the Institute of Research and Innovation of Centre Pompidou in Paris, as well as postdoctoral researcher at MIT.

We are also happy to announce the coming workshop with Greg Elmer on 10th March, 2014: GOING PUBLIC – ACCOUNTING FOR SOCIAL MEDIA

Audio Proceedings of Simondon Workshop

Hybrid Publishing Lab of the Centre for Digital Cultures in Lüneburg hosted the first workshop on Simondon in Germany. The workshop titled Simondon and Digital Culture hold on the 21st and 22nd of November 2013. The workshop attracted 50 participants from Germany, France, Britain, Swiss, etc. Attendees from the Hybrid Publishing Lab included Mercedes Bunz, Marcus Burkhardt, Yuk Hui, Andreas Kirchner. The audio proceedings can be find here, the CDC Press of the Hybrid Publishing Lab will follow up with the paper proceedings in 2014.


How much shall we trust the cloud? And then the question is: whose cloud shall one trust? Now given 10 clouds including Google, while 9 of them you haven’t heard of, which one will you choose? I guess most of the people will choose Google, but then as this article on “Cloud … But Only The Google Cloud” showed that Google can easily capture all your data in the name of the protection of personal data and privacy. The choice seems quite obvious that we should empower individuals and groups to create their own personal archives.

Yuk Hui from Hybrid Publishing Lab will give a talk in the colloquium Compromised Data? New Paradigms in Social Media Theory and Methods, at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada (28-29 October, 2013). The talk entitled Contribution to a Political Economy of Self-Archiving, refers to a self-archiving project launched in HybridPublishing Lab that aims to reconsider the question of archiving and storing in the digital age. It will talk about one of the theoretical concepts of the archive project: starting from an interpretation of Canguillhem’s The Living and its Milieu and reconsider the contribution of Simondon’s associated milieu and Heidegger’s care. Below is the abstract:

We are producing and reproducing more and more digital objects and data in an increasing speed, in response there are more and more cloud computing service providers such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Facebook and other social media giving users storages of files and data. This paper wants to discuss the problem generated in this stage of digitization, namely that we are losing the ability to archive objects and give control to the clouds. The departure of this article underlies a difference between storing and archiving. Storing is simply putting things on the hard disk drive with certain kinds of index; while possessing more and more objects, we start forgetting what one has, and we tend to download the same objects several times and risk not being able to locate objects one is looking for. The huge storage services seem to produce an illusion that everything can be remembered, but in fact they produce conditions of total forgetting. In contrast, archiving is a practice of creating contexts indicating the relevance between objects and users. To archive is to select, that implies remembering and forgetting. These contexts in turn constitute the milieu of the livings, in the sense as Georges Canguilhem described in The Living and its Milieu[1]. By creating and maintaining these milieux, we learn to orient and to live – “a median situation, a fluid of suspension, a life environment.” Canguilhem borrowed the example of Jakob von Uexküll’s blind ticks, by sensing the smell, the warmth and other elements that constitute the milieu, they know when to fall down from a tree to the back of animals passing by.

Gilbert Simondon has extended the concept of milieu to understand relation between human and machine and underlies a politics between the two, since after all, human beings are not ticks, we live in milieux which become more and more artificial and subject to engineering. Industrialisation constantly povertises our living milieux and generate new milieux that favourite economic exchanges and miseries. We observe that self-archiving tools are largely underdeveloped,while commercial social media such as Google, Facebook don’t provide us with tools to archive but only to store. At the same time, ironically they are constantly archiving our contextual information, e.g. our habits, meetings, participation in events, for marketing uses. This relation between the living and the digital milieu has to be re-accessed and politicised under current situation of industrialisation. For Simondon, before industrialisation, man – the bearer of tools are technical individuals that maintain a stable associated milieu for themselves; while industrialisation destroyed this setting and inversely rendered human workers the associated milieu of machines in the factories. For Simondon, this destruction of milieu is one of the major causes of alienation and proletarianization[2].

What could be further developed from Simondon’s theory is that it also destroys the structure of care by replacing it with economic exchanges. It seems urgent today to address the problem of the milieu under the current technological condition by reconceptualising practices of self-archiving and retackling the question of care in related to digital objects and metadata. By care I refers to three different notions here: Foucault’s proposal to return the care of the self (le souci) as a technic of subjectivation; Heidegger’s care (die Sorge) as a temporal structure; Bernard Stiegler’s proposal of taking care (prendre soin). Hence self-archiving is not only a question of autonomy, but also a possibility to consider new perspectives of deproletarianisation. Within an agenda of self-archiving, we can also re-imagine the question of personalisation and share that have been dominated by social media, for example, what kind of personalisation can be developed through the practice of self-care rather being determined largely by the social milieu? can we imagine new forms of share, for example offline portable digital libraries that are shared among local communities? The question of self-archiving is both a call for technological development, and a call for a politics of archives after Michel Foucault. This paper ends by exposing the current self-archiving tool we are working on and calling for future collaborations.

[1]G. Canguilhem, The Living and Its Milieu, Grey Room, No. 3 (Spring, 2001), pp. 6-31

[2]G. Simondon, Du Mode d’Existence des objects techniques, Aubier, 1958, 2012



Sabotage can outweigh production, source: Wikimedia Commons

The meltdown of the financial market in 2008 started to provoke a new way of looking at machine, under the title of “Market: Rage against the machine”, the journalists analysed how the market could be further ruined by machines in addition to its own disruption. Financial workers are not factory workers who dared in the old days to propose sabotage of machines. But the rage against machines are increasingly significant, the reporters wrote: “What frightens investors most is a sudden evaporation of liquidity, when everyone pulls back at once and there is no one to provide a firm price to an investor wanting to sell. In 1987, investors accused some market makers of not answering their phones so that they would not have to buy shares from panicking sellers. Today, human market makers have largely been replaced by ultra-fast computer systems trading with high frequency. But like the human traders of yesterday, the machines can and do back away if markets are disrupted.1

In this example, we do not only see protocols – that is in someway invisible behind the screen and the ecstasy of gambling in a global scale, but also standards – how trading is implemented globally by connecting different machines with different protocols and social norms – usages, distrust, rage, habits of not picking up phones when getting grumpy, body gesture of starring at the display of stock prices.The understanding of protocols in current media theories is more or less based on Alexandre Galloway’s book Protocol: control after decentralisation (2004) which excellently illustrates how network protocols embed different forms of control. The common take on Galloway always see protocol as agreement or diplomacy of communication, this understanding is unfortunately very limited. During the Hyperkult 2013 with the theme Standards, Norms and Protocols, it is also an occasion to revisit the question of protocols. To think about protocol as a mean of control is now evident, but in order to understand protocol, it is necessary to talk together with norms and standards. Continue Reading…

source:   CC by-nc-sa

Date: 1 July, 2013

Time: 17h30 – 20h00

Venue: Centre for Digital Cultures, Sülztorstraße 21-25, 2. Stock, Raum 305 (All welcome!)

Antoine Hennion (Mines ParisTech): Translation, association, mediation: from ANT to a pragmatics of attachments

Alexandre Monnin (Panthéon-Sorbonne/INRIA/CNAM/IKKM Weimar): Forget O-O-O, the best “theory” of objects is the Web – on philosophical engineering and ontology, a pragmatist approach between Bruno Latour and Brian Cantwell Smith (and Wittgenstein)

Respondent: Yuk Hui (Hybrid Publishing Lab)

Contact: yuk.hui[a]

Antoine Hennion is professor and director of the Institute for Sociology of Innovation in l’École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris, his research centres on sociology of music and culture, around culture industry, advertisement and design. Author of numerous books including La Grandeur de Bach. L’amour de la musique en France au XIXe siècle(2000), Figures de l’amateur Formes, objets et pratiques de l’amour de la musique aujourd’hui (2000):

Alexandre Monnin, doctor in philosophy from Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne focus on the philosophy of the web. Currently visiting fellow at IKKM Weimar, associate researcher at Inria Sophia Antipolis (francophone Dbpedia project), associate researcher at the the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts and co-chair of the W3C “Philosophy of the Web” Community Group. In 2013, Alexandre was named one of the 25 experts in Open Data by the Etalab of the French Government:

stiegler vs serresLast summer, the popular french journal Philosophy Magazine published an special issue titled “Why do we no longer learn as before?”. This issue covers essays by Nicolas Carr, Marianne Wolf and others working on the same field, and what is most interesting is a dialogue between two philosophers Bernard Stiegler and Michel Serres. Stiegler has been working on the question of digital publication for many years, back to the 90s he worked on a project with the BnF(Bibliothèque nationale de France) on digital books and softwares to assist reading. Based on his own theory of tertiary retention, and inspired by Carr and Wolf, Stiegler proposed to re-visit the condition of reading and writing today in order to bring forth an industrial program. We remind that we talked about two kinds of memory proposes by Carr, working memory and long term memory, Stiegler showed in his previous books especially the three volumes of La Technique et le temps, how these two memories (equivalent to Husserl’s primary and secondary retentions) are in turn conditioned by the tertiary retentions, that is to say technics. For Stiegler the problem today is the one of amnesis, that is also one of the first questions in occidental philosophy. For Plato, amnesis, losing memory, is the possibility of acquiring knowledge. Since it is at this moment of searching, we have to recollect what was forgotten, then fragments can become coherent. Or all simply, facts gain their power in the process of re-organization (which is at the same time re-cognition) and become the foundation of truth. Amnesis in this sense, is also askisis whichpossess the transformation power of the individual. Continue Reading…

carr_hayles_readingPublications expect readers, unless the author ignores the public in his publication. Understanding reading is one of the major conditions for imagining new ways of publishing. The condition of reading also depends on means of writing, writing means publishing, then we enter a circle of reading-writing, that constitutes without exaggeration the social, political, economical condition for acting and thinking. Jack Goody has explored in The Domestication of the Savage Mind, how the emergence of writing, in its most primitive form, transform these conditions in human history. The use of tablets in the Sumerian culture in Mesopotamian as writing system become today we may call the first system of metadata, that record stocks of potteries, cattle, etc. And David Graeber further in his Debt- The First 5,000 Years, showed that such a writing system is actually a book-keeping system, usually a new conquerer destroyed this annotation-writing system to resettle all debts, and restarts a new economic, social and political regime (And it is from this example, Graeber proposed a destruction of the current global accounting system to start anew). It is also true when writing spread out in ancient Greece, it made laws accessible to citizens in the polis, that is also to say the concept of democracy. Continue Reading…