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Call for Papers: Search! Navigating the World’s Information

Special issue edited by:

Mark Graham (Oxford Internet Institute, Univ. of Oxford)
Ralph Schroeder (Oxford Internet Institute, Univ. of Oxford)
Greg Taylor (Oxford Internet Institute, Univ. of Oxford)

We invite submission of original, unpublished articles for a proposed special themed issue of New Media & Society on the topic of Internet search. Abstracts of 500 words length are invited in the first instance. Selected authors will then be included in a full proposal to be submitted to the editors of New Media & Society. Final papers should be around 8000 words (inclusive of abstract and references) and will be subject to the full New Media & Society review process.

About the Special Issue’s Theme:

Never before have so many people engaged in practices of information search. Hundreds of millions of searches are performed every day through the Internet. Searches connect us to information that helps us find the best route through a city, allows us to learn about a debilitating illness, and links us to videos of cats playing pianos. We can now search for words, numbers, images, videos, pictures, sounds, places, maps, directions, people, stories and products.

Search is a process of separating the visible from the invisible, the relevant from the irrelevant, and the knowable from the unknowable. Search also entails power: the power to access and shape information. Digital searches mediate our interactions with both an enormous, networked store of knowledge, and with the material places that we inhabit. Practices, algorithms, and rules of search govern the content, ideas, places, and opportunities to which users are exposed.

In order to begin a more inter-disciplinary discussion on the role of Internet search in contemporary society, this special issue aims to bring together a range of contributors that analyze how search works from various social science perspectives, including law, geography, political science, sociology of science, and economics. It will bring these to bear on understanding the most significant social, economic, political, geographic and ethical transformations that have been brought about by widespread practices of search. This special issue seeks qualitative and quantitative studies as well as discourse and policy analyses of information and Internet search in the broadest sense. Examples of topical issues in this area include, but are not limited to:

· How is indexing, optimizing, sorting, coding and ranking altering the ways in which we access information?
· How do people, places and groups benefit from a world in which search is a central means of information access, and who is left out of those benefits?
· How does search influence offline interactions?
· Are widespread practices of search facilitating shifts in political, economic and social power?
· How does search shape consumer and producer product market outcomes?
· How does the nature of search shape the competitive landscape of the Internet search industry?
· What are the social implications of the organisation of sponsored search markets?
· Are search engines a force for democratisation?
· What are the subversive potentials and possibilities of search?
· What are the politics of search engine censorship?
· What are the distinct cultural practices and geographic biases of search?

Deadline for abstracts: Jul 20, 2011
Deadline for submission of full papers: Jan 15, 2012

For more information, or to submit an abstract, please contact:

Mark Graham – mark.graham@oii.ox.ac.uk
Ralph Schroeder – ralph.schroeder@oii.ox.ac.uk
Greg Taylor – greg.taylor@oii.ox.ac.uk