XML Version
Thompson, J. (2016). View Source: Reading the Hidden Texts of the Web. In Digital Humanities 2016: Conference Abstracts. Jagiellonian University & Pedagogical University, Kraków, p. 947.
View Source: Reading the Hidden Texts of the Web

View Source: Reading the Hidden Texts of the Web

When discussing the web, the two layers of online experience we most often talk about are interactions and their underlying technology. We unpack the conversations and transactions happening online (anti-feminist rhetoric, how Twitter differs from Medium), and we discuss how algorithms shape those experiences (Facebook’s decisions about what is in your feed, A/B testing). But at an intermediary level, an entire corpus is being written in Javascript variables and HTML comments , standardized but hidden files, and even the structure of websites themselves. This workshop will investigate these intermediary layers from a critical, exploratory point of view.

This workshop will use a hackathon-like methodology of play and exploration to maximize breadth and depth – the goal is creative and critical investigation rather than technical. After some short, fairly low-tech tutorials to introduce tools and methodologies, participants will spend the remainder of the workshop digging across the web and presenting their findings. All levels of technical expertise will be encouraged, as will ad hoc collaboration. Those with prior experience using the tools introduced are encouraged to dig deeper.

Workshop Leader
Jeff Thompson an artist, teacher, hacker, and writer whose work investigates the poetics of technology, how its functionality can provide access points for meaningful exploration, the agency of increasingly self-aware systems, and the physicalization of otherwise invisible processes. He is currently Assistant Professor and Program Director of Visual Arts and Technology at Stevens Institute of Technology.

Questions about this workshop: jeff.thompson@stevens.edu

Tech requirements
Participants should bring:

  • A laptop with WiFi access
  • An up-to-date version of Firefox installed (mozilla.org/firefox)
  • Sublime Text text editor (free version is fine, sublimetext.com)
  • If possible, please install wget (gnu.org/software/wget)
  • Other text-mining/web tools of your choice