Algorithms: The Personal Is Political—An Obermann Conversation

Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
123 Washington St.
Iowa City, IA 52245

Please note the venue change. This event is now taking place at RADinc. at 123 Washington St., downtown Iowa City. 


Algorithms seem relatively harmless—rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer. And yet many of us are increasingly aware of the sway they have over our day-to-day lives, including the news we receive and the people we come into contact with digitally. How are algorithms shifting our access to information and, as a result, what we think about and talk about? Join a software engineer and amateur journalist, a computer scientist, and a communications specialist for this timely conversation.


Tim Havens (Communication Studies, CLAS) and M. Zubair Shafiq (Computer Science, CLAS) will be sharing their research on algorithms and social media. As co-directors of the Personalization Algorithms and Bias in Social Media Working Group, they’re studying how the keywords people use in online searches (e.g., "white nationalism," "pro-immigration") affect their Google news feeds. The two will be joined by co-founder & CEO of Textpress, Aleksey Gurtovoy—a software engineer by trade and an amateur journalist/digital publisher.

About the Presenters

  • Tim Havens's research and teaching interests include television studies; media globalization; race, ethnicity, and media; and critical analysis of media industries. He is the author of Black Television Travels: Media Globalization and Contemporary Racial Discourse (NYU Press, 2013) and Global Television Marketplace (BFI Publishing, 2006); the co-author with Amanda D. Lotz of Understanding Media Industries (Oxford University Press, 2011); and a former Senior Fulbright Scholar to Hungary. 
  • M. Zubair Shafiq is part of the Iowa Informatics Initiative. His research interests are in the broad areas of networking and security, with a focus on large-scale measurement and performance evaluation of mobile networks, content delivery networks, and online social networks.
  • Aleksey Gurtovoy is a co-founder & CEO of Textpress, a young software company working on the intersection of technology and digital publishing, and an editor in chief of Lowercase (, a brand new digital publication covering the ongoing remaking of journalism, publishing, press and media. Aleksey is deeply passionate about freedom of press, quality journalism, and bridging the gap between the publisher, the journalists and their readers. Before co-founding Texpress, Aleksey was the CTO at Workgroups and the co-founder / Head of Product at ProofMe. He is a prolific open-source contributor and was the co-author, with David Abrahams, of a then groundbreaking, internationally renowned book on C++, C++ Template Metaprogramming, published in 2004 by Addison-Wesley.


Co-sponsored by Little Village