September 14: 1-2pm.
A growing number of tech insiders are raising doubts about the long term consequences of the mainstream internet, in terms of individual mental health as well as national democracy. The need for a more ethical internet has led some to embrace sci fi imaginings and others to reject digital media altogether. This talk considers the vision of a single platform as instructive for thinking about the future of the web: craigslist. Over its 22 year history, craigslist has grown into a multi-faceted website for local exchanges, which can include buying, selling, hiring, apartment seeking, dating or simply ranting about the neighbourhood. At once outdated and highly relevant, easy to use and easy to overlook, craigslist has mostly stayed the same while the web around it has changed, becoming less open and more profit driven. The design decisions and user policies governing craigslist give shape to particular a form of politics, and examining these rules and norms reveals what we stand to lose if the web continues to become less open, more homogenous and geared towards sleek professionalism over messy serendipity.
Jessa Lingel is an assistant professor at the Annenberg School for Communication and core faculty in the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her PhD in communication and information from Rutgers University. She has an MLIS from Pratt Institute and an MA from New York University. Her first book, Digital technologies and the struggle for community was published in 2017 by MIT Press.