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Cultural Information Science

We live in the information age, causing rapid and fundamental changes in the way we produce, share, and use media and information in both our professional and daily lives. The new information environments are increasingly unbound, unrestricted to spaces of storage or logics of cultural memory. Today digital information is an integral part of sites of sharing, distribution, education, critique, imagination, and artistic activity. Contemporary Information Culture offers unprecedented new opportunities of production, sharing and use of digital information within institutions and society. Heightened risks also exist for the loss of memory. The increasing use of digital media tactically, for social and political activism, as well as corporate and governmental restrictions risks the loss of memorialisation. Social uses of media pose great risks to the loss of information, or its sequestering by government, cultural institutions or corporations.

The program consists of three closely connected areas:

Critical Information Studies focuses on the history, theory and practice of information culture, and its many diverse, heterogeneous and complexly entangled impacts on society brought about by diverse technologies from 19th century office technologies to contemporary distributed big data complexes. Topics include genealogies of records and record management in metadata systems and hybrid documentation; archival and custodial information systems and their impacts on contemporary information access and analysis, conflicts between algorithmic information processing and hacker and maker culture, etc.

Digital information memorialisation explores both the genealogies of archival and institutional curatorial practices on information culture, but also how changing information infrastructures afford different understandings of information, its uses and rights. Digital information memorialisation is concerned with both how memories are constructed, mobilised and preserved in social action, but also how technical and social infrastructures act as constraints and affordances for digital information to act as memorials of our social, political and technical lives.

• The program also comprises a strong emphasis on practice. Information culture is not just something described, but is a performative space where our social and political desires are acted out. Accessing, appropriating, using, transforming, critiquing and reassembling information is both a set of practices to be analyzed and performed. This MA seeks to provide students with both the understandings and critical skills necessary for contemporary information experts and researchers.

The MA in Information Culture at the University of Amsterdam educates its students to understand and engage productively with these new hybrid information spaces by critically exploring and analyzing the social, historical and technical means and consequences of contemporary information culture. Over the course of the program, students become familiar with methods of information analysis, the history of information culture and how to construct and mobilize new digital information as a social resource, thus gaining a deep understanding of the social and cultural consequences of the changing information landscape. The program can be tailored to the specific student interests with electives on topics such as cultural knowledge management, digital heritage, or archival studies.