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Shannon Mattern: "Modeling Doubt, Coding Humility: A Speculative Syllabus"

At a time of increasing artificial intelligence and proliferating conspiracy, faith in ubiquitous data capture and mistrust of public institutions, the ascendance of STEM and declining support for the arts and humanities, we might wonder what kind of epistemological world we’re creating. Prevalent ways of knowing have tended to weaponize uncertainty or ambiguity, as we’ve seen in relation to COVID vaccines, elections, climate, and myriad political scandals. In this talk I’ll sketch out a speculative syllabus for a future class about the place of humility and doubt in various fields of study and practice. We’ll examine how we might use a range of methods and tools — diverse writing styles, modes of visualization and sonification, ways of structuring virtual conversations, etc — to express uncertainty and invite more thoughtful, reflective engagement with our professional and public audiences and interlocutors.

Speaker Bio: Shannon Mattern is the Penn Presidential Compact Professor of Media Studies at Art History at the University of Pennsylvania. From 2004 to 2022, she served in the Department of Anthropology and the School of Media Studies at The New School in New York. Her writing and teaching focus on media architectures and infrastructures and spatial epistemologies. She has written books about libraries, maps, and urban intelligence, and she contributes a column about urban data and mediated spaces to Places Journal. You can find her at

This event is co-organised by the King's College London Department of Digital Humanities, the Centre for Digital Culture and the Digital Futures Institute.

To attend the lecture, please ensure you have registered. The Lecture will be followed afterwards by a drinks reception in the Anatomy Museum.

Event details

Anatomy Lecture Theatre (King's Building K6.29)
Strand Campus
Strand, London, WC2R 2LS