Mirko Tobias Schäfer / Assistant Professor
University of Utrecht Department for Media and Culture Studies


Featured Blog Entries

Date July 2019 / Category News

For our seminar Markets and Corporations in the Open Society, I wrote an article about how social media platforms transform the political debate. Policy makers and journalists often blame social media for disseminating fake news, spreading hate speech, manipulating audiences and creating filter bubbles. However, this techno-determinist view neglects user practices and the role of mainstream media in amplifying social media messages. This article shows why most policy efforts currently underway are ill-informed and will rather limit freedom of speech and access to information.

The article will be part of an edited volume that is about to be published in September at Boom. The book launch will take place during the IOS Toogdag on 12 September.

Date July 2019 / Category News

“Data and algorithms offer many possibilities, but they are not neutral. What you analyse, which algorithms you build, the data you use and what for, these are political and ethical choices. Policy makers are insufficiently aware of this. Furthermore, basic knowledge of data literacy is absolutely necessary for local politicians.” That’s what the Dutch data expert Mirko Tobias Schäfer says in this interview with Bart Van Moerkerke for magazine Lokaal and the Association of Flamish Cities and Municipalities.

More Blog Entries


Date November 2019

One of the annoying and utterly inaccurate frames of smart cities is their alleged efficiency and client-friendlyness. Edited by Mark Graham, Rob Kitchin, Shannon Mattern and Joe Shaw, this book book takes a playful but critical look at cities if they were run by companies.


Date November 2019

This article in the Financial Times covers Wolfie Christl's recent investigation into trackers on health websites. As Christie shows, health websites share detailed information about their visitors with a wide range of third parties.


Date November 2019

Online advertising is mere alchemy. If advertisers blieve hard enough in their return of investment, online advertisement might work (for them). In this fantastic article Jesse Frederik and Maurits Martijn from The Coorespondent shed light on the shady online advertisement industry.


Date October 2019

Through some tweet I stumbled upon this highly informative blog-post by Tim St. Onge about Null Island. This fictive island is very real in the world of geographic information systems (GIS). Errors in geociding can lead to the return of "0.0" but simultanously as this is an actual position of the actual coordinate system, this fictive place becomes what Onge calls "an island of misfit data."


Date October 2019

In this programmatic article, David Berry argues that digital humanities must inquire critically into the epistemic impact of knowledge technology as well as the political and economic context.


Date September 2019

Rachel Thomas reminds us in this article that metrics are always a simplified proxy for something we want to quantify. Allowing aartificial intelligence to take decisions on basis of this limited and simplified information is prone for negative consequences.


Date June 2019

Writer and data journalist Kevin Litman-Navarro read 150 different privacy policies from Facebook, AirBnB, Google but also from media outlets such as the BBC. This article is as informatiev as it is amusing. Using a software to determine the complexity of texts, Litman-Navarro found that of a sample of classical texts only Kant's Critique of Pure Reason is more complex than Facebook's privacy policy.


Date May 2019

This eye-opening interview with Kai-fu Lee, former exec at Apple and Microsoft, ex-president of Google China and venture capitalist, addresses weaknesses of EU's AI strategy. It also reveals the great need for regulation of AI. As EU is talking about ethics in AI, others are completly neglecting the topic and develop solutions that profoundly affect civil rights. EU fails to come to terms here and most importantly fails to develop actual designs that carry and foster the values of the open society. 



Mirko Tobias Schaefer is a researcher in the field of digital culture.

This website provides information on his research interests and teaching activities.




Mirko Tobias Schaefer

Department for Media and Culture Studies

Utrecht University

Kromme Nieuwegr. 20
NL-3512 HH Utrecht

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