interfaceing 2024

From the Invention of Writing to the Emergence of Artificial Intelligence: 
Cultural Approaches to Information Technology

The recent emergence of Artificial Intelligence in public discourse has prompted reactions that range all the way from excitement and optimism to fear and distrust. The prospects of analysing large datasets of texts and images, and of developing new tools for research and teaching, are balanced by the apprehension of exacerbating social inequality, bias, and the erosion of privacy and social liberties.

To a very great extent, the current debate seems to be a new “edition” of a debate that has occurred every time a new form of Information Technology has been introduced. Plato, for example, considered writing as leading to forgetfulness and ignorance and he pointed out its potential for spreading misinformation and manipulating people. Aristotle, on the other hand, saw writing as an essential tool for the pursuit of wisdom as it enables the preservation and sharing of knowledge, and it helps develop one's own thinking; but also for the development of good citizenship. Similarly, the introduction of the printing press in Europe was greeted by a very similar debate. On the one hand, there were those like Erasmus who thought that printing was the greatest blessing; but, on the other hand, there was also the Catholic Church who were apprehensive of typography believed that printers should be tightly controlled. Additionally, there were also people like Guillaume Budé who believed that the printing press was useless and the handwritten books were perfectly adequate for the preservation and circulation of knowledge. The introduction of more recent information technologies such as word-processing and the internet have seen similar arguments arising in the late twentieth century.

INTERFACE, as a multi-disciplinary and multi-lingual journal, feels particularly suitable to convene a conference that will attempt to understand both the present and the past debates concerning the introduction of new information technologies in the light of each other, and to present both retrospective as well predictive accounts of the course of each of these debates. Therefore, we call scholars working in fields such as anthropology, philosophy, history, education, literature, art, politics, sociology, religion, and cultural studies to submit proposals either for panels or individual papers.

Topics for consideration might include (but are not limited to):

  • Information technologies and their effect on patterns of thinking/arguing in their societies
  • Abuses/misuses of information technologies and social response
  • Contributions of information technologies to preservation and dissemination of knowledge
  • Information technologies and the (re)shaping of tradition
  • Information technologies and pedagogy
  • Information technologies and multilingualism
  • Role of information technologies in social exclusion/inclusion
  • The ethics and politics of informations technologies
  • Poetics of/and/in/with information technology
  • Transition(s) from one form information technology to another

Proposals for panels (instructions here) or individual papers of 25 minutes or less (instructions here) should be submitted at by March 23, 2024.

The papers should be presented in any of the following languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Italian.

The conference will take place on August 28-30, 2024 at National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan. It is organized as a physical face-to-face conference; however, it will laso be possible to present and participate remotely.

Papers presented in the conference can be submitted for publication in the Special Topic issues of INTERFACE to be published in 2025 (subject to double-blind peer review).

INTERFACE would like to thank Trier University (Centre for Advanced Studies "Poetry in Transition”), Kobe University (Graduate School of Humanities), University of Bristol (Department of Classics), and Seoul National University (Institute of Classical Studies) for their kind support and co-operation in organizing this conference.

Plenary Speakers

  • Gregory Crane (Tufts University; Director of Perseus Digital Libray) 
  • Silvia Reuvekamp (Münster University, Vice Dean forDigitalization and Development of New Teaching Formats)
  • Sarah Sharma (University of Toronto; Director of the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology)
  • Siva Vaidhyanathan (University of Virginia; Director of the Center for Media and Citizenship)