The Lexicon of Digital Cultures: Organizing Knowledge in Times of Digital Transformation

Tuesday, 20 April 2021 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM CEST

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Tuesday, 20 April 2021 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM CEST

The Lexicon of Digital Cultures: Organizing Knowledge in Times of Digital Transformation

20th April 2021 16,00 - 18,00 CET



  • Dr. Balázs Bodó, Institute for Information Law, University of Amsterdam.



  • Francesca Musiani, National Centre for Scientific Research, Abécédaire des architectures distribuées
  • Edward N. Zalta, Stanford University, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • Hay Kranen, Wikimedia
  • Valeria Ferrari, University of Amsterdam, Glossary of Decentralised Technosocial Systems (Internet Policy Review)
  • Nicolo Zingales, Fundação Getulio Vargas Law School, Glossary of Platforms Law and Policy (Internet Governance Forum)
  • Noopur Raval, AINow Institute, A New AI Lexico


Taxonomies, encyclopedias and glossaries are the legacy of an era - the enlightenment - when knowledge was thought to be describable and depictable in terms of dichotomies and hierarchies. This view of knowledge is assertive and exclusionary; it produces taxonomies and classifications that - as they expand and meet their limits – result to be inconsistent, arbitrary. Collecting, giving meaning and names to objects and phenomena, and organizing the information about them, are exercises of power. What, then, is the function, the utility and the legitimacy of making glossaries and encyclopedias today?

The idea of the Glossary of Decentralised Technosocial Systems arose from the need to define terms that - while being relevant to current discussions about power of/in/over digital cultures - remain ill-defined and contested. The definition of the scope, content and format of the Glossary triggered many questions about the usefulness, feasibility, necessity of such an effort. What gives our project the “authority” to select and define terms in ways that should be accepted by a broader community of researchers? How can our glossary include multiple and diverse academic and nonacademic voices, without losing coherence and soundness? How can the tension between terminological definition and dynamism be resolved?

To find possible answers to such questions, we looked at efforts that share some similarities to ours - projects that were inspirational to our initiative, and projects we discovered along the way. On the occasion of the launch of the Glossary, we invite these projects to discuss how they have addressed, solved or simply thought about these and other questions posed by the fascinating yet problematic task of organizing knowledge.

This roundtable brings together glossaries, encyclopedias or other types of projects that, through different formats and sizes, seek to systematize, organize, update and coalesce discursive fields of knowledge. After a brief overview of each project, we will engage in a structured confrontation asking questions relating to authority, interdisciplinarity, diversity and temporal evolution of glossaries and encyclopedias in times of fast and ubiquitous digital transformation.

Please note: The Zoom link for the event will be shared with registered participants on the day of the event.

Florian Idelberger

Valeria Ferrari, Florian Idelberger and IVIR (Institut voor Informatierecht at University of Amsterdam (UvA))

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