Woods gives invited international talk on digital media in Hannover, Germany

Sept. 20, 2022

Heather Suzanne Woods, assistant professor of communication studies and associate director for graduate programs and research in the A.Q. Miller School of Media and Communication, gave an invited talk in Hannover, Germany this summer.

Woods, a scholar, teacher and researcher of rhetoric and technology, shared new research on social media, memes and algorithms this summer at a Volkswagen Symposium.

The symposium, titled “Corporations, Communities, Crowds: The Aesthetics of Collective Agency in Twenty-First Century Culture” brought together researchers, practitioners, advocates, artists, and other subject-matter experts to discuss what collective agency might look like given a changing social, political, and technological world. The event was sponsored by the prestigious Volkswagen Foundation, which funds international and interdisciplinary symposia and workshops addressing new scientific ideas and research approaches. The symposium was held at the historic Herrenhausen Palace in Hannover in July of this year.

Woods’ talk, “Algorithmically Together: Collectivity and the Memetic Politics of TikTok” addressed the ways people use social media to find each other, build community, and participate in collective action online and offline. The paper argued that while individuals can engage with social media platforms like TikTok as a tool for building community, technological features like algorithms also play a part in how users experience that community. This talk builds on Woods’ broader research portfolio, which examines how emerging technologies influence (and are influenced by) culture.

“It was an honor to represent the A.Q. Miller School and K-State abroad,” Woods said. “In addition to presenting new research, I was fortunate to meet exceptional international researchers and advocates thinking and working on the cutting edge of knowledge.”

By invitation, Woods has previously presented related research at The Global Forum on AI for Humanity (GFAIH) in Paris, France, which served as a formal launch pad for a Global Partnership on AI as part of G7 strategic initiatives. Woods is currently finishing her second book, on smart homes. Her research is featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Washington Post, among others.

Learn more about Woods' research.