Malte Ziewitz

Malte Ziewitz

Assistant Professor
Mills Family Faculty Fellow
Department of Science & Technology Studies
313 Morrill Hall
Cornell University

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I am an Assistant Professor at the Department of Science & Technology Studies at Cornell University with a graduate field appointment in Information Science. Broadly based in science and technology studies, ethnography, and public policy, my research revolves around the practicalities of valuation, governance, and accountability in digitally networked environments — the dynamics at work, the values at stake, the design options at hand.

In my recent work, I have been looking at the practical politics of novel review, rating, and ranking schemes in healthcare and search engine optimization (SEO). I am especially interested in the everyday work of establishing, maintaining, and subverting these schemes and how new practices of evaluation challenge our understanding of care, accountability, and governance.

I have also been interested in algorithmic ordering; the history and performativity of internet governance; the nature and uses of "crowd wisdom" in regulation; and computational approaches to privacy. As Principal Investigator, I headed the ESRC-funded How's My Feedback? project, a collaborative design experiment to rethink and evaluate online review and rating websites.

Previously, I was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication and the Information Law Institute at New York University, a McCloy Fellow at Harvard University, and a Junior Researcher at the Hans Bredow Institute for Media Research. I hold a D.Phil. from Oxford University, an M.P.A. from Harvard University, and a First State Exam in Law from the University of Hamburg.

At Cornell, I am a Faculty Fellow at the Cornell Institute for Healthy Futures and a House Fellow at William Keeton House.

See also: Bio | CV (pdf) | Ask me anything

Research interests

Science & technology studies; sociology of (e)valuation; governance and accountability relations; digital media; reviews, ratings, rankings; computational approaches to privacy; ethnography; ethnomethodology

Current projects & fieldwork



–– Edited collections

–– Journal articles

–– Book chapters

–– Discussion papers

–– Research reports

–– Work in progress

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Invited talks and conference papers

Conference and seminar organization

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STS 2761 - Governing Everyday Life

Syllabus | Info sheet | Cross-listed as SOC 2760

Traffic lights, elevators, and recycling bins seem rather boring and irrelevant. Yet, while not usually on our minds when thinking about governance and regulation, these seemingly mundane technologies are important features of our lives. This course will take a closer look at everyday solutions to public problems. Combining hands-on exercises with readings from STS, sociology, and politics, we shall explore the role of everyday devices and technologies in establishing, maintaining, and disrupting social order. How to think about these “small” solutions to “big” problems? What are tools and tricks for analyzing things we take for granted? How might these insights challenge longstanding ideas about accountability, technology, and governance? Working through these questions will be particularly useful for students interested in sociology, design, and public policy.

STS 3561 - Computing Cultures

Syllabus | Previous versions: Spring 2016, Spring 2015

Computers are powerful tools for working, playing, thinking, and living. Laptops, PDAs, webcams, cell phones, and iPods surround us. They are not just devices. They also provide narratives, metaphors, and ways of seeing the world. Computers have a long history in the workplace but, in the last 20 years, they have also become inextricably bound up in all aspects of our everyday lives. This generation of college students is the first for whom instant messaging, mobile phones, and on-line networking are a normal and an essential part of social life. How are the lives of people in the United States and elsewhere changing, for better and for worse, with these technologies? What cultural trends and political forces do they embody? And how could we design, engage, use, or not use them in ways that improve our lives and our societies?

STS 4561 - Evaluation and Society

Syllabus | Cross-listed as SOC 4560, INFO 4561

Evaluation is a pervasive feature of contemporary life. Professors, doctors, countries, hotels, pollution, books, intelligence: there is hardly anything that is not subject to some form of review, rating, or ranking these days. This senior seminar examines the practices, cultures, and technologies of evaluation and asks how value is established, maintained, compared, subverted, resisted, and institutionalized in a range of different settings. Topics include user reviews, institutional audit, ranking and commensuration, algorithmic evaluation, tasting, gossip, and awards. Drawing on case studies from science, technology, culture, accounting, art, environment, and everyday life, we shall explore how evaluation comes to order our lives – and why it is so difficult to resist.

STS 6561 - Technologies of Valuation

Syllabus | Previous versions: Spring 2015 | Cross-listed as INFO 6561

Valuation is a pervasive feature of contemporary life. Professors, universities, hotels, markets, movies, user experience, intelligence: almost everything is subject to some form of review, rating, or ranking these days. This course examines valuation as a key techno-scientific practice and asks how value is established, maintained, compared, subverted, resisted, and institutionalized in a range of different settings. Through a mix of reading, writing, and practical exercises, we shall engage with theoretical, historical, and ethnographic studies of (e)valuation in science & technology studies, but also draw on related areas like economic sociology, the sociology of evaluation, accounting studies, anthropology, and information science.

STS 7111 - Introduction to Science & Technology Studies (with R. Slayton)

Syllabus | Previous versions: Fall 2015, Fall 2014

Provides newcomers to STS an overview of some of the major themes and issues in the field, and an opportunity to investigate how scholars in the field go about their work.



Doctoral students

Undergraduate students

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Popular writing, commentary, interviews

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Malte Ziewitz
Department of Science & Technology Studies
313 Morrill Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853

Tel. +1 (607) 255-3810 (office)