Malte Ziewitz

Malte Ziewitz

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

Office hours: please sign up here

[Research] [Teaching] [Contact] [CV]

I am an Assistant Professor at the Department of Science & Technology Studies at Cornell University with a graduate field membership in Information Science. I study the changing role of governance and regulation in, of, and through digitally networked environments – the dynamics at work, the values at stake, the design options at hand.

My work has been supported by an NSF Career Award, a McCloy Fellowship, a PGP Corporation Scholarship, and grants from the Economic and Social Research Council, the Foundation for the Sociology of Health & Illness, the German Academic Exchange Service, and the NSF. As Principal Investigator, I headed the How's My Feedback? project, a collaborative design experiment to rethink and evaluate online review and rating websites.

Previously, I was a postdoctoral fellow at New York University's Department of Media, Culture, and Communication and Information Law Institute. I also worked as 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. In my previous life, I was a radio reporter, copywriter, and one of the team building Free Cakes for Kids UK.

At Cornell, I am a 2019 faculty fellow at the Institute for the Social Sciences, a participant in the Artificial Intelligence, Policy, and Practice (AIPP) group, and (as my colleague Aaron Sachs would say) a frequent diner at William Keeton House.

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

Feedback Stories: What does it takes to capture the experiences of patients and make them useful for improving care? This project explores how public reviews govern public services, using the example of the British healthcare system. Based on long-term fieldwork with Patient Opinion, a not-for-profit social enterprise that set out to change the National Health Service (NHS) through web-based patient feedback, I follow stories from the beds and living rooms of patients through the database and moderation systems back into the wards and offices of hospitals and trusts. Attending to how stories do their work in different settings and situations, I develop a novel way of thinking not only about claims about accountability, transparency, and participation, but also about the status of experience as a key trope in contemporary governance.

Shadow Cultures: This project explores the kind of work that happens in the shadow of an algorithmic system. How do ordinary users make sense of technologies that are said to be inscrutable? What counts as participation in these systems? What is the role of novel intermediaries that offer users help with 'optimizing' their performance? And what are the implications for ideas of fair representation and due process? Empirically, I have been studying these questions in the context of web search and credit scoring systems.

Algorithmic Dramas: During my fieldwork in the search marketing industry, I became interested in the rise of "algorithms" as a topic and a resource in the social sciences and humanities. In 2011, we organized the Governing Algorithms conference at NYU. I also guest-edited a special issue of Science, Technology, & Human Values on the topic.

How's My Feedback?: This was an ESRC-funded collaborative design experiment to rethink and evaluate web-based review and rating schemes. Specifically, we brought together users, designers, managers, critics, and regulators of review and rating schemes to design a feedback website for feedback websites.

Rethinking Academic Practice: I have long been experimenting with alternative ways of doing and engaging research.


–– Edited collections

–– Journal articles

–– Book chapters

–– Essays & discussion papers

–– Research reports

–– Work in progress

↑ up

Invited talks and conference papers

Conference and seminar organization

↑ up


STS 2761 - Governing Everyday Life

Syllabus | Info sheet | Previously: 2015 | X-listed: 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 | Previously: 2017, 2016, 2015 | X-listed: INFO 3561, VISST 3560, COMM 3560, ANTH 3061

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 | X-listed: 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 | Previously: 2015 | X-listed: 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

Syllabus | Previously: 2015, 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


Graduate Students

Undergraduate students

Visiting students

↑ up

Media reporting, interviews

↑ up


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

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