Jana Hecktor, M.A.

Universitätsstr. 105
44789 Bochum
Room: UNI 105, 3/24

Phone: +49 (0) 234/32-27139
E-Mail: jana.hecktor@ruhr-uni-bochum.de

Title of the Dissertation

Documentation of the Future. (Working Title)

Project Description

Algorithms are a fundamental and ubiquitous digital instrument whose impact on the documentary has already received attention with respect to digital media. Developments in machine learning and artificial neural networks mean that relevant algorithms are moving away from pre-determined work steps towards supposedly independent learning and knowledge production. Prognostic algorithms are a special form of this extremely complex system employing algorithmic data processing in order to help understand the future, which to date remains unknown. But how do prognostic algorithms transform specific characteristics of the documentary? This question forms the focus of this doctoral thesis and will be examined in the light of two elementary shifts. On the one hand, the highly complex algorithms can be described as non-human actors whose processing of capturing, storing and above all assessing documentary content have the potential to transform power structures and move the documentary beyond human control. On the other hand, prognostic algorithms expand the purportedly describable temporal levels. Hence in addition to the past and the present, the dimensions of the documentary are expanded to include future possibilities.

Prognostic algorithms are hence used for instance in medicine to predict the course of diseases, by the police in the hope of reducing crime rates, and are an elementary component of navigation systems. The present project will discuss the uses and limitations of this technology and also consider the potential reproduction of existing hierarchies of power and the resulting need for action.


Scholarly Career

  • Since October 2019: researcher (doctoral candidate) in the DFG post-graduate programme “The Documentary. Excess and Withdrawal”, Ruhr University of Bochum
  • 04/2016–08/2019: Master’s degree in Media Studies at the Ruhr University of Bochum
  • 10/2015–03/2016: transitional semester in Information Technology at the Heinrich Heine University of Düsseldorf
  • 10/2011–09/2015: Bachelor’s degree in Media and Cultural Studies at the Heinrich Heine University of Düsseldorf