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Wednesday, October 10

9:00am EDT

Digital Research Ethics Collaboratory for Networked Intimate Publics
In The Broken Earth trilogy, science fiction author N.K. Jemisin (2015, 2016, 2017) imagines a subterranean community called Castrima, a hidden place that is built and sustained by the energies and skills of the most powerful, reviled and thus most endangered specimens of humanity: the Oregens. From the surface, Castrima is invisible, buried below ruins. And underground, from the inside, Castrima looks cluttered, chaotic, disorienting: “as if someone found an architect, made her build a city out of the most beautiful materials available, then threw those buildings into a box and jumbled them up for laughs” (2015: 338). Ykka, Castrima’s Head Woman, explains, "This is what we're trying to do here in Castrima: survive. Same as anyone. We're just willing to innovate a little" (2015: 342). Jemisin’s speculative design of Castrima is a place made by and for minoritized subjects to protect their lives, to preserve their knowledge and cultural materials, and ensure their cultural survivance (Vizenor 2008; Tuck 2009).

This workshop will be led by former co-facilitators of the Feminist Technology Network (FemTechNet), collaborators in the Center for Solution to Online Violence (CSOV) and lead investigators of the Digital Research Ethics Collaboratory (DREC). We use the term “minoritized” from the scholarly fields of Indigenous, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, Queer, Sexuality, Trans-, Gender and Feminist Studies, to speak of populations who may not be in the minority at all – indeed, statistically form the majority population in most cases – but whose knowledges, cultural practices, histories and socialities have been consistently undermined, dismissed and rendered insignificant or troubling to the imagined majority (Sedgwick 1990, 2003; Ferguson 2004; Gopinath 2005; Smith 2010; Soto 2010). The infrastructures and networks of intimacy and distributed publicity are central technologies for the sustenance, support, thriving and survivance of minoritized people, knowledges, cultural materials, and chosen communities. These network technologies are too often situated in academic literature and popular discourse as naïvely pre-digital or non-digital, naturally occurring or innate, rather than carefully and strategically constituted, tended-to and transformed with and as new media and communication infrastructures. In this workshop we invite participants to share stories and practices for the ethical research and engagement with minoritized materials and the networked intimate publics that create them. Workshop participants will take turns leading discussions from their own research experiences in attending to the innovations in labour, arts, organizing and research through which technologies for minoritized survivance manifest and mutate.

Like so many researchers we have been caught by the fever to (digitally) archive precarious, precious, minoritized, invisibilized, intimate, forgotten knowledges, scenes, resistance cultures, materials and alternative futures. Bound by their beauty (Siberry 1989), we are also, however, bound by the institutional and platform logics that we hope these archives can transform, and by accountability to the “the people whose belongings have become [our] ‘collections’” (Nowviski 2016). Conventionalised research practices reflect longstanding and ongoing acquisitional, abductive, possessive, extractive practices that bolster these structures, especially the imperialist, settler colonial model of dehumanization, occupation, control, theft, and non-reciprocity (Tuhiwai Smith 2012; Kovach 2009; Moreton-Robinson 2015; Murphy 2014).

This workshop comes from the perspectives that all research structures--not only those primarily oriented within or towards Indigenous communities--need to be reshaped in order to decolonize and unsettle the imperialist university and to dismantle the domination habits of academic knowledge production. Starting with the important work that AoIR collaborators have already contributed to the field of Digital Research Ethics (AoIR 2002; Markham and Buchanan 2012; Zimmer & Kinder-Kurlanda 2017), we invite AoIR-affiliated scholars--especially those of digital culture and researchers building online repositories, exhibitions and other forms of publication of minoritized materials--who are trying to break the habits of extractive and possessive research and publication logics and build-while-we-work-within epistemic infrastructures that acknowledge and jumble existing hiearchives of compensation, credit, value, precarity, security and exposure. Following Jemison’s fictional Castrima, the challenge might be to defend against openness and exposure even in opposition to the institutional logics of our disciplines. This workshop will gather researchers who attend to, and attempt to translate into online information practice, the carefully cultivated tactics and cultures of privacy and counter-surveillance which were, and continue to be, necessary to the survival, and survivance, of minoritized people and cultures.

Wednesday October 10, 2018 9:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 7

9:00am EDT

Exploring the Shifting Sands: Accounting for Evolution during Analysis of Data from Social Media Platforms

The goal of this half-day workshop is to explore the problems of studying social media platforms and social media data, while accounting for their evolution. For example, how should research conducted on a single platform account for differences generated over time, particularly when changes may impact observed results? We focus on how reliance on historical social media data raises questions about the reproducibility of science, the applicability of findings across changing platforms, and issues when applying methods developed for one era of social media to another. We explore how to alleviate data discrepancies by accounting for platform evolution; contextualizing changes to qualify their impact on future research; and evaluating prior research with the appropriate lenses.


Researchers are drawn to the magnitude of social media data available today. Hundreds of studies have been published using Twitter data (Zimmer & Proferes, 2014), as a result of it’s popularity Tufecki (2014) calls Twitter the “model organism” for social media analysis. Yet, Twitter is not a static platform, undergoing numerous changes to its user interface, default settings, affordances for engagement, and algorithms over time. Its API changed each time new data structures were added, and its Terms of Service, Community Rules, and Privacy Policies were collectively revised more than a dozen times.

Twitter data from a decade ago is different than today, and analysis on such data may be inappropriate for current studies. To ignore changes in platform evolution is to compare dissimilar data constructs over time. These questions extend outside of Twitter, for example, Instagram added stories, allowing users to share all posts across a single day. Snapchat added mapping features, later allowing users to access them both inside and outside the mobile application. Rigorous inferences on historical data require an account of platform/data evolution, and a transparent awareness of how this evolution impacts conclusions that we draw from such data.

While social media data used for scientific research opened new opportunities in machine learning and artificial intelligence, allowing for new techniques for investigating large-scale trends, researchers do not systematically address the rapid shifting of the research space. Changing platforms and data restrict conclusions to one point in time, yet researchers do not account for shifts in orientation. How do we account for this amalgamation of data, its evolution and the impact platform and design changes have on the the kinds of data sets produced, analyzed, and the conclusions drawn?

Unfortunately, information about the evolution of these platforms is only available in part. Data such as public tweets, public changes to policy, and visible UI enhancements are disparately available. In contrast, most API, underlying platform performance mechanisms and internal policies that drive system design are private. The lack of systemic information about these changes prevents accurate change comparison. Ultimately, research evolves based on assumptions about the actual state of the data. We will ask participants to tackle the following questions:
- How have changes to social media platforms influenced user behavior and vice versa? That is, can we quantify the effect platform evolution has on its users’ perceptions?
- How have researchers using social media data contextualized or integrated historical research/citations? How can we develop a theoretical basis or methodology to account for historical data?
- How do researchers describe/document the current state of a social media platform under investigation?
- What types of documentation are necessary to account for platform changes over time?
- Are social media platforms comparable at different points in time?

Workshop Structure:

This workshop is structured to facilitate open discussion of the challenges faced by researchers working with social media archives and knowledge produced about social media that has since aged. The workshop will include brainstorming grand challenges to data analysis on shifting platforms; discussions on case studies and hypothetical methodologies for addressing the issues identified; and identifying ideas to contextualize social media data sets.

The workshop will consist of three main parts:
- First, the workshop will open with brief introductory remarks from the workshop organizers and selected participants, laying out what we see as the scope of the problem. (30 minutes)
- We will next conduct a fishbowl session to brainstorm the grand challenges of this area. -

What are the dangers of relying on outdated historical data and how do we address this methodologically? (60 minutes)
- For the third session, we will split participants up into small groups for an interactive session to develop hypothetical approaches to address the grand challenges. (60 minutes)
- Lastly, groups will report back to the audience, identifying the kinds of resources required to make these projects or approaches actually happen. (30 minutes).
- The desired output includes the publication of a prioritized roadmap for future research in this area.

Tufekci, Z. (2014). Big Data: Pitfalls, Methods and Concepts for an Emergent Field. In Proceedings of the AAAI International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM).

Zimmer, M., & Proferes, N. J. (2014). A Topology of Twitter Research: Disciplines, Methods, and Ethics. Aslib Journal of Information Management, 66(3), 250–261.

Wednesday October 10, 2018 9:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 8

9:00am EDT

Media Cloud: Open Source Tools for Researching Digital News Ecosystems

Half-Day Workshop

Max 20 Participants


Anushka Shah and Emily Ndulue

Workshop Goals:

· Introduce participants to news media analysis methods with Media Cloud tools

· Guide researchers through the development of research questions that can be investigated using Media Cloud tools

· Highlight the added value of open source tools for exploring media ecosystems

· Provide participants with the opportunity to join Media Cloud’s network of researchers

In recent years, the abundance of digital data available and the creation of new tools to conduct digital research has transformed media research. Scholars can now easily monitor media coverage about key topics and events, understand public opinion dynamics overtime, and map digital communication networks. However, most of the data and tools available are proprietary and designed for commercial purposes. This workshop highlights the importance of open tools designed for academic and non-commercial researchers, and provides them with the opportunity to learn and use Media Cloud’s open source digital media analytics tools.

Media Cloud, a global archive of more than 760 million news stories - collecting content from 60,000 digital publications daily - is an open source platform developed by Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society and MIT Media Lab’s Center for Civic Media. It currently supports three main tools:
- -Explorer: A tool for querying the database, generate visualizations, and analize attention overtime, language, and geographies.
- -Topics: A tool for sophisticated influence and language analyses that crawls the web to find all relevant content produce hyperlink and language maps.
- -Sources: A tool to manage and understand news sources and collections in the database.

Originally created to evaluate the media’s framing of issues online and to map the information source networks publishing about particular topics, Media Cloud tools are now being used to answer research questions about: how information travels through media networks overtime, which sources are considered to be information authorities and influencers, what is the language used to cover an issue, and how media narratives evolve overtime.

This workshop may be of interest to researchers in the field of media representation and news analysis, digital journalism researchers, and anyone interested in learning more about new metrics for understanding media influence and impact. Media Cloud’s open source tools combine text analytics, entity detection, topic modelling, and network analysis. Researchers are also able to access our data through the public API.

The workshop will consist of four parts:

1. An introduction to digital news media analysis, and the importance of media analytics tools that are open source and available to any interested researcher

2. An introduction to Media Cloud tools, with an overview of our research methodology, the metrics we use, and demonstrations of the capabilities of Media Cloud tools

3. Group collaboration towards the development of relevant research questions that can be explored using Media Cloud tools

4. Guided use of Media Cloud tools to begin answering those research questions

Workshop participants will leave the session with skills needed to examine the Media Cloud source collections, to develop relevant and meaningful queries using the Media Cloud Explorer tool, and to begin running their own experiments using the Topic Mapper tools.

For context, here are some examples of research publications and popular press coverage using Media Cloud tools:

· Harvard Berkman Klein Center, Columbia Journalism Review: Partisanship, Propaganda and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

· PRI’s The World: Millions say #MeToo, But Not Everyone Is Heard Equally

· Washington Post: The mainstream media didn’t care about Puerto Rico until it became a Trump Story

· Journal of Health Communications: Digital Health Communication and Global Public Influence, A Study of the Ebola Epidemic

· First Monday: The Battle for Trayvon Martin, Mapping a Media Controversy On- and Offline

Wednesday October 10, 2018 9:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 6

9:00am EDT

The Medium as Message and Messenger
*Overview and Rationale*

As AoIR was taking shape nearly two decades ago, many of the emerging areas of research clustered around people’s interactions with one another online: how people communicated through the computer; how people formed communities in cyberspace; how people saw themselves through their virtual representations. Many of these core questions regarding new technologies have not changed even as technology has: We still want to know about people’s interactions with one another, the communities they form, and the self they perform. A key part in this research then and now has been the materiality of technology: its affordances, its biases, its (infra)structures, but also its status as human constructed and constantly evolving.

However, within the past few years a significant shift has been taking place within AoIR and across the many fields represented here. Scholars are no longer only interested in how people communicate through technology; they are increasingly taking up questions of how people interact with technology, specifically devices and applications designed to be social and intelligent: algorithms, artificial intelligence, socialbots, robots, and other related technologies. When McLuhan (1994) famously stated that the “medium is the message,” he was making a statement as to the importance of the materiality of the medium. But the medium that McLuhan envisioned was one that carried messages between and among people.

What does it mean for scholars of technology that the medium is now the message and messenger? How do we unfold layers of ontologies in the technologies and how do we account for them? How do we shift our focus from studying interactions through technology to with technology? How do we study the individual, social, and cultural implications of emerging technologies that are made to look and act more-and-more human? What theories do we draw upon to inform our research when so much of our scholarship, even that focused directly on the medium, evolved in a world where humans exclusively communicated? What methodologies are suitable to empirically investigate this shift? What does the future of AoIR look like as research in these areas increase? These are just some of the questions driving this half-day preconference in human-machine communication, or HMC. HMC is an area of communication research focused on people’s direct interactions with technology and the implications thereof. Within HMC the technology is theorized as more than a medium: it is a distinct entity either by design or in the mind of those interacting with it. Scholars of other closely related disciplinary, theoretical, or methodological backgrounds also share an interest in answering these questions.


1. To bring together scholars in this area to discuss shared issues.

2. To raise the salience of the growing importance of this research at AoIR.

3. To provide connections for students and scholars new to this area.


We anticipate the audience will be scholars studying technologies that are designed to interact with people and/or have a degree of agency, including algorithms, chatbots, robots, socialbots, automated news-writing programs, and artificial intelligence. The preconference is intended to enable an interdisciplinary conversation among Internet scholars, across the social sciences, humanities, and technical disciplines. Thus, all disciplines and backgrounds are welcome.


We will have three sessions that serve as a way of orienting people to the event, providing space for people to connect with one another, and creating a dialogue about the future of this work at AoIR.

*Session 1: Chair lightning talks.* Each of the preconference chairs has been active in HMC and related areas of research and is an expert in a particular area. Each chair will give a 2-minute overview of the questions driving their research and how they are attempting to answer them and end their talk with a related provocation.

*Session 2: Birds-of-a-feather breakout:* Participants will be divided into groups based on their area of focus (e.g., algorithms, chatbots, next generation internet infrastructures, social robots, automated journalism, AI as well as related issues, such as ethics or privacy) so that they can discuss shared aspects of their research. Each small group will have a conference chair as a facilitator and will be encouraged to take up the provocations from the lightning talks.

*Session 3: Community Discussion:* During the last session, the entire group will come together to discuss the overarching questions that served as the foundation for this workshop along with any emerging questions or issues that may come up during the breakout sessions.

*Sponsors:* We have secured sponsorships for food and to cover the cost AoIR charges for attendees. Sponsors include EU Next Generation Internet (www.ngi.eu); the Communication and Social Robotics Labs, (www.combotlab.org); Shirley Papé Chair in Emerging Media, School of Journalism and Communication, University of Oregon.

avatar for Steve Jones

Steve Jones

Professor, University of Illinois Chicago
University of Illinois at Chicago - Communication & Computer Science

Wednesday October 10, 2018 9:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond East

9:00am EDT

Digital Methods
This full-day preconference workshop introduces participants to digital methods and their applications in media, cultural and internet studies via a series of short talks, masterclasses, and hands-on methods sessions. The sessions will cover critical topics in Internet Research and related fields, from social media analytics to app studies, fake news and visual social media research. Participants will be supplied ahead of time with learning resources including tutorials, readings and rich media examples. The schedule will also provide opportunities for discussion and practical experimentation. The workshop is designed for internet researchers at all stages of their careers, and will have particular relevance for PhD and early-career scholars. The session will be limited to 50 participants.

Proposed Schedule

Morning sessions (including a break)

Welcome + provocations for Digital Methods and Digital Media

Session 1: Analysing Social Media Data with Tableau

Session 2: The walkthrough method


Afternoon sessions (including a break)

Session 3: Fake News Detection and Network Discovery

Session 4: Instagrammatics and visual social media

Wrap-up discussion

Short abstracts for sessions

Welcome and Provocations for Digital Methods and Digital Media

This introduction sets out the state of play around digital methods and digital media. While some popular platforms, like Twitter, have been extensively studied by internet researchers and offer established methodologies, other platforms create their own ethical, methodological, and conceptual challenges – from Instagram’s changing API access to the prevalence of visual media within digital media communication. The introduction provides provocations for internet researchers, for approaches to digital media research that engage with critical elements of everyday digital media from users to big data to platforms to algorithms.

1. Analysing Social Media Data with Tableau

Especially when working with large social media datasets, visual data analysis is now an indispensable part of the scholarly research and publication process. Data visualisation is able to provide a rapid overview of patterns in the dataset, and to pinpoint specific events and areas that should be selected for further in-depth analysis. The social media data analytics workshop will focus on a key emerging tool for large-scale analysis, Tableau, for processing and visualising large datasets.

2. The walkthrough method for studying apps

Most discussion around digital methods focuses on the analysis of ‘big data’ from social media platforms, but how can we study the platforms themselves? To do so we need to take into account not only their ‘content’ or user ‘behaviors’, but also their socio-technical features, cultures of use, and business models, especially as they co-evolve. However, while software applications (apps) are the site of significant sociocultural and economic transformations across many domains, from health and relationships to entertainment and finance, as relatively closed systems they pose methodological challenges for digital media research. In this session, participants will be introduced to the App Walkthrough, which borrows from digital media culture, User Experience research and STS to undertake an ‘ethnography of affordances’, as part of a broader platform studies approach to mobile dating and hook-up applications. Participants will learn how to establish an app’s environment of expected use by assessing its vision, operating model, and modes of governance. They will also gain hands-on experience using the walkthrough technique to systematically step through the stages of registration, everyday use, and discontinuation to identify the app’s embedded cultural meanings and implied ideal users.

3. Fake News Detection and Network Discovery

The workshop discusses how to study cookies, trackers and third-party elements (using the Tracker Tracker tool) to compare mainstream and so-called fake news sites, thereby detecting differences. It subsequently introduces techniques to reverse lookup Google Analytics and AdSense IDs so as to discover and map fake news websites that are related to each other through ownership. The workshop frames the digital methods for fake news detection and network discovery as contributions to the study and practice of data journalism.  

4. Instagrammatics and visual social media

This workshop’s exploration of visual social media uses Instagram as a focus but with applications beyond this specific platform. Making use of shared elements of social media content, such as hashtags, memes, and formal and informal conventions of communication, the methods used in this workshop position visual social media within the wider social media ecosystem. The workshop provides a hands-on means for approaching visual social media, giving participants the opportunity to interrogate what they might do with such data and what visual media and methods might contribute to research. Critical considerations around coding visual data, dynamic data, archival questions, and ethical issues, including privacy, will guide the workshop discussion.

Wrap-up: Challenges and Futures for Digital Methods

This final session will bring facilitators and participants together to reflect upon the methods introduced in the workshop, and to address challenges and needs for digital methods going forward. This discussion will offer participants additional opportunities to discuss issues and questions relevant to digital methods in their own individual research projects.

avatar for Axel Bruns

Axel Bruns

Professor, QUT
Dr Axel Bruns is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and Professor in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. He leads the QUT Social Media Research Group and is the author of Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond... Read More →
avatar for Jean Burgess

Jean Burgess

Professor and Director, Digital Media Research Centre, QUT

Wednesday October 10, 2018 9:00am - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond West

9:00am EDT

Doctoral Colloquium
Wednesday October 10, 2018 9:00am - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Ballroom East

9:00am EDT

Going live: Exploring live digital technologies and live streaming practices
Preconference Objectives

This preconference workshop, Going Live, will bring together game studies scholars and social media researchers to discuss the increasing popularity of live digital technologies. These technologies include features on social media sites such as Facebook Live, standalone smartphone apps (e.g., Periscope), and websites dedicated to live streaming, such as the gaming platform Twitch.tv.

Although live streaming has been possible for more than a decade (e.g. Senft, 2008), the evolution of recording devices, data transfer speeds, mobile apps, and other digital technologies has contributed to a recent proliferation of live media. Social media plug-ins, such as Facebook Live, encourage spontaneous sharing, but controversial incidents raise questions about what should be shared in a live context. Live streaming game platforms showcase modes of self-presentation and promotion (Consalvo, forthcoming; Consalvo & Altizer, 2017; Consalvo & Sugiarto, 2016), which social media influencers also adopt when broadcasting content to adoring fans (Abidin, 2016; Duguay, forthcoming). Gamers and influencers alike benefit from the commercialisation of these practices, generating revenue from brand promotion and boosting attention to advertisements. It is clear that live streaming and live digital technologies have social, political, economic, and cultural impacts. However, research into these areas is still developing and there have been few opportunities for interdisciplinary dialogue among scholars researching live streaming. This event will consolidate current research and develop future directions.

This full day workshop will consist of paper presentations and a keynote speaker. Via a Call for Proposals, scholars can submit “works in progress” and present these during the workshop followed by detailed feedback sessions. We have confirmed Dr. TL Taylor, Professor of Comparative Media Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as our keynote speaker. Dr. Taylor is an internationally recognized scholar in game studies, having written field-defining books about online games, the rise of competitive esports, and the business of live streaming. Her participation and all workshop expenses will be covered by our own research funds and confirmed funding from Concordia’s Department of Communications Studies. We have sufficient funding to run the event as described, and have applied for funding from Concordia University and will apply for funds from the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to expand the event further, bringing in a plenary panel of experts.

Since this event aims to showcase local research expertise and resources while engaging graduate students, early career researchers, and established scholars in these interdisciplinary fields, we will be holding the workshop offsite at Concordia’s Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology. Milieux houses the Technoculture, Art and Games (TAG) centre, which is at the forefront of research and creation in games studies, digital culture, and interactive art.


8:30-9:00 Registration

9:00-9:30 Welcome

9:30-11:00 Keynote: Dr. T.L. Taylor

11:00-11:15 Coffee

11:15-12:30 Paper Session 1

12:30-1:30 Lunch

1:30-3:15 Paper Session 2

3:15-3:30 Coffee

3:30-4:30 Plenary panel (budget allowing) or additional paper session

4:30-5:00 Wrap up

5:00-7:00 Networking reception

Lunch, reception, and refreshments will be provided through secured funding. If there is an AoIR event in the evening, we will shorten the networking reception and adjust our schedule accordingly.


Abidin, C. (2016). “Aren’t these just young, rich women doing vain things online?”: Influencer selfies as subversive frivolity. Social Media + Society, 2(2), 1-17.

Consalvo, M. (forthcoming). Kaceytron and transgressive play on Twitch.tv. Chapter in Transgressions in games and play, K. Jørgensen and F. Karlsen, Eds, MIT Press.

Consalvo, M. & Altizer, R. (2017). Livestreaming and disability: Reconfiguring play on Twitch.tv. Paper presented at the Association of Internet Researchers annual conference, Tartu, Estonia, October 2017.

Consalvo, M. & Sugiarto, M. (2016). Game over? Not really: Spectating failure on Twitch.tv. Paper presented at the Association of Internet Researchers annual conference, Berlin, Germany, October 2016.

Duguay, S. (forthcoming). “The more I look like Justin Bieber in the pictures, the better”: Queer women’s self-representation on Instagram. In Z. Papacharissi (Ed.), A Networked Self: Platforms, Stories, Connections, Routledge.

Senft, T. M. (2008). Camgirls: Celebrity and community in the age of social networks. New York: Peter Lang.

avatar for Mia Consalvo

Mia Consalvo

Concordia University
Mia Consalvo is Professor and Canada Research Chair in Game Studies and Design at Concordia University in Montreal. She is the co-author of Real Games: What's Legitimate and What's Not in Contemporary Videogames (2019) and Players and their Pets: Gaming Communities from Beta to Sunset... Read More →

Wednesday October 10, 2018 9:00am - 5:30pm EDT
Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology 1496, rue Saint-Denis, Montréal

9:00am EDT

The Cultural Life of Machine Learning: An Incursion into Critical AI Studies
Machine learning (ML), deep neural networks, differential programming and related contemporary novelties in artificial intelligence (AI) are all leading to the development of an ambiguous yet efficient narrative promoting the dominance of a scientific field—as well as a ubiquitous business model. Indeed, AI is very much in full hype mode. For its advocates, it represents a ‘tsunami’ (Manning, 2015) or ‘revolution’ (Sejnowski, 2018)—terms indicative of a very performative and promotional, if not self-fulfilling, discourse. The question, then, is: how are the social sciences and humanities to dissect such a discourse and make sense of all its practical implications? So far, the literature on algorithms and algorithmic cultures has been keen to explore both their broad socio-economic, political and cultural repercussions, and the ways they relate to different disciplines, from sociology to communication and Internet studies. The crucial task ahead is understanding the specific ways by which the new challenges raised by ML and AI technologies affect this wider framework. This would imply not only closer collaboration among disciplines—including those of STS for instance—but also the development of new critical insights and perspectives. Thus a helpful and precise pre-conference workshop question could be: what is the best way to develop a fine-grained yet encompassing field under the name of Critical AI Studies? We propose to explore three regimes in which ML and 21st-century AI crystallize and come to justify their existence: (1) epistemology, (2) agency, and (3) governmentality—each of which generates new challenges as well as new directions for inquiries.

In terms of epistemology, it is important to recognize that ML and AI are situated forms of knowledge production, and thus worthy of empirical examination (Pinch and Bijker, 1987). At present, we only have internal accounts of the historical development of the machine learning field, which increasingly reproduce a teleological story of its rise (Rosenblatt, 1958) and fall (Minsky and Papert 1968; Vapnik 1998) and rise (Hinton 2006), concluding with the diverse if as-yet unproven applications of deep learning. Especially problematic in this regard is our understanding of how these techniques are increasingly hybridized with large-scale training datasets, specialized graphics-processing hardware, and algorithmic calculus. The rationale behind contemporary ML finds its expression in a very specific laboratory culture (Forsythe 1993), with a specific ethos or model of “open science”. Models trained on the largest datasets of private corporations are thus made freely available, and subsequently détourned for the new AI’s semiotic environs of image, speech, and text—promising to make the epistemically recalcitrant landscapes of unruly and ‘unstructured’ data newly “manageable”.

As the knowledge-production techniques of ML and AI move further into the fabric of everyday life, it creates a particularly new form of agency. Unlike the static, rule-based systems critiqued in a previous generation by Dreyfus (1972), modern AI models pragmatically unfold as a temporal flow of decontextualized classifications. What then does agency mean for machine learners (Mackenzie, 2017)? Performance in this particular case relates to the power of inferring and predicting outcomes (Burell, 2016); new kinds of algorithmic control thus emerge at the junction of meaning-making and decision-making. The implications of this question are tangible, particularly as ML becomes more unsupervised and begins to impact on numerous aspects of daily life. Social media, for instance, are undergoing radical change, as insightful new actants come to populate the world: Echo translates your desires into Amazon purchases, and Facebook is now able to detect suicidal behaviours. In the general domain of work, too, these actants leave permanent traces—not only on repetitive tasks, but on the broader intellectual responsibility.

Last but not least, the final regime to explore in this preconference workshop is governmentality. The politics of ML and AI are still largely to be outlined, and the question of power for these techniques remains largely unexplored. Governmentality refers specifically to how a field is organised—by whom, for what purposes, and through which means and discourses (Foucault, 1991). As stated above, ML and AI are based on a model of open science and innovation, in which public actors—such as governments and universities—are deeply implicated (Etzkowitz and Leydesdorff, 2000). One problem, however, is that while the algorithms themselves may be openly available, the datasets on which they rely for implementation are not—hence the massive advantages for private actors such as Google or Facebook who control the data, as well as the economical resources to attract the brightest students in the field. But there is more: this same open innovation model makes possible the manufacture of military AI with little regulatory oversight, as is the case for China, whose government is currently helping to fuel an AI arms race (Simonite 2017). What alternatives or counter-powers could be imagined in these circumstances? Could ethical considerations stand alone without a proper and fully developed critical approach to ML and AI? This workshop will try to address these pressing and interconnected issues.

We welcome all submissions which might profitably connect with one or more of these three categories of epistemology, agency, and governmentality; but we welcome other theoretically and/or empirically rich contributions—spanning qualitative and quantitative, from the ethnographic to the (digital-)historical—to the emergent critical study of contemporary machine learning and AI.

Wednesday October 10, 2018 9:00am - 5:30pm EDT
Non-Sheraton Based Program

9:00am EDT

The Museum of Random Memory: A Critical Data Literacy Workshop + Exhibition
This workshop is the first of a two-part event showcasing a social research experiment in citizen engagement in data literacy, called "Museum of Random Memory" (MoRM). MoRM is an interactive exhibition performed by (in this case) a team of researchers, students, activists, artists, computer scientists, and other “uncurators.” MoRM exemplifies the meeting point of digital and material culture with a particular focus on activism through critical pedagogy.

MoRM facilitates media, data, and digital literacy by engaging citizens about the topic of memory in the digital era. The exhibition itself can be large or small, in museums, libraries, classrooms, or at festivals. On the surface, the interactive event is a playful engagement where visitors are encouraged to donate memories to the museum’s collection and view their memories alongside other donations. Below the surface, MoRM generates critical consciousness about multiple aspects of datafication, data collection, management, and storage, big data, and corporate colonization of our personal data and memories through the seamlessness of apps and platforms on our digital devices.

At this half-day preconference, we introduce MoRM as an arts-based public effort for critical data literacy; discuss the pedagogical and conceptual underpinnings of MoRM, describe how previous exhibitions were conducted (Barcelona, Aarhus Festival of Research, Counterplay Festival in Denmark, and Il Berneto in Italy); and invite/train workshop participants to be “uncurators” with us at an exhibition later in the AoIR conference (as an experimental session). The last stage of the preconference workshop will be to visit the exhibition site and walk through last minute logistics.

MoRM has been, to date, a successful public engagement project. Organized by both longtime and new AoIR members, it is driven by the ambition to reach beyond the academy as activists and public educators. The theoretical foundations of MoRM have been formed by a confluence of multiple disciplines/areas of study, from critical pedagogy/popular education (e.g. Paulo Freire) and media literacy (e.g. Sonia Livingstone); to theories of affordances (e.g., Anne Helmond, Taina Bucher), articulation and assemblages (e.g., Jennifer Slack & Greg Wise); and platform infrastructures (e.g., Jose van Dijck). The point of MoRM is not to collect empirical data about digital culture but to disseminate the findings of the past twenty years of internet research, promoting data literacy among the public.

Let’s talk about the interactive exhibition itself: MoRM is targeted to a general audience. Using many different visual displays, verbal prompts, and the lure of ‘something is happening here,’ we engage citizens/visitors in conversation about how the use of digital media platforms and technologies impacts the shape of our future memories and cultural heritages.

The focus on 'memory' allows us to engage people in thinking about larger and more complex sociotechnical relations. The idea of ‘random memory’ gives visitors an easy access point, since the phrase is playful, sparks curiosity. As we draw visitors further into the exhibition, we get them to explore their devices to find a memory to donate. As they do so, we engage them in conversation about how they are generating and storing huge quantities of data.

The exact way that MoRM operates depends on location, scale, and target group, but the following description is representative of what happens: We tell visitors we’re collecting memories to add to our museum and invite them to participate. As they’re looking for some object, idea, or image to donate, we encourage them to sign our 30-meter Terms Of Service agreement (a long scroll hangs from the ceiling. In 4point font, it’s nearly impossible to read). Laughing alongside participants, we invite them to reflect on how we sign impossibly long and unreadable TOS. Continuing, we invite them to tell the story behind the donation, either on paper or through our online interface. They are invited to talk further with ‘uninterpreters.’

In previous iterations of MoRM, we have found that digital, media, or data literacy emerges as we involve participants in conversation, asking questions such as: What is the process of remembering and forgetting in the digital age? How are memories archived for us by digital platforms like Facebook and Google? Could we be more critical and conscious of how our future heritage is being created, not only by us but by many automated features of new tech? 100 years from now, what will archaeologists find to teach them about what happened back in 2017? What would we like them to find? How can we use everyday memory-making practices to consider possible socio-technical futures?

MoRM is part of a Danish Research Foundation funded grant led by Annette Markham. The central team includes social media researchers, artists, museum curators, filmmakers, and activists.

FYI: We will execute the necessary logistics for the exhibition in advance of AoIR, with the help of AoIR members at Concordia University and elsewhere. We are working to secure an exhibition space nearby the conference location that will host the AoIR attendees. We would like to offer the interactive exhibition as an evening event for AoIR, separate from the conference dinner or opening reception, possibly prior to or after one of the keynotes.

Wednesday October 10, 2018 9:00am - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 4

2:00pm EDT

A Learning Expedition Through Montreal's Third Places
Learning expeditions and collaborative knowledge research are but a few of the terms used to describe open walked event-based experimentations (OWEEs). Born out of a desire to transcend traditional practices of academic writing and conference attendance, OWEEs seek to create, through action-oriented work and collaborative methods, innovative learning times and novel sharing spaces. In short, to try to "think otherwise" by changing the way we learn. Combining ethnography with more transformative research designs, learning expeditions contribute to the understanding of knowledge production and sharing through a three-pronged conceptual approach (de Vaujany, 2018): 1) corporeal engagement and embodiment through walking and moving within a space, 2) performativity and visuality of public space-time and, 3) assemblage of narratives and engaged texts. Within this theoretical framework, learning becomes a constructed relationship, a process of "making" rather than "imparting." Learning is based on shared practices and supported through web-enabled networked productions and texts. A learning expedition brings together people of different scholarly communities through the exploration of third places (spaces and times that are separate from home and work) and creative workspaces (co-working spaces, makerspaces, fab labs). Bricolages, improvisations and guided visits coexist within a set time and are linked together through the act of walking to, discussing while and sharing online.

It is in the context of this new form of research culture and knowledge production that the Laboratory on Computer-Mediated Communication (LabCMO in French) proposes an AoIR preconference workshop. LabCMO is a research and sociotechnical experimentation space gathering scholars (students and professors) from diverse disciplines and interests (participatory culture, social computing, civic engagement, free software and citizen science…) around the broadly defined field of computer-mediated communication.

Within the AoIR 2018 theme of Transnational Materialities, LabCMO proposes an immersive half-day walked afternoon event focusing on the study of third places whose mandates intersect art, technology, and emerging digital practices. Through walking and talking, our learning expedition will cut across many of Montreal's iconic quarters, allowing the participants to follow the cultural and social evolution of the city, from the early immigrant neighborhoods to the technological and artistic centres that characterize it today. Our first stop will be Montreal's original fab lab, échoFab, located in the heart of the Innovation District of Montreal, Griffintown. échoFab is a community-based digital workshop experimenting with various digital manufacturing approaches. Our second stop will bring us to NOMAD Nation, a creative co-working production studio situated by the railroad tracks of the Mile End District. Led by Moment Factory founder Jason Rodi, NOMAD Nation houses a creative community specializing in live streaming and digital broadcasts. Our expedition will end at a makerspace, Eastern Bloc, located in the heart of Montreal's Little Italy. Eastern Bloc explores new modes of production centred on audience participation, technological democratization, and the utilization of urban space. For those who wish to stay on longer, two additional preconference workshops will be joining our group for a "synergistic happy hour" (5 pm to 7 pm) where all participants will be invited to continue the conversation by sharing, reflecting, discussing and analyzing their days learning experiences.

Learning expeditions are also meant to encourage natural knowledge production, and accordingly include an unstructured documenting feature that will flow out of the collective experience. Participants will be invited to share what they are experiencing, seeing and learning throughout the expedition. OWEE events are "happenings," therefore social media will be used to document the event in real time. Participants will create "metatexts," allowing other participants as well as viewers to share the experience in real time. These online traces will also allow all to revisit the day and the events afterward.

The core expedition team will be composed of Nina Duque and Rémi Toupin, respectively PhD candidates in Communication Studies and Science and Technology Studies at University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM), along with the two LabCMO codirectors, Florence Millerand, full professor in Communication Studies at UQAM, and Guillaume Latzko-Toth, associate professor in Communication Studies at Laval University. A team of volunteer students will accompany the group to help curate the event.

Attendance is limited to 15 participants and registration is mandatory. Please send your requests to info@labcmo.ca with the subject header: Learning Expedition Registration.

avatar for Florence Millerand

Florence Millerand

Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada

Wednesday October 10, 2018 2:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Non-Sheraton Based Program

2:00pm EDT

A primer in automating visual social media
Proposal for a half-day Pre-Conference workshop for up to 30 participants

Workshop Title: "A primer in automating visual social media analysis with deep learning techniques"

Organisers: Fabrizio Poltronieri & Max Hänska

Workshop Description:

With contemporary online communications increasingly generating large volumes of visual data, scholars face the challenge of retrieving, wrangling, and analysing visual social media content at scale. Indeed, visual social media is attracting increasing attention in the field (Highfield & Leaver, 2016; Svensson & Russmann, 2017). While 'big data' techniques for analysing textual content (e.g. topic modelling) are already wide-spread, and quite advanced, similar techniques for analysing visual social media content (e.g. memes, images, videos) are nascent, and have not yet been widely deployed. How can we analyse visual social media content, given that the sheer volume of visual material requiring our consideration vastly exceed the strictures manual analysis impose on the amount of material that can realistically be analysed? This workshop offers an introduction and overview to available deep learning techniques for automating visual analysis, an introduction to tools for retrieving social media images, and the opportunity to plan an image retrieval, processing, and analysis pipeline. The workshop will focus on the following:
- Tools and techniques for image retrieval, ingestion, and processing:

The workshop will introduce participants to the parameters of the Twitter, Instagram, and Flickr APIs for image collection and retrieval. The workshop will also introduce online tools and software packages for retrieving images from these various APIs, including Echosec (https://www.echosec.net), Netlytic (https://netlytic.org), Nvivo, and Boston University BU-TCAT.
- Deep Learning techniques for image classification:

The workshop will Introduce the basic principles of using machine learning algorithms to train Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN) for image classification, the requirement of training data sets (including recommended parameters for the training data), and machine learning libraries (e.g. TensorFlow and Nvidia Digits). These techniques are particularly useful for researchers who want to train their own neural network to perform basic image classifications at scale, who have specific classification needs, and who have access to appropriate training data.
- Cloud-based visual analysis tools:

Researchers who want to avoid training their own Neural Network, and require standard descriptions of visual material (including images and videos) can also rely on a set of cloud-based computer-vision toolkits for image analysis. These typically perform, inter alia, object recognition (does visual material depict people or animals, men or women, does it contain obscenities, etc.). The advantage of these services is that they generally offer much greater level of granularity than can be achieved through a self-trained CNN, though they are mostly not designed for highly specific classification needs. We will focus in particular on the operation, and output of following APIs: Amazon Rekognition, Google Vision, IBM Vision Recognition, and Microsoft Azure.

Organiser Bios:

Fabrizio Poltronieri is an award-winning computer artist (some of his works are included in the collection of London's Victoria & Albert Museum). His artistic practice applies machine and deep learning techniques to the production and design of narratives, moving images and objects. He is has extensive programming experience, and has worked with computer vision techniques for over a decade. Currently Fabrizio is a Lecturer in the Institute of Creative Technologies at De Montfort University, he holds a PhD in Semiotics and a BSc in Mathematics.

Max Hänska is a Senior Lecturer in Digital Journalism at De Montfort University, and has extensive experience working with Twitter data on European politics (including the use of geocoding toolkits), the Brexit referendum, and other political events. He also has a longstanding interest in the way visual social media content is used in newsrooms to report breaking stories. He holds a PhD in Media and Communications from the LSE. Max and Fabrizio are collaborating on a project that automates the analysis of visual social media content.

Wednesday October 10, 2018 2:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 8

2:00pm EDT

Early Career Scholars
This half-day workshop brings early career scholars together to address unique issues they face, develop strategies to achieve career goals, and foster a professional network. We define early career scholars as people who have finished the requirements for their terminal degree but have not advanced to the next level in their field or industry (i.e. post-docs, non-tenured faculty, junior industry researchers). AoIR’s strength is its communication. Now in its third year, this workshop acts as a way to foster community among emerging scholars and to create bridges between junior and senior scholars. We aim to continue working toward making this community as inclusive and representative as possible.

The workshop addresses both challenges and opportunities unique to early-career researchers in the many fields and forms of scholarship represented at AoIR. First, we have to negotiate the transition from graduate student to early career professional that requires a higher level of autonomy and the challenge of figuring out the pragmatic and social aspects of a new work environment. Second, we must work quickly to establish ourselves in our fields and, often, secure funding. Third, we have increased service responsibilities. Fourth, after being guided by our advisors and committees for several years, we quickly move from mentee to mentor for our own students. Fifth, we must learn to navigate moving to the next level of our careers while ensuring time with family and friends. Being a junior scholar also comes with unique opportunities that we also will explore. While recognition of internet scholarship has come a long way since AoIR’s inception, junior scholars still may find themselves facing certain hurdles in gaining recognition for their research (i.e. subject, method, etc) in terms of promotion. In fact, some of the challenges we face also are opportunities to work towards changing the ways in which internet scholarship is perceived and valued within the academic structure.

The issues we will cover depends greatly on the participants. AoIR is an international and diverse organization, and we know that our experiences as scholars and educators vary by country, institution type, and field and are framed by our own identities (race, gender, etc). Our goal is to discuss shared challenges and opportunities while understanding differences so that we can build our own professional networks at the same time that we create a diverse and inclusive community of scholars who will eventually become future career mentors within AoIR.


Based on feedback from the 2017 workshop, we will maintain last year’s three-session format while making important adjustments to the content of those sessions. We will open with an activity for generating questions/concerns/issues relevant to junior scholars that participants would like addressed during the first session. That first session will consist of a fish-bowl discussion for workshop participants. This discussion is intended as a get-to-know others event as well as an opportunity to discuss the issues and opportunities we face collectively. The second session will be a panel of established scholars (equivalent of associate or full professors in the U.S.) who can share their insight and experiences.

Our goal in recruiting panelists this year is to be responsive to the needs of the different types of junior scholars participating in the workshop. We hope to engage more industry and humanities scholars this year. The organizers will start the panel with questions drawn from the first session. In the final session, participants will form small groups with a senior scholar to address topics relevant to them (type of institution, academic system, etc). Time will be left for follow-up questions and group discussion. We also are planning an informal social activity following the workshop.


This workshop is geared toward early career scholars who have their terminal degree.


1) Provide a space for the next generation of AoIR scholars to start building strong ties with each other, more established researchers, and the AoIR community.

2) Promote understanding of the breadth of academic work, including our shared experiences and differences.

3) Connect with established academics to build a stronger communities of support for our careers.

4) Develop strategies to build and maintain a junior scholar community outside of the annual conference.

Wednesday October 10, 2018 2:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond East

6:00pm EDT

Welcome Reception

Wednesday October 10, 2018 6:00pm - 7:00pm EDT
UQAM 1496 St Denis St, Montreal, QC H2L 2C4, Canada

7:00pm EDT

Territorial Acknowledgement and Indigenous Welcoming Ceremony


Vicky Boldo

In-house Cultural Support Aboriginal Student Resource Centre Concordia Co-Chair Montreal Urban Aboriginal Community Strategy NETWORK

Wednesday October 10, 2018 7:00pm - 7:15pm EDT
UQAM 1496 St Denis St, Montreal, QC H2L 2C4, Canada

7:15pm EDT

White Supremacy - It's Not Just for People Anymore!

avatar for Jason Lewis

Jason Lewis

Research Chair in Computational Media and the Indigenous Future Imaginary, Concordia University

Wednesday October 10, 2018 7:15pm - 8:30pm EDT
UQAM 1496 St Denis St, Montreal, QC H2L 2C4, Canada
Thursday, October 11

9:00am EDT

Drug markets and anonymizing technologies
Online drug markets taking advantage of social media and encryption software (e.g. Tor network) and cryptocurrencies (e.g. Bitcoin, Monero) to conceal the identity and physical location of their users are a relatively new area of internet research. Yet, a range of socio-technical innovations have contributed to the proliferation of drug markets on the Internet. Due to the illegality of drugs and drug dealing are anonymizing technologies regarded as important socio-technical practices among its participants allowing to mitigate risks of vendors and customers when exchanging drugs. This panel draws together a number of leading scholars in this emerging area of research to explore questions and issues associated with online platforms enabling illicit transactions. The collection of papers in this panel contribute empirical data and theoretical insight on a range of relevant topics in the study of online drug markets, including methodological challenges, social embeddedness, trust production and governance on cryptomarkets. Various papers in this panel propose new concepts for understanding cryptomarkets as social phenomena where relationships enable economic transactions. It also pluralizes trust building on online platforms and, expanding it from merely institution-based mechanisms to include social relations such as interpreting signs and signals or previous interactions between buyers and sellers. They also expand on reliability of data gathered via anonymous online interviews, drawing attention to participation of marginalized communities. The aim of this panel is to bring together new research to further our understanding of the overall impact of online platform emergence upon global drug markets and to better model their impact on drug dealing, online networks and society in general.


Thursday October 11, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Salon 4

9:00am EDT

More Than Meets The Eyes: The Lens of Visibility in Internet Research
The objective of this panel is to examine the analytical and empirical relevance of the “visibility lens” for Internet research. In the past decade, researchers have started to take a specific interest in the constitutive role of online visibility in the organization of social reality. Studies have underlined the fundamental role of visibility afforded by digital technologies in the social recognition or exclusion of individuals, groups, and communities. They have also identified visibility and its management as being constitutive of social identities, relations, and practices among actors in a variety of fields. So far, Internet researchers have provided various definitions and operationalizations of online visibility. For example, visibility can be apprehended as both a political lever for individuals and collectives or as a conceptual category for researchers to make sense of social reality. Visibility is also frequently associated with digital materiality. As such, it is sometimes used as a criterion to categorize digital technologies regarding the control they allow for users to manage and disclose personal contents or activities. Furthermore, visibility can also be conceptualized as an affordance that is enabled by the functionalities of digital technologies and enacted through their situated uses. In this panel, presenters will raise theoretical, methodological, and ethical issues linked to visibility by drawing from a series of case studies. They will then draw similarities and contrasts between cases, as well as discuss the implications and, indeed, the relevance of formalizing the lens of visibility in the field of Internet research.

avatar for Claudine Bonneau

Claudine Bonneau

Assistant Professor, ESG-UQAM
social media at work, collaborative work, OSS & open innovation
avatar for Mélanie Millette

Mélanie Millette

Professor, UQAM

Thursday October 11, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Salon 7

9:00am EDT

Politics, Activism and Trolling on the Russian Internet
In the years that have passed since the social media powered protest movement of 2011-2012, the Russian government has dramatically expanded its restrictions on the Internet, while simultaneously consolidating its grip on traditional media. The Internet, which long provided a space for alternative media and free speech to blossom, is becoming increasingly restricted by a growing corpus of legislation and expanding state surveillance. With legally ill-defined prohibitions on, e.g., offending the feelings of religious believers, propagating 'non-traditional family values' and disseminating 'extremism' in place, online freedom of speech in Russia is at threat. Meanwhile, the Russian state continues to refine its skills in covertly manipulating online discourses, as it has quite successfully practiced it since the 2000s.

Yet, because of its transnational configuration, the Internet continues to evade comprehensive state control and offers ever new opportunities for disseminating and consuming dissenting opinions. Developments over the past year, including the series of anti-corruption mass protests organised by opposition leader Aleksei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, have demonstrated how online challenges to the status-quo are still able to gather momentum and create 'real world' political turbulence. The panel presents a multifaceted investigation of how the Russian-language segment of the Internet, often dubbed Runet, is shaped by and gives shape to online politics and activism. How should we understand the particular complexities of these contestations between an increasingly authoritarian state and its citizens? How are these processes facilitated or hampered by the infrastructural conditions created by national and global media industries and internet companies?

avatar for Jeremy Hunsinger

Jeremy Hunsinger

Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada


Thursday October 11, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Drummond Centre

9:00am EDT

Streaming as transnational industrial and cultural logic in television, music, film, and publishing
The internet forms the backbone of streaming services, opening for global networks of television, film, music and publishing. In this panel, we understand ‘streaming’ not in the limited understanding of a certain form of file transfer, but as a cultural logic, implying immediate access to vast collections of cultural works. We bring together four papers that together argue that streaming could on one hand be considered a coherent cultural logic across industries, while on the other hand it covers industry-specific industrial logics and arrangements of revenue collection and rights management.

Streaming services such as Spotify and Netflix are currently replacing the sale of CDs and DVDs with streamed music and audiovisual drama. Amazon, along with multiple national and regional competitors, are attempting to attract book buying customers to their digital subscription-based offers. While we move from retail-based culture industries to access-based options financed by subscription fees or advertising, we are also witnessing a move from national industries to increasingly transnational ones, dominated by global players such as YouTube, Netflix, HBO, Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon. These internet services are not only altering the culture and media industries but are important in the lives of billions of audience members worldwide.

There have been a number of studies of separate streaming services in recent years, (see, e.g., Burgess & Green 2009, Hagen 2015, Cunningham, Craig & Silver 2016, Finn 2017, Lotz 2017, Spilker 2017), but few have studied streaming as a cultural logic across traditional industries, and while there have been a larger number of studies on music, very little is yet published on streaming services for ebooks and audiobooks. There has also been more focus on algorithmic recommendations than on other parts of the technologies involved. While streaming constitutes a distinctly recognizable cultural practice, it plays out differently in different media industry contexts. This panel present and discuss recent results from several kinds of studies, thus painting a broad picture of streaming services in television, music, film and publishing.

Paper 1 presents the overarching perpective, through a discussion a possible consistent theory of streaming and its material and cultural implications across media industries. The authors discuss consumer experience, business practices, and textual implications in the music, film, and television industries to examine how established uses, production practices, and media content have been affected by internet distribution. They find notable consistency in the consumer experience across media, but limited convergence in business practices across media industries.

Paper 2 presents a study of streaming service technologies as actor networks, pointing to how it is crucial that we understand the technology and business setups of these companies, if we are to learn more about issues such as network neutrality, platform economy, and small-nation popular culture in globalised world.

Paper 3 takes as its topic the cultural logics of music streaming and the practice of Spotify playlist curation. Music is currently the media sector where streaming has taken its firmest hold. Departing from a corpus analysis of Spotify playlists, the authors explore the ways in which platform interface, affordances and data cultures influence music sharing as a cultural practice.

Publishing is not always included when streaming services are on the agenda. Paper 4 puts this right and presents how streaming services for audio books and ebooks have emerged, using Sweden and Norway as cases to explore the national and transnational dynamics of streaming in the book industry. The paper asks why the market for streaming services for ebooks and audio books in Sweden and Norway is comparatively scattered. The streaming book market is discussed in relation to book industry and book trade dynamics, streaming culture in the Nordics and with reference to concepts of cycles of openness and consolidation in internet industries.


Burgess, J., & Green, J. (2009). YouTube: Online video and participatory culture. Cambridge: Polity.

Cunningham, S., Craig, D., & Silver, J. (2016). YouTube, multichannel networks and the accelerated evolution of the new screen ecology. Convergence, 22(4), 376-391. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/1354856516641620

Finn, E. (2017). What algorithms want: Imagination in the age of computing. Cambridge, Massachusettes: MIT Press.

Hagen, A. N. (2015). The playlist experience: Personal playlists in music streaming services. Popular music and society, 38(5), 625-645. doi:10.1080/03007766.2015.1021174

Lotz, A (2017) Portals: A Treatise on Internet-Distributed Television. Ann Arbor: Maize Books.

Spilker, H. (2017). Digital music distribution: The sociology of online music streams. London: Routledge.

avatar for Jean Burgess

Jean Burgess

Professor and Director, Digital Media Research Centre, QUT
avatar for Anders Fagerjord

Anders Fagerjord

University of Oslo

Thursday October 11, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Salon 8

9:00am EDT

Transnational and Post Humanistic Perspectives on Human-Machine Communication
The proliferation of artificially intelligent robots and virtual agents raise practical, technological, and ethical considerations in the emerging area of human-machine communication (HMC) research. The topics in this panel span agriculture and environmentalism, gender and sexuality, collective identity and culture, memory and data migration, and relational development with social robots. The panel discusses ways in which technology serves as solutions to and causes of new transnational challenges for networked publics, as well as ways technology is supplanting what has historically been referred to as the “natural.” The goal of this panel is to demonstrate the diverse applications of robotics, as well as foster an open-mindset for reconceptualizing humanity in a post-human world.

Specific panel presentations discuss:
- Honeybee colony collapse in agriculture and artificial pollinators known as Robobees.
- Industry recommendations for the development of ethical and successful caretaking robots for aging populations based on interpersonal communication scholarship.
- Asymmetrical relationships and ethical implications of elevating sexbots to human status from the theoretical perspective of Rousseau’s natural self.
- Digital interlocutors as scripted-selves that co-produce and standardize cultural norms.
- Transference of human memory to cloud-based memory through voice commands as the foundation for algorithmic future-thinking.

These research topics identify the importance and relevance of scholarship in the area of HMC and advocate for their inclusion in the conceptualization, prototyping, and creation of robotic and AI technologies. This panel offers an opportunity to engage in a necessary, provocative, and timely discussion about HMC and the role of critical scholarship in shaping technologies of the future.

Thursday October 11, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Salon 6

9:00am EDT

Affect, Community and the (dis)Connectivities of Queer Digital Media Practices
Jenny Sundén
In this paper, my intent is to explore the intricate relation between technological materiality and affect by considering questions of digital vulnerability – of disconnections, breaks, and delays – as a way of rethinking our intimate attachments to digital devices. By extension, I also wish to connect this argument with a framework of queer theory, as an opportunity to think differently about intimate relations through questions of technological ruptures and deferrals. My baseline for this endeavor is the idea of the break as formative for how we can both sense and make sense of digital connectivity, in so far as the break has the potential to bring forth what constant connectivity means, and how it feels. Similarly, the break can potentially make tangible relational norms around continuous, coherent, and linear ways of relating and connecting, and thus provide alternative models for ways of being with digital devices, networks, and each other. Based on a Spinozian understanding of ‘sad’ and ‘joyful’ affects and encounters, I focus on the intense layering of anxiety and anticipation within networked connectivity, and how a break feels different from a delay, or a postponement. The kind of disconnect that keeps someone hanging in midair could be a place or a moment for breathing more easily, by consisting of a temporary slowing down of the pace with which affective connections and relations are made. But it could as easily be a place for holding one’s breath, a heightened kind of tension as technologies and relations momentarily get stuck.

Paul Byron, Brady Robards, Son Vivienne, Benjamin Hanckel, Brendan Churchill
Tumblr is an important source of information and support for queer and gender diverse young people. Data from a study of Australian LGBTIQ+ young people’s social media practices will be used to consider the role of Tumblr in young people’s negotiations of gender and sexual diversities. Participants often described Tumblr as a crucial site for learning about gender and sexuality, where anonymity afforded a feeling of safety in negotiating one’s identity/ies. In comparison to other social media platforms, participants described Tumblr as offering more intense experiences of peer interaction and self-discovery, and as being pivotal in learning to embrace their queerness and/or gender identities. For many, Tumblr offered a space to work through feelings and experiences, and to build and maintain an affective space of support. Participants also used Tumblr for self-reflection, with several using the platform to record and track their feelings and experiences, affording a sense of movement and self-development. This paper considers how these accounts of Tumblr question a common discussion of the platform as transnational ‘community space’. We argue that a ‘queer communities’ focus within Tumblr research may misrepresent the interpersonal and affective aspects of Tumblr use among many LGBTIQ+ young people.

Colten Meisner
Drawing on an analysis of 91 YouTube videos, this study calls into question the role of "live reaction" coming out videos in commodifying queer identity. Understanding coming out videos as materialized expressions of identity, this study advances the notion that self-branding practices have encroached on even the most sacred of subjects: the queer master narrative. Upon examining how authenticity, voyeurism, and virality impact content creation in this study, practical implications for queer digital laborers are considered.

Avery Phelan Dame-Griff
This paper considers the pragmatic process and methodological challenges of archiving and researching the early LGBTQ Net. Drawing on my experiences building an archive of early LGBTQ-specific groups and forums online, I analyse 3 barriers to researching computer networks before the rise of the commercial internet: identifying forums, limited digital traces, and the ethics of sharing archival information. For each barrier, I discuss methodological challenges and identify possible solutions. Traces of the LGBTQ “Net,” I argue, can be found throughout the robust LGBTQ print culture of the time, from newspaper clippings, advertisements, classified listings, reprints of digital materials in group newsletters, and contemporaneous (and rapidly outdated) “web guides” like Jeff Dawson’s Gay & Lesbian Online.

However, this collection and identification raises important ethical questions about users’ right to privacy. In building an archive, users’ assumptions of “security through obscurity” on a pre-indexed web do not always hold, since deeply personal information can appear in archival content. Given these concerns, I argue for adopting an ethic of care, which focuses attention on the context of the content and its impact in the wider world. As an example, I look to the Zine Librarians’ Code of Ethics as a practical implementation of this ethic. Based on this discussion, I conclude with a preliminary LGBTQ “net history” derived from my current work. As I find, the early LGBTQ maintained deep connections to existing community infrastructure. These users built a Net that understood their needs, interests, and desires as not only unremarkable but worth celebrating.

Thursday October 11, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Salon 5

9:00am EDT

Ambivalent Affordances: Women, Harassment and Empowerment Online
Shandell Houlden, George Veletsianos, Jaigris Hodson, Chandell Gosse
Online spaces have become powerful locations for developing and disseminating research, both in terms of connecting with colleagues and students, as well as with the broader public. While researchers have noted the many positive impacts that the Internet offers to scholarly practice, online spaces can be notoriously unwelcoming to marginalized people, including women. In this study, we conducted 14 semi-structured interviews with women who self-identified as scholars having experienced online harassment. Throughout the interviews, participants described numerous coping strategies.

Participants employed multiple coping strategies. We categorized these strategies based on individual responses, and what those responses suggest about an interviewee’s orientation toward the harassment. This accounts for the potentially conflicting use of coping strategies as these strategies are employed with different ends in mind. The scholars who were interviewed coped with online harassment by engaging primarily in reactive, problem-focused coping like self-protection and resistance, and emotion-focused coping, like acceptance, and more negative experiences of coping like self-blame. No single individual engaged in one single strategy, while nearly all of them engaged in at least two of these approaches.

The main coping themes that emerged were self-protection, resistance, acceptance, and self-blame. While efforts to engage in emerging forms of scholarship that include digital and networked means are often seen with a positive light, this research demonstrates the contested terrain that some scholars face online.

Chandell Enid Gosse, Jaigris Hodson, George Veletsianos, Shandell Houlden
This paper contributes to understanding the impact of online abuse and harassment on women scholars. We draw on data collected from 14 interviews with women scholars from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, and report on the types of supports they sought during and after their experience with online abuse and harassment. We found that women scholars rely on three levels of support: the first level includes personal and social support (such as encouragement from friends and family and outsourcing comment reading to others); the second includes organizational (such as University or institutional policy), technological (such as reporting tools on Twitter or Facebook), and sectoral (such as law enforcement) support; and the third includes larger cultural and social attitudes and discourses (such as feminist support and the mantra ‘don’t feed the trolls’). While participants relied on social and personal support most frequently, it was also common to rely on multiple supports across all three levels. We use an ecological model as our framework to demonstrate how different types of support are interconnected, and suggest that support for targets of online abuse must integrate aspects of all three levels.

Priya Kumar, Anatoliy Gruzd, Philip Mai
According to a 2015 report released by the UN Broadband Commission’s Working Group on Gender, 73% of women across the globe have been exposed to some form of violence online. Much of the current understanding of online VAWG and its psychological and cultural impacts have focused on Western democracies. This study analyzes VAWG in a non-Western context, in India, a country with a population of 1.2 billion. We focus on 101 Indian women of influence—politicians, journalists, celebrities, and businesswomen—leaders who may experience a disproportionate amount of online violence and abuse compared to men. We employ a mixed-methods approach, combining automated text analysis, manual content analysis, and social network analysis. Data was collected in November 2017 (study period), comprising of 931,363 tweets mentioning at least one of the women from our sample. The research shows different women of influence receive different types of online harassment. Women politicians receive offensive tweets that engage in explicit swearing and ‘Islamophobic’ slurs, commonly expressing discontent based on public policies, statements and agendas. Businesswomen conversely receive offensive tweets insulting financial decisions, investments, and partnerships. Offensive tweets received by women celebrities are more gendered and sexualized, engaging in body/‘slut’-shaming behaviours. Women journalists receive more direct forms of online sexual harassment and ethnic/racial slurs, often based on their social commentary. The research provides new methodological and empirical insights on the challenges associated with online VAWG. Failure to acknowledge this rising global problem may hinder women’s participation in public life, which carries lasting socio-political, and economic impacts.

Tannaz Zargarian
Access to the Internet in 1998 created a unique sphere encompassing both public and private characteristics while offering a new form of communication, identity, and political participation (Rheingold 2000). As a result, access to the Internet provided women with an alternative way of defying the traditional masculine culture through "connection and communication" and "identity transformation" (Nouraei-Simon 2005).

The Internet ameliorated Iranian women's ability to contribute to the accelerating development of an online culture that offers a significant change to the definition of empowerment as it shifts the boundaries of the public and private realms, allowing Iranian women to seek self-determination despite Islamic ideology (Jones, 1997).

This work shows how the weblog has become one of the key tools to challenge social barriers in the quest for Iranian women's rights (Sreberny & Khiabany, 2010). This paper will critically examine the use of weblogs by some Iranian women to break the gender oriented restrictive rules imposed upon them by the patriarchal elements in higher education by exploring how and in what ways women advocate for their own and others' rights and equality?

This paper incorporates a critical textual analysis of primary and secondary academic sources. It integrates a critical feminist approach and have collected data from the work of female scholars, activists, bloggers, and filmmakers and have brought forth the unheard experiences of some Iranian women in higher education.

avatar for Anatoliy Gruzd

Anatoliy Gruzd

Associate Professor, Ryerson University
Canada Research Chair in Social Media Data Stewardship, Director of Research at the Social Media Lab (http://SocialMediaLab.ca/), Associate Professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University

Thursday October 11, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Drummond East

9:00am EDT

Big Data, Platform Power and Citizenship
James Michael Meese
This paper presents early stage findings from a research project that explores whether the provision of data access addresses concerns that have emerged with regards to data collection by private and public actors. Using the recent right to data access secured by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as a point of departure, I examine Facebook and Twitter’s response to these regulations through the lens of their data access policies and processes. I analyse what sort of data is made available and assess what benefit the public gains from having access to their social media data. I then offer a conceptual intervention through a comparative analysis of the divergent approaches two jurisdictions take to data access. I compare the GDPR with an ongoing debate around the introduction of a consumer data access right into Australian law and analyse how these divergent legal traditions and public discourses alter the conceptualisation and enacting of the data access right (and digital rights more generally). This paper provides a timely examination of a right that has emerged in response to the increased datafication of society. As well as offering a detailed analysis of how social media platforms have responded to the data access provisions within the GDPR, the comparative analysis of the EU and Australia shows that significantly different legal foundations can animate this right, ultimately presenting two starkly different visions of internet users as either consumers or citizens.

Lina Dencik, Arne Hintz, Joanna Redden
The use of data scores to profile and rank citizens, often by attaching suspicion and risk to people without their knowledge, represents a concrete manifestation of datafication that people recognize as problematic in tangible terms, making it a useful entry-point for investigating an abstract topic that remains under-reported and poorly understood. In this paper we present the findings from a one-year project funded by the Open Society Foundation that has sought to interrogate government uses of data scoring in the UK by combining different methods and lines of inquiry. The project combines computational methods (following the model used for the Algorithmic Tips project led by Nick Diakopolous) with desk research (media reports and Freedom of Information requests) and semi-structured interviews with practitioners from government departments and local authorities and experts from civil society and the technology industry. Looking across different sectors, including education, social welfare, children’s services, immigration, health and crime, the paper will present an interactive map produced as part of the project. In presenting this map, we will outline the role of data scores in the allocation of services and risk assessments in UK public services.

Molly Rebecca Sauter
This paper is a philosophical intervention in “big data” methodologies as they are deployed in electoral and representative politics in the West. This paper stakes out a phenomenological, critical perspective regarding the claims made by companies like Cambridge Analytica and the potential or reasonably foreseeable impacts of those claims and promises on democratic processes. Elish and boyd referred to these claims and promises as “the magic of big data” (Elish and boyd, 2017). This paper argues that the claims made by companies like Cambridge Analytica regarding the predictive modeling of individuals and populations in the context of Western electoral and representative politics can be read as a reflection of how the subjects of these big data analytics projects are viewed by those conducting the research, and the entitlements held by advertisers, tech firms, and researchers who deploy big data analytics in support of political campaigns or other political projects. This paper puts the claims of Cambridge Analytica other companies into dialogue with phenomenological arguments regarding the necessity of the encounter with the other, particularly claims like Kelly Oliver’s which advocate encounters that surpass or are “beyond recognition” (Oliver, 2001), meaning those encounter which jolt the participants out of habitual mental and social conversion of difference into assimilated familiarity.

This paper argues that the use of “big data” in politics strips its targets of subjectivity, turning individuals into ready-to-read “data objects,” and making it easier for those in positions of power to justify aggressive manipulation and invasive inference.

Katherina Drinkuth
The paper uses a relational autonomy model (McKenzie and Stoljar, 2000) to highlight sharing and communicating as central preconditions to autonomy. Autonomy is depicted as inherently relational, and constituted within, not outside of, relationships with others and the material world. With social activities increasingly taking place online in algorithmically mediated environments (Newell and Marabelli, 2015; Taddeo and Floridi, 2015) social media platforms and their algorithms then become relevant sites for, and actors in, the constitution of personal autonomy.

The constant algorithmic mediation of the contemporary everyday (Willson, 2017) is not a mere extension of previous social processes shaping individuals' lives, but involves unique distorting factors at the structural level: novel types of big data knowledge and algorithmic logic. The paper explores how online autonomy is both enabled and constrained by social media algorithms as technological and material presence (Beer, 2017) and as socio-technical concepts.

Thursday October 11, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Ballroom East

9:00am EDT

Politics, Joy and Resistance in Black Cyberculture(s)
Jessica H. Lu, Catherine Knight Steele
On February 13, Brittany Packnett, activist and co-founder of Campaign Zero tweeted, “Some folks really want activists to be sad, angry, depressed, never smiling, broke and downtrodden everyday. I don't get it.” She went on, “Love is resistance. Joy is resistance.” Through Critical Technocultural Discourse Analysis (Brock, 2016), we argue that Black users’ intentional deployment of joy online is a rhetorical strategy that utilizes the affordances of digital platforms to disrupt the conflation of blackness with death and dying. We begin by tracing the consumption of Black death narratives in contemporary media to the omnipresent threat to Black life normalized by American chattel slavery. The rhetoric that shapes and innovates digital platforms today is grounded in subversive strategies fostered before and during enslavement. We then analyze how Twitter and Vine users engage two hashtags, #CareFreeBlackKids2k16 and #FreeBlackChild, to disrupt dominant narratives in four ways: defying threats against black life; disproving the “menacing threat” of blackness; challenging the survival vs. freedom binary; and imagining black futures. Black users’ expressions of joy and pleasure online underscore the dynamic power of African American rhetorical practice, and highlight the ways in which Black oral culture leverages the affordances of digital platforms to foster resistance discourse.

Briana Nicole Barner
In this “golden renaissance” of podcasting (Berry), the election of Trump is a particularly important moment to examine the significance of the platform—as an archive, but also as a medium of resistance, particularly when hosted by individuals who hold marginalized identities. Podcasts hosted by people of color, or “podcasts of/in color” provide a significant site of analysis for the development of political thought and resistance, especially during monumental political and social change. Using three episodes from the podcasts “Politically Re-Active,” “The Read” and “The Black Joy Mixtape,” this project will explore political thought and consciousness in podcasts, positioning them as alternative counterpublics. I am interested in examining the ideologies present in each of the episodes, how their marginalized identities are positioned throughout the episodes and also the value in having Black public spaces, which I am positing defines the Black podcast.

This project will utilize Brock’s critical technocultural discourse analysis (CTDA) to analyze three episodes of three podcasts. CTDA “combines interpretive methods (discourse analysis) and theoretical frameworks (e.g. critical race or feminist theory” (Brock, 2) and applies them to information and communication technologies (ICTs). I will also utilize textual analysis of each of the episodes and any significant social media postings. Sarah Florini’s notion of Black audio enclaves and Melissa Harris-Lacewell’s theorizations about Black public spaces will also be useful theories for this work.

Thursday October 11, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Ballroom West

9:00am EDT

Privacy Booth
_*PrivacyBooth*_ is an experimental method of research creation to learn more about the future of privacy, digital culture, and the networked society.

We propose a small installation in the form of a _speaker’s booth_ which invites participants to share/tell a one-minute story about privacy and/or their perceptions and negotiations with digital privacy policy. *Be Public About Privacy!*

_*PrivacyBooth*_ is a stable structure built with a wood frame and completely free-standing. A Bluetooth enhanced camera mounted inside the box records one-minute after a participant pushes a button onscreen. Research ethics and informed consent information, as well as prompts are located inside the booth. Participants may share multiple stories. The booth provides information about digital privacy policy literacy, including creative commons licenses (i.e., CC BY SA NC) and information about alternatives to current digital privacy practices. Detailed information about how digital files will be used is included in ethical protocols. _Ultimately we seek to understand how people perceive privacy and negotiate with digital policies._

This project experiments with mixed-methods, including user-driven qualitative strategies and digital storytelling methods. Any participant contributions in_*PrivacyBooth*_ may be included in research, education, and pedagogical initiatives. Logged video may be integrated with other digital stories (Gubrium 2009; Cunsolo et al. 2013) to explore the role policies play in digital practices and negotiations. Stories may also be taken up in pedagogical initiatives aimed at fostering critical awareness about issues including commodification, surveillance, and intellectual property.

Storytelling has a long history of use in communication studies, English, history, psychology, and across art forms (Knowles 2004; Margolis and Pauwels 2011; Bates 2013; Garner and Scott 2013), and are linked to such issues as social justice, well-being, civic engagement, and social acceptance. Further, Noyse (2004) demonstrates how the use of digital tools complement other methods. Following Noyse, our use of video and audio illustrates a strong degree of reflexivity—by making participants’ bodies audibly, visibly, and viscerally present.

All stories are housed on a project website and uploaded to a digital repository at the University of Guelph library. Participant stories are clearly marked for public consumption via a Creative Commons license and assessed for detailed content, discourse, and semiotic analysis. Sánchez-Navarro & Aranda (2012) researched how digital media-making functions as tools for sociability, leisure, and informal learning; further, the tools people use are instruments for social relationships (Antheunis et al., 2009), identity management (boyd, 2007, 2014; Valkenburg and Peter, 2011, 2013), and potentially engender digital divides (Notten et al., 2009). The research team plans to assess contributions to understand how people perceive privacy and negotiate with terms of use and other digital policies.

According to Montgomery (2015), social networks have given people “an illusion they can control their privacy”. No matter what people tell pollsters, many of us share a great deal of private information online. _*PrivacyBooth*_aims to contribute to Shade and Shepherd's (2013) call for a framework of digital policy literacy that counters and resists the “often–cynical attitude" people display towards the exploitation of their private lives.

Thursday October 11, 2018 9:00am - 5:00pm EDT
Located near the registration tables on the Ballroom Foyer

11:00am EDT

Material Impact
With the rise of 'research quality frameworks' and 'impact agendas', university-based internet researchers are increasingly required to position themselves and their research in terms of benefit to local policy and governance structures. This fishbowl brings together researchers from Australia, Canada and the UK to share diverse experiences of research consultancy and collaboration in a range of government, non-government and not-for-profit settings - including school-based 'sext education', digital LGBTQ health outreach, data literacy training and e-safety policy development. Each facilitator will offer a brief case study/provocation exploring the material realities of collaborative and applied interdisciplinary work.

For example: how can researchers move from a space of critique to pragmatic collaboration? How can organisations that primarily see digital technologies as EITHER pathologised and pathologising sources of misinformation and 'toxicity' OR economical delivery systems for expert advice and self-tracking be persuaded to think differently?

As universities are called upon to demonstrate 'real world outcomes', it is likely more academics will be called on to grapple with these questions - consequently we seek to promote skill-sharing and build the foundations of a shared language to promote support and recognition at institutional and national levels, and to forge networks that will help emerging and established scholars deal with opportunities and challenges presented by interdisciplinary collaborations and consultancies.


Kath Albury, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia

Jean Burgess, Queensland University of Technology, Australia

Paul Byron, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia

Ben Light, University of Salford, UK

Katie Warfield, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Canada

avatar for Jean Burgess

Jean Burgess

Professor and Director, Digital Media Research Centre, QUT

Thursday October 11, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 4

11:00am EDT

Asking Questions of Digital Culture: Exploring Vernacular Culture Via Web Archives
The web has significantly blurred lines between vernacular cultures and mass culture. Increasingly, records of what would have been fleeting or ephemeral exchanges and interactions of everyday people are born digital. People create and share memes, they deploy reaction GIFs in dialog, they participate in a range of rolling conversations across a wide range of forums and sites. In recognition, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress began to collect, preserve, and provide access to traces of these vernacular cultural exchanges in the Web Cultures Web Archive (https://www.loc.gov/collections/web-cultures-web-archive/about-this-collection/).

In this paper, curators and stewards growing the archives provide a conceptual context for folklife web archiving and then describe three scenarios for how researchers exploring digital culture could work with the archive to answer questions about vernacular culture.

The Library of Congress has been archiving born-digital web content since 2000. Thousands of sites have been preserved in a variety of event and thematic web archives on topics ranging from the United States National Elections, the Iraq War, Webcomics, and the events of September 11. At the same time, the Library is increasing its capacity to provide tools, infrastructure, and technical details to enable computational use of its vast digital holdings. Raising awareness of these digital collections among internet researchers and understanding their specific collections and access needs are critical to the growth and success of these efforts.

Thursday October 11, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond East

11:00am EDT

Computing Anxiety
This panel investigates various manifestations of cultural anxieties about technology. Separately, the authors consider how familiar sociotechnical constructs - the digital footprint, the hackathon, the hacktivist mask, and the hoodie - become symbols through which technologies are understood. Together, the authors consider how these fears are manifest in cultural constructions about those who use technology - people imagined alternately as at risk and disruptive, enterprising and threatening. Papers employ different methodologies (critical cultural analysis, textual and film criticism, and ethnography) to investigate how these cultural anxieties are constructed in and from different places (Mexico, the United States, the United Kingdom). But all four papers investigate how cultural agents-such as metaphors, fashion, films, and hackerspaces-work to nurture and materialize particular anxieties about computing and ameliorate others.

This panel is about ideas, but it is not about "free-wheeling discourse" (Wood, 1998, 399). On the contrary, these papers illustrate how computing cultures connect with the material world of computing and how cultural representation are grounded in institutions, industries, and commodities. The first paper illustrates how the object of the mask in the popular film and novel V for Vendetta worked to inoculate those affiliated with Anonymous from the charge of terrorism. The second paper explores how metaphors including "digital footprint," "digital tattoo," and "digital döppelganger" lend materiality to anxieties about digital traces and visibility, thereby driving the industrialization of online identities and the expansion of markets for image management. The ethnographic research in hackathons and "hacker schools" in the third paper illustrates how meaning is constructed within these spaces and how it ripples through social structures in Mexico. By showing how the British think differently about computing and civic cultures, the fourth paper illustrates how Silicon Valley's unofficial corporate uniform-the hoodie-has taken on different cultural meanings in the United States and United Kingdom, affecting the very structure of the agencies in charge of government computer infrastructures.

Seen together, these papers illustrate the ways that popular images of computing focus on particular anxieties and away from others - the ways it directs and deflects attention. In understanding the cultural assumptions encoded in the artifacts under examination, each of these papers creates space for alternative imaginaries about computing. The first paper considers the different ways we might have understood Anonymous had V for Vendetta not become one of its primary cultural frameworks. Metaphors that embrace a shared notion of risk, the second paper argues, might allow us to rethink norms of personal responsibility around digital privacy. In the third paper, the author suggests manifestations of hacking in Mexico might offer alternative definitions of success than those dominant in Euro-American communities. By showing how the British think differently about computing and civic cultures, the fourth paper pushes beyond American valorization of Silicon Valley and the demonization of government.

Ultimately, through an examination of their role in the production, shaping, and altering of anxiety, this panel illustrates why computing cultures matter.

Thursday October 11, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Ballroom West

11:00am EDT

Mobile Technology and Access: Four material approaches that re-contextualize the digital divide
The digital divide is a loaded term, which has been exhaustively discussed and defined in several different contexts (Harambam, Aupers, & Houtman, 2013; Ragnedda & Muschert, 2013; Van Dijk, 2006). Originally meant to refer to those who had or didn't have access to the internet (haves vs. have-nots) (Epstein, 2011), the term has developed into a more nuanced concept that encompasses issues of power, capital, and modernization, what Sassi (2005) has called "the strong hypothesis." Mobile technologies particularly complicate the notion of the divide, because they extend the places from which the internet can be accessed, giving us the false perception of ubiquitous, homogeneous, and instant access (Miller, 2007).

Mobile phones have been analyzed as bridging the digital divide (Pearce & Rice, 2013; Rice & Katz, 2003) because they have provided many people in the world with the first internet connection (Horst, 2011). However, although the mobile phone penetration rate has increasingly grown in the developing world (Donner, 2015), internet access is still far from being homogeneous, and it is naïve to pretend that it will ever be. Avoiding a technocratic perspective, this panel analyzes several contexts in which mobile technology access influences and is influenced by culture, mobility, and power. We explore mobile technology access via four interconnected perspectives. We start with a historical perspective by presenting how socio-economic inequalities played a role in the first ten years of development of mobile telephony in Brazil. We explore the historical context in which a politics of privatization and neoliberalism shaped early access to mobile phones in the country, focusing on Rio de Janeiro, the first city to have mobile service in Brazil. Mobile technology access in Brazil originally took place in large urban centers like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, and still, urban areas around the world have better connection infrastructure and therefore more users. As a result, we next move to a study of mobile technology access in the rural US, namely Robeson County in North Carolina. We discuss how limited infrastructure and mobile internet access in rural regions impact the physical and communicative mobility of disabled populations within those regions. Mobility is also transnational, and in the next paper we discuss how mobile internet access shapes the migration experiences of Syrian refugees along with the (negative) public perceptions of Syrian refugee access to smartphones. Finally, we expand the focus from mobile and smartphones to natural user interfaces (NUI). These technologies, which may be viewed as part of the infrastructure of the so-called internet of things (Ashton, 2009), have contributed to increase data connection nodes expanding the access to hybrid spaces (De Souza e Silva, 2006). In this paper, we explore NUI as assemblages that encompass the materiality of the interface, cultural norms, power infrastructures, and usability to discuss how these new mobile technologies are influencing access to the internet.


Ashton, K. (2009). That 'internet of things' thing. RFID Journal, 22(7), 97-114.

De Souza e Silva, A. (2006). From cyber to hybrid: Mobile technologies as interfaces of hybrid spaces. Space and Culture, 9(3), 261-278.

Donner, J. (2015). After Access: Inclusion, Development, and a More Mobile Internet. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Epstein, D. (2011). The analog history of the "digital divide.". In D. W. Parks, N. W. Jankowski, & S. Jones (Eds.), The long history of new media: Technology, historiography and contextualizing newness (pp. 127-144). New York: Peter Lang.

Harambam, J., Aupers, S., & Houtman, D. (2013). The contentious gap: From digital divide to cultural beliefs about online interactions. Information, Communication & Society, 16(7), 1093-1114.

Horst, H. A. (2011). New Media Practices in Brazil | Free, Social and Inclusive: Appropriation and Resistance of New Media Technologies in Brazil. International Journal of Communication, 5.

Miller, H. J. (2007). Societies and cities in the age of instant access. In Societies and cities in the age of instant access (pp. 3-28): Springer.

Pearce, K. E., & Rice, R. E. (2013). Digital divides from access to activities: comparing mobile and personal computer internet users. Journal of Communication, 63(4), 721-744.

Ragnedda, M., & Muschert, G. W. (2013). The digital divide: The Internet and social inequality in international perspective (Vol. 73): Routledge.

Rice, R., & Katz, J. E. (2003). Comparing internet and mobile phone usage: Digital divides of usage, adoption and dropouts. Telecommunications Policy, 27(8/9), 597.

Sassi, S. (2005). Cultural differentiation or social segregation? Four approaches to the digital divide. New Media & Society, 7(5), 684-700.

Van Dijk, J. A. (2006). Digital divide research, achievements and shortcomings. Poetics, 34(4), 221-235.

Thursday October 11, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 7

11:00am EDT

Space, Place and Materialities of the Digital
Samuel Thulin
This paper addresses the coming together of soundscape studies and the internet. Since its beginnings in the 1960s soundscape studies has been concerned with the sonic environment globally, and with local, contextual aspects of sound, pointing to the material circumstances in which it is produced (Truax, 2001), while critiquing circulations of de-contextualized sound recordings (Schafer, 1977). Drawing on work in new materialisms (Barad, 2003; Coole and Frost, 2010) and sonic geography (Gallagher, Kanngieser, and Prior, 2016), I ask how the combination of sound’s material connections and online presence might reveal insights on the materiality of sonic practices, and how it might create productive frictions for thinking through relationships between distant places. Examining online sound maps and arguing that the apparent self-evidence of the relationship between audio-file and location needs to be questioned, I draw attention to the importance of the biases of sound maps and the fictional sound worlds that are created through the intentional and unintentional particularities of platforms. I investigate an accidental collection of sounds in the sound map view of one of the largest sound-sharing platforms – Freesound.org – to show the disjuncture between the material circumstances of a place represented by the map and the processes of sharing uploaded audio files. Rather than suggesting the unreliability of online sound maps for continuing the project of soundscape studies, I argue that this platform glitch provides a provocation for considering how the online circulation of audio files brings places into complex relationships rather than representing places.

Sharon Strover, Alexis Schrubbe
As community anchors and public spaces, libraries are in unique positions to serve emerging 21st century information needs for the unconnected. Some libraries have extended their technology offerings beyond basic computers and Internet to include mobile hotspot lending, which allows patrons to "take home" the Internet from the library. The research in this project examines hotspot lending programs undertaken by the Maine State Library and the Kansas State Library across 24 different libraries in small and rural communities. In the United States, rural areas tend to have lower Internet adoption because many communities face considerable barriers to competitive and fast Internet service, exacerbated by the fact that rural communities tend to be older, of lower-income, and less digitally skilled. This research examines the role of library hotspot lending and how free and mobile-based Internet connects rural communities and serves their information needs. Through qualitative and quantitative assessments this research details the scope and efficacy of programs to reach publics, the impact that rural hotspots have in communities, and the larger information and communications ecosystem in these rural communities in Maine and Kansas.

Rae Moors
This paper explores the social media activism that emerged from Flint, Michigan in the wake of the 2016 national news coverage of the Flint Water crisis. Utilizing a critical technocultural discourse analysis, this paper argues that these practices can be understood using a critical logic of connectivity: a logic that combines the connective and co-constitutive features of social media with material implications for discourse, identity, and power struggles. It finds that Flint citizens leveraged the connective features online media platforms and practices to reclaim authority over their own place and identity, and thus shape their material existence. In the case of Flint, these practices coalesced around three major themes; 1) their campaigns leverage social media in order to forward a critique of deficient journalistic storytelling; 2) they use the affective process of storytelling via social media to claim authority over their own material offline existence, and 3) they use their place-based exigency to implicate others as a witness via the global network of social media. In closely analyzing the critical logic of connectivity that features in these three themes, this paper contributes to an understanding of how communities in crisis mobilize globally networked online media in order to fulfill the needs of highly local, material existences.

avatar for Steve Jones

Steve Jones

Professor, University of Illinois Chicago
University of Illinois at Chicago - Communication & Computer Science


Thursday October 11, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 5

11:00am EDT

Trolls, Leakers, Vigilantes
Luke Heemsbergen
This paper is concerned with mapping the socio-material ecosystems of online leaks projects that followed WikiLeaks. The period of initial popularisation/infamy of WikiLeaks (2006-2015) correlates with an emergence of over 90 less-known radical online disclosure projects designed to "Kill Secrets" (Greenberg 2012). We offer the first systematic study of the decentralised and widely disparate ecosystem of leaks projects to build a taxonomy of leaks sites (n:94) from various observable socio-technical vectors. Affordances tied to user and technical practice, vectors such as self-identified thematic focus (issue, region, etc.), and measures of publication efficacy for each site are all open coded to discern patterns and clusters of practice.

Analysis then shifts to mapping of visible interrelationships between sites via social network analysis (SNA) for further insight to the ecology of leaks sites. Taxonomy over typology signals observing material practice without predetermined ideal type, and normative links to agonistic democratic theory. At a macro level our findings suggest, an ecology of leaks sites blossomed and died, with only a handful of sites remaining online, or having ever actually functioned. Micro to Meso analysis of practices show how leaks sites' socio-technical materiality helps shape both efficacy and normative goals, from which unique and sometimes agonistic normative governmental functions can be inferred. Discussion of findings then critically assess how digital leaks served (and severed) ties to already problematic equations of 'transparency' and democracy from a frame of agonistic and algorithmic government practices (Heemsbergen, 2016; Ananny and Crawford, 2016) and suggest tentative paths forward.

Daniel Trottier
Individuals rely on digital media to denounce and shame other individuals. This may be based on perceived offences, while often reproducing categorical forms of discrimination. Both offence taking and its response are expressed online by gathering and distributing information about targeted individuals. By seeking their own form of criminal justice, participants challenge the monopolisation of violence by state. Yet digital vigilantism includes shaming and other forms of cultural violence that are not as clearly monopolised, or even regulated. Indeed, they may feed from state or press-led initiatives to shame targets, or simply to gather information about them. Digital vigilantism remains a contested practice: Terms of appropriate use are unclear, and public discourse may vary based on the severity of the offence, severity of response, as well as based on identities and affiliations of participants. Moreover, it overlaps conceptually with other phenomena, including online harassment and doxing. While these can be understood as distinct practices, they also comprise an arsenal of options for civic actors to utilise. This paper advances and seeks to implement a conceptually informed model of digital vigilantism, in recognition of its coordinated, moral and communicative components. Drawing upon preliminary case studies in countries including Russia, China, the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, as well as relevant literature on embodied vigilantism and concurrent forms of online coordination and harassment, it considers a range of recent cases in a global context in order to direct subsequent empirical analysis of how digital vigilantism is rendered meaningful.

Julia Rose DeCook
Reddit has been a hub for extremist movements for some time, particularly in the development and spread of Men's Rights activism that trickles over into alt-right ideologies. This study examined, through critical discourse analysis, the role of the subreddit sidebar in the enactment of a digital doxa where socialization processes and indoctrination into a group occurs, and how the sidebar materials are a form of knowledge curation. Looking specifically at the men's rights affiliated movement r/TheRedPill, this study proposes that the sidebar is a spatiotemporally suspended space that enacts a new reality for its adherents. The sidebar functions not only as a space where rules of the community are learned but also as a user-generated archive where the moderators curate certain readings that are representative of the group's shared ideology and also for the curation of a collective narrative. This collective narrative then grants members a shared collective history, and the moderators serve as the gatekeepers to the doxa and archive. The materials themselves on the sidebar are not merely a collection of readings and rules, but rather are representative of a knowledge production process unique to the individual subreddits, and is omnipresent throughout the subreddit's community. The sidebar in subreddits like r/TheRedPill is more than a space where community guidelines are posted, but also where members become a part of the group, and where a past, present, and futurity are enacted; giving the group a common foundation to build upon and fueling their social movement.

Emma von Essen, Joakim Jansson
In this paper, we predict hateful content as well as quantify the causal link between anonymity and hateful content in political discussions online. First, we make use of a supervised machine-learning model to find a prediction model of cyberhate in political discussions on a dominating Swedish Internet forum, Flashback. Second, we investigate how changes in anonymity affect the writing of hateful content.

We scrape text from the political discussions on Flashback and let a research assistant manually classify each post from a random subset of the threads by whether it contained, e.g. hateful writings, aggressive writings as well as towards whom the hate is directed. We use the classified data to find a prediction model in the full set of threads. We then use the predictions of hate to estimate the effect of changes in anonymity on cyberhate. An event suddenly changed the anonymity at the discussion forum. The event affected only a certain type of user, creating a quasi-experiment, with early-registered users as a treatment group and late-registered users as a control group.

We find a prediction model of hateful content. Using these predictions in the quasi-experimental estimation, we find that early users of the forum decreased their share of hateful content more than later registered users did after the event when there was a threat of less anonymity. We also show that this behavioural change is a combination of individuals’ changing how they express themselves and that they reduce their writing or stop entirely.

Thursday October 11, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Ballroom East

11:00am EDT

Value(s) of Privacy
D.E. Wittkower
Studies conducted on the privacy paradox seek explanations on the user side and seek to reform users’ thoughts and behaviors to fit with the available technical systems of privacy. A normal engineering ethics perspective would ask instead why privacy systems do not fit with users’ mental models of privacy, and how these systems can be reformed to allow users to take effective action.

I outline users’ mental models of privacy and to use those mental models to explore interactions in the internet of things (IoT) to see where users’ mental models raise ignored privacy issues or fit poorly with existing privacy-relevant systems.

I outline an interpersonal phenomenology of privacy oriented by ethics of care, considering privacy as it appears in parenting, friendship, romantic relationships, and care for elderly and disabled persons. Three distinctive dynamics of privacy are identified in interpersonal contexts: (1.) how privacy is connected to self-determination, (2.) how privacy is used in information economies to create intimacy, and (3.) how constantly refreshed consent is integral to maintaining trust and intimacy in interpersonal privacy contexts.

These elements of the phenomenology of privacy in interpersonal contexts are then applied to a variety of kinds of IoT devices and systems: GPS navigators, the Amazon Alexa virtual assistant, Nest, and PARO and RIBA.

Through consideration of these examples, we see how privacy violations are not experienced through access and use of data, but through failures to exhibit care for the user in ongoing relationships that are respectful and open to renegotiation.

Christoph Lutz, Christian Pieter Hoffmann, Giulia Ranzini
Internet users face many risks and threats online. Among others, they can become victims of online harassment, spam, hacking, or identity theft. Academic literature has long investigated such experiences and related attitudes within the field of online privacy. Recently, a strand of privacy research has argued that users have resorted to privacy fatigue, privacy cynicism, or privacy apathy. Accordingly, Internet users develop coping mechanisms to subjectively resolve the paradoxical tension between wanting to use online applications and being concerned about their safety. Existing studies on privacy fatigue, privacy cynicism, or privacy apathy are, however, still in their infancy and mostly based on qualitative research. Therefore, we set out to provide more generalizable evidence on the phenomenon, summarizing initial findings from a large-scale survey on online privacy in Germany. In particular, we develop and present a first measurement of the concept of privacy cynicism, differentiating four dimensions. We further show that powerlessness and mistrust are the most prevalent dimensions of cynicism, followed by uncertainty and resignation.

Erika Pearson
This paper uses a case study to explore critical privacy issues inherent in a pilot IoT-based sensor system designed to measure urban flows. This case study, whose experiences have been shared with cities around the world intending to roll out similar IoT and “smart” city solutions, will illustrate the complexity of privacy as one facet amid the technical, financial and legal constraints acting on existing urban spaces as they attempt to use these new technologies for achieving laudable governmental objectives. In particular, this paper will explore the tensions found in the development of the project between technological and policy pressures to deliver data and individual attempts to incorporate a “privacy by design” framework into the system. Over the three years of this pilot, privacy was raised by multiple actors involved in the trial as an important concern, yet ultimately privacy was de-prioritized in comparison to the data-rich outputs of complex urban sensor networks. As this pilot will be one of a set of trials informing global experience, this paper will explore and deconstruct where privacy issues, particularly the privacy by design approach, both succeeded and failed to succeed, and offer suggestions for future experiments to more fully develop their privacy frameworks in the face of strong technical pressures.

Michael Zimmer, Katie Chamberlain Kritikos, Jessica Vitak, Priya Kumar, Yuting Liao
Fitness trackers are an increasingly popular tool for tracking health and physical activity. Their benefits hinge on ubiquitous data collection and the algorithmic processing of personal fitness information (PFI). While PFI can reveal novel insights about users’ physical activity, health, and personal habits, it also contains potentially sensitive information that third parties may access in contexts unanticipated by fitness tracker users. This paper argues while many users attempt to manage their PFI with privacy boundaries, they can also succumb to “information flow solipsism,” or being broadly unaware of how fitness tracker companies might collect and aggregate their PFI. Our mixed-methods approach involved a survey and semi-structured interviews. Most survey respondents had limited knowledge of companies’ data tracking and retention policies. Additionally, most interviewees expressed only minimal privacy concerns regarding PFI. While others recognized PFI may need boundaries to manage information flows, they did not find the information sensitive enough to require personal responsibility for the definition of such boundaries. Viewing these results through Communication Privacy Management theory, users’ conceptualizations of ownership, privacy rules, and turbulence regarding their PFI influence how they manage privacy boundaries. Inherent trust of fitness tracker companies also led users to assume privacy rules properly limit the flow of PFI. This combination suggests fitness tracker users are potentially in a state of information flow solipsism, a position of ignorance of how PFI flows across devices and platforms that creates unanticipated privacy risks.

Thursday October 11, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond Centre

11:00am EDT

Viral videos, the YouTube 'adpocalypse' and creative labour in social media
Sophie Helen Bishop
In this paper I critically sketch the role of the digital talent agent, using a case study of the ‘vlogging industry’ in the UK. I define the ‘vlogging industry’ as the interlinked network of stakeholders invested in content production on YouTube including audiences, intermediaries, brands, YouTube itself and content creators. In this case study I particularly focus on a highly commercial and feminized YouTube genre of beauty vlogging.

Due the steady professionalization of influencer economies, accounts of vlog production as amateur or authentic have become complicated. In this paper I use analysis of interviews with digital talent management, and ethnography at vlogging events, to argue that widely connected, highly knowledgeable intermediaries, digital talent agents and management staff are involved from the early formation of some vloggers’ brands. Through myriad praxes, intermediaries shape their client’s content, and ensure their visibility and sponsorship suitability through the support of their channels. Ultimately I ask: who are the talent managers, who do they legitimize as talent, and what support do their clients receive? My findings demonstrate the pervasive influence of managers with significant links to so-called ‘traditional’ media, as they shape and support vloggers in the UK, influencing their content and with material consequences for those attributed visibility in the wider vlogging industry.

Tama Leaver, Crystal Abidin
While talk shows and reality TV are often considered launching pads for ordinary people seeking to become celebrities, we argue that when children are concerned, especially when those children have had viral success on YouTube or other platforms, their subsequent appearance(s) on television highlight far more complex media flows. At the very least, these flows are increasingly symbiotic, where television networks harness preexisting viral interest online to bolster ratings. However, the networks might also be considered parasitic, exploiting viral children for ratings in a fashion they and their carers may not have been prepared for. In tracing the trajectory of Sophia Grace and Rosie from viral success to The Ellen Show we highlight these complexities, whilst simultaneously raising concerns about the long-term impact of these trajectories on the children being made increasingly and inescapably visible across a range of networks and platforms.

Stephanie A Hill, Jeremy Shtern, Daphne Chan
This paper draws on a series of semi-structured interviews with Filipino influencers to investigate the social position of influencers and their relationship to their audiences. Social position of online producers versus their audience often includes disparities in race and family income and raises questions about opportunity in online production. This paper also interrogates the demands of audience, who are alternately portrayed as empowered and in control or as cultural dupes but whose relationships with content creators are complex, intimate, and contingent on implicit standards for behaviour. This categorization of audiences is in keeping with a long history of strained relations between editorial content, advertiser interests, and audience expectations. The power dynamics of those three groups are being renegotiate with the rise of a global social media entertainment industry. This paper maps specific relationships of power, agency, and culture in a specific non-Western content to gain useful insights into patterns within these industries. It argues that despite ambitions of many creators to reach global stardom, social media content production in the Philippines is restricted to a niche marked by deep social, economic, and cultural divisions between creators and audiences. We underline that the work of influence here (as elsewhere) is structured around the commodification of affective relationships between creator and audience. Creators achieve these relationships through a type of performed authenticity of language, culture and local identity markers that is proving difficult to sustain as blogging loses audience traction to more revealing video platforms for influencer content.

Sangeet Kumar
This paper analyzes the effects of the changes within YouTube’s features in the aftermath of the advertiser revolt (March-April 2017) against their commercials playing around controversial and sensitive content. The changes that were introduced after what has been called the “adpocalypse” included the ability for advertisers to avoid broad content categories such as “Tragedy and conflict”, “Sensitive social issues”, and “Sensational and shocking”. These changes saw wild swings in the revenue streams of content creators, especially those dealing with topics and issues that were political in nature and that may be remotely deemed to be sensitive. Through its analysis of the changes and its aftermath, this paper advances three claims about the emerging importance of digital platforms in shaping cultural ideas and norms. First, this episode shows the effects of the dominance of an advertiser-centered logic on YouTube that privileges profit over values such as plurality, dissent and critique on the platorm. Second, it points to the quandary of increasing dependence on algorithmic decision-making systems in sorting through and categorizing cultural data on a computational scale. While inevitable, this process risks erasing context and nuance while incentivizing and rewarding (through monetizing) cultural texts that reproduce broad hegemonic tropes instead of challenging them. Lastly, the paper claims that the “adpocalypse” controversy shows us the pitfalls of digital platforms increasingly playing the role of public utilities but remaining entirely out of the purview of democratic processes of public debate, deliberation and accountability.

Thursday October 11, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond West

11:00am EDT

Platforms as the new infrastructure? Interrogating the “infrastructure turn” in Internet studies
A decade of scholarship aggregated under the umbrella term of “platform studies” has described the properties of digital platforms, how they work, and the challenges they create for social life. Key authors in this field have highlighted the discursive positioning of platforms (Gillespie 2010), the strategic value of programmability (Helmond 2015), their generativity (Zittrain 2008) and even performativity (van Dijck and Poell 2013), as well as their reliance on direct or indirect user’s participation (Langlois and Elmer 2013).

In this roundtable, we push this conversation on step further with the provocative statement that digital platforms constitute the new infrastructure that sustain our digital life. For more than ten years, tech companies have relied on the properties of platform described above to “disrupt” multiple sectors. However, in the current monopolistic and competitive digital economy, these tech companies increasingly rely on the properties of another configuration—scale, ubiquity, criticality, long term sustainability and reliability—typically associated with infrastructures (Hughes, 1986; Bowker and Star, 2000; Edwards, 2010).

This roundtable discusses this change of status for platforms and its social consequences. It brings together three junior researchers who investigate this infrastructural evolution of platforms, and who all contributed to the special issue “Media Infrastructures: from Pipes to Platforms” currently edited for Media, Culture & Society (publication scheduled for October 2018). Rahul Mukherjee investigates the infrastructural imaginary of platforms in India; David Nieborg interrogates the platformization of the web through app ecosystems; Fenwick McKelvey proposes the concept of parasite to theorize this takeover of platforms on existing infrastructures. Together, they will engage in a dialogue with José van Dijck and Jennifer Holt, who have both investigated extensively the topics of platforms and infrastructures, and who will provide a contextualisation of this “infrastructure turn” in platform and Internet studies.

avatar for José van Dijck

José van Dijck

Professorin für Medienwissenschaften, Universität Utrecht
José van Dijck ist Professorin für Medienwissenschaften an der Universität Utrecht. Ihr Forschungsschwerpunkt liegt auf der digitalen Gesellschaft, wobei sie sich mit Medientheorien, Medien- und Kommunikationstechnologien, Sozialen Medien und der digitalen Kultur beschäftigt... Read More →
avatar for David Nieborg

David Nieborg

Asst. Professor, University of Toronto

Thursday October 11, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 8

2:00pm EDT

Contested Infrastructures
While frequently imagined to be universal, internet governance relies on a host of policies that are manifest in culturally and legislatively variable practices in various geographic locations. The papers in this panel will enumerate several unique instances of internet governance in practice, presenting case studies which focus on the unevenly distributed material infrastructures that have characterized governance practices in North America, Europe, and North Africa, from the 1980s until the present.

The panel is comprised of two historical case studies and two contemporary case studies. The first historical case study employs forensic methods to analyze the techniques that hackers and commercial developers used to circumvent legislative control over software distribution through technocratic self-governance in the 1980s. The second historical case study will address the adoption of Visicalc spreadsheet software in Tunisia during the 1980s, identifying the factors unique to software adoption in response to a widespread food shortage.

The first contemporary case study will expand discussions of global intellectual property by presenting an analysis of the seven overlapping legal frameworks implicated in French police’s 2017 seizure of a server related to the BitTorrent tracker What.CD. The final paper will present findings from four months of ethnographic research embedded with United States-based nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and observing their efforts to define internet infrastructure as a matter of shared concern. Together, the papers will offer new perspectives on moments of contestation between users and infrastructure, focusing on the significance of local conditions on emergent internet governance practices.

avatar for Karina Rider

Karina Rider

PhD Candidate, Queens University
My dissertation looks at civic engagement in Silicon Valley, specifically how local Bay Area civic and political groups target the tech industry for social change (these groups focus on issues like surveillance and privacy regulation; net neutrality; digital civil liberties; housing... Read More →

Thursday October 11, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 7

2:00pm EDT

When, Where, and How is Digital Sound?
This panel’s first author, in discussing podcast archiving, notes that internet archives like the Wayback Machine have had much more focus on preserving visual and text content than sound. Internet Research has similarly traditionally had less engagement with sound than with other forms of digital content. This panel seeks to contribute to ongoing work to bring Sound Studies and Internet Studies into better conversation with each other, taking digital sound as a common object and examining it in different cases and through different methods to provide a richer understanding of the role sound plays in shaping our online experiences.

The papers coalesce around their common object of inquiry, digital sound, providing depth of understanding about the subject matter by approaching from different directions. Moreover, the papers help to illuminate each other by taking different approaches to common themes. The first and second papers raise key questions about who tends to be included and excluded in circuits of production as well as whose digital sound tends to be seen as valuable. Papers 1, 2, and 3 all ask about how, despite rhetorics of democratization and variety, forms of digital sound may be becoming standardized through technological and social means. The first and third papers call attention to the ways the specific affordances of given digital production technologies shape (though do not determine) the kinds of production that become prevalent in a given moment. There are also methodological convergences: papers 3 and 4 take as their object of inquiry technology makers, and papers 2 and 4 both use press coverage as the site of investigation. Finally, papers 2 and 4 ask questions about what people believe is socially proper or correct in the case of digital sound.

In these ways, this panel represents both an important contribution to our understanding of contemporary issues in digital sound as well as relating to broader questions central to internet research.

Thursday October 11, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond East

2:00pm EDT

Infrastructures: Theory and Comparative Historical Materialities
Ignacio Siles
This paper argues that transnational flows of knowledge, data, and technologies are not only an actual feature of the Internet, but rather a constitutive characteristic of its historical development. To make this case, it discusses how six countries in Central America--Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panamá--connected to and through computer networks and technologies such as UUCP, BITNET, and the Internet in the first half of the 1990s. Drawing on archival research and 75 interviews with protagonists of networking initiatives, this article argues that the establishment of these projects in Central America required forging a transnational network of collaborations, enabled by international organizations with presence in countries of the region.

By discussing these cases, this paper makes a twofold contribution. Empirically, it describes the early development of the Internet in an understudied region. Historical research has been devoted primarily to the most connected countries. As a result, we know little of how the Internet has been historically imagined, defined, and negotiated in less connected regions, such as Central America. Therefore, our understanding of the early development of computer networks in the global South is limited. Conceptually, this paper makes visible the importance of transnational processes in the development of the Internet. Scholars have studied the history of the Internet largely through national lenses.

This study reveals how the Internet was implemented in a part of the world largely absent in academic literature. It broadens our understanding of the early development of computer networks in the global South.

Mariëlle Wijermars
In today's hyperconnected world, states are confronted with the global challenge of responding to potentially disruptive online communications, such as terrorist propaganda and fake news. Formulating effective internet regulation to address these threats carries the risk of infringing upon media freedom and constitutional rights. In the case of Russia, ostensibly sound legitimations have been instrumentalised to bring about a dramatic decline in internet freedom.

Controlling public opinion may well be decisive for Russia's "success" in expanding its system of internet controls without arousing popular resistance. Scholarship thus far, however, has neglected to critically examine how the Russian government legitimates and cultivates popular support for restricting online freedom of speech. This paper aims to address this crucial aspect of internet censorship by studying how restrictions of internet freedom, freedom of expression and the right to information and privacy are framed in political and media discourses.

The paper presents a case study examining the legitimation of user data storage, surveillance and restriction of online anonymity, on the example of messaging application Telegram. To justify legal measures in these domains, policymakers have framed their proposals as anti-terrorist, or claimed the need to protect personal data from foreign states. Typically, anonymity and privacy are recast as secrecy indicating criminal (e.g., drug dealers) or morally derogatory intent (e.g., paedophilia). The paper analyses how frames are produced by policymakers; how they are translated and disseminated in state and (semi-)independent media; and how they resonate in online debates and social media.

Liam Cole Young
This paper argues for the relevance and utility for contemporary internet researchers of Harold Adams Innis’s early-career economic histories of Canada. While Innis’s late works on the history of communication receive the bulk of scholarly attention, his research and writing from the 1920s and 30s on the fur trade, placer mining, and cod fisheries exhibit an infrastructural approach to understanding processes of communication, transportation, and logistics that resonates strongly with the recent ‘material’ turn across the humanities. These early works developed methods for tracing actants, relations, and processes that comprised the global networks of circulation and exchange upon which North American settlement and colonization arose. They therefore offer essential methodological and conceptual tools for understanding digital networks and infrastructure in similar terms. Innis’s early work furthermore helps ground internet research and analysis in longer historical trajectories. I develop the argument in two sections. The first introduces Innis in the context of the Canadian tradition. The second uses his approach to understand relations between energy extraction and internet infrastructure.

Stephane Couture
This communication will present the framework and preliminary results of a research project aiming at documenting technological proposals emanating from a social justice perspective, and presented in the context of Internet Governance Forums and spaces. Internet Governance (IG) refers broadly to the ways in which the use and evolution of Internet infrastructures is or should be shaped and regulated. With the advent of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) in 2003 and 2005, Internet governance has been the object of the annual Internet Governance Forum organized under the umbrella of the United Nations, as well as multiple regional and local “Internet Forums”. Much empirical research has was done to study the “multistakeholder” arrangements within Internet Governance deliberations and more specifically, the contribution of civil society. This research rather looks at the technological and infrastructural proposals made in these forums, for instance related to protocols, standards and hardware networks, and that are explicitly articulated with values such as social justice and human rights. The first phase of the research - which will be the subject of this communication – has involved participatory observation in two consecutive Internet Governance Forums. Some of these technological proposals will be presented and we will analyze how they are articulated with discourses of social justice.

Thursday October 11, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 5

2:00pm EDT

Labour, Production and Consumption in Digital Culture Industries
Nicole S. Cohen, Greig de Peuter
This presentation reports on an ongoing study of the wave of unionization in digital newsrooms in Canada and the United States. Since 2015, journalists at 24 online media outlets have organized unions. Taking a critical political-economic approach, our research reaffirms media labour’s capacity to fight back against capital’s efforts to wield internet technologies to intensify exploitation and weaken labour. Based on interviews with union staff and digital journalists leading the unionization campaigns in Canada, the US, and the UK, our presentation specifically addresses this research question: What motivates and enables primarily young digital journalists with limited experience in the labour movement to organize unions? Our presentation reveals five catalysts or conditions of possibility that generated and are sustaining the upsurge in digital media organizing. First, journalists see in unionization a strategy to mitigate difficult working conditions, including an intensive work regimen. Second, digital journalists are privileged workers in the sense that they are able to access unions. Third, the mostly young digital journalists who are the protagonists of the organizing have an openness to and confidence in collective action. Fourth, an impetus to organize is to diversify journalism and protect editorial integrity. Fifth, digital media workers are strategically positioned to take advantage of the vital force counter-publicity can play in disrupting the accumulation strategies of digital media firms. For internet studies, this study demonstrates that collective labour organizing is a key, yet understudied, entry point for engaging the contested materialities of the internet.

Michael Stevenson, Frank Harbers
This paper describes how to operationalize concepts from Bourdieu’s influential field theory using digital methods. Through a case study of journalistic organizations regarded as ‘innovative’ and ‘entrepreneurial’ we develop a set of research protocols for using empirical web research tools to determine how such actors are arranged within distinguishable yet interlocking hierarchies of market success and symbolic capital. In addition to some key findings about the politics of the ‘innovation’ label within journalism, our aim is to reflect on the feasibility of a ‘field analytics,’ or general set of digital methods for studying prestige and position-taking in diverse contexts of cultural production.

Jacob Nelson
Journalism professionals and researchers have recently argued that newsrooms adopt “audience engagement” as one of their chief pursuits. This term has many interpretations that stem from one underlying belief: journalists better serve their audiences when they explicitly focus on how their audiences interact with and respond to the news in the first place. Yet those who hope to make audience engagement normative must overcome news industry confusion surrounding how engagement itself should be defined and measured. Their efforts therefore present an opportunity to learn how journalism is changing, who within the field have the power to change it, and why they believe it should change. This study investigates two such efforts with ethnographic case studies of Hearken and City Bureau, organizations that aspire to make the audience a larger part of the news production process. An additional case study of The Chicago Tribune reveals how audience engagement advocates and legacy journalists differ in their assumptions about journalism and the public, and how they act on those differences. Drawing on Giddens’ structuration theory, this study illustrates what the future of journalism might look like should an audience-focused approach to news production become the norm, and exposes the obstacles that may prevent such a transformation from occurring.

Helen Kennedy, Robin Steedman, Rhianne Jones
Signing In forms part of a broader programme of research which explores the relationship between data, diversity and inequality in the media and creative industries. The empirical research will be complete by the end of the summer. Signing In uses focus group and interview methods to explore attitudes to sign in and related data mining: eight focus groups each with six participants (n=48) will take place, for which we will purposively sample for diversity (eg in relation to ethnicity, age, gender, class, disability, education), given the focus of the project on diversity and inequality, and because the effects of data practices on marginal groups can be more severe than on other groups, yet their voices are rarely heard (Lingel and boyd 2013). In addition to the focus groups, we will carry out eight in-depth, ethnographic interviews, which incorporate ‘ethnographic elements into standard interviews’ (Mason and Davies 2009: 590), such as observation of non-verbal dimensions, like participants demonstrating sign in experiences on their devices. One participant from each of the eight focus groups will be selected for interview, based on their contributions to the focus groups. Through these methods and related analysis of empirical data, the research aims to make contributions in four key areas, outlined below.

Thursday October 11, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Ballroom East

2:00pm EDT

Joseph Cameron Lindsey
As easily spreadable objects of digital culture, memes have a unique ability to spread quickly and widely across national borders. As memes evolve within the global media landscape they are often remixed, recombined, adapted, and translated even further for the particular cultural context in which they are deployed. Through this constant exchange, memes can take on so many layers of meaning and so many references that the original context becomes obscured or lost. Transnational memes, thus, become a signifier without a signified. This paper further considers transnational memes, their multi-nodal spread, their distinctly multinational content, and the effects this process of adaptation can have on cultures and communities. Through visual analysis of these memes, contextualizing them within various national cultures over time, and tracing how this context is slowly obscured, this paper argues that transnational memes can be used both to foster diversity and understanding as well as to disseminate false information or for more sinister purposes. Often, though, they can simply be ambivalent objects of culture amassing meanings, contexts, and signification as it is shared between people and places.

Ariadna Matamoros-Fernandez
“El Negro de Whatsapp” is a platform-specific meme particularly popular amongst Spanish and Latin-American Whatsapp users that involves the posting of a picture that looks legitimate in preview but when clicked on reveals a lurking image of a black man with disproportionate genitals. This Whatsapp meme is situated within broader ‘bait-and-switch’ internet pranks like rickrolling (Know your meme, Rickroll), which imply a post of something appearing to be one thing but which is really something else. This paper examines the racism enacted by the memetic appropriations of “El Negro de Whatsapp”. I argue that users’ appropriations of this meme – independently of their intent – and Whatsapp’s affordances enact “platformed racism” (Matamoros-Fernandez, 2017). Platformed racism is “a new form of racism derived from the culture of social media platforms ‒ their design, technical affordances, business models and policies ‒ and the specific cultures of use associated with them” (Matamoros-Fernandez, 2017, p. 930). I examine the uses of “El Negro de Whatsapp” in the specific context of Spain through an exploration of the appropriations of the meme that have circulated in Whatsapp groups I am a member of.

Sean Rutherford McEwan
Memes “act as the locus of memory”, says Gabriella Coleman of the peculiar relationship 4chan has to its own history, made necessary by the ephemeral nature of large amounts of its content (2009). Rather than having an on-site permanent archive as such, its collective history and memory is sublated into and through the circulation and production of memes. Taking this as a prompt, this paper makes the case for the (re)production, circulation, and referencing of memes as embodiment of a particular historical ontology: a mode of being constructed in relationship to, and through, its own past. Memes, in other words, are a new way of thinking about, and experiencing (digital) history: they contribute to, and are part of, new “infra-structures of feeling” (Coleman 2017). With this in mind, I use Benjamin’s reading of Klee’s Angelus Novus as a framing device to start to think about how memes encourage and embody certain modes of being-in-the-world. I do so in specific reference to 4chan and its privileging of a certain subject position along lines raced, classed and gendered, although possibilities for other forms and spaces are considered. On 4chan, the New Man of neofascism remakes the world memetically, in his own image.

Saskia Kowalchuk
In this paper, I have sought to introduce and outline the trend in Internet meme-making know as 'deep-frying' and explain its significance as a method of user critique within a naturalized medium. How do images that confuse and repel the casual viewer through profanity, enthusiastic emoji usage, over-saturation, repeated compression, bubbling/ warping, and excessive lens flaring effectively question the memetic paradigm? Firstly, by understanding memes as Hito Steryl's transgressive 'poor images' that circulate to produce communities of content creators and consumers that stand in opposition to the state-sponsored rich image making complex. Further, through the application of work by Rolande Barthes, Claude Shannon & Warren Weaver, Scott Contreras-Kotterbay & Łukasz Mirocha, and Rosa Menkman, I have produced a critical examination of the formal practices that elucidate this phenomenon, on the level of the linguistic & iconic message, noise level, and redundancy. Lastly, I propose an orientation of these works within a diverse corpus across various major social media as a networked art practice in keeping with the tenants of the New Aesthetic.

Thursday October 11, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Ballroom West

2:00pm EDT

Politics, Power and Internet Policy
Aram Sinnreich, Patricia A Aufderheide, Joseph Graf
How useful are the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act's (DMCA's) exemptions to its decryption prohibition? The law bans all decryption of copy-protected content, even for legal uses, e.g. fair use. But a triennial exemption is sometimes granted if creative and scholarly communities can demonstrate loss of working capacity. This study explores to what degree members of communities that have won exemptions are aware of the DMCA ban, the exemptions, and whether they believe they can use the exemptions with confidence.

Although the DMCA is US law, results are relevant to wider international discussions about the effects of "tight" copyright in a transnational creative environment; about the function of exemptions in intellectual property law, as escape hatches for freedom of expression; and about the consequences of criminalizing decryption, typically included in "harmonization" discussions during multilateral treaty negotiations.

We conclude that the under-utilization of exemptions leads to self-censorship and unnecessary effort to change work. Education helps potential users employ the law, however. Their confidence levels might increase with further education. Nonetheless, this study suggests that creating high barriers and small and poorly-marked escape hatches poorly meets the needs of users whose requirements for unfettered, if limited, access to copyrighted material has already been well established.

Efrat Daskal
National civil society organizations advocate for computer and internet-related civil liberties in their respective countries. They confront governments and internet corporations in the political and judicial arenas, and at the same time, they reach out to the public in the mediated public sphere. In analyzing their work, most studies so far have focused on the organizations’ attempts to change their national ICT policy. This study, however, explores their public-related activities while asking: How do digital rights advocates get the public involved? and, What differentiates digital rights advocacy in non-Western countries?

To answer these questions, I analyzed the interaction between ten organizations from Europe, Asia, and South America and their correspondence publics, through their mediated public communication. This encompasses all pages and links addressing the public on each of their websites from 2012 onward.

The analysis reveals three clusters of public related activities: informing the public, encouraging the public to act, and using the public to improve their visibility. Characterization of these activities according to the sphere (private-public) and the nature of their activity (passive-active) reveals a quadrangular model of public involvement the organizations offer their respective constituencies. The analysis of the non-Western organizations’ activities reveals that they place greater emphasis on providing digital skills to the public but hardly use the public for political gain.

I conclude by discussing the current meaning of public involvement, the public’s role as a social actor in digital rights advocacy and the possibility of creating a global civil society movement for digital rights.

Nathalie Marechal
“Internet freedom” and “digital rights” are two closely related concepts that both refer to the enjoyment of human rights online, specifically privacy, freedom of expression, and access to information. However, they are not exact synonyms: “internet freedom” has come to be associated with the U.S. government’s Internet Freedom agenda, while “digital rights” has been embraced by the transnational social movement for communication rights online. Though they share many ideological underpinnings, the two concepts co-exist somewhat uneasily: the digital rights movement is wary of “internet freedom” discourses that many activists see as advancing American empire and economic interests, while the goals and tactics of privacy activism in particular — such as the push for ubiquitous end-to-end encryption — are at odds with U.S. policy objectives beyond the Internet Freedom agenda itself. Moreover, the cultural gap between State Department “suits” and hoodie-wearing crypto-anarchists makes the idea of an alliance between these worlds seem completely incongruous. And yet, they are more closely aligned than appearances might suggest.

Based on three years of ethnographic fieldwork and participant observation, I argue that the relationship between the bottom-up transnational movement for digital rights and the U.S. government’s top-down Internet Freedom agenda is a dialectical one, wherein bureaucrats and activists co-construct policies and programs in service of common goals.

Andrea Alarcon
This paper examines Mark Zuckerberg’s socio-technical optimistic imaginary of a connectivity of the entire world, focusing on Facebook’s Internet.org initiative. His vision of a connected world can be described as what Jasanoff and Kim (2015) call “sociotechnical imaginary,” which are not limited to nations, or heads of states, but can be conjured by corporations, social movements, and professional societies. The paper examines 50 short promotional videos, first-person narrated by individuals in their target countries. The themes found in the videos map to development discourse: female empowerment, education, entrepreneurship, and natural disaster relief. This paper argues that by merging Internet.org with connectivity, and connectivity with progress, Facebook utilizes the promotional aesthetic and narrative devices usually used by the development sector to position its initiative as a crucial step toward poverty alleviation and economic development

avatar for Nathalie Marechal

Nathalie Marechal

PhD 2018, University of Southern California
avatar for Aram Sinnreich

Aram Sinnreich

Professor and Chair, Communication Studies, American University, United States of America
I'm interested in the way culture, technology, and law interact and conflict with one another. Especially subjects like music, data ethics, digital culture, and political resistance.

Thursday October 11, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond West

2:00pm EDT

Transnational Practices of/in Digital Networks
Rikke Andreassen
This paper explores the transnational materialities that occur in the wake of the increased online availability and commercialization of donor sperm. Over the past decade, an increasing number of lesbian couples and single women have created families through the assistance of donor sperm. At the same time, online shopping and social media sites have become widespread and commonly used. While these developments have appeared simultaneously, they are seldom explored together; this paper illustrates the intersections of online media and new kinship, and shows how they must be analyzed as interlinked in order for us to understand contemporary formations of kinship and race.

A large number of women conceived via sperm from the world’s largest sperm bank ‘Cryos International’. The paper argues that the online commercial market of sperm can be seen as a double-edged sword, which on one hand enables women to reproduce without men and results in new forms of kinships. On the other hand, the same market – and especially the media affordances of online shopping – re-inscribes ideas of race as a fixed and hierarchical category. The paper situates itself within the scholarly intersection of social media, queer kinship studies and critical race and whiteness studies. Through analysis of Facebook groups, connecting parents of donor-conceived children, in-depth interviews and analysis of Cryos International’s website, the paper examines the racial constructions, especially whiteness, in online sperm shopping and new kinship making, and shows how the media affordances may lead to an understanding of racial categories as ‘fixed’, ‘material’ and ‘objective’.

Emma Maguire
Erika Lust is an erotic filmmaker and the creator of the XConfessions website and series of films. The XConfessions website encourages users to submit "confessions," which, in this context, means their sexual fantasies and experiences. Users comment on each other's confessions and, in a transmedia twist, Lust chooses the best ones and makes them into short erotic films. Through sharing and commenting on each other's fantasies and experiences in a message board forum, an international community of "Lusties" (users of and contributors to the site) has developed around the life narrative mode of confession. Furthermore, Lust articulates her project as an ethical and feminist one, aimed at creating erotica that foregrounds female desire and is made by and for women.

This paper explores XConfessions as a site for transnational materiality at which to examine contemporary intersections of gender, sexuality and technology, as well as one that reflects shifting political and creative economies of streaming media.

I ask what kinds of sexual subjectivities are brought into being in the space of XConfessions via its community norms and its specific media platform. By analysing the affordances and content of XConfessions.com, I investigate how the digital community model is employed to coax particular (sexual, digital) performances of selfhood using the confessional mode, and to crowdsource creative labour. What social, technological and textual relations structure these networked self-presentations? And what can this site tell us about the way intimacy, sexualities, and identities are mediated via digital interfaces and networks?

Amy Johnson
The official government user occupies a curious place on social media platforms. Often driven by a mandate to “be where the public is” and maximize emergency communication channels, the government user operates with different priorities, different legal and bureaucratic requirements, and different voicing challenges than the general or advertising user. While national governments may see social media presences of government agencies from around the world as reflecting an international political system, from the perspective of platforms, such accounts are part of a transnational government user class.

Drawing on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accommodations for government users across languages, listserv archives of US government social media managers, and scholarship on global shutdowns and censorship, this paper examines 1) how the government user class compares with other platform user classes; 2) who qualifies as a government user; and 3) how treatment of government users differs within this transnational category. It argues that the platform system both shapes and marginalizes the government user class, with consequences that extend beyond digital channels.

Susan Noh
This paper explores the possibility of a transnational fan activist movement sustained through online activity, looking at a case study of the National D.Va Association as an example of one entity that is currently aspiring to gain a global following through their media coverage of local initiatives. This group primarily exercises influence in South Korea as a small, but vocal advocate for the equal treatment of women and gender-queer gamers in Korea’s gaming scene. When the national Women’s March occurred in Washington, DC, in January 21, 2017, this inspired sister protest marches around the world. The National D.Va Association’s flag, which bears the mascot of Overwatch’s heroine, D.Va, was caught on camera in the Korean Women’s March and through exposure from Twitter and a variety of popular culture news sites, this group caught the attention of fans and viewers abroad. Taking advantage of the attention they were getting, the National D.Va Association began using their social media in a more intentional manner that would spread their message beyond South Korea’s borders.

Fascinated by the possibility and implications of engaging fan activism across national borders, I analyze the efficacy of the social media strategies that this group employs in order to engage with an international audience and observe the ways in which this group positions itself intentionally and actively with Western discourses of feminism.

Thursday October 11, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond Centre

2:00pm EDT

Digital Materialities and their environmental damages
This session addresses a crucial aspect of transnational materialities, albeit one rarely interrogated within Internet studies: _the environmental damages inflicted by digital communication technologies_ through mining, infrastructures, e-waste, and energy demands to sustain the ever-growing digital data. At present, governments, industries and even sustainability science largely subscribe to what we call “digital solutionism”: digital technologies (smart devices, Apps, on-line environments, Big Data) are overwhelmingly adopted as “game changing” tools of environmentally sustainable practices, failing to address these technologies’ own environmental harms. Internet studies’ insufficient attention to harmful materialities of the digital might partly be the reason for such myopia. Our session aims to remedy that, by setting up a debate that takes place _at the intersection_ of critical environmental and sustainability studies and media/digital cultures/Internet/data studies. We ask:

* How does digital capitalism create new forms of environmental toll, via algorithmic and tracking technologies, accelerating the speed of exchange and extending the reach of distribution of material goods via e-commerce?

* What kind of governance structures and discourses around “innovation” shape the rise of algorithmically controlled agricultural tools? How does that affect the subsequent reinforcement of deleterious environmental policies and institutions?

* What is the role of the increasing material convergence of energy and data futures, in the emergence of cryprocurrency, autonomous vehicles and the Internet of Things?

* What are the harms and implications of oil and pipelines as physical precursors of information economy? What are the relations between mineral extraction, energy consumption and data generation?

* Can we consider digital non-use as a form of resistance if we take into account both humans and animals, affected by the information economy but unable to escape its effects?

* How can we think about digital materialities more responsibly, taking into account _both_ their environmental damages, _and_ such damages’ deeply unequal global distribution?

Thursday October 11, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 6

2:00pm EDT

Making sense of visuality, digitality and culture: Moodboard as method
Moodboards are a creative method intended to visually communicate an affect, a sensation of an experience or, most often, a product or a service currently being designed. Moodboards are mostly used by advertisers, designers, and filmmakers to make arguments to potential funders or audiences. In this roundtable, we contend that moodboards occupy and take advantage of the fruitful intersection of visuality (seeing, looking, visualizing), affect (the sensory experience we have in response to experience), culture (the meanings we attribute to our world) and design methods (steps taken to solve problems, answer questions and make sense of anything). We propose Moodboard as a digital method for creatively studying the material, multisensory and embodied nature of experience. We invite colleagues for a conversation around moodboards as speculative, future-oriented methods for making sense of, analyzing, and visualizing material.

This roundtable brings together:

Annette Markham, who will introduce the panel, focusing on the remixing and mashup characteristics of moodboards. She will situate this approach within broader epistemological frameworks for sensemaking.

Gillian Rose, will dive into the specifics of how a digital moodboard might work, using the specific case of Pinterest.

Anne Marit Waade will further explicate the method, reporting on a case whereby moodboards are being used in Denmark as a way to remix and rethink a physical region.

Katrin Tiidenberg will discuss how various interfaces and platforms provide instances of moodboards that can be used to inform and enhance our understanding of visual culture in a digital age.

Debora Lanzeni will conclude by discussing the inextricable links between the digital, the material, and the sensory, focusing on how the concept of moodboards can enhance our ethnographic understanding of all three in a digital era.

Following these short provocations, we will open up the roundtable to more open discussion among audience and panelists.


Thursday October 11, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 8

4:00pm EDT

Supporting Academic Workers Targeted for Harassment: An Information Sharing and Strategy (Un)Workshop
This “unconference”-style workshop will generate strategies for mobilizing the expertise at AoIR to address a pressing problem facing scholars, researchers and teachers. In recent years, academic workers, especially junior, untenured, adjunct faculty and graduate instructors, have been increasingly targeted by organized campaigns from far-right, white supremacist and sexist groups aimed at denying them academic freedom, jobs, and sometimes safety. (Embrick & Brunsma, 2017) Many campaigns have their roots in earlier racist and antifeminist movements that relied on the internet to generate energy and coordinate attacks (such as gamergate and #endfathersday). Some are now coordinated by organizations like TPUSA and Campus Reform. Unfortunately many university administrations and departments appear woefully uninformed by the latest and best scholarship on how such campaigns work. (Cuevas, 2017; Ferber, 2017, p. 40), and responses have mainly been fragmentary and individual. So far, university’ responses have sometimes constrained academic freedom (American Association of University Professors, 2017; Schmidt, 2017), and people have lost their jobs, faced harassment, death threats and other threats of violence. (Henry, 2017) These threats have especially targeted the most vulnerable and least represented: faculty of color and white women, queer faculty, and faculty with citizenship outside their country of employment.(Mason, 2017) These campaigns endanger the quality of teaching and research, including its ability to represent and serve diverse communities and work against white supremacy, against sexism, against antisemitism, and against fascism.

This (un)workshop focuses especially on collective, institutional and organizational responses to support vulnerable academic workers, and will generate a list of possible actions and working groups focused on pursuing them beyond the boundaries of the workshop: preparing people to offer expert advice and analysis to universities, coordinating with relevant unions and professional organizations, writing letters to the editor or providing experts who can speak in an informed way on TV, radio or in other media platforms. Organizers and participants will bring expertise and experience from within and outside the academy. AoIR is well situated to provide scholarly and professional expertise and analysis to universities, departments, unions, and media in order to reverse this dynamic, and to provide some institutional support for individuals whose institutions may not recognize what is at stake or wish to minimize confrontation at the expense of vulnerable employees.

Outcomes for the workshop include but are not limited to:

1) Working groups on prioritized issues, including outreach to people not present.

2) A list of institutional and collective resources that can be mobilized by AoIR members including ideas for how to mobilize them

3) Templates for op-eds, letters to administrators and press releases

4) A list of other institutions/organizations that we could link up with and/or pressure as members or experts

5) A group of people who can collect and evaluate existing lists of “best practices” to be deployed by individuals and departments before, during, and after these kinds of attacks

6) A skeleton response framework for how to mobilize collective responses.

Thursday October 11, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 6

4:00pm EDT

Countermeasures And Responses To Misinformation And Manipulation Online
The past few years, researchers, companies, regulatory authorities, and the wider public have become increasingly aware of attempts to manipulate politics online. International actors use bots, cyborgs, and sock puppets to disrupt information environments. Extremists use memes to spread hatred, encourage violence, and harass users on prominent platforms like Twitter; they also use less public channels like Discord to organize boots-on-the-ground activity, and they copy platforms (for example, creating a version of Patreon called Hatreon) to crowdfund their activities. The papers in this panel focus on attempts by governments, companies, journalists, and citizens to reduce the harm caused by these manipulation activities. Though focused on misinformation and manipulation online, these papers root their analyses in other examples of this kind of behavior, to which governments, companies, journalists, and citizens have developed responses for decades. Thus, this panel analyzes current problems through a historical lens, cautioning against easy solutions while suggesting countermeasures that build on past successes.

Thursday October 11, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond Centre

4:00pm EDT

Global Platforms, Local Censorship: Internet Governance as a Threat to Free Speech
This panel addresses the theme of transnational materialities directly by examining and critiquing the regulatory mechanisms by which voices from around the globe are both enabled and constrained. Specifically, each of the papers in this panel examines ways in which the affordances of internet infrastructure and platform governance mechanisms are used or abused for the purposes of censorship. The papers reflect contemporary debates and concerns unfolding simultaneously in several current research arenas, including science and technology studies, platform studies, and cultural studies. They focus on the ways infrastructures—whether commercial or governmental—structure speech options. Each reveals links between policies ostensibly designed for other purposes as affecting cultural and political expression. Jurisdictions considered include the European Union, the U.S., Israel, the global South, and Australia. Each of the papers is fundamentally concerned with social equity, and with illuminating and unmasking the mechanisms of power that are encoded into and enforced through these different instruments of regulation.

Speaker 1's work on geo-blocking of streaming media content shows how an ostensibly unified European Union continues to stoke national divisions, reifying physical borders in virtual space for the purpose of maximizing profit for international media companies. It relies upon interviews with value-chain actors in the audio-visual field in the Czech republic to address clashing ethical issues, which affect evolving policies. Speaker 2's work looks deeper into the governance of the internet's infrastructure to reveal how the distribution and maintenance of internet exchange points (IXPs) may serve to exacerbate or lessen economic pressures on the "global South," with significant implications for industrial development and free speech in these regions. The speaker analyses quantitative data on the growth of IXPs and routing data from IXPs in Germany and Brazil, analysing contrasting patterns. The work recontextualizes “infrastructure dependency” in geopolitical terms. The papers by researchers 3 and 4 and by researchers 6 and 7 each look at intellectual property law as a regulatory mechanism for cultural expression in a global context, and form a complementary pair. The papers differently use the same bodies of data from Australia and the U.S. to analyse the effects of the two countries' very different copyright exceptions regimes on creator behavior. The former article contrasts how the different copyright exceptions regimes affect creators' productivity, and limits analysis to quantitative survey data from the two countries. The latter examines underlying similar tropes of Romanticism in creators' rationales for copyright constraints, employing testimony from interviews, workshops and open-ended answers in surveys. Researchers 8,9 and 10 examine one of the most politically contested cultural environments - Israel - to explore the unevenly distributed and opaquely administered limitations on free speech imposed by commercial regulation on platforms. The authors consider interaction between Israeli journalists, celebrities and business and Facebook, tracking a vigorous, ongoing national debate over Facebook's terms of use and moderation policies.

Collectively, these papers all explore the ways in which physical and material identities and politics are reproduced in the regulation and architecture of virtual spaces, and how different virtual architectures have different effects. These papers thus identify problems with a shared goal of addressing them for a goal of global equity.

avatar for Aram Sinnreich

Aram Sinnreich

Professor and Chair, Communication Studies, American University, United States of America
I'm interested in the way culture, technology, and law interact and conflict with one another. Especially subjects like music, data ethics, digital culture, and political resistance.

Thursday October 11, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 8

4:00pm EDT

The Cultures, Politics, And Economies Of Social Media Influencers
Whether disparaged as digital era counterparts to celeb-socialites--or fervently upheld as a new breed of opinion leader--social media “influencers” are reconfiguring our society and economy in profound ways. This panel takes seriously the role of influencers in the production and circulation of cultural content across diverse digital contexts. The panelists, who span disciplinary as well as geographic boundaries, examine influencer subgenres on such platforms as Instagram, Twitch, and Tumblr. The papers address both macro-level issues--such as emergent industrial codes and gender ideologies--as well as the socio-cultural practices of particular networked communities (e.g., fashion/lifestyle Instagrammers, game streamers, NSFW Tumblr bloggers) to provide a nuanced treatment of influencer subcultures. Together, this panel probes the sprawling influencer ecosystem while contributing to a broader conversation about the cultures, politics, and economies of influence in the social media age.

avatar for Katrin Tiidenberg

Katrin Tiidenberg

Associate Professor, Tallinn University
avatar for Andrew Zolides

Andrew Zolides

Assistant Professor, Xavier University

Thursday October 11, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Ballroom East

4:00pm EDT

Algorithms and Identity
SeongJae Jay Min, Donghee Yvette Wohn
While the idea of the filter bubble, in which people are sheltered from challenging and disagreeable information, is a valid concern for democracy, it requires much theoretical sophistication and empirical support. This paper explores the extent and scope of filter bubble effects, employing the concept of “cross-cutting exposure,” or exposure to disagreeable viewpoints, on social media. Survey analysis of 271 Facebook users suggests they do get exposed to cross-cutting information frequently, and that cross-cutting information was more likely to come from weak ties, or acquaintances and strangers in their network, as opposed to strong ties of friends and families. Furthermore, those who have ethnically and religiously more diverse networks were more likely to be exposed to cross-cutting information. Taken together, it is argued that the current concern for filter bubble is rather exaggerated and that one’s network characteristics, such as network compositions and cultural diversity, can influence the degree of the filter bubble.

Michael Latzer, Noemi Festic, Benjamin Gerwoll-Ronca, Kevin Witzenberger
In societies characterized by growing datafication, algorithmic selection (AS) applications have become deeply embedded in everyday life. Via automated assignment of relevance to selected pieces of information, AS applications are shaping the way people acquire information, perceive the world and ultimately behave. AS applications have thereby become a constitutive part of individuals’ (mediated) construction of reality. On a societal level, they thus shape the formation of social order. The multidisciplinary discourse on opportunities, social risks, ethical challenges and governance of algorithms has so far been predominantly theoretical. Empirical evidence that facilitates a validation of these results remains largely absent. To determine the significance of algorithmic selection for everyday life, an empirical investigation from a user-centered perspective is crucial. By collecting data at the individual level, this article pursues the following questions: How (extensively) are AS applications used in everyday life? How aware are people of AS operating in the services they use? What subjective relative importance, opportunities and risks do they associate with them?

This article presents qualitative results of semi-structured interviews, which are part of a larger innovative mixed-method project. The qualitative results will be used to design a representative nationwide online survey combined with a tracking of online activities. The project investigates the awareness and use of AS and attitudes towards them in four domains of everyday life: social & political orientation, recreation, commercial transactions and socializing. It thereby provides the empirical basis for evidence-based public policy deliberations regarding the social impact of AS and related governance measures.

Martina Skrubbeltrang Mahnke
This reserach engages into algorithms as communicative contructs. Drawing on the qualitative analysis of 20 interviews with users and programmers, it aims at shedding light on how user's and programmers talk about and make sense of algorithms. Conceptual starting point are the lenses of narratives and counter-narratives. Narratives are the primary stories be told and counter-narratives are stories that challenge these primary narratives and tell alternative stories. The analysis shows that three distinct stories are being told: (1) The magic narrative, (2) the critical narrative and (3) the imperative narrative. The magic narrative is mostly employed by programmers in order to address the complexity of their algorithms. The critical narrative is primarily employed by users, who feel manipulted by algorithms and the imperative narrative relates to the story that algorithms have become inevitable in the digial realm. In conclusion, it can be stated that algorithms as communicative constructs tend to develop a life of their own, disconnected from the actual technical operation mode and related social, cultural and political implications.

Megan Boler, Elizabeth Davis
How do we best understand the digital production of subjectivity taking place through contemporary practices of “psycho-digital propaganda”--the networked logics of advertising combined with micro-targeting of emotions? In contemporary social media logic, emotion is targeted by a nexus of corporate, military, and propaganda logics. The paper addresses the urgent need for a robust theorization of this “networked subject,” moving beyond liberal conceptions that fail to account for the affects and emotions that constitute contemporary political actors. We explore the manipulation of emotions and affect in psychometric profiling practices used by social media advertising strategies and computational propaganda: specifically, how existing identity politics of race and gender are exploited and incited by these "platform politics". This interdisciplinary research builds on the authors' 2017 SSHRC-funded Knowledge Synthesis Grant (which reviewed social movement theory, media studies, and affect theory to locate promising directions for understanding contemporary mediated subjectivity), in dialogue with cutting-edge academic research and investigative reporting related to psychometric profiling, computational propaganda, and algorithmic governance to inform a critical theorization of subjectivity. We contrast Spinoza's invocation of the necessity for understanding our passions with second-wave feminist practices of "consciousness-raising," to outline a conceptualization of a networked subject prepared for the kind of critical media literacy required in our era of computational propaganda and psychometric profiling.

Willian Fernandes Araujo, João Carlos Magalhães
This article presents the results of an exploratory research on how ordinary people talk about algorithms publicly, and in so doing perform aspects of their identities. To do this, we look at messages posted on Twitter in 2017 containing the terms 'Facebook algorithm'. From a qualitative content analysis, we identify three basic types of " discursive algorithmic characters", that is to say, the subjective positions in which the person decides to act when talking about “the algorithm". They are: the critical subjects, the represented subjects, and the agent subjects. We contribute with the current literature by showing how ordinary people construct discursive identities in relation to the “algorithm”. In the end, we raise three hypotheses to be further investigated: algorithmic identities may be consciously co-constructed, algorithms are consumable cultural products, and algorithms structure new types of audiences. Our approach aims to demonstre that studies on “algorithmic identities” should take seriously ordinary users, and stop assuming them as inert victims of a new and supposedly unfathomable kind of power. While multiply limited, their autonomy has not simply vanished.

Thursday October 11, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond East

4:00pm EDT

Assemblages of the Socio-Technical I
Ngai Keung Chan
User-generated rating systems are a ubiquitous mechanism for prodding users to perform “data labor” to monitor and evaluate other users’ performance in platform economies. Much of the research has shown that how these systems can exercise control over workers through the automated algorithmic labor management. For rating systems to operate, it requires social coordination between human and non-human actors to legitimize these systems. Drawing on the concept of boundary object, this study uses Uber’s rating system as a case study to examine the practical politics of user-generated rating systems. In particular, it aims to critically assess (1) who can participate in constructing Uber’s rating system as a boundary object; (2) how the rating system creates standardized and residual categories, and for what purposes, and (3) how different actors ascribe multiple meanings to the rating system. Using a loosely defined standard of quantifying drivers’ performance, Uber’s rating system provides fertile ground for the Federal Trade Commission, Uber, and drivers to coordinate their information and work needs without sharing a consensus on their identities and practices. The rating system serves both as a means to build trust among drivers and riders in an anonymous market and as a rhetorical justification for Uber to decide who can continue working on the platform. Therefore, this article argues that the rating syst
em becomes a socio-technical mechanism of governance that constructs drivers as “calculative publics” in the platform economy.

Justin Grandinetti, Charles Ecenbarget
The 2017 partnership between the National Football League (NFL) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) promises novel forms of cutting-edge real-time statistical analysis by utilizing both radio frequency identification (RFID) chips and Amazon’s cloud-based machine learning and data-analytics tools. This use of RFID is heralded for its possibilities: for broadcasters, now capable of providing more thorough analysis; for fans, who can experience the game on a deeper analytical level using the NFL’s Next Gen Stats; and for coaches, who can capitalize on data-driven pattern recognition to gain a statistical edge over their competitors in real-time. The synthesis of RFID and cloud computing data-analytic infrastructure via the NFL/AWS partnership also raises new questions about the use of mobile technologies, the normalization of tracking and big data through entertainment, and the desire for data-driven ways of overcoming the limitations of human perception.

We apply this case study to examine the related issues of RFID and big data analytics as material mobile media implicated in the production of space and new data-driven perception and cognition. Additionally, the promotion of RFID via the NFL’s popularity functions as part of discursive strategies that normalize RFID infrastructures of tracking and surveillance. In adding to literature on RFID as mobile technology, we expand upon recent scholarship focused on RFID and the production of space, big data and cognition, and discursive positionings. Consequently, we position the novel developments and implications of RFID technology as part of material infrastructures with pervasive impacts on the construction of space, perception, and cognition.

Priya Kumar, Sarita Schoenebeck, Jessica Vitak
The blurry, grayscale, wedge-shaped ultrasound image is largely undecipherable as a medical object but instantly recognizable as a social and cultural marker of pregnancy. When shared online, the image becomes one way that expectant parents enact their emerging identities. But how does sharing this image within networked publics such as social network sites or online communities enact the fetus? We explore this question through a qualitative analysis of ultrasound images shared on the online community BabyCenter.

Sonographers use the ultrasound image to document fetal life and check for abnormalities; pregnant women perceive the image as a depiction of their baby and a way of connecting to it. Ultrasound is thus what anthropologist Janelle Taylor calls a “hybrid practice” that serves diagnostic and entertainment purposes. It produces the fetus as a patient while also showing the fetus as a baby for the pregnant woman to see. Prior work has observed that this practice of “showing the fetus” also emerges in keepsake ultrasound business, which are commercial, non-medical sites. This study, which analyzes a sample of posts from the largest ultrasound-focused message board on BabyCenter, examines what type of ultrasound images are shared online and how users make sense of them. It offers a window into how expectant parents negotiate the fetus in a social setting online, extending research on ultrasound into networked publics. The findings inform scholarly understanding of the enactment of parenthood online as well as the construction of future children online.

Carlos Frederico de Brito d'Andréa, André Goes Mintz
Considering the importance of cross-platform circulation of web contents for digital methods-oriented research, in this study we aim to expand the types of digital objects used as ‘traffic tags’ by focusing on static images as traces of online associations. We pursue this goal through a methodological experiment with Google Cloud Vision API, a computing framework for visual content analysis. Its Web Detection module pairs typical computer vision operations with Google’s search mechanism, partly performing as a more specialized batch reverse image search engine. This feature thus allows to potentially retrieve images’ spread across the web. We discuss the implications of this non-verbal methodological approach by tracking the 'live' cross-platform circulation of images shared on Twitter in the context of 2018 FIFA World Cup Final Draw ceremony, held on December 2017. Following a novel methodological protocol, we ran several iterations of Vision API processing, thus generating a time series of URLs pointing to pages in which images matching the ones being processed were found. The study analyses in depth the circulation of four popular images about the broadcasted media event, observing their ‘live’ spreading dynamics as well as the computer vision API performance. Among the findings, we point out the adoption of images as 'traffic tags' for cross-platform analysis as a promising approach to study web circulation beyond language barriers and mainstream platforms. Also, we find relevant data to discuss the specificities of the API’s algorithms and its opacity as inherent issues of the digital methods approach.

Thursday October 11, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 5

4:00pm EDT

Platform Governance and Moderation
Robert Gorwa
Drawing inspiration from recent work on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (FAT) in machine learning, this paper explores a similar research agenda for fairness, accountability, and transparency in platform governance. The paper seeks to make two contributions: (a) provide the initial provocation for what could be termed FAT-platform studies, and to (b) build on the extant platform governance literature (e.g Gillespie 2010, 2015, 2017; Denardis & Hackl, 2015) with an empirical, qualitative case study of Facebook policy practices.

Niels van Doorn
This paper argues that “sharing economy” platforms should be understood as new institutional forms that are transforming relations between market, state, and civil society actors. Focusing on Airbnb, in particular its Airbnb Citizen initiative and its recently introduced Policy Tool Chest, it examines the strategic conflation of the platform company and its user base, as Airbnb advances its public policy goals in cities around the globe. While Airbnb has been known to evade regulation, the company has increasingly sought to become a trusted partner in urban policy making. Assuming the more pro-active and agenda-setting role of the urban policy entrepreneur (Pollman and Barry 2017), Airbnb aims to co-shape the terms of current and future policy debates pertaining not just to home sharing/short-term rental but also to the very fabric of city life. It seeks to achieve this by mobilizing its user base, which it frames as a community of entrepreneurial middle-class citizens looking to supplement their income in a post-recession climate of economic insecurity and opportunity.

The paper demonstrates how Airbnb exploits the ambiguity of its exceptional status as a new hybrid actor in neoliberal urban governance networks: where it becomes a partner in policy making, market and civil society actors/interests converge. It is argued that we are witnessing an emerging mode of “platform urbanism” that introduces a new conundrum to public regulatory institutions: when “sharing economy” platforms collapse the public/private distinction, who benefits from (a lack of) regulation and whose wellbeing are we trying to protect?

Trevor Garrison Smith
This paper seeks to interpret Reddit moderation as a problem of political theory, rather than as a debate between the merits of human moderation and algorithmic moderation. Analyzing Reddit’s moderation structure shows that both the human moderation and the algorithmic moderation reinforce a form of anti-politics which leaves users feeling like they have no input and thus no interest in the well-being of the subreddits in which they participate. Online governance structures are largely top down and authoritarian in nature, despite often being couched in democratic rhetoric, reflecting what Jacques Rancière describes as a hatred of democracy. By looking at the example of how r/Canada came to be widely disparaged on Reddit as a bastion of hate, I make the argument that the key to rooting out online hate is not through more human moderation or by giving algorithms more control, but by creating a democratic culture of buy-in through which users are empowered with responsibility for the quality of content in a discussion space.

Sarah Myers West, Kat Lo, Claudia Lo, Rochelle LaPlante, Sarah T. Roberts
Online moderation comes in many different forms, but the discourse surrounding it currently lacks precision in terminology. This paper argues that it is therefore crucial to develop a clear vocabulary to define the different elements of moderation that reflects the variety of contexts and approaches employed by platforms of different types and levels of scale.

Drawing on our experiences as researchers and moderators, we propose a precise vocabulary for moderation to engender dialog about like concepts across domains and applications: how industry develops best practices; how regulators craft legal regimes to influence moderation; and how we as a public understand and debate this area. We distinguish commercial content moderation from community moderation and identify unique elements to each. Commercial content moderation is best distinguished by the distance created between involved parties, while community moderation features a much closer relationship between those involved. We also elaborate on the technical affordances, labor conditions, timescale and scope of work, and recruitment and training practices for these types of moderation.

This vocabulary is still emergent, but we believe that precision in terms is a valuable objective. Continued conflation over different types of moderation is hugely detrimental when the next step is to invoke solutions. Our aim is to facilitate interdisciplinary communication so that journalists, regulators, researchers and practitioners can come together and participate in critical analysis and intervention.

Thursday October 11, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 7

4:00pm EDT

Twitch and Gaming
Brendan Keogh
Drawing from interviews with students of undergraduate videogame development programs in Australia, this paper considers how amateur videogame developers navigate the greatly altered environment of videogame development and distribution. The videogames that amateur developers have always produced informally at the margins of game culture are increasingly likely to be picked up and distributed beyond their initially intended audience by fan-producers on Youtube and Twitch.tv, and this produces unique challenges for amateur and aspirational developers.

Students spoken to for this paper expressed both excitement when their game received unexpected popularity, but also an anxiety or frustration about how their game would be discussed and framed. Often, players would critique the game as if it was a commercial product, not the work of a student with limited resources. Further, the experience of amplified exposure was experienced unevenly across the genders of students spoken to for this study, with non-male students more likely to encounter negative receptions of their game.

By exploring this new dynamic between student videogame developers and fan-producers, this paper points towards the importance of accounting for a broader range of videogame development practices beyond simply the creation of commercial products. The work of amateur and aspirational videogame developers, just like tweets and blog posts and videos, both perform and mediate online identity, and requires considerable and ongoing labour from individual videogame creators to navigate.

Mia Consalvo, Marc Lajeunesse, Andrei Zanescu
This project uses auto-ethnography to understand acts of live streaming gameplay. Three individuals researchers set up a Twitch channel, configured broadcasting software, selected games, promoted their channel, and live streamed themselves for a period of 3 months. Sessions were recorded, and field notes written following sessions.

Rather than gameplay, streaming itself became our central focus, encompassing extensive “behind the scenes” work: channel set up, bot integration, monitoring analytics, and installing and managing technical equipment. Game playing took a significant amount of time, but was re-conceptualized not simply for ludic enjoyment, but also to attract and interact with potential viewers.

Successful streaming is shaped by technical expertise and access, as viewer expectations and the quality of the product as mediated through multiple technological pathways force streamers to conform to community norms. Even as beginning streamers we willingly put in long hours of embodied, affective labor, cultivating personas to build followings that could (hopefully) translate directly to increased viewership. Finally, we witnessed the increasing gamification of Twitch. Offered immediate access to “stream analytics,” we all participated and began strategizing how to “earn more badges” despite our transient status.

This group auto-ethnography demonstrates the strong pull of technical components such as the Twitch platform to engage in such activities, as well as the growing community norms surrounding streaming that can seem impossible to resist. Our experiences also demonstrate the value of engaging in self-streaming as a practice to better understand it.

Tiernan Joseph Cahill
Twitch.tv has become an important platform for video streaming, especially of games, with more than 100 million monthly users. The structure of content on the platform, which merges live video feeds with chat rooms for user feedback, problematizes existing theoretical frameworks for understanding the roles and hierarchies of different types of users. Combined with efforts to monetize user engagement for the benefit of both platform owners and user-generators of content, there is a need for greater understanding of the new interaction paradigm introduced by the platform.

The present study introduces a framework for systematic, quantitative analysis of user interactions in the chat rooms associated with Twitch channels, as well as a preliminary data set. Social network analysis techniques are used to analyse the centrality and homophily of different classes of users, and the theoretical significance of these observations is briefly discussed.

Mark Richard Johnson, Jamie Woodcock
The website and platform Twitch.tv is the overwhelming market leader in the live broadcast (“streaming”) of user-created videos over the internet, known primarily for the streaming of video game play. In both 2016 and 2017 over two million people regularly broadcast on the platform, resulting in over a million years of video content in total viewed by over one hundred million people (Twitch, 2017). The deep newness of this phenomenon, alongside the many elements that constitute it, make it an important site for studying digital labour, co-production, and gaming culture. In this paper we focus on three elements of the conference theme: the shifting political and creative economies of streaming media, in our case Twitch; social media, platforms, podcasts, and actors in online networks; and the materialities of data, in our case a million years of video content. Specifically, we consider the entangling of the technical and social dimensions of the Twitch phenomenon: how these elements shape the labour of Twitch streamers, audience engagement with the platform, and Twitch’s wider position in contemporary media production. To do so we draw upon semi-structured interviews with over one hundred professional streamers on the Twitch platform, lasting between ten minutes and one hour, alongside at least one hour of ethnographic observation from over two hundred Twitch channels and ethnographic work from almost a dozen gaming events in the United Kingdom, United States, Germany and Poland in the past two years.

avatar for Mia Consalvo

Mia Consalvo

Concordia University
Mia Consalvo is Professor and Canada Research Chair in Game Studies and Design at Concordia University in Montreal. She is the co-author of Real Games: What's Legitimate and What's Not in Contemporary Videogames (2019) and Players and their Pets: Gaming Communities from Beta to Sunset... Read More →

Thursday October 11, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond West

4:00pm EDT

Association of Darknet Researchers
For the past two decades, the standard Internet has been haunted, augmented, or challenged by "darknets," or encrypted, anonymized computer networks with unique networking protocols and topologies. Darknets get characterized in very divergent ways. For some, darknets are havens of evil, full of drug dealers, hackers, information thieves, and pornographers. For others, they are liberation technologies that help people route around online censorship. For still others, they are complex, cultural sites that allow for new forms of personal connection that are not possible on the standard Internet.

Much of the previous research on darknets has focused on the first connotation, that of evil. Here, the emphasis has been on rooting out darknet-based black markets, terrorists, human traffickers, and child abusers. Often, this work relies upon an unspoken technological determinism, where anonymizing technologies inevitably bring out the worst in people, exposing their inherent desire to exploit one another.

Some researchers have argued against this view, noting that darknets allow for dissidents to escape surveillance, avoid censorship, and bring more transparency to governance through whistleblowing practices. However, often this line of work relies on technological determinism, as well, presenting anonymizing technologies as automatically bringing about liberation.

The "Association of Darknet Researchers" is a group of scholars who seek to move Darknet Studies into new directions beyond its immediate association with automatic evil and instant liberation into more complex understanding of its cultural and material practices. In other words, how are people actually using darknets? How do their practices relate to larger social, cultural, political, and economic institutions? What are the transnational materialities of darknets as they appear in different geopolitical contexts? Drawing on their expertise and previous research, the participants in this roundtable will present short position papers on these topics and then invite discussion about the future of Darknet Studies.

avatar for Jeremy Hunsinger

Jeremy Hunsinger

Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada
avatar for Nathalie Marechal

Nathalie Marechal

PhD 2018, University of Southern California

Thursday October 11, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 4

6:30pm EDT

Transnational Materialities and the Future of Critical Internet Studies

Melissa Greg

Principal Engineer and Research Director, Intel

Guillaume Latzko-Toth

Associate Professor of Communication and Digital Media, Laval University

Alison Powell

Assistant Professor in Media and Communications, London School of Economics

Sarah Sharma

Associate Professor of Media Theory, University of Toronto, ICCIT

Thursday October 11, 2018 6:30pm - 8:00pm EDT
Sheraton - Ballroom Centre and West
Friday, October 12

9:00am EDT

Doing Postphenomenology in Internet Studies

This experimental session seeks to provide participants interested in postphenomenological methodology with experience doing postphenomenology. The presenters use postphenomenology in mixed-method qualitative research in their own work, combining postphenomenological analysis with standpoint epistemology, glitch feminism, post-humanism, actor-network theory, critical theory, and feminist ethics of care. They have organized this session in the belief that postphenomenological analysis can enrich other qualitative work in internet studies, whether that analysis is done as a formal method or more informally in researchers’ own thinking-through and theorizing of issues.

Experimental Session Activities

In the first section of the session the presenters will theoretically place—for the audience—postphenomenological methodology, founded by Don Ihde in the context of the phenomenological tradition, exemplified by Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Iris Young. We will emphasize how postphenomenology focuses attention on how technologies modify and mediate embodied experiences.

In the second section, we turn the experimental session to more interactive methods. We will guide the attendees through a set of experiences, including visual art analysis, listening to vocal performance, interactive videos, and a participatory selfie exercise. These experiences will provide lived experiences of postphenomenological analytical tools, including multistability, priming, foregrounding/backgrounding, and phenomenological variation. These analytical tools will be presented through participatory phenomenological descriptions of our shared experiences.

In the final and least structured section of the session we will invite and lead discussion and embodied exploration of topics within attendees’ research, working through new perspectives and approaches to attendees’ ongoing work through participatory and embodied postphenomenological experimentation.

Friday October 12, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Salon 4

9:00am EDT

Internet Struggles and Their Military Legacies
The genealogy of the internet as a technology, as an object of study, and as an organizational form, can be traced back to its military origins and experiments with a fiber optic, digital, distributed communications network designed both to survive a nuclear attack and to launch a counter-attack. What is often derived from this background is the idea of a network that is resilient, ubiquitous, and ever expanding. What is less discussed is the idea that the internet was also designed as a weapon that followed a military logic. It's material configuration was dictated by the specific complexities of nuclear proliferation and a "closed world" (Paul Edwards 1996) logic that defined Cold War geopolitical struggle. “You can take the media out of war, but you can never take the war out of media,” as Geoffrey Winthrop-Young (2011, 133) puts it.

This fishbowl will address the question of whether this most fundamental of material legacies continues to effect, shape, or guide contemporary transnational modes of political, cultural, and military struggle. In other words, is it possible that the military roots of the internet are far more than a mere historical curiosity, but are rather directly determinative of how power relations continue to be tactically enacted and strategically organized? It is certainly the case that the internet continues to shape U.S. total war strategy for perpetuating military hegemony. Is it also the case that the material configuration of the internet makes it a quintessential weapon in other wars of oppression against women, racialized populations, the proletariat, the environment, indigenous populations, as well as neo-colonized nation states and regions? If so, is there value in foregrounding military theory when researching how the internet relates to transnational struggles?


Friday October 12, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Salon 6

9:00am EDT

Making Meaning From “Fake News” And Disinformation: Creation, Dissemination, And Solutions To The Problem
Since the 2016 election, “fake news” has emerged as a major concern for technology platforms, political activists, and journalists. The prevalence of hoaxes, disinformation, bots, and sensational false content on social media has given rise to a plethora of concerns involving the spread of damaging conspiracy theories, the ability of citizens to access accurate political information, and the manipulation of mainstream media by extremist groups and ideologues. However, the term “fake news” has been heavily politicized, used by partisan actors to refer to sources they disagree with, or to call into question the credibility of particular outlets. It is an umbrella term that encompasses a wide array of wildly variant problematic information, and is often used to criticize a variety of practices related to the shift from broadcast to social news consumption, such as clickbait headlines, personalized news, and algorithmic visibility.

To researchers, the current hubbub over “fake news” brings up a set of questions. What can we learn from media and communications histories to inform this moment? How do we examine problematic information as part of an overall media and technological landscape? How can academics and researchers help frame the problem in ways that will lead to effective solutions? This panel showcases empirical scholarship on problematic information, using qualitative, historical, and ethnographic methods to investigate the history, present, and future of so-called “fake news”—calling into question some of the assumptions made in both popular and scholarly discourse.

Specifically, this panel focuses on how institutions construct and contribute to the spread of fake news (paper 1 and paper 2) and how people make meaning of “fake news” in partisan environments (paper 3 and paper 4). Each paper takes up empirical evidence to investigate popular claims about online disinformation, draws upon cutting-edge, interdisciplinary scholarship, and takes a sociotechnical examination of the current information landscape.

The first paper uses a historical approach to criticize the current push for media literacy interventions, drawing from a case study of “economic education” campaigns during the 20th century. The author argues that corporations and corporate-sponsored philanthropic organizations defined the bounds of illegitimate and legitimate media to favor their economic interests and push favorable ideological frameworks. In the current moment, when technology platforms like Google and Facebook are coming under criticism for their role in facilitating the spread of problematic information, focusing on “media literacy” as an individual effort may prevent the implementation of more structural solutions.

The second paper examines the use of bots by both journalists and partisan political actors in the run-up to the 2016 election. Drawing from interviews and participant observation with journalists and technologists, the author frames the journalism bot as an “information radiator” – a “communication prosthesis” for journalists often too busy to parse data or observe Twitter manually. The political bot, on the other hand, was used to push problematic information into mainstream discourse via social media. Both types of bots were instrumental in furthering both “junk news” during the election cycle, and the very concept of “fake news” so popular in the current moment. Thus, understanding how bots are leveraged for multiple purposes by different actors is crucial to understand the underpinning technologies of the disinformation debate.

The third paper examines how mainstream conservatives make sense of and frame an array of partisan, mainstream, and “junk” news. Based on ethnographic interviews and participant observation in Conservative communities, the author argues that Conservatives, far from being cultural dupes, use close reading and research to evaluate and analyze a variety of news and information sources. These processes reinforce the idea that the mainstream media cannot be trusted, further pushing them to partisan news sources that often integrate extreme far-right beliefs and conspiracy theories.

Finally, the fourth paper analyzes theories of media effects of fake news, based on an in-depth reading of current scholarship on “fake news” and partisan media consumption. The author argues that popular discourse frames “fake news” in ways similar to the “magic bullet” theory of media effects popular during the 20th century, but should actually be understood as a process of active audience engagement. Research that suggests “fake news” is more prominent in conservative communities is explained through an analysis of both the deep stories and affect of partisan media. The paper argues that given the shift to social platforms, sharing political information functions online as an identity-signaling mechanism.

Taken together, the four papers suggest that solutions to the “fake news” problem must take into account a variety of actors, technologies, and belief systems involved. Rather than simply describing or critiquing the current moment, this panel hopes to offer some guidance to technologists, policymakers, journalists and activists who wish to curb the spread of disinformation online.


Fabio Giglietto

Associate Professor, Universitá di Urbino Carlo Bo


Friday October 12, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Drummond East

9:00am EDT

Media Archaeologies of Intimacy
This panel explores the connections between our own technological moment and media of the past to analyze the ways that we conceive of — and practice — notions of intimacy. Across eras, we have used technologies to stay in touch with those who are distant from us. In each age, we have used these media to foster a sense of connection and enable distant practices of touch, fantasy, and other modes of embodied linking. Each paper in this panel uses a specific example from a technological moment in the past to discuss how these media, like our own, shape ideas of embodied entanglement with distant others, bridging geographies in order to expand the scale of the sensory links with other bodies.

Each presentation employs a media archaeology methodology by identifying the genealogical link between contemporary media (email, instant message platforms, text messages, haptic interfaces, and online sex) and media of the past (love letters, pneumatic tube mailing systems, WWII-era tactile systems, and phone sex hotlines of the 1980s). By situating each technology discussed within their specific cultural and historical moment — noting the contours and infrastructures that contextualized these mediated connections — the presentations are able to utilizes media-specific analyses while at the same time thinking “intercontextually” to make links between media of the past and our own technologies. As such, we work to create genealogical traces from these examples to the digital age of mobile devices, haptic interfaces, email, and online sex platforms.

Friday October 12, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Drummond West

9:00am EDT

Epistemologies / Ontologies / Methodologies
Sharon Ringel, Rivka Ribak
Over the last couple of decades, libraries, archives, museums and other cultural institutions have gradually begun to scan historical materials and convert them into digital objects. Scanning—this crucial yet mundane and overlooked human-computer interaction—shapes the ways in which archival sources will be preserved for future access. Following a tradition of studies that sought to open scientific black boxes (Bijker, Hughes, & Pinch, 2012; Winner, 1993), this ethnography of the National Library of Israel (NLI) suggests that contrary to the technical view of conversion, archival digitization is an ongoing, unresolved human endeavor in which on-the-ground decisions and practices actively shape the contours of future knowledges.

To capture this transition from the traditional-physical archive into the digital one, we conducted participant observation between 2013-2016 at the Digitization Center of the NLI and other archives digitized by the NLI. We sought to learn about the practicalities of converting analogue archival materials into digital formats by watching the interaction between humans and scanning machines. Analyzing the field notes, we find that digitization is mediated through human action. The cameras and the scanners, at the same time, are elements in a meta-discourse about digitization, signifying the NLI's expertise and performing accuracy. So, the seemingly technical, universal conversion of analogue to digital formats is in fact a manual, labor-intensive, performative enterprise conducted within local communities of practice that develop on-the-job standards.

Kelly Marie Lewis
The digital mediation of visual content depicting death and martyrdom as a trope of resistance and contestation is increasingly employed within social media platforms by transnational activist cultures and popular social movements. I refer to this phenomenon as ‘digital martyrdom’. The emergence of digital martyrdom, and its memetic circulation within visual social media platforms, points to the materialisation of a new, affective and ritualised protest dynamic. Through which posthumous visuals become diffused, reappropriated and politicised within global publics. This raises new ethical implications and moral dilemmas for digital and visual social media researchers, and requires more reflexive and critical thought beyond established ethical considerations. Necessarily, this paper raises ethical questions and provocations for digital and visual social media researchers in relation to the design, collection, presentation and publishing of academic work in the context of death and posthumous imagery online. The questions presented in this paper have emerged out of a systematic study of this phenomenon, with a particular focus on case studies drawn from the Middle East, the United States and Europe. This paper argues that digital and visual social media research in this field merits specific ethical considerations and amplified scholarly deliberation. This is of particular importance for visual social media research that extends beyond a Western context and considers the cross-cultural, transnational dimensions of digital activism.

James W. Malazita
Recent turns toward materiality have influenced scholarship and pedagogy in Media Studies, Science & Technology Studies (STS), and Communication Studies. Often, these turns manifest in calls for “hands-on” humanities and social sciences practices that, as Kirsten Ostherr describes, “can be ‘applied’ to solving ‘real-world’ problems, while also establishing feedback loops that bring new lines of inquiry back to more theoretical research.” Like related scholarly movements in the digital humanities, Applied Media Studies engagements are often cast in the contexts of incorporating maker spaces, critical software labs, and hackathons into media pedagogy. However, if Applied Media Studies are to truly operate not as an “interdisciplinary bridge,” but rather as a force to resolve and heal the divides between computational/technical practices and interpretive/critical scholarship, we must begin to take seriously the kinds of epistemic-infrastructural contexts STEM disciplines are embedded in, as well as the understand the ideological histories that have shaped those contexts.

Jasmine Rault, T.L. Cowan
This paper considers the colonial research methods that have marked and sustained academic scholarship as an affective orientation and attachment to the rewards of discovery, extraction, possession and hygiene. In our research and experience in the fields of transgender, feminist and queer (digital and analog) media and techno-culture, performance, art, activism and theory, we've come to recognise that our attachments to colonial research methods are more than rational and seem remarkably impervious to rational critique or undoing. We want to speak to an infrastructure - naming it for the moment, compulsory dispossessive normativity (borrowing from Adrienne Rich, Aileen Moreton-Robinson, Lisa Duggan) - of emotional and more-than-rational scholarly apparati of feeling that compel and reward intimate intellectual occupations. In particular, here we discuss the ways that the augmented scale of digital technocultural affordances, as they impact scholarly research and publication, make particularly apparent the imperial and colonial logics that continue to shape Western epistemologies, authorship and communications.


Guillaume Latzko-Toth

Associate Professor of Communication and Digital Media, Laval University


Friday October 12, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Salon 7

9:00am EDT

Gaming and Fandom
Anastasia Salter, Bridget Blodgett
The months leading up to the release of Disney franchise films The Last Jedi (December 2017) and Black Panther (February 2018) were marked by speculation, concern, and fervor in equal measures from the established fan communities of Star Wars and Marvel. Both franchises have been associated with toxic geek masculinity, a performed, communal hypermasculinity marked by exclusionary practices and rhetoric (Salter & Blodgett, 2017). By centering either non-white or non-male characters as leads in roles traditionally dominated by cisgender white men, both films became centers for toxic discourse and targeted campaigns aimed at disrupting their commercial success. In this paper, we will situate these case studies as emblematic of the changing discourse of geek fandom spaces, and its intersections with white supremacy and misogyny.

Kenzie Ann Burniston Woodbridge
Over 700 million people worldwide are socializing and spending time, sometimes significant amounts, in online multiplayer games, and these social spaces can be important sites of community. Unfortunately, levels of civility, aggression, and mutual helping can vary significantly between game spaces. Given their ubiquity and importance in so many people’s lives, it is critical to understand how a prosocial community can be created and maintained over time in these spaces for those who want them. This research uses virtual ethnography and interpretive phenomenological analysis to examine how moderation and community development strategies, game design elements, and player behaviours are experienced and can be influenced by players in prosocially-oriented online multiplayer Minecraft servers. It is clear that it is the prosocial orientation of players and the commitment, social skill, and integrity of server moderators that is most key to creating and maintaining a prosocial gaming environment and that although game design can support prosociality, game design factors appear to be much less important overall. Attracting the right players—and refusing entry to the wrong ones—is the most important concern.

Kalia Vogelman-Natan
This paper investigates fan communities’ response to a corporal attempt to monetize fan fiction, focusing on Amazon’s $2 platform and the feverish debate it incurred. A grounded analysis of discussions on FanFiction.net revealed six major argumentative themes, which relate to three fundamental tensions underlying fan communities in the digital age: fan/producer, gift/commercial, and fair use/copyright. Across all categories, fans’ evaluation of the platform was informed by the consideration of whether $2 constitutes an ‘extension’ of fan culture. An integrative analysis of the six categories reveals an overarching tension between the individual and community that lies at the heart of the discussion: fans would rather be exploited (even if by other fans) as a community than be individually exploited by a corporation.

Casey Fiesler, Brianna Dym
Fandom (consisting of communities of media fans and fan creators) is an example of a longstanding technology-agnostic community that has existed since long before online platforms. Mass migrations across platforms have also occurred frequently over the years—e.g., from email lists to Livejournal to Tumblr. As part of a larger project, we interviewed fan creators who have been part of this community for decades and have experienced these migrations. These interviews revealed patterns of reasons for platform shifts—including issues related to design, policy, values, and community—as well as the consequences for themselves and their communities. Our findings provide

insights into not just the dynamics of fandom specifically, but also into success and failure factors for online communities, and the relationship between community and platform.

Friday October 12, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Ballroom East

9:00am EDT

Infrastructures II: Im/Materialities
Natasha Tusikov
Much online regulation uses the language of voluntary, industry compliance, thus raising the question of the retreat of the state. However, by examining the online regulation of intellectual property rights, this paper argues that the state plays a central role in directing specific regulatory outcomes. The U.S. government, acting on behalf of prominent rights holders, including Nike, has coerced the China-based Taobao marketplace to adopt non-legally binding agreements to curb the online sale of counterfeit goods. The goal is to pressure Taobao (part of the massive Alibaba Group conglomerate) to exceed its legal responsibilities voluntarily. Advocates describe this as a "beyond-compliance" regulatory strategy (European Commission, 2013, pp. 5-6). This paper explores how, and more importantly, why the U.S. government exports rules drafted by U.S. rights holders to shape the operation of Chinese marketplaces. More broadly, the paper considers the role of U.S. commercial and security interests in shaping both regulation of Internet services and Internet governance. Using the regulation of intellectual property as a case study, the paper explores the U.S. government's enrollment of Internet intermediaries - both U.S.-based companies like Google and PayPal and China-based firms - to institute standards that privilege western legal, economic, and political preferences. Drawing from the regulatory theory literature, the paper argues that intermediaries' work as regulators is a form of enforced hybrid regulation. The paper offers original research from interviews with policymakers and industry representatives, and textual analysis of documents from the U.S. government and Alibaba Group relating to the informal enforcement agreement.

Harsh Taneja, Angela Xiao Wu
This study analyzes how web audiences flow across online digital features. We construct a directed network of user flows based on sequential user clickstreams for all popular websites (n=1761), using traffic data obtained from a panel of a million web users in the United States. We analyze these data to identify constellations of websites that are frequently browsed together in temporal sequences, both by similar user groups in different browsing sessions as well as by disparate users. Our analyses thus render visible previously hidden online collectives and generate insight into the varied roles that curatorial infrastructures may play in shaping audience fragmentation on the web.

Jonathan Vincent Pace
This paper examines exchange relations on Silk Road, an anonymous online black market located in a concealed portion of the internet, the dark web. The federal court case of Ross William Ulbricht, Silk Road's architect and executive operator, constitutes the core of my source material. In United States v. Ulbricht, the prosecution presented as evidence Ulbricht's private correspondences and weekly business logs, in which he detailed major site-related activities. These offer a unique look into the otherwise hidden operations of Silk Road. I have also made use of Ulbricht's online statements, including his comments on the Silk Road discussion forums. In interpreting these materials, I have used what can best be described as critical discourse analysis to interrogate the operative assumptions within these texts, as well as the social and institutional contexts of their production. I argue that Silk Road represented an aggressively capitalist mode of exchange, marked by an absence of state regulation, a lack of status codes, an ineffective reputation system, and a resulting deluge of blackmail, scam, coercion, and monopoly. Contrary to its founder's vision of a libertarian utopia, the digital in free market in contraband was plagued with fraudulent economic practices, underwritten by a market logic that exploited the site's unique infrastructure. The salient principle of economic relationality on Silk Road was not cooperation and freedom but deception and intimidation.

John Logie
In 1996, Christina Haas's book Writing Technology: Studies in the Materiality of Literacy was a long-overdue investigation of how materiality — in the form of both writing tools and writing spaces — matters for composers of written texts. Haas's work addressed the practical implications of increasing use of digital tools on writing processes. My project is founded in a determination that our current circumstance is one in which the increasing immateriality of literacy is transforming what it means to write with digital technology.

For what we can now understand as a brief window of time ) computers were not necessarily attached to anything more than the power grid.

But from at least the 1990s forward, computers have been built with connectivity to the Internet as a foundational design element. As a practical consequence of this connectivity, 21st Century writers are now (virtually) far closer to others — and others’ texts — than at any point in human history.

This project is about the differences that make a difference as composers migrate towards internetworked digital composing spaces. Often, the preferences and practices of print composition will remain stubbornly in place as composers adopt new technologies (still writing on their QWERTY keyboards). But every now and again, we will experience moments of possibility, of perceived weightlessness as the potential of internetworked digital composing tools makes truly new practices and patterns of composition possible.

avatar for Natasha Tusikov

Natasha Tusikov

Assistant Professor, York University
Intermediary liability/regulation Private ordering/voluntary regulation Trademark/copyright regulation Internet of Things

Friday October 12, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Drummond Centre

9:00am EDT

Lewis Mitchell, Joshua Dent, Joshua Ross
It is widely accepted that different online social media platforms produce different modes of communication, however the ways in which these modalities are shaped by the constraints of a particular platform remain difficult to quantify. On 7 November 2017 Twitter doubled the character limit for users to 280 characters, presenting a unique opportunity to study the response of this population to an exogenous change to the communication medium. Here we analyse a large dataset comprising 387 million English-language tweets (10% of all public tweets) collected over the September 2017--January 2018 period to quantify and explain large-scale changes in individual behaviour and communication patterns precipitated by the character-length change. Using statistical and natural language processing techniques we find that linguistic complexity increased after the change, with individuals writing at a significantly higher reading level. However, we find that some textual properties such as statistical language distribution remain invariant across the change, and are no different to writings in different online media. By fitting a generative mathematical model to the data we find a surprisingly slow response of the Twitter population to this exogenous change, with a substantial number of users taking a number of weeks to adjust to the new medium. In the talk we describe the model and Bayesian parameter estimation techniques used to make these inferences. Furthermore, we argue for mathematical models as an alternative exploratory methodology for "Big" social media datasets, empowering the researcher to make inferences about the human behavioural processes which underlie large-scale patterns and trends.

David Murphy
This conference paper uses a media archaeology approach (Parikka, 2012; Huhatamo, 1997) to excavate the Sony Playstation Portable’s unique hacking, piracy, and homebrew software development history—a history which is brimming with implications for today’s debates over piracy, innovation, and the socio-technical management of networked devices. It will begin with a discussion of the theories and methodologies being implemented before delving into the Playstation Portable’s history and the technical milestones that its hardware hacking scene achieved. Then, it will describe how these milestones contributed to new anti-piracy technologies and a new hegemonic shift in which hacking and piracy are not only treated as a source of innovation (Raustiala & Sprigman, 2006; Johns, 2009; Soderberg & Delfanti, 2015), but are also still classified, in a juridical sense, as illicit user behaviors. Finally, the paper will describe how this shift points to subtle changes in intellectual property practice and thinking, resulting in a post-digital politics of intellectual property which seeks to foster and subsume illicit networks and illegal user activities.

Kim Osman
The proposed paper reports on the findings of a two-year study that used digital vulgar comedy to engage young men with information about healthy sexual development. The project partnered with a sexual health organisation to target young, straight-identifying men with information about sex and relationships, as they are not always considered as a discrete group with particular sex education needs (McKee, Walsh, & Watson, 2014). The research aimed to address the gap through the lens of entertainment-education (Singhal & Rogers, 2004), furthering past efforts (Gold et al., 2012; Johnston, 2017; Pascoe, 2011) to examine new ways to engage young people with information about sex and relationships via digital media.

The paper reflects on the challenges, risks and opportunities of the shift from a teaching or media production model to a curation-based, ‘spreadability’ (Jenkins, Ford & Green, 2013) model of sexual health education, grounded in the everyday routines and practices of young people. We argue that, despite the discomfort that comes with this release of control, there are significant benefits to this model for sexual health and education organisations.

Megan Sapnar Ankerson
If early television promised a new expansive global view—“your window on the world”—from the family living room television set (Spigel 1992: 102), what view of the world does live-streaming promise? What does global live-streaming and social broadcasting mean within the historical contexts of television and the internet? Live-streaming app Periscope's tagline, for example, urges viewers to “explore the world through someone else’s eyes.” What modes of mediated looking do live streaming apps enable, and how might we situate these practices culturally and historically? How does the discourse of “social broadcasting” compare with that of early broadcast radio and television? To address these questions, this paper employs a material-semiotic analysis of the Periscope app and Facebook Live, examining interface design, technological affordances, and media discourse surrounding live-streaming as way to critically engage the complex dynamics underpinning the entanglement of mass media logic and social media logic.

avatar for Lewis Mitchell

Lewis Mitchell

Applied mathematician/data scientist, University of Adelaide
Large-scale quantitative social media analysis; computational social science; data science methods

Friday October 12, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Salon 5

9:00am EDT

Ethics On AoIR: A Practice Oriented Visionquest
The AoIR Ethics Committee is responsible for developing Internet Research Ethics 3.0, as an extension of and supplement to the previous AoIR ethics guidelines (2002, 2012). Several developments since 2012 require new ethical attention, including, e.g., increased focus on protecting researchers, not just the researched; multiple ethical concerns clustering about Big Data collection and analysis techniques, and so on. The committee proposes this roundtable as a discussion and deliberation space where members and conference participants can take up recent developments and report on a first draft of the IRE 3.0 document. Here we focus specifically on how the idea of internet research ethics has been received and how the value systems guiding the development of IRE as a globally-oriented document have to be negotiated.

Chaired by Charles Ess, the roundtable consists of three presenters: Aline Franzke, Yiva Hård af Segerstad, and Soraj Hongladarom. Each panelist will share their experiences of how their actual research gives rise to questions concerning ethical nature that deserve to be further discussed and investigated. Aline Franzke will summarize the continuation of the work of the AoIR Ethics Committee across the course of several meetings and workshops over the past year, reporting on the progress of the implementation of Ethics Document 3.0 and affiliated, technology-specific modules (beginning with AI and Machine Learning). Yiva Hård af Segerstad raises the question of what the responsibility of the researcher should be after a project is completed, and shows that extending the use of the tools developed for a project beyond the latter’s funded duration should itself be an ethical issue. In the final paper, Soraj Hongladarom talks about the value systems that could either resist or encourage the use of ethical guidelines. He will report on how the work of the committee will be received in Thailand.


Ylva Hård af Segerstad

Senior lecturer, Associate professor, University of Gothenburg

Friday October 12, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Salon 8

9:00am EDT

Privacy Booth
_*PrivacyBooth*_ is an experimental method of research creation to learn more about the future of privacy, digital culture, and the networked society.

We propose a small installation in the form of a _speaker’s booth_ which invites participants to share/tell a one-minute story about privacy and/or their perceptions and negotiations with digital privacy policy. *Be Public About Privacy!*

_*PrivacyBooth*_ is a stable structure built with a wood frame and completely free-standing. A Bluetooth enhanced camera mounted inside the box records one-minute after a participant pushes a button onscreen. Research ethics and informed consent information, as well as prompts are located inside the booth. Participants may share multiple stories. The booth provides information about digital privacy policy literacy, including creative commons licenses (i.e., CC BY SA NC) and information about alternatives to current digital privacy practices. Detailed information about how digital files will be used is included in ethical protocols. _Ultimately we seek to understand how people perceive privacy and negotiate with digital policies._

This project experiments with mixed-methods, including user-driven qualitative strategies and digital storytelling methods. Any participant contributions in_*PrivacyBooth*_ may be included in research, education, and pedagogical initiatives. Logged video may be integrated with other digital stories (Gubrium 2009; Cunsolo et al. 2013) to explore the role policies play in digital practices and negotiations. Stories may also be taken up in pedagogical initiatives aimed at fostering critical awareness about issues including commodification, surveillance, and intellectual property.

Storytelling has a long history of use in communication studies, English, history, psychology, and across art forms (Knowles 2004; Margolis and Pauwels 2011; Bates 2013; Garner and Scott 2013), and are linked to such issues as social justice, well-being, civic engagement, and social acceptance. Further, Noyse (2004) demonstrates how the use of digital tools complement other methods. Following Noyse, our use of video and audio illustrates a strong degree of reflexivity—by making participants’ bodies audibly, visibly, and viscerally present.

All stories are housed on a project website and uploaded to a digital repository at the University of Guelph library. Participant stories are clearly marked for public consumption via a Creative Commons license and assessed for detailed content, discourse, and semiotic analysis. Sánchez-Navarro & Aranda (2012) researched how digital media-making functions as tools for sociability, leisure, and informal learning; further, the tools people use are instruments for social relationships (Antheunis et al., 2009), identity management (boyd, 2007, 2014; Valkenburg and Peter, 2011, 2013), and potentially engender digital divides (Notten et al., 2009). The research team plans to assess contributions to understand how people perceive privacy and negotiate with terms of use and other digital policies.

According to Montgomery (2015), social networks have given people “an illusion they can control their privacy”. No matter what people tell pollsters, many of us share a great deal of private information online. _*PrivacyBooth*_aims to contribute to Shade and Shepherd's (2013) call for a framework of digital policy literacy that counters and resists the “often–cynical attitude" people display towards the exploitation of their private lives.

Friday October 12, 2018 9:00am - 5:00pm EDT
Located near the registration tables on the Ballroom Foyer

11:00am EDT

Visual Social Media Pedagogies-in-Practice
This experimental session seeks to harness the pedagogical hivemind of AoIR2018 to explore, test and share new ways of using visual social media apps to critique and make visible social and cultural issues, boundaries and materialities. Building on the pedagogical prototyping undertaken as part of the Selfies Course preconference at AoIR2014 in Daegu, (see Albury, Leaver, Marwick, Rettberg, & Senft, 2017), this experimental session asks participants to work together in exploring new ways that visual social media tools can be rapidly—and without any additional resourcing or costs—be deployed in the classroom (and other learning contexts) to unsettle and explore the everyday. While selfies remain central in visual social media, this session will also seek to explore other forms including memes, looping media (such as animated GIFs) and so forth (see Ask & Abidin, 2018; Highfield & Leaver, 2016; Miltner & Highfield, 2017). Participants will work in small groups to scope the social and cultural issue(s) they most immediately want to tackle. Each group will then, in dialogue with the experimental session instigators, undertake a rapid design process to sketch out a learning exercise that could be undertaken by any group with access to visual social media apps. Each group will present their prototype, which will then be tested out by other groups in the session. Once a swift but thorough testing phase is completed, the merits of each prototype will be documented and the instigators will work with participants to (very quickly) document each useful prototype to then be shared publicly both for the AoIR community, and teachers anywhere and everywhere. At the sessions end we seek to have (a) rapidly prototyped a range of hands-on visual social media teaching exercises, (b) tested the most promising of these exercises with the experimental session participants and (c) created an on-the-fly shared public resource documenting these exercises to be shared within the AoIR community of teachers as well as publicly for pedagogical use anywhere they might be of value. Participants in this experimental session are requested to bring their pedagogical enthusiasm, willingness to participate, and a mobile device ideally with Instagram, Snapchat and any other visual social media tools you wish to explore already installed ready to use!


Albury, K., Leaver, T., Marwick, A. E., Rettberg, J. W., & Senft, T. M. (2017). The Selfie Course: More than a MOOC. In R. Bennett & M. Kent (Eds.), Massive Open Online Courses and Higher Education: Where to Next? (pp. 168–182). London and New York: Routledge.

Ask, K., & Abidin, C. (2018). My life is a mess: self-deprecating relatability and collective identities in the memification of student issues. Information, Communication & Society, 1–17.

Highfield, T., & Leaver, T. (2016). Instagrammatics and digital methods: Studying visual social media, from selfies and GIFs to memes and emoji. Communication Research and Practice, 2(1), 47–62.

Miltner, K. M., & Highfield, T. (2017). Never Gonna GIF You Up: Analyzing the Cultural Significance of the Animated GIF. Social Media + Society, 3(3)

Friday October 12, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 4

11:00am EDT

The Risks and Rewards of Public Scholarship: Studying the Internet and Becoming its Fodder
From online harassment to the alt-right to Anonymous, many internet researchers want to communicate their findings to a broader public, seeking to intervene in and shape current political and social debates. The participants in this fishbowl will explore how our public scholarship, whether participation on social media, writing for the mainstream media, or giving public talks, might contribute to (and/or complicate) our various goals of educating the public, furthering social justice, and advocating for policy changes. We will discuss both the successful outcomes, including examples of social, political, or policy change, as well as the challenges, limits, misfires, and risks in reaching beyond scholarly audiences. We will discuss strategies for dealing with the backlash to our work. Given the contemporary political climate, addressing racism, sexism, and other systemic forms of inequality can trigger increased public scrutiny and harassment. This fishbowl will offer a space for participants to share practical advice and ask questions about public scholarship including: connecting with journalists, writing for the public in accessible language, adding nuance to simplistic narrative frames, appealing to tenure and promotion committees, and promoting greater diversity of sources, which is often lacking in journalism. In discussing how we navigate studying the internet, intervening in public conversations about it, and being the subject of clickbait ourselves, we examine the risks and rewards of public scholarship.

Friday October 12, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 8

11:00am EDT

A Division Of Labor: The Role Of Big Data Analysis In The Repertoire Of Internet Research Methods
In recent years, large-scale analysis of log data from digital devices - often termed "big data analysis" (Lazer, Kennedy, King, & Vespignani, 2014) - have taken hold in the field of internet research. Through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and commercial measurement, scholars have been able to analyze social media users (Freelon 2014) and web audiences (Taneja, 2016) on an uprecedented scale. And by developing digital research tools, scholars have been able to track individuals across websites (Menchen-Trevino, 2013) and mobile applications (Ørmen & Thorhauge 2015) in greater detail than ever before. Big data analysis holds unique potential for studying communication in depth and across many individuals (see e.g. Boase & Ling, 2013; Prior, 2013).

At the same time, this approach introduces new methodological challenges in the transparency of data collection (Webster, 2014), sampling of participants and validity of conclusions (Rieder, Abdulla, Poell, Woltering, & Zack, 2015). Firstly, data aggregation is typically designed for commercial rather than academic purposes. The type of data included as well as how it is presented depend in large part on the business interests of measurement and advertisement companies (Webster, 2014). Secondly, when relying on this kind of secondary data it can be difficult to validate the output or techniques used to generate the data (Rieder, Abdulla, Poell, Woltering, & Zack, 2015). Thirdly, often the unit of analysis is media-centric, taking specific websites or social network pages as the empirical basis instead of individual users (Taneja, 2016). This makes it hard to untangle the behavior of real-world users from the aggregate trends. Lastly, variations in what users do might be so large that it is necessary to move from the aggregate to smaller groups of users to make meaningful inferences (Welles, 2014). Internet research is thus faced with a new research approach in big data analysis with potentials and perils that need to be discussed in combination with traditional approaches.

This panel explores the role of big data analysis in relation to the wider repertoire of methods in internet research. The panel comprises four presentations that each sheds light on the complementarity of big data analysis with more traditional qualitative and quantitative methods.

The first presentation opens the discussion with an overview of strategies for combining digital traces and commercial audience data with qualitative interviews and quantitative survey methods. The next presentation explores the potential of trace data to improve upon the experimental method. Researcher-collected data enables scholars to operate in a real-world setting, in contrast to a research lab, while obtaining informed consent from participants. The third presentation argues that large-scale audience data provide a unique perspective on internet use. By integrating census-level information about users with detailed traces of their behavior across websites, commercial audience data combines the strength of surveys and digital trace data respectively. Lastly, the fourth presentation shows how multi-institutional collaboration makes it possible do document social media activity (on Twitter) for a whole country (Australia) in a comprehensive manner. A feat not possible through other methods on a similar scale. Through these four presentations, the panel aims to situate big data analysis in the broader repertoire of internet research methods.

avatar for Axel Bruns

Axel Bruns

Professor, QUT
Dr Axel Bruns is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and Professor in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. He leads the QUT Social Media Research Group and is the author of Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond... Read More →

Friday October 12, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond East

11:00am EDT

Revisiting Perpetual Contact: Global Voices On The Connective Potentials And Constraints Of Mobile Media
The theory of “perpetual contact” was initially developed in the age of feature phones to discuss how the availability and portability afforded by mobile phones brings opportunities and risks. Since then, the rapid development of social media, alongside the popularization of smartphones, commercial platforms, media convergence, and wireless connectivity across the globe, has expanded the scope of perpetual contact. Now, more than ever, people can be constantly connected with distant others around the globe. This panel brings together a group of international researchers who examine perpetual contact in light of today’s mobile media. Four contributions, together with a notable area scholar serving as the respondent, raise critical debates and ask the following questions: What are the consequences when perpetual contact intervenes in maintaining relationships with family, friends, and colleagues, as well as the wider local and national community? How do diverse global social and cultural contexts affect experiences of perpetual contact? How does perpetual contact inform social change at personal, interpersonal, economic, political, and industrial levels? The four empirical contributions cover topics as diverse as long-distance nationalism, weak-bond friend maintenance, migrant-workers’ personal network and their mental health, and algorithmic management in the gig economy. Diverse contexts (the Philippines, US, China, Europe, and Taiwan) and methodological approaches (questionnaire survey, in-depth interview, ethnography, and online ethnography) are presented. The panel thus amplifies the voices of individuals with a range of subjectivities while also demonstrating the agency that people across geographies implement when determining how to initiate, sustain, and negotiate perpetual contact.

Friday October 12, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 6

11:00am EDT

Agents, Actants and AI
Nathaniel Poor, Roei Davidson
Google, Facebook, and Linkedin have recently integrated artificial intelligence-driven recommendation systems into their widely used communication services. These systems suggest replies to users which they can send when communicating with others. For example, Google provides “Smart Reply” in its Gmail mobile applications. Senders can click on a smart reply, modify it if they wish, or send it as is, as if they typed it themselves, and receivers may be none the wiser. Such technologies recast the first part of Lasswell’s (1948) model of communication, $2 , making interpersonal communication impersonal. A similar feature is also embedded in Facebook’s Messenger application as well as in LinkedIn.

For this work, we use Critical Discourse Analysis to examine how the institutional creators and their surrounding intermediaries (PR professionals and technology journalists) discuss Smart Reply and similar technologies, not only looking for what people mention but what is absent. To aid in considering how these technologies are framed we draw on work that considers the relationship between humans and computers, and on recent science fiction. While institutional and journalistic discourses focus on what is present, these approaches allow us to consider socially-relevant absences related to the consequences such recommendation technologies might have for human autonomy, well-being and deliberation.

Bart Simon, Ceyda Yolgörmez
This paper considers the agency question in the practical engagement of consumer artificial agents like Alexa, Siri, Google Home and others. Drawing on literature in the cultural studies of robotics and artificial intelligence, STS and interactionist sociology we argue that the agency and attendant human-likeness of increasingly sophisticated artificial agents is less of an existential question and more a matter of practical attribution by human interlocutors. Our guiding question then is, how do artificial agents’ interlocutors assess and attribute agency and what are the conditions for differential attributions?

K. Bret Staudt Willet, Brooks D. Willet
Twitter has become a hub for many different types of educational conversations, denoted by hashtags and organized by a variety of affinities. Researchers have described these educational conversations on Twitter as sites for teacher professional development. Here, we studied #Edchat—one of the oldest and busiest Twitter educational hashtags—to examine the content of contributions for evidence of professional purposes. We collected tweets containing the text “#edchat” from October 1, 2017 to June 5, 2018, resulting in a dataset of 1,228,506 unique tweets from 196,263 different contributors. Through initial human-coded content analysis, we sorted a stratified random sample of 1,000 tweets into four inductive categories: tweets demonstrating evidence of different professional purposes related to (a) self, (b) others, (c) mutual engagement, and (d) everything else. We found 65% of the tweets in our #Edchat sample demonstrated purposes related to others, 25% demonstrated purposes related to self, and 4% of tweets demonstrated purposes related to mutual engagement. Our initial method was too time intensive—it would be untenable to collect tweets from 339 known Twitter education hashtags and conduct human-coded content analysis of each. Therefore, we are developing a scalable machine-learning model—a multiclass logistic regression classifier using an input matrix of features such as tweet types, keywords, sentiment, word count, hashtags, hyperlinks, and tweet metadata. The anticipated product of this research—a successful, generalizable machine learning model—would help educators and researchers quickly evaluate Twitter educational hashtags to determine where they might want to engage.

Sun-ha Hong
The diffusion of smart machines for tracking individual bodies and homes raise new questions about what counts as self-knowledge, how human sense experience should be interpreted, and how data is to be trusted (or not). Self-tracking practices intersect the contemporary faith in the objectivity of data with the turn towards what has been called ‘i-pistemology’: a revalorisation of personal and experience-based truth in opposition to top-down and expert authority. What does it mean to ‘know myself’, insofar as this knowing is performed through machines that operate beyond the limits of the human senses? What does it mean to turn to personalised and individuated forms of datafication amidst a wider crisis of consensus, expertise, and shared horizons of reality?

This analysis draws on a larger research project into datafication and knowledge, conducted between 2014 and 2017. It included analysis of news media coverage on self-tracking technologies; of self-tracking products and prototypes, including the promotional discourse and the design of individual devices; and interviews and participation observations of the Quantified Self community. The presentation will explore how these technologies connect the faith in data-driven objectivity with a contrarian and individualistic form of ‘personalised’ knowledge, remixing wider themes of trust, expertise and verification.

Friday October 12, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Ballroom East

11:00am EDT

Cultures of Production
Jack Linchuan Qiu, Julie Yujie Chen
Shenzhen, China, has become known as “the Silicon Valley of Hardware” due to its ascendance in the global digital economy in recent decades. It allows us to raise a key question about the material and spatial order of today’s digital world: Does technological innovation always occur first in the core regions of the world system, and then spread to more peripheral regions like China? This paper develops the conceptual idea of “margins at the center” in which the three types of marginality -- the edges of geography, the fringes of history, the vectors of the renounced -- intertwine. It then uses fieldwork data, interviews and primary documents to tackle the above question by examining shanzhai mobile phone manufacturing and drivers’ use of, and struggle against, ride-hailing platforms in Shenzhen, seen through different vantage points of labor, capital, and the state. In all, Shenzhen is a prism for us to see possibilities of digital economies in the Global South. The acts of innovation and struggle in Shenzhen depict complex reactions to new types of Western imperialism now taking form in and through the digital economy. We argue that cores and margins may shift or even reverse in the realm of digital innovation. We conclude by reflecting on why certain “margins” turn out to play a “central” role in contemporary digital transformations; under what conditions; and what are the global implications of alternative digital economies in Shenzhen, for marginality to generate impact beyond the margins, even upon the supposed core.

Rivka Ribak
In his work on the politics of algorithms, Tarleton Gillespie reminds us that such seemingly technical infrastructures are translations of social ideas and practices into computer language. Gillespie urges the study of algorithms to attend to "the people involved at every point: people debating the models, cleaning the training data, designing the algorithms, tuning the parameters, deciding on which algorithms to depend on in which context" (2016:22). This research heeds his call, seeking to trace the ways in which social ideas about cyber security and privacy are shaped before they are inscribed in code. Specifically, it draws on in-depth interviews, conducted with Israeli developers in the winter of 2017-18, in order to disentangle the flow of ideas about cyber security and privacy in local and cross-cultural encounters, and to shed light on the ways in which these social ideas are negotiated and then written as software for apps and related products. The research addresses three questions:

How do Israeli developers conceptualize information privacy and data security?

How are local concepts of privacy and security re-shaped in the encounter between Israeli workers and other workers – from the US, Europe, and Asia?

How are these cross-cultural encounters stabilized and inscribed in code?

Kate Miltner
Over the past five years, a sociocultural discourse around "learning to code" has gained remarkable traction in the United States. This discourse positions computer programming as central to the economic health of the nation in a 'new' global economy and essential for individual access to the most desirable labor markets, particularly for marginalized groups such as women and people of color. It also asserts that mass technological skills training is necessary to address a "skills gap" that has left 500,000 well-paid technology jobs unfilled in the U.S (Swartz, 2017). In connection to this discourse, hundreds of coding bootcamps and coding schools have launched around the United States, churning out tens of thousands of graduates annually. Tech leaders insist that these workers are desperately needed to fill the thousands of "new collar" jobs that are being created within the technology sector.

This work-in-progress paper examines the implications of this discourse and its manifestation in social practice, doing so in two interrelated ways. First, it articulates and interrogates the American "learn to code" discourse, especially as it pertains to "new collar" jobs and workers. Second, it offers early stage analysis from ethnographic fieldwork taking place at a two-year, "full stack" coding program in San Francisco. By examining the continuities and disjunctures between the ideals of the "learn to code" discourse and how it manifests within coding schools, this paper offers a unique perspective on how longstanding power dynamics are reproduced in the material and social arrangements of technological production.

Suzanne de Castell, Karen Skardzius
Since the 1990s, conversations about the dearth of women working in the video game industry have centered on three topics: 1) ways to draw more women into the field, 2) the experiences of women working in the industry, and 3) the experiences of those who once worked in the industry but left (Cassell & Jenkins, 1998; Hepler, 2017; Kafai, Heeter, Denner & Sun, 2008). While there has been considerable research on the conditions and occupational identities of video game developers, less scholarly attention has been devoted to women in games work, the barriers/obstacles and challenges/opportunities they face, or how they talk about their experiences. Our study looked to see who among the group of women who work in the games industry has already invested her time and energy to tell a public story, whether that is in a blog posting, a book chapter, a televised talk, a radio interview, or other public media, thereby building the foundations of the study by focusing on that sub-group.

This paper offers a feminist methodological approach that demonstrates how discourse focused on affect can be re-read as intimately related to silences about power, and how the rhetorical constraints that public speech imposes upon what can be said about “women in games” aids us in understanding what might remain unspoken, and why.

Friday October 12, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond West

11:00am EDT

Materialities / Spatialities / Temporalities
Tobias Eberwein, Corinna Gerard-Wenzel
Archives by public service media (PSM) are often regarded as an ideal instrument for creating a collective 'cultural memory', which is essential in the individualized, differentiated and polarized societies of today. Technological innovations and digitization open up new possibilities in this regard, as data can be stored and made accessible more easily. In their daily work, however, PSM archives encounter various obstacles. How do PSM across Europe deal with the digitization of audiovisual archives and what exactly are the problems and challenges that accompany this process? To answer this question, the authors conducted problem-centered interviews with journalists, members of audience relations departments, legal departments, archivists and archive managers in selected European countries (Austria, Finland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom). In addition, selected examples of the publicly accessible archived content were analyzed and evaluated. The paper highlights tensions between personal rights and collective interests in the process of creating cultural memory: One of the main transformations in archiving that digitization has brought about is the way in which the material is publicly accessed and the proportion of the material that is publicly accessible. However, digitization has also caused significant risks, particularly with regard to the legal and ethical challenges it causes. The paper concludes with proposals for media policy.

Henrik Bødker, Niels Brügger
This paper focuses on how news websites constitute interrelated temporalities at the intersections between technological affordances, differently situated events and the specific location or anchoring of the news websites. The broader aim of this paper is thus to get a more detailed understanding of how news sites grounded in differently sized places such as small town, bigger cities, or regions negotiate the temporal affordances of the internet with differently constituted temporalities (e.g. social and embodied times). The study thus aims to add to the broader discussions of how the internet is localized in various and complex ways.

At the national level, news websites in several countries frame events within national boundaries (as shown by Curran et al. 2013) and thus arguably adhere to what Sassen (2000) calls the temporality of the nation. By looking at sites located in, respectively, a regional centre, a local centre and a smaller town, we aim to understand how the digital constitution of temporalities happens within locations with different relations to the regional, national and global.

Such an analysis will help constitute a more nuanced view in opposition to more broadly conceived notions of internet time or network time. “Network time […] is not total or monolithic” says Hassan (2014: 9); and people engage with the internet from “within ‘social time,’ that is, specifically located cultural negotiations between body time, natural time, wider cultural time regimes, and, linked to that, technological temporalities” (Bodker, 2017, 56).

Danielle Jeanine Deveau
Of the many aspects of our daily lives that are mapped, our cultural spaces, activities, and events are pinned and displayed in mapped interfaces. We rely on maps to organize our experiences of urban spaces - planning a night out for food, drinks, and cultural consumption through proximate activity. Large cultural events, such as music festivals, are not only scheduled, but carefully mapped - directing attendees to various stage and performance locations, beer gardens, merchandise booths, port-a-potties, and food trucks. For an urban centre with a strong cultural scene to be guaranteed attraction, it must be mapped.

Integrating qualitative and quantitative methodologies, this research considers the role of cultural mapping both as an analytic tool and a public facing application. Furthermore, it considers the complex ways in which spatial representations interact in problematic ways with lived experience and cultural practices. In particular, I consider various stages of and approaches to cultural mapping undertaken in the Waterloo Region (Ontario, Canada). This case study illustrates well the constraints and shortcomings of mapping as a planning and information dissemination tool, the limitations of big data approaches to urban economic development, and the challenges of incorporating multiple-stakeholders into data curation and visualization projects. In short, this research seeks to reconcile the constraints of “big data” planning approaches with the complex, sometimes intangible, and often messy processes of building and visualizing vibrant and liveable communities and cities.

Benjamin Parrish Haber
In this paper, I explore the discourses and diagramatics of the growing industry that uses location as both a social proxy and as an alternative form of subjectification to more traditional social techniques based in mining archival material. I’m interested in the affective distance between geolocation information that feels more abstractly related to the self and more ostensibly “personal” information like preference and demographic information. I suggest the uneven nature of public concern around privacy and digital culture reflects the extent to which we have been primed to alternately personalize or minimize our interpellation by data, so that cumulative location information collected by Alphabet through their Google Maps application is less likely to inspire anxious concern around privacy than more obviously “social” media.

I focus in particular on a number of companies who, in a variety of ways, are mobilizing location information to offer “personalized” advertising experiences beyond the collection of more traditional markers of social identification. These include: Placed, acquired by Snap, Inc. in 2017, which calls itself the “leader in location-driven insights and ad intelligence”; PlaceIQ, which promises to turn “location data into location intelligence”; and Foursquare Location Intelligence, part of the enterprise wing of the pioneering location based social network. This critical cultural theory centered project uses content and textual analysis of publicly available documents and schematics to frame the political stakes of the increasingly central place of location to the digital advertising business.

Friday October 12, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 5

11:00am EDT

Properties of Regulation and Governance
Patricia A Aufderheide, Brandon Butler, Krista Cox, Peter Jaszi
Software preservation is essential for social memory in a digital age, but presents a daunting challenge for a host of reasons, including legal ones. Much software is proprietary, protected among other ways by copyright and often walled with encryption that requires an exemption to break, for copyright exemption reasons. This paper, grounded in a literature review and long-form interviews with 41 veteran software preservation professionals, maps the copyright challenges that U.S. software preservation professionals face in accomplishing their mission of preservation, how they currently face them, and how they might face them if there were consensus around use of copyright exemptions. It focuses on the challenges of preserving software on installation media that can be forensically imaged, not on the emerging algorithmic challenge. The study documents constraint on creative problem-solving because of internalized copyright expectations. It finds that preservationists today pay a high price for unnecessary copyright conservatism, including failure to properly identify and catalog and to provide suitable access to researchers, the loss of funding, and inability to build capacity to handle the algorithmic challenge. U.S. exemptions provide solutions that may be relevant and helpful in other copyright regimes as well. But preservationists will need to build field consensus about their proper use.

Guy Thurston Hoskins
Network neutrality in the global North was the epicentre of Internet policy debates over the last decade (Bauer and Obar, 2014). Recently, however, the locus of attention has shifted to the global South where ‘zero rating’ mobile apps – exempting content and services from data charges – has proved contentious. There are shrill arguments on either side. Those who oppose the practice contend that zero rating constitutes a “pernicious” threat to network neutrality (Crawford, 2015), while proponents defend zero rating (ZR) as an Internet on-ramp for billions (Katz and Callorda, 2015 p41). Prevailing voices have thus reduced zero rating to a zero sum game.

To address this reductive binary, this paper will examine the interplay of competing concerns around ZR and identify the circumstances in which they might be reconciled. I contend that through a contextual and pragmatic approach, we can move beyond absolutist judgements and better realize the social goods sought both by advocates of net neutrality and digital inclusion.

This article analyses the forms of zero rating offered in four wireless markets – Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and South Africa - across three dimensions: political-economic; developmental and legislative. I then identify the factors that exacerbate or mitigate ZR’s impacts on net neutrality and access. I contend that we can then identify particular sets of circumstances in which ZR services could be sanctioned as a limited and short-term means to foment digital inclusion, and others when ZR services constitute an intolerable infringement upon network neutrality, local innovation and freedom of expression.

Kristin Cornelius Way
Smart contracts are computer programs that self-execute the simple instructions necessary to carry out a transaction. Currently, this technology is most often used to manipulate cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum that are implemented by means of a public blockchain. Supporters believe ideally this automation has the potential to remove the need for third party oversight entirely such as that currently provided by financial, legal, regulatory, professional practice, and enforcement. Yet, conflating all of these institutions and their current roles as a singular target of disruption is a mistake as the motivations and mechanisms of each type of institution varies. This project considers blockchain technology, and smart contracts in particular, as they relate to two types of third party functions. The first ‘third party’ function considered is how legal discourse provides (or fails to provide) the proper oversight for digitized contracts and how smart contracts, rather than replace it, might only serve to exacerbate some of its failures. The second study looks at the investigation and prosecution of criminal activity and the creation of standards and regulations by corresponding institutions that force companies to produce records that stand as evidence in these investigations. The analysis draws on previous interpretations of digitized contracts and a series of interviews with two IRS Special Agents who investigate blockchain-related crime.

Gregory Taylor
Intangible Materialities ties to the AOIR 2018 theme of Transnational Materialities by exploring the global trends in spectrum policy that form a foundational part of contemporary internet infrastructure. This paper explores current best practices in national spectrum policy for bringing internet access to underserved regions. It uses the case studies of Canada, India and Mexico but also discusses global trends. These countries are chosen as each presents unique economic and social challenges, as well as offering unique policy initiatives.

Among the key questions:

1) What have been the overall effects of 20 years of liberalization on national wireless service for underserved regions?

2) Is there an example of a viable economic model to provide wireless broadband service in remote regions and bridge the digital divide?

3) What is the role of federal and local government in supporting the development of rural wireless access?

This paper posits that we are currently in a juncture where market-based orthodoxy of the last twenty years is being challenged by inventive new policy initiatives. In Intangible Materialities I analyze the role of creative spectrum policy in bringing internet access to regions often underserved by liberalized wireless markets.

Friday October 12, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond Centre

11:00am EDT

On haptics, touch, and the internet
The call for AoIR2018, which prompts us to think about transnational materialities states, “the ‘material turn’ within internet research seeks to firmly ground critical analyses in the manifold physicalities and corporealities embodied and engendered within such networked technologies.” Often those interrogations have meant critically exploring the infrastructural components of the system, the metaphorical physicality of those systems, as in software and platform studies, the socio-historical materiality of hardware, or, when considering the sensorial arrangements prompted by media, a concern with audio-visual modalities. Touch and haptic technologies have also played key roles in the development of transnational materialities but largely remain missing from the conversation. Haptic technologies that communicate touch, from keyboards and touchscreens to rumble-packs, virtual reality gloves, and tele-operation devices are formative to the materiality of the internet. Likewise, conventions and associations of touch shape interactions with internet connected technologies from phones to children’s toys, and are reshaped through those interactions. Some of the issues at stake involve the relationship between haptics and networked affect; haptics in HCI as critical internet interfaces and infrastructure; haptics in AR and VR; haptics, mobile internet, and mobility; touch and internet use rituals; multi-sensory approaches to embodied media use; inclusive research methods; haptic aesthetic approaches to internet research, and haptic histories of the internet. Our roundtable attempts to address these issues by discussing how haptic media studies and other approaches to touch and technology could provide avenues for internet scholarship to push beyond its current boundaries.


Meryl Alper, Northeastern University

Larissa Hjorth, RMIT University

Kris Paulsen, The Ohio State University

David Parisi, College of Charleston

Jason Archer, University of Illinois at Chicago

Chris Salter, Concordia University

Friday October 12, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 7

2:00pm EDT

Disclosing in a Digital Culture: Rethinking Sexual Violence, Technology, and the #MeToo Movement
As a spreadable hashtag, #MeToo has generated important public dialogue about sexual violence and the opportunities and limitations for having these conversations online. Social media platforms, as well as shared Google spreadsheets (Donegan 2018) and websites such as _Babe_ (Way 2018) have functioned as digital venues for testimonials about sexual misconduct and violence that #MeToo has inspired. This cultural landscape posits the urgent need for researchers to consider how sexual violence is made manifest through digital culture, while accounting for the ways in which digital technologies simultaneously enact violence that reproduces gendered, sexual, racial, and class inequalities.

This fishbowl begins this discussion by addressing the material, affective, industrial, and cultural relationships between sexual violence and digital media technologies after #MeToo. We consider several questions: Has sexual violence always been sociotechnical? How have digital tools been employed to “prevent” sexual violence? How can we connect moments of revelation and disclosure across digital industries and cultures to develop capacity and solidarity? How do digital testimonials function as a “feminist cataloging” (Ahmed 2017) of structural violence? What are the experiences of those who have disclosed online? How do they navigate the slippage between politics and the “economy of visibility” (Banet-Weiser 2015) in the age of social media and popular feminism? Which elements are prioritized? And how is power reproduced and reinforced?

Our named fish bring significant related expertise to this conversation, including analyses of anti-rape apps (Bivens and Hasinoff 2017), hashtag feminist activism (Clark 2016; Keller et al 2016; Keller 2018), the gendered dynamics of the games industry (Harvey and Shepherd 2016) and misogyny online (Vickery and Everbach 2018). Drawing on this experience, named fish will provide insights from their diverse research projects to generate dialogue with fishbowl participants and explore the relationship between sexual violence, power, and digital technology post-#MeToo.

Friday October 12, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 8

2:00pm EDT

Economies Of Authenticity
To date, research on authenticity has mainly focused on its discursive construction. Some academics seek to develop a precise, analytical definition of the concept. Others engage in a pragmatic approach to explore how various social groups define authenticity or cognate terms. Both approaches consider how a person or entity performs authenticity, as well as how a person's or entity's authenticity can be evaluated and judged. Internet researchers have been at the forefront of this work, examining how practices of authenticity appear on social media, within online communities, and across the online/offline distinction.

Our panel, while acknowledging this previous work, adds in a relatively new emphasis: on the political, symbolic, and cultural economies of authenticity. In other words, after authenticity is discursively constructed, how is it transformed into forms of value and currency? Clearly, being labeled authentic allows for an entity to benefit from this status, perhaps by selling it (think of YouTube beauty vloggers being sponsored by cosmetics companies) or exchanging it (think of cross-disciplinary academic citation practices). We can also consider some of the more exploitative practices of authenticity, such as appropriation (think of politicians donning hardhats to appropriate working-class symbols) or delegitimation (by labeling someone else as "fake" or "inauthentic", one implicitly performs one's own authenticity and status of belonging). Finally, new entrants into authenticity practices may make claims to inherit the authenticity of previous practitioners (consider musicians who draw upon previous musical styles).

Throughout all these cases, authenticity can be trafficked into new domains marked by economic, social, or political capital. To put it bluntly, authenticity is extremely valuable. But of course, its value is often contingent on the very denial of crass economic incentives or underlying motives; that is, there is always a danger of "selling out," being seen as trying too hard, or being seen as co-opting someone else's hard-earned authenticity.

Indeed, our panel takes the perspective that social and economic valuations of authenticity are largely context-specific; yet, collectively, they index shared social ideals along with prevailing cultural anxieties. The panelists thus explore conceptions of authenticity across a diverse range of internet (sub)cultures and contexts: social engineering, Instagram taste-making and influence, video game commentary, and social media entertainment.

The first paper reveals the dual function of authenticity in the largely covert domain of social engineering. Social engineers seek a form of contextual authenticity that can withstand a vigilant vetting process in organizations. After exfiltrating information from those organizations, the social engineers often move to another context, such as "bragging rights forums," where they create power hierarchies transforming the previous authenticity into symbolic capital. Efforts to delineate authentic from inauthentic performances are also central to the arguments in the second paper, which explores how social media creators project patterned ideals of realness and sincerity on Instagram against the backdrop of the platform’s ostensible “authenticity paradox.” The authors highlight the strategies professional Instagrammers deploy to inoculate themselves against accusations of crass commercialism or narcissistic self-indulgence—in other words, fakery. The third paper offers a broad conceptual framework within which to understand the profound valuation of authenticity discourses in digital culture. Drawing upon their in-depth research into “social media entertainment” as a sprawling but emergent proto-industry, the authors highlight how authenticity functions relationally and dynamically as content creators struggle to maintain the authenticity-community-brand relationship. The final paper functions as a critical rejoinder to authenticity discourses. Specifically, it draws on two years of analysis of video game communities on Youtube, including analysis of workshops dedicated to the construction of authenticity as a spectacle, to place authenticity discourses into the larger context of digital capitalism.

Together, these papers address the stakes of the conversion of authenticity into economic and social currency. This is all the more pressing as digital cultural production increasingly hinges on that conversion amidst larger discussions of what's real and what's fake.

Friday October 12, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond West

2:00pm EDT

When Contexts Collapse: Audiences, affordances and affective relations
The concept of ‘context collapse’ (Marwick and boyd, 2011) has, and continues to be, valuable for understanding how users of social media negotiate either imagined or actual audiences from various peer groups. The papers in this panel explore context collapse (and its management) across different platforms and as performed by different user-groups including beauty vloggers, DIY musicians, youth workers and young LGBT+ people. Presenting a range of empirical research, this panel seeks to generate debate around the socio-political negotiations involved, the role played by platform-specific architecture and affordances, and affective and strategic negotiations of gender, classed, raced identities as they intersect with technology. In keeping with the theme of this year’s conference, this panel proposes a broadening of the term context collapse to encompass the temporal dimensions of this phenomenon as it is lived and negotiated across material and social dimensions of everyday life. In all four papers, our research participants share a feeling of being “caught” between contexts — between authenticity and brand-building; between friendship and professionalism; between the safety of the “echo chamber” and danger of the outside; between public activist identities and the wider audiences afforded by social media platforms. In this way, then, context collapse can be considered in dialectical terms — a site of tension in which practitioners attempt to stay beholden to two (or more) conflicting and necessary sets of interests. Platforms both mediate and generate these difficulties, as well as offering potential approaches for their mitigation.

Friday October 12, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 5

2:00pm EDT

Digital Indigeneities
Tyler Wayne DeAtley
The protests surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline were marked by ambivalence, both in the blurring of protest spaces and in the interactions in digital spaces surrounding the protest. The Facebook check-in meme that began circulating on Halloween 2016 was a key site for the ambivalence of the protests. The meme prompted sympathizers to sign-in into standing rock through the locational Facebook check-in feature to jam police surveillance. The meme capitalized on the hybridized nature of the protests space(s) in an attempt to create safety for the physical protesters. However, the meme amplified attention paid to the protests leading to trolls wandering into the digital spaces of the protest. Protesters and trolls engaged in mutual surveillance, doxxing, and other antagonisms. I argue that the Facebook check meme constitutes a useful site of digital activism that is effective through its use of the messiness of hybrid spaces and tactical engagement, and one that also exemplifies the potential of tactical media in hybrid space to oppose power structures of surveillance. With that though the discourse and actions surrounding the protest highlight the ambivalence of digital political activism coming from multiple collations. The focus on the intersections of ambivalence, hybridized space, and tactical engagement provides a fruitful lens not present in the literature of digital political protest.

Lynn Schofield Clark, Angel Hinzo
Building on Anishinaabe cultural theorist George Vizenor’s (1994) use of the term “survivance” as a portmanteau that combines “survival” and “resistance” in its characterization of indigenous storytelling traditions, this paper explores digital survivance in the context of indigenous responses to the Dakota Access Pipeline and other U.S. corporate and government projects. Digital survivance is thus described here as the digital and visual practices of indigenous peoples and their allies as they have drawn upon and advanced indigenous epistemologies and storytelling traditions within the contexts and constraints of social media. With its focus on visual and intertextual content, the paper builds upon prior work on indigenous political and civic discourse, bringing this into conversation with work on digital visual analysis (Highfield and Leaver 2015; Raynauld, Richet & Morris 2018).

The paper explores the following research questions: (1) How have indigenous persons and their allies used various social media platforms to share digital visual materials about #NoDAPL? (2) How were native epistemologies and rhetorics communicated through the visual materials that were shared? And (3) How can this case study shed light on the characteristics of digital survivance in ways that are both continuous with past traditions of storytelling and mindful of the ways that visual content circulates in social media today? The paper discusses digital survivance through the prism of the indigenous sacred figure of “the trickster,” a contested trope in indigenous literary nationalism.

Fidele Vlavo
In December 1997, forty-five indigenous people were murdered by a group of paramilitaries. Most of the victims belonged to the community of Las Abejas who supported the Zapatista's uprising of 1994. Following news of the massacre, several Europe-based activists announced their intention to stage radical digital actions against the Mexican authorities. One group in particular, Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT), responded by organising the first performances of what is now termed electronic civil disobedience. Within a year, EDT launched its SWARM Project (Stop the War in Mexico), a virtual sit-in of the official website of the then Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo.

In this paper, I interpret what is commonly seen as digital activism, as radical and poetic performances of resistance. Using the case of the SWARM project, I examine the practice of digital protest as electronic performances that provide temporary spaces for public and collective grievance. The discussion suggests a radical interpretation of digital activism as performative and theatrical. In particular, I propose a reading of SWARM as recombinant theatre, that is a performance that unifies the space of everyday life, traditional theatre, and virtual space. These practices can be seen through the lens creative actions that make use of social and technological networks to allow the formation of collective and global virtual memory as well as legitimate spaces for dissent.

Mylynn Felt
The strategic use of social media by social media organizations relies on an expertise of social media practices and media practices in general. The current field of social, mass, alternative and general media ubiquity offers increased communicative potential for civic actors and particularly for those seeking to subvert mainstream gatekeeping. How collective actors make claims, mobilize constituents, and develop collective identity rests on activist media practices, which are constantly adapting to new environments of complex media. Utilizing a practice lens, this research examines a Facebook community page designed to bring awareness to murdered and missing indigenous women and men in Canada. Analysis reveals that from 2012-2017 page administrators developed daily posting practices of posting media links to frame the injustice of a social problem rather than earlier practices of posting personal opinions or individual photos. By sharing links rather than making personal claims, organizers define the boundaries of the problem in a manner that invokes awareness and support while inhibiting debate.

avatar for Cindy Tekobbe

Cindy Tekobbe

Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago


Friday October 12, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Ballroom East

2:00pm EDT

Ontologies of "Manipulation"
Fabrizio Poltronieri, Max Hänska
Visual social media is attracting ever greater attention, particularly as visuality intersects with artificial intelligence (AI). Recently concerns have arisen that artificially generated visuals could supercharge mis- and disinformation online. Sitting at the intersection of artistic practice and social scientific research, this experimental paper explores questions around computer generated visual artefacts, aesthetics, fakery, and wider socio-political concerns about the inexorable rise of visual online communication. Using deep learning techniques, the paper experiments with 'fake' visual content. We use Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN) to generate artificial images (e.g. selfies), and Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN) to try to distinguish real from fake. Furthermore, we use our CNN to scan 6 million images collected from public Twitter posts to try to determine the proportion of fake images.

The collaboration between artistic practice and social scientific research has proved invaluable in exploring the role of intelligent systems in shaping visual communication. It shows us that autonomous systems are able to generate photo-realistic fake images, but much less capable of determining which images are fake and with are real without systematic human guidance.

Daniel Susser, Beate Roessler, Helen Nissenbaum
Privacy and surveillance scholars increasingly worry that data collectors can use the information they gather about our preferences, interests, incomes, and so on to manipulate us. Yet what it means, exactly, to manipulate someone, and how we might systematically identify cases of manipulation needs to be more thoroughly explored in light of the unprecedented capacities that information technologies and digital media enable. In this paper, we develop a definition of manipulation to address these enhanced capacities, investigate ways information technology can be used to facilitate manipulative practices, and describe the harms—to individuals and to social institutions—that flow from engaging in such practices. Specifically, we argue that manipulation undermines autonomy, both directly and indirectly. But since we value autonomy differently in different social contexts, we must carefully distinguish between the contexts in which manipulative practices operate.

Cuihua Shen, Mona Kasra, Grace Benefield, Wenjing Pan, Yining Zhou, James F. O'Brien
Due to the scope and speed of information dissemination across social media websites, visual misinformation is capable of manipulating crowds, propagating hysteria, confusion, distress, panic, violence, and escalating chaotic mass behavior at a fast pace and on a large scale. Yet we know distressingly little about how online viewers assess digital images and make judgments and decisions about their authenticity. This paper details a large-scale online experiment of image credibility on Amazon Mechanical Turk that probes how people react to, respond, and evaluate the credibility of images that accompany online stories in internet-enabled communication channels (social networking sites, blogs, email). We ran a series of six between-subjects experiments, each of which randomly assigned participants to one of 28 news-source mockups featuring a forged image, and asked participants to evaluate its credibility based on various features. The results were consistent across all six images tested, showing that that internet skills, photography and digital imaging experiences, social media use, and pro-issue attitude are significant predictors of credibility evaluation of online images. Our study is among the first to test the social and cognitive heuristics of information credibility and evaluation in the context of image authenticity online.

Friday October 12, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 7

2:00pm EDT

The Work of Identity on Social Media Platforms
Evie Psarras, Nicole Nesmith
Our work aims to bridge the gap in research concerning reality television series, The Bachelor, by analyzing contestants on the newer, visually oriented social media platform of Instagram. In a general sense Instagram affords former contestants the opportunity to extend, maintain, and/or re-shape their identity apart from the show. Our research is based on visual analysis of select women who have starred in the Bachelor offshoot, the Bachelorette, and builds on Dubrofsky’s (2011) important earlier research addressing the concept of "postfeminist nirvana" on the Bachelor franchise. Using Goffman’s (1959) dramaturgical perspective and Marwick’s (2015) collection methods, we conducted a visual analysis of six former Bachelorette’s Instagram accounts. We analyzed these women’s posts via the following categories: 1) family/relationships 2) work-life 3) insta-labor 4) promotions and 5) self-love. Our critical analysis revealed a new layer to the definition of the concept of postfeminist nirvana. We found that these varied posts work to compose a gestalt image of the women’s online persona that is grounded in the postfeminist ideal put forth by Dubrofsky (2011). Our findings build on this concept in two important ways: 1) we look at the women on a newer, visually-oriented platform and 2) we found that the more recent Bachelorette contestants’ online personas have evolved from the original Bachelorette contestants. This research will add to the larger field of communication because it analyzes this reality series using a new approach that is focused on TV contestant’s online personas on a newer, visually-oriented, digitally mediated platform.

Anthony McCosker, Ysabel Gerrard
Social media platforms make important decisions about what counts as ‘problematic’ content and how it should be recognized. This paper examines the conditions surrounding engagement with #depression on Instagram, and user practices of (in)visibility as they confront and circumvent platform restrictions. We use a tailored content analysis method to analyse a data set of 200 Instagram users who tag posts with #depression, and an additional 1,200 posts by those users, as a way of also examining non-tagged posts.We uncovered a range of communicative strategies involving ‘#depressed’ including: the prevalence of pseudonymity practices, alongside identified, but circumscribed engagement with #depression, and tag bombing practices ('tags for likes') and proxy tags. We situate these findings within broader and ongoing debates around hashtags and networked visibilities, social media content moderation, and the currently fraught relationship between Instagram and its users’ mental health. And we argue that these practices implicitly navigate Instagram's moderation and framing of #depression and other mental health tags as problematic, offering a rich space for engagement with the materiality of mental health and emotion.

Jacquelyn Burkell, Chandell Enid Gosse
Photographs are among the most commonly shared content on social media sites, with users posting millions of photos a day to a wide variety of platforms. In tandem with the growing and shifting landscape of social media, styles of photography, modes of interaction, and photo-sharing practices have changed dramatically over the past decade. These changes have implications for what photographs reveal about us as social media users. Even with activating security settings or limiting access to one’s profile, these photos are visible to a wide variety of people and very often reveal a great deal of information about a person’s life. To date, scholarly literature about the privacy implications of photo-sharing practices is underdeveloped. With this gap in literature in mind, our research asks: What types of photographs are social media users comfortable sharing? And what factors contribute to their level of comfort? To address these questions our project employs a two-prong approach. First, we used two complementary methods, concept mapping and q-methodology, with 70 participants to identify the different types of photographs that they are comfortable or uncomfortable sharing as well as the differences among individual participants. Secondly, beginning March 2018, we will conduct semi structured interviews to contextualize these varying levels of comfort by investigating, among other things, the conditions under which people decide to share photographs, the role of specific platforms in those decisions, and whether people share different types of photographs with different audiences. This research is expected to be complete by Summer 2018.

Michelle Gorea
According to dominant theorizations of contemporary society, many people’s daily practices now occur within, and reproduce, a social world where media are the fundamental reference and resource for the development of the self (Couldry and Hepp 2017:15). Although previous research has revealed the mutual shaping of technologies, interaction, and identity in the broader contexts of economic and social change related to ‘millennials’, we know little about the precise ways in which these practices occur and how the self is being differently constructed over time. Using a multi-method qualitative approach, this work in progress paper explores three key questions:

1) What happens when visuality becomes a part of youth’s everyday practices of interaction?

2) What roles are images playing in routine interaction among youth?

3) How and in what ways does the maintenance of a visually ‘mediated presence’ in social media shape youths’ views of the self?

This paper elaborates on findings within three categories that illustrate youth’s visual practices and how they are differently understood over time: (1) images of the self in the moment; (2) images of the self over time; and (3) images of the self under surveillance.

The preliminary findings of this research suggest that although youth’s technological practices may not all be new, there are significant aspects of visuality that alters some of the key factors shaping young people’s use and understandings of new media technologies.

Friday October 12, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond East

2:00pm EDT

Transnational Materialities of Informational Capital(ism)
Thomas Poell, José Van Dijck, David Nieborg
This paper offers an analytical framework to critically examine the power relations that structure the online platform ecosystem. Following a relational understanding of power, it focuses on the connections between the five leading platform corporations - Alphabet-Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft (GAFAM) - and the many other digital properties (i.e. platforms, websites, and apps) that populate the online ecosystem. Exploring these connections, we notice that a growing number of digital properties are integrated with, and increasingly dependent on the infrastructural services offered by the GAFAM platforms. These services include: advertising networks, login services, cloud hosting, app stores, payment systems, data analytics, video hosting, geospatial and navigation services, search functionalities, and operating systems. Such infrastructural services allow a wide variety of companies to make their products and services available online, attract and target users, analyze their activities, and generate revenue. It is through the ubiquitous integration and consistent use of these infrastructural services that platform power emerges and is consolidated. To demonstrate how such power relations can be analyzed, the paper highlights two key infrastructural services: app stores and ad networks. For each service it discusses two levels of analysis that can be pursued to gain insight in the workings of platform power. Ultimately a systematically analysis of the key infrastructural services will need to be developed to arrive at a refined taxonomy of platform power relations. Such taxonomy is essential to establish guidelines for governing the platform ecosystem in correspondence with key public values.

Ulises Mejias, Nick Couldry
This presentation will argue that the 'material turn' in internet research must include an analysis of how contemporary practices of data extraction and processing replicate colonial modes of exploitation. Using a macrosociology of capitalism as our research method, we present the concept of 'data colonialism' as a tool to analyze emerging forms of political control and economic dispossession. Regardless of how evocative metaphors like "data is the new oil" might be, we argue that data colonialism can in fact be empirically defined and studied. To this effect, our analysis engages the disciplines of critical political economy, sociology of media, and postcolonial science and technology studies to trace continuities from colonialism’s historic appropriation of territories and material resources to the datafication of everyday life today. We argue that while the modes, intensities, scales and contexts of dispossession have changed, the underlying function remains the same: to acquire resources from which economic value can be extracted. Just as historic colonialism paved the way for industrial capitalism, this phase of colonialism prepares the way for a new economic order. In this context, we analyze the ideologies and rationalities through which data relations—social relations conducted and organized via data processes—contribute to the capitalization of human life. Our findings hold important implications for how we study the internet, and how we may advocate for the decolonization of internet research in the future.

Martin Johannes Riedl
This research considers the Cambrian explosion (Nelms, Maurer, Swartz, & Mainwaring, 2017) of mobile and social payment technologies from a perspective that integrates classical theorizing on money and payments (Mauss, 2002; Simmel, 2005) and more recent work (Bandelj, Wherry, & Zelizer, 2017; Dodd, 2014; Maurer, 2015; Zelizer, 2017), as well as research coming out of the $2 and $2 at the $2 at Amsterdam. The paper negotiates mobile and social payment apps and the social realities that they stand upon and applies theoretical viewpoints from these key authors to the emerging technologies, based on a contemporary investigation of what 'social' entails in social payment spaces. The empirical core of this work-in-progress employs the walkthrough method (Light et al., 2016), and compares select mobile and social payment platforms. Furthermore, researchers content-analyze app store screenshots, as well as app descriptions and user comments. Preliminary analysis maps these apps on a continuum of sociality/publicness, with Venmo and its social feed on the liberal side of the spectrum, apps that integrate into messenger services in the middle (e.g. Apple Pay Cash, Square Cash, Google Pay), and apps borne out of banking (Zelle) on the conservative side. Criteria for analysis follow conceptual categories from the literature, such as visibility, objectivity, freedom from everything personal, gifting, earmarking capacities, and other features.

David Nieborg, Chris Young, Daniel Joseph
In this paper, we introduce the notion of app imperialism by exploring the political economy of the Canadian iOS App Store. Building on Dal Yong Jin's concept of "platform imperialism", we argue that US companies dominate global app stores through the systematic acquisition of capital resources. App imperialism marks the outsized economic footprint and influence of US companies in national app stores. Using a longitudinal financial dataset, we qualitatively coded the top-50 of revenue-generating game apps in April 2015 and 2016. Distinguishing between value creation (generating revenue) and value capture (appropriating profit) allowed us to determine the plight of Canadian app developers. While the Canadian App Store exhibits a large degree of source diversity, featuring a high number of active app developers, we found the ability of Canadian developers to both create and capture value negligible. US owned developers, publishers, parent-organizations, and intellectual properties, on the other hand, were overrepresented. These initial findings suggest that any potential growth in the Canadian app economy will be increasingly captured by US-owned companies. These results question the effectiveness of Canadian cultural policy frameworks, which have been particularly proactive in supporting Canada-based game studios. While our initial analysis offers just a temporal and regional snapshot of the App Store's political economy, it gestures towards broader critical material issues related to platform capitalism and app diversity.

avatar for José van Dijck

José van Dijck

Professorin für Medienwissenschaften, Universität Utrecht
José van Dijck ist Professorin für Medienwissenschaften an der Universität Utrecht. Ihr Forschungsschwerpunkt liegt auf der digitalen Gesellschaft, wobei sie sich mit Medientheorien, Medien- und Kommunikationstechnologien, Sozialen Medien und der digitalen Kultur beschäftigt... Read More →
avatar for David Nieborg

David Nieborg

Asst. Professor, University of Toronto

Friday October 12, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond Centre

2:00pm EDT

Networked Labor
The internet has long supported the productive practices of users. Whether focused on “serious leisure” through hobbies or “casual work” via vocational activities, various forms of labor have played a part of our networked lives for decades. This roundtable will explore labor and production facilitated via online platforms. Rather than reduce such activities to notions of exploitation or a simple valorization of user-engagement, this conversation will explore the creative, nuanced, and even at times ambivalent approaches people take to their forms of labor online. It will also situate these practices within a socio-technical milieu and with an eye on policy, economy, governance, discourse, and alternatives.

To help kick off a larger group discussion, each of our four participants will offer an opening five- minute remark drawn from their fieldsites: on-demand digital labor, live streaming, ride hailing and delivery platforms, and gaming recruitment. Looking across what might otherwise appear as divergent domains, we seek to build a discussion about work online that cuts across sectors not typically in conversation. Opening remarks will seed the following topics for discussion, though are not limited to: the ways notions of aspiration and “passion” get morally leveraged; affective online work; how materialities and existing material conditions remain a salient node of inquiry; cooperation and activism amongst platform workers; modes of platform governance and control; and navigations around precarity.


Gershon, I. 2017. Down and Out in the New Economy: How People Find (or Don’t Find) Work Today. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Irani, L. 2015. The cultural work of microwork. New Media & Society, 17(5), 720–739.

Rosenblat, A., & Stark, L. 2016. Algorithmic labor and information asymmetries. International Journal of Communication, 10, 3758–3784.

Seaver, N. 2017. Algorithms as culture: Some tactics for the ethnography of algorithmic systems. Big Data & Society, 4(2), 1–12.

Friday October 12, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 6

4:00pm EDT

Social Ontology in Big Data Organizing
Computational ontologies (Pease 2011; Arp et al. 2015) are a key feature of data-sharing and data-labelling practices on the internet. Ontologies help integrate disparate or unorganized data to produce meaning, sort of “like a thesaurus, a finite set of terms, organized as a hierarchy that can be used to provide a value for an element” (Pomerantz 2015). Modern ontologies are an outgrowth of early artificial intelligence research in expert systems (Hayes-Roth et al. 1983) and knowledge representation (Sowa 1999). Today, many data-driven media technologies like virtual assistants and social media platforms use ontologies (Tecuci et al. 2016).

More specifically, media technologies like Google and Facebook’s graphs, semantic web standards like the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Ontology Language (OWL), and virtual assistants like Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Bixby provide unique opportunities for harnessing disparate data to increase knowledge mobilization via ontologies. However, like any technology, they can impede social progress if during their development designers are not also attentive to data justice issues. Ontologies present truly unique problems—they are not only a matter of quantification and sorting but also a matter of meaning. What counts as a restaurant in Siri’s Active Ontology? How are social entities and relations defined in OWL? What languages do ontologies recognize?

Building and extending ontology work to data justice and social progress issues involves looking at how ontology is connected to data gathering, data modeling, databases, metadata, and how the use of these and other tools like application programming interfaces (Helmond 2015) impact civil society through public facing ontology-driven apps and technologies. Drawing on the work of Gitelman (2008), Srinivasan (2012) offers one such approach by asking how we might include computational ontology in our discussion of “ethical questions about the sovereignty of diverse knowledge, and whether the voices of emerging users should be ignored or empowered” (205).

What happens, for example, when digital objects represent social entities and relations (Kallinikos et al. 2010; Hui 2012; Krämer and Conrad 2017)? This is a modern update to an old problem, one we have seen in critical scholarship on the history of the census, statistics, and, more recently, big data (Hacking 1982, 1991; Beer 2016). The question “who counts?” can be read as a double articulation—who is doing the counting and who deserves to be counted? Data ontologies are an update to those problems, complicated by semantics (“who counts what?”). Currently employed in areas as diverse as municipal administration, virtual assistants, scientific knowledge sharing, production and logistics, and intelligence gathering, data ontologies that deal with social entities and relations necessitate what Couldry and Kallinikos describe as a “new ontology of the social” (2017: 153). Computational ontologies encourage the datafication of social entities and relations by constructing social ontologies (Searle 2006) to provide labels for data in organized, semantic structures. Once completed, one may combine and analyze heterogeneous data in ways previously impossible when they retained their own idiosyncratic labels, and computations can extract new information.

To set the stage, the first paper in this panel describes the upper level Ontology Industry. Drawing on in-depth, long form, unstructured ethnographic interview data collected from multiple senior stakeholders in a variety of ontology projects, including developers in the private sector and researchers at nonprofit organizations, the paper describes several global ontology initiatives, users, and potential to impact civil society.

The second paper discusses several formal ontology development activities being carried out within the broader polar community. The project “Mapping the Arctic Data Ecosystem” aims to develop a formal ontology and network model of the Arctic data system. Technical relationships are documented as are data sharing and financial relationships. The paper provides a critical analysis of observed problems, risks, and benefits of the formal ontology projects described.

The third paper provides an analysis of city ontologies and homelessness. It presents the results of primary research conducted as part of a critical data and software studies project carried out in Dublin, Boston and Ottawa. The study examined how digital data were materially and discursively supported and processed in three homeless intake and case management systems, PASS, HIFIS and HUD HMIS compliant systems and how these systems ‘made up’ homeless people.

The fourth and final paper provides a broader media theory of the ontological challenges that arise when ‘the social’, or at least particular important sites for sociality and the production of social knowledge (including ‘social media’) are computed: that is, constituted by and through the outcomes of deep forms of data processing driven by instrumental practices of control and/or profit making.

Friday October 12, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Ballroom East

4:00pm EDT

The Politics of Algorithms: Ethical Algorithmic Data Collection in Medical and Educational Contexts
This panel examines the rhetorical ethics of algorithmic data collection in medical and educational contexts. We investigate the multifaceted ways that algorithms and databases function as persuasive and sometimes coercive agents as well as the extent to which ethical issues are disclosed to users. Our analysis focuses on two widely available technologies: Turnitin and the Starkey Halo Hearing Aid. Both of these complex, networked sites of study yield insights into nuanced elements of surveillance, ethical dimensions of data production and analytics, human/machine collaboration, tensions in interpretations of intellectual property doctrine, and the ways that these issues are (and importantly, are not) disclosed to users. We discuss the myriad ways that design persuasively demonstrates the political dimensions of these technologies. Ultimately, we ask what best practices might evolve for designing persuasive systems that bring users into intimate contact with algorithmic data collection, processing, transmission, and deployment.

Our discussions are concerned with the ways that algorithms function as persuasive arguments. Often, the procedures and processes through which algorithms operate are obscured from users even as those algorithms are active participants in shaping users’ pathways, access to knowledge, and daily engagement with the world around them. The politics of algorithms, then, are evident in their design and deployment. This is particularly true in algorithmic systems that collect data through surveillance of the user’s daily activities, whether those involve navigating social situations as a d/Deaf wearer of a smart hearing aid or submitting a required class essay. Our panel provides three extensive, grounded case studies whose data reveal the nuances and implications of algorithmically-driven surveillance.

Friday October 12, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond East

4:00pm EDT

Assemblages of the Socio-Technical II
Urszula Pruchniewska
The mobile dating app Bumble has been publicly lauded as the "feminist Tinder," because only women are allowed to start the conversation - and they must do it within 24 hours of matching with someone or the match disappears forever. The reasoning behind this feature is to empower women in the dating situation. Using 14 in-depth interviews alongside a walk-through mapping of the app's features and functionalities, this article interrogates this "feminist dating" discourse by focusing on the materiality of the platform. The analysis shows that online dating is a series of choices for women, choices that simultaneously 1) try to lead towards a love match and 2) steer away from harassment and abuse, so that Bumble fulfills a double-edged function, of being simultaneously a “matchmaker” and a “protector” platform. Because harassment on online dating is much more common for women, female users engage with Bumble with a “harm prevention” mindset throughout their use of the app, using all the affordances of Bumble (not just the ones designated as such by the app’s designers) to steer away from possibly difficult or harmful situations. The proclivity towards prevention of harm/reduction of risk adds tremendous amounts of additional, invisible labor to women’s navigation of Bumble – and to women’s uses of online dating in general. Because of the gendered laborious and highly individualistic way that women feel compelled to use the platform, the notion of Bumble as a feminist dating app can be troubled.

Alex Ahmed, Anna Lauren Hoffmann
Mobile voice training applications for transgender people exist at an intersection between software design, visual culture, and trans embodiment as mediated by medical and clinical institutions. From the text and images used to the way voices and results are arranged and framed, their design configure and construct the ideal feminine or masculine “trans voice.” In the following, we pair Critical Discourse Analysis with the walkthrough method for studying software applications to examine the configurations of gender, race, and class that underwrite ideals of “voice” in trans voice training apps. Initial findings show that his ideal “voice” appears to hew to closely to hegemonic conceptions of race and binary gender, undermining the applications’ therapeutic or liberating potential.

Carrie O'Connell
Facebook now allows pages of the deceased to remain active, controlled by immediate family members of a deceased person, as a sort of memorialization or “electronic wake,” (Stokes, 2011). The overall goal of the author is to examine the evolution of the materiality of memorialization and investigate how our human connection with death has changed as our media tools have become untethered from tangible artefact. To explore the links between media, human relationships, and the spectral plane, and how those links might be revelatory in an age of digital media, a hauntological examination of these questions will be endeavored.

The basic premise of hauntology, a clever merge of haunting and ontology derived by Jacques Derrida (1993), is that an idea, once tangibly realized and made real in the cultural zeitgeist, is never truly extinguished. Derrida’s hauntology derives from the ontological quest to articulate the nature of being, yet with the added perspective that everything that exists might not have ever lived, and nothing which is past ever really quite dies. This is no more so true than in our heavily mediated age in which written documents, photographs, film, and the Internet are able to capture, record, store—and, as will be discussed—even replicate beingness in physical form. In an age where simulacra parade as true being, and cultural memory of events as accepted historical provenance, perhaps a new perspective on the relationship between being and death is timely.

Matilda Tyra Kristina Tudor
This paper provides a phenomenological perspective on transnational connectivity through digital media among queer men within contemporary Russia. Drawing on an understanding of queer orientation (Ahmed, 2006), as an embodied achievement produced through repeated turnings, I ask how transnational connectivity orient queer men in time and space. This question further takes on significance in a situation where queer Russian citizens are currently being excluded from politics of national belonging (Edenborg, 2016).

The paper draws on findings from my ongoing PhD project, based on ethnographic work in Saint Petersburg during 2013 – 2015. Within the dissertation I look at how queer dispositioned individuals in openly homophobic environments live and move their bodies in space, taking into account norm-critical phenomenology of bodily comportment (Ahmed, 2006; Fanon, 2007 [1952] Marion Young, 1980). Adding the lens of media phenomenology (Moores, 2012; Morely, 2000), I want to grasp how digital media is taken up and experienced within queer individuals projecting of themselves towards their worlds.

As informants reach out to queer others near and far, it thus becomes interesting to see what orientations emerge on a geographical scale, and where they themselves imagine a queer home? The paper concludes that transnational queer connectivity through digital media may produced “queerscapes”; as in “transnational ‘enabling networks’ for elaborating queer understandings of space, gender and sexuality” (Hacker, 2007:79), which did not appear in reach within their immediate surroundings. But on the other hand, this is for some also connected with intense feelings of displacements.

Friday October 12, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 5

4:00pm EDT

Frameworks, framing and reframing: Shifts and discourses in journalism and (social) media
Philip M Napoli, David Duquette, Petra Ronald, Peter Andringa, Deborah L. Dwyer
News audiences are increasingly fragmented across different media platforms. Consequently, individual news organizations simultaneously disseminate their content across different media. Each of these media has different user bases, interface characteristics, and distribution systems. Given these substantial differences, the dynamics of the gatekeeping process – and the news values that guide this process – vary across different media technologies/platforms.

As audience attention migrates from older to newer platforms (such as social media), it is increasingly important that we understand how the nature of the news that is disseminated – and thus consumed – may be different from the news disseminated through more traditional means. The ramifications of these differences can be profound if the news disseminated on the newer platforms is, for example, more or less substantive, more or less diverse, or more or less plentiful than the news disseminated on older technologies/platforms.

This study addresses these issues through a comparative gatekeeping analysis of the New York Times. For this study, a month’s worth of New York Times front page, home page, and Facebook page story output are comparatively analyzed across dimensions such as story quantity, story duplication, hard versus soft news, and content diversity. The primary goal is to determine if or how the nature of the news that is prioritized for news consumers differs between the social media context and older contexts such as the print front page and the web home page.

Oscar Coromina, Emili Prado, Andreu Casero-Ripollès
Twitter's trending topic is one of its algorithmic mechanisms that provides real-time information on the most discussed topics in a particular geographic area. As well as reporting the most commented facts of the moment, it also directs user attention to these same events and helps to set the public agenda. This article seeks to understand how Trending Topics are formed, their ability to build audiences and also how they are falling into disuse. Our goal is to trace the origin, volume of activity, evolution and life cycle of the Trending Topics linked to political events.

The methodological design is based on the capture and analysis of tweets tagged with the Trending Topics related to a political event - the referendum on the independence of Catalonia held on October 1, 2017 - that was able to generate several Trending Topics on a local, national and global scale. Specifically, our tracking protocol identified 90 different hashtags that enabled extraction of more than 6 million tweets for a period of 20 days. These hashtags were classified into 4 categories according to their main functions: topics, frames, campaigns and media. By analyzing the dynamics of publication and the properties of the captured tweets we have deepened our understanding of how they play a key role in the flow of information on Twitter and also in an increasingly hybrid media ecosystem.

Miya Williams
The black press has traditionally been categorized as an advocacy press, but the transition from print to digital media has necessitated a reconceptualization of how the nearly 200-year-old medium is defined. Given that the term black press conjures historical conceptualizations of black-owned newspapers and magazines, black media may best describe digital outlets that target a black audience. Since the majority of black press publications also have a digital presence, the term black media broadens and contemporizes understandings of a medium that ultimately seeks to be more inclusive than exclusive.

The redefinition of the black press has both limitations and affordances. Using the word media instead of press inherently lessens the emphasis on traditional journalism practices and simultaneously allows for a greater variety of outlets. The diversity of content allows for more voices to be heard; yet, black audiences can become fragmented. This then calls into question whether the absence of a centralized black voice advances or hinders the interests of the African-American community. Similarly, as legacy print publications no longer monopolize credible content produced for and by African Americans, definitions of legitimacy are now in flux.

This paper puts journalism, digital technology, and race into conversation with each other to provide insight into how black communal discourse in the US endures and evolves. Given that most scholarship only examines the black press historically, I push research forward by evaluating the 21st century black press in order to determine the sustainability of a historic and influential institution in the African-American community.

Christian Strippel, Sünje Paasch-Colberg
This paper provides a differentiated operationalization of and detailed insights in the technical discourse architectures of 175 German news websites. On the basis of the ranking "Digital Outlets" of the $2 (IVW) we conducted a standardized content analysis to investigate, how the technical discourse architectures are organized and which characteristics are the most popular. The individual components of these technical discourse architectures – such as registration, comment sorting, anonymization, comment evaluation and the reporting of problematic comments – are important instruments to civilize user discussions in comment sections. They are the technically manifested part of the regulations and policies for public user comments on news websites. As current challenges in comment sections like hate speech – as well as the (technical) solutions developed so far – are quite similar in many countries, and we therefore deal with transnational phenomena, we need to have a closer look onto such technical frameworks. This paper addresses this challenge. First results show that the comment sections on German news websites are (still) quite inclusive and that the technical possibilities that could help to better deal with offensive and other problematic comments are not fully used so far.

Friday October 12, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond Centre

4:00pm EDT

Social Media Practices of "Addiction", survival and well-being
Moritz Büchi, Noemi Festic, Michael Latzer
The digitization of communication creates new challenges for individuals’ functioning in society. To take advantage of the Internet, users need to manage the overabundance of digital information and communication. This study conceptualizes and tests subjective well-being as an outcome of Internet-use-related variables.

Digital inequality research has revealed social differences in Internet access and use (DiMaggio et al., 2004) but neglected consequences thereof (Van Deursen & Helsper, 2015). Such frameworks entail the assumption that skilled Internet use can be advantageous. However, potential negative effects of information and communication abundance such as Internet overuse have also been identified.

Perceiving digital overuse is an emerging social issue sensitive to existing social inequalities. Digital communication abundance does not necessarily degrade well-being. We propose that specific digital coping skills, which enable Internet users to manage negative side-effects of digital participation, enable beneficial Internet use. Further, social digital pressure reflects the perceived societal expectation to be able to manage everyday challenges of digital media and concerns the practical relevance of digital overabundance to one’s everyday life.

Drawing on nationally representative survey data from Switzerland, results from a multivariate regression model show that perceived digital overuse reduces well-being while digital coping skills increase well-being. The positive contribution of digital coping skills to well-being is particularly high for those in high-pressure social environments.

This study reveals that differences in dealing with digital overabundance have real offline consequences and stresses the importance of a new set of skills that are necessary to cope with the challenges of digital age.

Zane Griffin Talley Cooper
Data centers have become sites of romantic speculation, and a bevy of critical scholarship (Carruth, 2014; Hogan, 2015; Holt & Vondreau, 2015; Burrington, 2014) has begun to render new and valuable maps of the cloud's "materialities, geographies, and logics" (Mattern, 2016). However, we need a stronger analytic that allows for more meaningful differentiation between what big data does (its operational logic) and what it is (its constitutional logic). To attend to the diffuse materialities at play in the accretion of big data stuff, I argue we start thinking virally, seeing the constitutional logics of big data as contaminating forces that are themselves contaminated by external ecologies, creating thick webs of contingency. Contamination, in this sense, is not infection, but rather a building, a working, and an operating across difference - a collaboration in the service of "precarious survival" (Tsing, 2015). Through this frame, I unravel the interlaced histories of the 3.5" Winchester hard disk drive (which stubbornly remains one of the fundamental building blocks of big data architecture), and the neodymium-iron-boron magnet (one of the hard disk drive's central components). Using political economic and transnational historical methods to analyze hard disk drive manufacturing through the lens of rare earth mining and permanent magnet manufacturing, I trace labyrinthine resource flows and entangled socio-material assemblages through Africa, the United States, China -even through a little dog kennel in Valparaiso, Indiana - in an effort to chart a topography of the preconditions and residual effects that big data must negotiate in order to operate.

stefano brilli, manolo farci
The aim of the paper is to understand the online spreading of iconic photographs and how different actors in the media ecosystem compete in constructing the alleged truthfulness of these pictures. The case study chosen is the online circulation of the famous photo taken during the Second World War in a small village of Dane (Slovenia). Although this photograph portrays an execution of five Slovene civilians by an Italian military platoon, it has been frequently employed as a powerful icon of the Foibe Massacres ((a series of mass executions of Italians carried out between 1943 and 1945, perpetrated mainly by Yugoslav Partisans). Through a combination of icon analysis, digital methods and content analysis, the research demonstrates how different frames and social uses participate in spreading of the same image. Our findings show that the circulation of the Dane photograph is caused by two constitutive factors. On one hand, the photograph emerges as an icon that evokes shared, often visceral collective feelings and increases public deliberation. On the other hand, however, the photograph periodically circulates within local newspaper not because of its iconic charge, but thanks to its enhanced searchability. In this case, the image of Dane becomes an image-repertoire, whose iconicity is not defined by its pictorial aesthetics or by the cumulative meaning that it acquired, but by the chance to be easily indexable by search engines like Google.

Anne Mette Thorhauge, Stine Liv Johansen
In Denmark we currently experience a heated debate about children and young people’s use of social media. This use is often framed as ‘pathological’ with reference to ‘addiction’ as a key characteristic. This concept often comes with a range of perspectives imported from medicine and neurophysiology such as the idea that the notifications we receive from smartphones and social media spawn little ‘dopamine kicks’ that entices us to return to those media again and again, aligning in this way the use of social media with the abuse of substances such as heroine and cocaine. We find this problematic because there is little empirical evidence that excessive use of social media is actually conditioned by the release of dopamine in the brain. Moreover, the ‘addiction’ discourse tends to frame the use of social media in highly normative ways and to reduce potentially problematic use patterns in this way to the ‘moral failing’ of parents and of individuals. For this reason we will challenge the concept of addiction and introduce some alternative explanatory frameworks for understanding excessive use. To begin with, we will zoom in on the argument about dopamine-release as an explanation of excessive use. Following from this we will introduce two alternative explanatory frameworks offering different perspectives on excessive and potentially problematic use of social media: Microsociology and the philosophy of technology. Finally, we will discuss why definitions actually matter when dealing with this issue.

avatar for Anatoliy Gruzd

Anatoliy Gruzd

Associate Professor, Ryerson University
Canada Research Chair in Social Media Data Stewardship, Director of Research at the Social Media Lab (http://SocialMediaLab.ca/), Associate Professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University


Friday October 12, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 4

4:00pm EDT

Social Mediations of the Political I
Patricia Rossini
Scholarship on online political talk has been shifting attention from dedicated political platforms - such as e-deliberation platforms, political forums, and discussion boards - to more informal spaces, such as social media (Graham, Jackson, & Wright, 2015). While few would question that the internet may facilitate political talk, scholars have been concerned with the presence of uncivil discourse online (Coe, Kenski, & Rains, 2014; Rowe, 2015). However, most studies have focused on the volume of incivility, suggesting that it may undermine the democratic benefits of online political talk. Departing from the premise that incivility is a rhetorical device and may be used in distinct ways – and not necessarily to offend others in a discussion –, this study makes a distinct contribution by analyzing the conditions and characteristics of two specific targets of incivility - other participants in a discussion and political elites. I analyze comments on a sample of 157 news stories shared on a Brazilian Facebook news page and on their original sources using systematic content analysis. This study investigates three main research questions. First, are there differences between targets of incivility per platform? Second, what are the discursive features associated with interpersonal incivility? Third, what are the features associated with elite incivility? Understanding these differences in how different actors are targeted by uncivil discourse is crucial to better interpret the role of incivility in political talk, rather than dismiss it as incompatible with democratically relevant political talk.

Patricia Rossini, Feifei Zhang, Jennifer Stromer-Galley
Political campaigns in the U.S. have been routinely using social media as a part of their communication strategies. While this topic has motivated a robust body of literature on digital campaigns, this scholarship is largely focused on analyzing the how candidates use these platforms for strategic communication. Less attention has been given to the ways the public take advantage of digital platforms in order to engage, show support or attack candidates. However, while campaigns may try to avoid direct forms of contact with voters, social media platforms undoubtedly expose candidates and surrogates to criticism, as well as provide its users with several ways of demonstrating support or dissatisfaction with politicians. In this paper, we use supervised machine learning methods to analyze over 9 million comments on candidates' Facebook pages during the 2016 Presidential Election Primaries, focusing on demonstrations of public attacks and support. Our analysis includes 11 Republican and 4 Democratic candidates with active campaigns between January and June 14, 2016. The primaries are largely unexplored by studies on digital campaigns. However, this is a particularly interesting period for examining public comments, as there are several candidates competing for public attention and it is possible to observe differences within parties. This paper contributes to the current literature on digital campaigns by unveiling the dynamics of public commenting on candidates' Facebook page and demonstrates how the public's commenting behavior is affected not only by different dimensions of political campaigns but also by a candidate's party and gender.

David Coppini
This project investigates media coverage of immigration crises and resettlement of refugees in Italy in a number of selected Italian media outlets over the past year. In particular, the goal of the project is to conduct a content analysis of the immigration crises in the Italian context. The data from this content analysis can be useful to understand what frames journalists use to talk about immigration crises and how the Italian public is informed on this important issue. Building on previous research, this study analyzes mass media coverage in selected digital publications, both in video format and written format. This analysis sheds light on the themes used by Italian digital media in their representation of immigration crises and refugee resettlement in 2017 and at the beginning of 2018.

Warren Pearce
The 'acute controversy' of Climategate has provided an impetus for climate scientists to more publicly explain their practices through social media (Hulme, 2013). However, this online environment has provided new communicative challenges. Social media platform architecture facilitates both intentional collusion or unintentional collision of contexts (Davis & Jurgenson, 2014). This has provided special challenges for climate scientists, whose increasing use of social media has given rise to disagreements regarding the social contexts of climate science, and the extent to which these should be colluded or kept apart.

In short, the entrance of climate scientists into social media provides rich potential for investigating the shifting social contexts of both climate scientists and climate science, and understanding the role of social media platforms in communicating issues on the boundary of science and politics. This paper presents findings from 30 conversational interviews undertaken with climate scientists about their social media usage, using experimental ‘over shoulder’ methods allowing the collection of onscreen data as the participant perceives it and interacts with it .

The paper highlights three contexts which inform climate scientists' social media communications. personal (e.g. values), professional (e.g. employers' policy) and epistemic (e.g. the relative value attached to knowledge validation through traditional journal peer review and post-publication peer review online). Findings contribute to three theoretical areas: i) the qualitative, social contexts for climate scientists’ contributions to public debates on social media; ii) the dynamic roles of social media platforms in public climate debates, iii) the contribution of ‘thick’ data to digital society research.


Friday October 12, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 7

4:00pm EDT

YouTube, young people, and children
Jean Burgess
In the popular imagination, YouTube has always been connected to persistent social anxieties young people and digital media. There has been a recent increase in adult anxieties about children inadvertently being exposed to inappropriate content, not only through the platform's regular recommended videos or search algorithms, but even through the YouTube Kids app - manifesting in public controversies about kids' content on YouTube. Drawing on textual analysis of videos captured via a range of keywords searches of the YouTube platform as well as related ancillary materials, this paper teases out a number of dimensions to one such controversy, grounded in the media coverage of 'fake Peppa Pig' videos in mid to late 2017. It finds that while the controversy has opened up public debates around data ethics, content regulation and platform cultures considerably, there remain several key limitations to the public debate which can be productively opened up further by scholars, journalists, and the public.

Jarrod William Walczer
The YouTube Kids mobile application has been hotly contested by content creators, industry executives, and policy makers in the global children’s media industry as well as by parents and guardians of small children. This paper explains an application walkthrough of YouTube Kids in response to concerns about dubious satires of popular children’s content slipping through YouTube’s platform filters. These debates have resurfaced in popular culture following the publication of ‘Something is wrong on the Internet’ (Bridle, 2017). Bridle details how content creators are creating graphic and violent satires of mainstream children’s brands, like Peppa Pig, and generating advertising revenue from their views, despite the fact that they may be unsettling for viewers. These videos are often placed alongside the non-satirized versions in the ‘Suggested Videos’ sidebar. With little ability to distinguish between content via video thumbnails alone, children are at risk of being exposed to their favorite characters committing unsavory acts. To examine this, I have conducted application walkthroughs of the YouTube Kids application using Burgess, Light, and Duguay’s (2016) method. The method has allowed me to interrogate the socio-cultural and economics implications of YouTube Kids’ application registry and entry, its everyday uses, and the discontinuation or suspension of its use by taking rigorous scientific notation and screenshots and analyzing them within the application’s spatiotemporal contexts. I illustrate the application’s potential patterns of use, the platform’s affordances, and the lack of capabilities for interactivity, paying particular attention to the search engine function, running multiple example queries to interrogate Bridle’s concerns.

Jane Harris
In the United Kingdom, there are over 150 individual YouTubers with >1 million subscribers. A significant proportion of their audience are aged between 13-18 years. The content they produce is often: commercially sponsored, unregulated and both purposefully and accidentally touches on a whole range of health topics including: mental health, alcohol, sexual health, body image, healthy eating and physical activity. YouTubers could represent a particularly relatable source of health information for young people as a magnified version of young people’s own searchable and replicable online socially networked lives.

The aim of the research is to explore the role that professional YouTubers play in young people health behaviours and identities in the UK.

The study was a four stage, sequential mixed methods design. The first stage, a school based questionnaire (n=931, 13-18 years) quantified young people’s YouTuber engagement and provided a sampling frame for the later qualitative stages. An online analysis of 7 UK YouTubers examined the health content they produced. Focus groups (n=7, 85 participants) with 13-18 year olds explored the impact this content had on young people’s health behaviours and interviews with professional YouTubers (

avatar for Jean Burgess

Jean Burgess

Professor and Director, Digital Media Research Centre, QUT

Friday October 12, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond West

4:00pm EDT

Forms of Materiality in Digital Communities
Digital objects tend to proliferate in the everyday experience of Internet users—files, apps, badges and so on—while some of their analog counterparts tend to gradually disappear. But they have by no means eclipsed the importance of tangible objects in socio-cultural practices, as shown by the sustained interest for making, amateur craftsmanship, collecting, etc. The circulation of _objects_ remains at the heart of the social dynamics of communities and subcultures. What may constitute an emerging phenomenon is the mixed “modes of existence” of these circulating objects and their shifting forms of materiality, between digital representations (“dematerialization”), physical prints (“materialization”) or copies (“rematerialization”), sometimes with radically altered material features like substance or size—a process we propose to call “transmaterialization”. How participants in digitally supported communities of practice make sense of these shifting materialities of objects? How do they structure and guide their actions, and how do they shape social norms and values regarding work, ownership, and authenticity? This roundtable brings new considerations to the ongoing theoretical debate about the relevance of an analytic divide between the digital and the material. The speakers will ignite the discussion by sharing some insights from multisited ethnographic research projects on digitally supported communities of practice: some are international online communities (one centred on sewing skills, another on shell collecting) while others are local, rooted in physical places (an art-oriented makerspace based in Quebec City and three fab labs based in Central and Western Africa). Speakers: Guillaume Latzko-Toth, chair (Laval University, Canada); Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou (Laval University, Canada); Florence Millerand (University of Quebec at Montreal, Canada); Johan Söderberg (University of Gothenburg, Sweden).


Friday October 12, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 8

4:00pm EDT

Trolls, Stalkers, and Flamers, Oh My! Revisiting Ethical Decision-Making Internet Research in Light of Ever-Changing Online Practices
As internet spaces and practices continue to evolve, it remains important to revisit the guidelines we use to ensure ethical decision-making in the design, implementation, and dissemination of our research. For those studying youth, questions exist about how best to navigate particular ethical considerations for these and other vulnerable populations. We also recognize the importance of protecting not only our participants but also ourselves as we engage in internet-based scholarship in an era of doxxing, GamerGate, Operation Onymous, and other examples of online retaliation. This roundtable brings together internet researchers from varied social science perspectives and experiences to revisit the AoIR guidelines for ethical decision-making, generating conversation to address the following questions: What, if anything, has changed about internet-based research in the last six years that may impact ethical decision-making? How should researchers consider ethics and their own personal safety? What resources are (or should be) available to support researchers who face unexpected ethical complications during their projects? How can advisors best support novices as they conduct ethical internet-based research, particularly when these advisors may lack familiarity with the research context? Initial participants include Lammers, a videogames and learning researcher and doctoral mentor who explores adolescents writing through affinity space ethnography, Stornaiuolo, a literacy scholar and doctoral mentor who argues for an ethical stance of reciprocity in her connective ethnographic research of youth writers on _Wattpad_, Verhoeven, a doctoral candidate who faced internet harassment during her dissertation research on a learning community in _Second Life_, and McGuinness, an addiction researcher investigating the experience of drug users who purchase opiates through darknet markets. We welcome the dialogue and recommendations that may come from all who participate in this roundtable aimed at exploring timely and complicated ethical issues.

Friday October 12, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 6

4:00pm EDT

Museum of Random Memory: A critical data literacy exhibition / intervention
This interactive exhibition has two parts (for first part, see preconference workshop submission). It showcases a social research experiment called "Museum of Random Memory" (MoRM), performed by a team of scholars, activists, artists, computer scientists, and other “uncurators.” MoRM exemplifies the meeting point of digital and material culture with a particular focus on activism through critical pedagogy. On the surface, the event is a playful engagement where visitors are encouraged to donate memories to the museum’s collection and view their memories alongside others’. Below the surface, MoRM generates critical consciousness about multiple aspects of datafication, data collection, big data, and corporatization and monetization of our personal data and memories through the seamlessness of apps and platforms on our digital devices.

We’ll achieve necessary logistics for the exhibition prior to AoIR, with the help of AoIR members at Concordia University. We will secure an exhibition space at or nearby the conference location that will host the AoIR attendees. We propose conducting the interactive exhibition as an evening event for AoIR, separate from the conference dinner or opening reception. Perhaps prior to or after one of the keynotes?

At the event, we use many different visual displays, verbal prompts, and the lure of ‘something is happening here,’ to engage visitors in conversation about how the use of digital media platforms and technologies impacts the shape of our future memories and cultural heritages. The focus on 'memory' allows us to engage people in thinking about larger and more complex sociotechnical relations. The idea of ‘random memory’ gives visitors an easy access point, since the phrase is playful, sparks curiosity. Drawing visitors further into the exhibition, we get them to explore their devices to assess how they generate, store, and share data.

The exact performance depends on who participates in the preconference workshop, but the following is representative: We tell visitors we’re collecting memories to add to our museum and invite them to participate. As they’re looking for some object, idea, or image to donate, we encourage them to sign our 30-meter Terms Of Service agreement (a long scroll hangs from the ceiling. In 4point font, it’s nearly impossible to read). Laughing alongside participants, we invite them to reflect on how we sign impossibly long and unreadable TOS. Continuing, we invite them to tell the story behind the donation, either on paper or through our online interface. They are invited to talk further with ‘uninterpreters.’ The “data literacy” involves conversing with participants about questions like: What is the process of remembering and forgetting in the digital age? How are memories archived for us by digital platforms like Facebook and Google? Could we be more critical and conscious of how our future heritage is being created, not only by us but by many automated features of new tech? 100 years from now, what will archaeologists find to teach them about what happened back in 2017? What would we like them to find? How can we use everyday memory-making practices to consider possible socio-technical futures?

Friday October 12, 2018 4:00pm - 8:00pm EDT
Concordia Black Box, Concordia University, 1515 Ste. Catherine St. West
Saturday, October 13

9:00am EDT

Race & Racism In Internet Research: Fishbowl With The Center For Critical Race And Digital Studies
The very structure of the Internet embeds racism and colonialism. For example, the search engine algorithms we rely on for research enable and automate discriminatory systems of classification that perpetuate cultures of racism (Noble, 2018). The same racial geographical patterns that have historically arranged people, power, and resources also extend to the spatial logics of online space (McIlwain, 2016). Bringing together members of the Center for Critical Race and Digital Studies to begin the discussion, we will facilitate dialogue with a community of scholars about best practices, points of controversy, and issues of constraint connected to race and racism in Internet and technology studies. Through dialogue with other members of the AoIR community we hope to proffer ideas for decolonizing the interdisciplinary work of Internet research. Offering theoretical reflections from critical race theory and pragmatic best practices from our work, we consider 1) how Internet, digital and technology studies more broadly can better incorporate critical work by scholars of color; 2) how these fields can and should address ethical issues related to data collection and use with, within, and about communities of color; and 3) the need and rationale for centralizing issues of race, marginalization, inequality and discrimination within the fields of Internet, and science and technology studies. In addition to the five named fish for this session (Sarah J. Jackson, Charlton McIlwain, Safiya Noble, Catherine Knight Steele, and Tonia Sutherland), other members of the CRDS, including André Brock, Meredith D. Clark, Anika Navaroli, Rachel Kuo, Kendra Calhoun, and Minh-Ha T. Pham will be in attendance to offer insights and dialogue.


Charlton McIlwain (2016) Racial formation, inequality and the political economy of web traffic, Information, Communication & Society, DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2016.1206137

Safiya Noble (2018) Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. New York University Press.

Saturday October 13, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Salon 6

9:00am EDT

Governing but ungoverned: Algorithmic management from NewsFeeds to Network Neutrality
In this panel, we build on the turn toward ‘algorithmic governance’ to problematize the specific confluence of big data, mobile computing and intelligent infrastructure that promises to better manage and regulate social systems and citizens. Algorithms and other artificially intelligent technologies have taken on tasks that we would traditionally call governing, albeit this transfer of power is often framed within a new kind of ‘post-politics’ digital sublime by the companies selling these solutions. These techno-utopian imaginaries are fuelled by technology firms marketing decision-making services and the ability to provide ‘cognitive solutions’ or the latest ‘technological fix’. We address algorithmic governance through four case studies in different contexts. The cases investigate the algorithms being used: a) to influence people’s behaviour through social games, b) to determine the kind of ‘news’ Facebook’s 2 billion users see, c) to attach risk scores to parents and d) to govern how the internet infrastructure is regulated. The aim is to move toward a better understanding of the implications of algorithmic governance, to assess where we are heading and to ask where we might want to change course.

Saturday October 13, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Drummond East

9:00am EDT

Intimacies and digital media infrastructures
The breadth of what it means to study intimacies in the context of media has changed significantly in recent years because of current technological, social, and cultural changes. The digital mediation of intimacy - the changing attitudes, experiences, and practices of intimacy performed through digital media - demands that scholars look beyond well-established frameworks for studying intimacy and media, expanding their methodological and theoretical perspectives in order to fully comprehend intimate lifeworlds and the digital.

This panel aims to examine the various intimacies - understood here as a range of affects, practices and sociocultural arrangements - that take place through and are reconfigured by digital media infrastructures. In particular, it aims to explore how digital infrastructures and intimate arrangements are intertwined, thereby challenging the assumptions that digital media's reconfigurations of intimacy are associated with either positive or negative outcomes. Through analytical approaches that interrogate the material complexities of digital media in relation to individuals' intimate lifeworlds, this panel's papers uncover the nuances of digitally mediated intimacies. They identify the opportunities that digital media infrastructures facilitate for representation, social connection and sexual excitement while acknowledging infrastructural influences in the reinforcement, commodification, and marginalization of particular expressions of intimacy. Through textual analysis, in-depth interviews, ethnography, and close readings of a range of digital media, from messaging apps to video sharing platforms, these studies generate thick data that exposes the often unseen digital media infrastructures running underneath, through and in the background of intimacies.

Saturday October 13, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Salon 8

9:00am EDT

Materialities of Digital Labour
Yujie Chen
Through the examples of ride-hailing and food-delivery platforms in China, the paper offers an analysis on how on-demand service apps intersect with the existing social structural conditions and technological apparatus in becoming the new sites for labor management and activism. I examine qualitative data from interviews with workers and activists, participant observations, and media contents generated by and circulated among workers in both private groups and public-facing social media Accounts and online forums. The paper foregrounds workers’ voices and the wide range of their non-compliance, refusal, and sabotage behaviors. The paper argues that for platform workers, the repertoire of labor struggles and tactics of everyday resistance intertwine with the process of “learning to labor” (Willis, 1981) on the digital platforms which decontextualize the work process from its local social and cultural settings. The decontextualized work process and the absence of occupational trainings exploit and aggravate the long-standing lack of institutional social support for Chinese platform laborers. These leave them to learn to work by practice and trial-and-error. Nonetheless, workers’ constant challenge, contestation, and combat against the platform-defined labor process help redraw the scope of labor struggles in the platform society. The conclusion connects the dots from Chinese platform workers’ everyday resistance forms to wider landscape of digital labor activism and reflects on the potentials and hurdles for the local ‘single sparks’ to become a transnational ‘prairie fire’ of platform workers’ collective and connective actions.

Kelly Bergstrom
In this paper I explore the growing trend of posting videos to YouTube to explain the reasons for why an individual has quit their job, detailing a collection of 10 vlogs posted by 11 former BuzzFeed employees to explain their reasons for leaving the company. I argue that the vlogs made by ex-employees are a deliberate attempt to expose the invisible labour that is prevalent in the post-Internet media industry. By posting “Why I Left” vlogs, former employees reclaim their authorship of creative productions previously uploaded without individual attributions and instead credited to the faceless corporate monolith of “BuzzFeed”. Furthermore, these vlogs act as a means to subvert notoriety earned by being a (now former) public face of BuzzFeed to attract hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of viewers to announce their personal pivot and rebranding as content producers now working independently from the company that had launched them into Internet fame.

While perhaps not intentional, these vlogs ultimately act as a warning about the uneven playing field between employer and employee. Each year BuzzFeed posts record profits, and yet these vlogs illuminate how employees are actively prevented from being able to grow a personal brand beyond BuzzFeed, stifling future career prospects and additional sources of income. Ultimately this leaves BuzzFeed employees with the option to quit or to stagnate in place, or what Gaby Dunn (2015) stated are ultimately the two options for a BuzzFeed viral video star: “Get Rich, or Die Vlogging.’”

John Sullivan
Podcasting is currently undergoing a rapid process of formalization, thanks to the investments of legacy media firms in the ecosystem. Key to podcast formalization is the development of professionalism among amateur podcasters. This paper explores discourses of professionalism in podcasting by closely analyzing the discourse about podcast labor found in two popular, long-running weekly podcasts, School of Podcasting, hosted by Dave Jackson (launched in 2005) and The Audacity to Podcast hosted by Daniel J. Lewis (launched in 2010). In these podcasts, Lewis and Jackson dispense advice about how to manage and structure a weekly podcast, how to select the right equipment, how to create dynamic and radio-quality content, and, increasingly, how to monetize podcasts by working with advertisers and networks. These hosts actively construct a particular view of podcasting as an emergent, commercially viable industry that can serve as a full-time occupation for entrepreneurial amateurs. Underlying this discourse is a powerful and seductive message of meritocracy: that amateur podcasters can successfully compete with established industry players thanks to the absence of industry gatekeepers. These podcasts operate simultaneously as a kind of “skills guild” - reminiscent of earlier artisan guilds – offering technical and aesthetic training for solo podcasters and urging the development of a professional ethos surrounding the medium.

Samantha Shorey
Technology design is both scientific and cultural work. It is informed by scientific fields—engineering, computer science—and it produces the objects that shape almost every aspect of our daily lives. Since the early 2000s, “making” has emerged as a new and possibly radical method of technology design that engages both hobbyists and technology professionals in creative activity outside of corporate hierarchies. Making is a distinctly material practice. It integrates the digital world of computer programming with the physical world of solder, saws, and thread. The proposed paper looks to the tools, materials, and skills of making—and asks what they can tell us about the uncertain place of women in contemporary technology design. It is informed by two years of ethnographic field research at a university makerspace in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. I argue that the desire to define making as $2 of innovation—rather than a varied set of activities such as invention, creation, craft, modification, and repair—threatens to recreate gender disparity in making communities.

avatar for Samantha Shorey

Samantha Shorey

PhD Student, University of Washington
I'm a design ethnographer. Let's talk about: making/makerspace, women in STEM (presently and in the past!), craft, history of technology, space travel.

John Sullivan

Professor of Media and Communication, Muhlenberg College
I do research on online cultural labor, specifically podcasting.

Saturday October 13, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Drummond West

9:00am EDT

Materialities of Networks in Formation
Negin Dahya, Sarah Dryden-Peterson, Dacia Douhaibi, Olivier Arvisais
This paper addresses how mobile phones and social networks are being used to support gender equity in education among refugee teachers in Kenyan refugee camps. Our study focuses on how refugee teachers are using instant messaging to transform educational practices in the highly restrictive, under-resourced, and deeply patriarchal conditions of Kakuma and Dadaab Refugee Camps in Kenya. This work developed from previous studies identifying the crucial role mobile phones and social networks have in the educational landscape of refugees in this region.

In our current study, we ask pertinent questions with a focus on refugee teachers in-practice professional development opportunities, and how they impact gender equity in education more broadly. In our approach, we consider power dynamics in the material world that also influence participation and access to online worlds for female refugee teachers. Additionally, we interrogate how the built environment and gendered architecture of place applies, ranging from how teachers and students connect across geographies within and outside of refugee camps, to dis/embodied practices of teacher professional development across peer networks.

In 2016, our research team collected 203 surveys with refugee teachers in Kakuma and Dadaab, conducted five focus group discussions with refugee teachers and community educators in Kakuma, and completed 14 semi-structured interviews with instructors, Faculty, and administrators directing professional development programs for refugee teachers from Kenya and Canada. The focus of our discussion will be on the educational ecosystem and unique opportunities to support girls’ education.

Minna Soltani Jensen, Christina Neumayer, Luca Rossi
This presentation explores the motivations of users for sharing and creating Internet memes in a crises situation. For this purpose, we investigate the kitten memes in #brusselslockdown on Twitter, following the security lockdown of Brussels in November 2015 due to information about potential terrorist attacks. Based on a social network analysis, we identified three user groups who shared or produced memes in #brusselslockdown on Twitter: Content producers, content sharers, and conversationalists. The #brusselslockdown Twitter network contains 31,661 nodes and 37,758 edges. Starting from the Twitter network we identified three ranking parameters reflecting different types of participation: the quantity of content produced (content producer); the quantity of retweets received (content sharer); the clustering coefficient of the node (conversationalist). Based on results of interviews with users from these three groups, we argue that the motivations for sharing and creating memes range from personal involvement in the crises situation and acts of resistance to creative self-realization. The actions and practices in #Brusselslockdown emerging from these motivations varied - from producing noise in form of retweeting (also supported by the strategic use of bots) to push the terrorists out of Twitter and (symbolically) the city of Brussels; to sharing funny kitten images as a way of dealing with the crises situation; and producing memes as an expression of creative potential. Combined, these practices, activities and motivations resulted into a phenomenon that appropriated an expression of popular internet culture to resist, to show solidarity but also to deal with the crises situation in humorous and playful way.

Laura Strait, Patrick Jones
In October, 2011, hundreds of thousands of people in 951 cities in 82 countries around the world participated in the Occupy movement. Since that time, Occupy has persisted as a network of actors opposing social and economic inequality, fascism, and global capitalism. Occupy was part of Revolution 2.0 and was organized, mobilized, and framed on social media and other digital platforms where its slogans became memes viewed around the globe. Seven years after the initial protests, the resilience of Occupy counters assumptions that political communities born on social media platforms cannot endure once protests have died down. How then does Occupy maintain its brand identity and political resonance today?

In this paper, we study the multiplicity of voices who continue to invoke Occupy rhetoric through a close reading of two websites designed to glue this disparate community together, Occupy.com and its affiliated site Occupy Commons. Occupy.com acts as Occupy’s chief media outlet, while Occupy Commons serves as a community forum where activists can create groups, coordinate events, and participate in discussion. In this paper, we ask two primary research questions: 1) How do these website help constitute a community? And 2) How does this community remember Occupy? Using a methodology developed to analyze both the rhetorical content and functionality of websites, we read each website as an archived virtual community. This paper has important implications for how we think about political community in an era where digital tactics are a primary feature of activist politics.

Katerina Diamantaki, Charitos Dimitrios, Rizopoulos Haris, Penny Papageorgopoulou
The proposed study aims to contribute to the growing research field of online social virtual worlds through an analysis of a variety of hosted multi-user public virtual experiences taking place in Sansar, a new avatar-based virtual world platform made by Second Life creator Linden Lab, and launched in “creator beta” to the general public on July 31, 2017. Capitalizing on the new wave of enthusiasm for virtual reality, Sansar is currently been marketed as a “next-generation virtual world” (Johnson, 2017), a kind of “Wordpress for Social VR” promising to “democratize VR development” by allowing users to create their own immersive experiences inside their own virtual reality scenes (Summers, 2016). In line with socio-technological and constructivist approaches, the focus of analysis has been on the social processes by which a technological space of simulated representations is constructed, while at the same time co-examining the technical and design elements of the virtual environments that allow content production, user activity and social interaction to materialize in the immersive virtual space. The findings of the study highlight how subjectivities, practices, activities, relations, objects and technologies combine and synergize in the process of constructing a novel environment of technologically-mediated sociality, defined by the socialization of virtual technologies.

Saturday October 13, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Salon 7

9:00am EDT

Materializing Activism, Publics and Counterpublics
David Myles
This presentation examines the social media campaign #SupportIslandWomen that was undertaken by reproductive rights activists in Prince Edward Island (PEI). The initiative gained popularity in 2016 due to both the off- and online circulation of posters throughout PEI landmarks depicting the Green Gables-like image of a young girl (“rogue Anne”) wearing red braids and a bandana. These posters showcased specific hashtags that encouraged debates on various online platforms. For this study, we underline how human actors invoked the symbolic ‘figure’ of rogue Anne to give weight to their own arguments by speaking or acting in her name. By ‘figure’, we mean any symbolic entity that is materialized through interaction and that possesses agency, or the ability to make a significant difference in interaction. Hence, our study examines the processes through which rogue Anne was made present in interaction, the role of digital (online) and physical (offline) affordances in the materialization of this figure, and the differentiated effects that these invocations generated. To do so, we build our dataset by performing non-participant observation on social media platforms and by exploring Canadian blogs and newspapers. Drawing from organizational discourse theory, our results show that invoking the figure of rogue Anne allowed for pro-choice collectives to assert their authority in abortion debates by labelling the fictional character as a modern feminist icon. They also underline the importance of studying the intervention of symbolic figures, their effects, and their materialization within political initiatives that incorporate and go beyond the practice of ‘hashtagging’.

Simindokht Kargar, Adrian Rauchfleisch
Cyber abuse and online harassment are increasingly applied as a form of information control to curb free speech and exert power in cyberspace. In recent years, states have appeared to be particularly invested in weaponizing information against dissidents and activists in an attempt at dominating social and political discourses. These practices are often exercised in tandem with other forms of intrusion campaigns, e.g., state-sponsored hacking of emails, surveillance of communication and devices, and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on opposition websites. Coordinated harassment of dissidents on social media appears as the most recent form of strategic communication, where particular messages are crafted by state-affiliated actors to manipulate public opinion. The scope of such targeted abuse varies by case while evidence is typically scarce and has not been comprehensively substantiated with data. These extrajurisdictional practices turn harassment into a relatively low-cost weapon for targeting the opposition and limiting freedom of speech through intimidation, and pursuing a “silencing” strategy. This goes without saying that such practices are pursued via the same mediums that are designed to give voice to the voiceless. The proposed study addresses the circumstances under which these coordinated efforts are likely to emerge and the ultimate goals that they pursue. In addition, the study seeks to shed light on the latest practices of the Iranian regime to extend its ideological arms in cyberspace by crafting and disseminating propaganda against its opposition through international platforms.

William Joseph Moner
Participatory media has become a growing area of research in recent years, particularly as people have gained access to powerful cameras and robust network connections. Web-based productions such as Life in a Day (Macdonald, 2011) and One Day on Earth (Ruddick & Litman, 2012) asked people around the world to capture footage of their quotidian lives on the same calendar day, upload that footage to a social media platform — YouTube and Vimeo, respectively — and allow directors and producers to craft a film from the contributions.

This paper takes up two questions germane to the process of participatory media. First, how might we understand the role of the company or organization at the center of the project in handling the volume and types of media submitted? Second, how might we scrutinize the technological platform as a contested site of control in the construction of participatory documentaries?

This paper reports findings that both elucidate and critique the influence of major multinational organizations acting in funding and supervisory roles for the two global media projects mentioned above, and notes the lack of powerful arrangements that compromised the success of the third.

The paper also proposes a new framework for analysis called $2 , drawing from Mosco’s (2009) political economy of communication and his concepts of commodification, spatialization, and structuration to understand the control mechanisms at work through the entirety of a participatory media production.

Rena Bivens
Pressured into social media spaces, anti-violence non-profits find themselves with little time, energy, and understanding of how the software that creates these spaces is curating their networks and feeds. What's more, the spaces that have emerged accommodate and reinforce oppressive dynamics, some of which reflect the very problems these non-profits have been trying to alleviate (e.g. sexism, racism, transphobia, harassment, stalking, doxxing, etc.). Indeed, social media, like Facebook and Twitter, were never designed for non-profits.

Scholars of non-profit communication have questioned whether non-profits who use social media are repurposing the traditional, one-way broadcast model of information dissemination or moving towards dialogic communication – the ideal, two-way symmetrical model of public relations (Grunig and Hunt 1984). However, the possibilities for dialogic communication and reaching the ‘unconverted’ are limited by programming practices.

This paper offers an empirically grounded theoretical analysis of the complex and dynamic ways in which social media design and use interrelate in order to contextualize the role of social media in ending gender-based violence. Ultimately, my preliminary findings indicate that social media companies have played a role in shifting the social change work conducted by anti-violence non-profits towards a ‘broadcast impulse’ (Gregg 2008).

Creating lasting change through efforts to end gender-based violence remains challenging. With this study, I am to better understand some of these obstacles and offer insights for non-profits about the implications that using social media may have on their broader efforts to achieve social change, both on and offline.

Saturday October 13, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Drummond Centre

9:00am EDT

Social Media/tions of the Political II
Caitlin Lawson
In February 2016, Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright angered many younger feminists when they criticized them for voting for Bernie Sanders instead of Hillary Clinton. This article examines the online discourse around Steinem and Albright’s comments in order to better understand the intersections of feminism, social media, and political choice. I take three sets of platforms – the platform of feminist activism, the Clinton campaign’s political platform, and the digital media platforms on which this incident was debated – as my focus, exploring how feminism, politics, celebrity, and digital spaces mutually shape one another. Through a multiplatform discourse analysis of these controversies, I show that Steinem’s comments highlighted generational conflicts over notions of choice while exposing the complications that can arise through celebrity feminism. Further, Albright’s critique of young feminists as ahistorical clashed with critics who argued it was indeed Albright and Clinton’s political histories, coupled with their insufficiently intersectional feminism, that moved young feminists to disavow Clinton. Overall, this case study demonstrates a shift to what I call "platform feminism." Platform feminism, tied to the third wave with its concerns of intersectionality and inclusivity, diverges from its predecessor through its digital expression, its encouragement of social and political activism both digital and non-digital, and its vigorous debate over the ideals and boundaries of feminism. This “platform feminism” repudiates the “establishment,” non-intersectionality of previous iterations of feminism, and Clinton, Steinem, and Albright’s prominence within these iterations moved many critics to reject Clinton as a Presidential candidate.

Amelia Faith Johns
This paper extends upon findings from a pilot study in an ongoing project, the Malaysian Digital Citizenship Project (2016-2018). The pilot study was conducted with 21 Malaysian-Chinese youth participants, and 6 digital citizenship policymakers in Kuala Lumpur between August and December 2016. The findings from the pilot study (presented at AOIR 2017) showcased the influence that state surveillance and online censorship was having on youth citizen voice and participation online, demonstrating the withdrawal of young people from politically engaged networked publics (on Facebook and Twitter), and the rechanneling of political communications and sociality toward ‘backstage’ communications (WhatsApp, Telegram). This paper will present the findings of a new phase of the project (fieldwork to be conducted between May 2018 and July 2018) which uses a mixed methods approach, including sentiment analysis of Malaysian Twitter data in the lead up to the Malaysian general election. The data will be narrowed down by relevant hashtags i.e. #bersih, #malaysia, #malaysiaku, #politics and age identifiers to capture youth sentiments. The aim of this phase of research will be to broadly examine a cross-section of Malaysian youth feelings and perceptions around questions of political agency, rights, representation, surveillance, censorship, fears and hopes regarding the present and future political directions of Malaysia. The findings will be triangulated with follow up interviews and social media ethnography with participants from the pilot study.

Edward Flipo Hurcombe
This paper examines emerging news forms and journalistic practices within Australia that are native to social media. It argues that these shared forms and practices constitute a new genre of ‘social news’. Social news embodies specific kinds of platform vernaculars and pop-cultural sensibilities, and challenges journalistic norms of ‘objectivity’ and ‘balance’ by consistently adopting an overtly positioned perspective. Three Australian-based outlets are studied through this conceptual lens: BuzzFeedOz News, Junkee Media, and Pedestrian.tv. Using digital tools alongside manual methods, this paper investigates the role and significance of these outlets on Twitter and Facebook during the August-November 2017 same-sex marriage postal survey. The survey was commissioned by the incumbent conservative Liberal-National Australian government to gauge nationwide support for same-sex marriage. During the survey, social news outlets played an advocacy and activist role. These outlets refrained from publishing provocative ‘No’ op-eds, and Junkee Media and Pedestrian.tv actively encouraged readers to enrol and vote ‘Yes’. Preliminary findings indicate that social news outlets were moderately-to-highly visible on Twitter during the postal survey period. On Facebook, advocacy posts received low-to-moderate levels of engagement. These findings indicate a shifting but not yet transformed Australian news ecology. In addition, social news’ eschewing of ‘balance’ indicates a challenge from emerging outlets to traditional journalistic norms in Australia. Significantly, in this case the challenge comes from outlets that intelligently critique the value in publishing both sides. Overall, this research highlights that disruptions from social media platforms and cultures can be sources of positive potential for news and journalistic practice.

Fabio Giglietto, Francesca Carabini, Laura Iannelli, Giada Marino, Luca Rossi, Stefano Usai, Augusto Valeriani
Following the Brexit referendum and the elections in United States, France, Germany and UK, Italy goes to vote on March 4 2018. Concerns over the potential impact of problematic information on the Italian political campaign were raised multiple times during the months preceding the election. In response to these concerns, we designed a project aimed at creating a comprehensive map of the political news coverage created by the Italian traditional, digital and alternative newsmedia in the lead up of 2018 general election.

Employing a set of innovative tools and methodologies that adapt and extend the state-of-the-art developed by previous election studies, the project analyzes the engagement originated by political news stories on Facebook and Twitter, characterizes the political leaning of related media sources and measures its degree of audience polarization.

This paper describes the methodology employed to collect the data and presents the first results of a study that measure and describe the social media engagement originated around partisan media sources.

Following a review of existing methods used to characterize the political leaning of Twitter users in a multi-party context, we opted to design our measure building upon the Media Partisanship Attention Scores developed by Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris, Hal Roberts, and Ethan Zuckerman for their study on media landscape during the 2016 US Presidential Election.

Results clearly point out that the overall amount of social media engagement originated around some partisan media sources rivals those originated around the neutral category that includes major Italian news outlets.

Saturday October 13, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Salon 5

9:00am EDT

Pictogramic Cultures And Economies On The Internet
From emoticons and emoji to stickers and emoji reactions, pictograms afford users communicative fluidity across platforms, and translate human sentiment into information capital. They boast prosodic, emphatic, and lexical effects (Azuma & Ebner 2008: 973-974) and enhance user agency (Lim 2015: 3), but are also instruments of capitalism as corporations extract consumer data (Stark & Crawford 2015: 8). In this roundtable, four Early Career Scholars will discuss pictogramic culture on the internet.

Kate Miltner (USA), who focuses on the intersection of technology, identity, and power, will discuss how corporate cultures of Silicon Valley problematize gender and racial politics in how emoji are conceptualized, designed, and discussed. Ariadna Matamoros-Fernández (Australia), who focuses on ‘platformed racism’ on digital media, will examine how Belgium far-right political party Vlaams Belang’s use of Facebook Reactions spreads anger and challenges platform governance. Crystal Abidin (Sweden), who examines internet celebrity culture, will discuss how Kim Kardashian’s Kimoji stickers construct and monetize controversy to create branded content and maintain followers’ cult literacies. Tim Highfield (the Netherlands), who examines everyday social media, will discuss implications of Twitter’s hashflags in offering affective depictions of topics, and underline the issues, partners, practices, and perspectives privileged by popular platforms.

Considering how complex identities and sentiments are made into readable and relatable icons, presenters and attendees will discuss key tensions (and solutions) in the development of internet pictogramic culture.


Azuma, J., & Ebner, M. (2008). “A Stylistic Analysis of Graphic Emoticons: Can they be Candidates for a Universal Language of the Future?” Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Media, Hypermedia and Telecommunications (pp. 972-977). ED-Media.

Lim, S. (2015). “On Stickers and Communicative Fluidity in Social Media”. Social Media + Society, 1(1), 1-3.

Stark, L., & Crawford, K. (2015). The Conservatism of Emoji: Work, Affect, and Communication. Social Media + Society, 1(2), 1-11.

Saturday October 13, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Ballroom East

9:00am EDT

Social Media Users' Privacy Expectations and the Ethics of Using Their Data by Third Parties
*Initial Participants*

Jacquelyn Burkell, Western University

Joanne McNeish, Ryerson University

Anabel Quan-Haase, Western University


The transnational flows of information across nations and borders make it difficult to introduce and implement privacy-preserving policies relating to social media data. Social media data are a rich source of behavioural data that can reveal how we connect and interact with each other online in real time. Furthermore, the materiality of new digital intermediaries (such as the Internet of Things, AI, and algorithms) raises additional anticipated and unanticipated privacy challenges that need to be addressed as we continue to speed towards an increasingly digitally-mediated future.

A by-product of the large-scale social media adoption is social media data mining; publicly available social media data is largely free and legally available to be mined, analyzed, and used (Kennedy 2016) for whatever purposes by third parties. Researchers have begun to suggest that ethics need to be considered even if the data is public (boyd & Crawford 2012).

In the wake of the EU's recent legislation of the General Data Protection Regulation and the Right to be Forgotten, as well as increasing critical attention around the world, the roundtable will discuss how to navigate the transnational and material, as well as the complex and competing, interests associated with using social media, including ethics, privacy, security, and intellectual property rights. By balancing people's individual rights to exercise autonomy over "their" data and the societal benefits of using and analyzing the data for insights, the roundtable aims to generate theoretically-rich discussion and debate with internet researchers about the ethics, privacy, and best practices of using social media data.


boyd, d., & K. Crawford. 2012. "Critical Questions for Big Data." Information, Communication & Society 15 (5): 662-679.

Kennedy, H. 2016. Post, Mine, Repeat. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

avatar for Anatoliy Gruzd

Anatoliy Gruzd

Associate Professor, Ryerson University
Canada Research Chair in Social Media Data Stewardship, Director of Research at the Social Media Lab (http://SocialMediaLab.ca/), Associate Professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University

Saturday October 13, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Salon 4

9:00am EDT

Privacy Booth
_*PrivacyBooth*_ is an experimental method of research creation to learn more about the future of privacy, digital culture, and the networked society.

We propose a small installation in the form of a _speaker’s booth_ which invites participants to share/tell a one-minute story about privacy and/or their perceptions and negotiations with digital privacy policy. *Be Public About Privacy!*

_*PrivacyBooth*_ is a stable structure built with a wood frame and completely free-standing. A Bluetooth enhanced camera mounted inside the box records one-minute after a participant pushes a button onscreen. Research ethics and informed consent information, as well as prompts are located inside the booth. Participants may share multiple stories. The booth provides information about digital privacy policy literacy, including creative commons licenses (i.e., CC BY SA NC) and information about alternatives to current digital privacy practices. Detailed information about how digital files will be used is included in ethical protocols. _Ultimately we seek to understand how people perceive privacy and negotiate with digital policies._

This project experiments with mixed-methods, including user-driven qualitative strategies and digital storytelling methods. Any participant contributions in_*PrivacyBooth*_ may be included in research, education, and pedagogical initiatives. Logged video may be integrated with other digital stories (Gubrium 2009; Cunsolo et al. 2013) to explore the role policies play in digital practices and negotiations. Stories may also be taken up in pedagogical initiatives aimed at fostering critical awareness about issues including commodification, surveillance, and intellectual property.

Storytelling has a long history of use in communication studies, English, history, psychology, and across art forms (Knowles 2004; Margolis and Pauwels 2011; Bates 2013; Garner and Scott 2013), and are linked to such issues as social justice, well-being, civic engagement, and social acceptance. Further, Noyse (2004) demonstrates how the use of digital tools complement other methods. Following Noyse, our use of video and audio illustrates a strong degree of reflexivity—by making participants’ bodies audibly, visibly, and viscerally present.

All stories are housed on a project website and uploaded to a digital repository at the University of Guelph library. Participant stories are clearly marked for public consumption via a Creative Commons license and assessed for detailed content, discourse, and semiotic analysis. Sánchez-Navarro & Aranda (2012) researched how digital media-making functions as tools for sociability, leisure, and informal learning; further, the tools people use are instruments for social relationships (Antheunis et al., 2009), identity management (boyd, 2007, 2014; Valkenburg and Peter, 2011, 2013), and potentially engender digital divides (Notten et al., 2009). The research team plans to assess contributions to understand how people perceive privacy and negotiate with terms of use and other digital policies.

According to Montgomery (2015), social networks have given people “an illusion they can control their privacy”. No matter what people tell pollsters, many of us share a great deal of private information online. _*PrivacyBooth*_aims to contribute to Shade and Shepherd's (2013) call for a framework of digital policy literacy that counters and resists the “often–cynical attitude" people display towards the exploitation of their private lives.

Saturday October 13, 2018 9:00am - 3:00pm EDT
Located near the registration tables on the Ballroom Foyer

11:00am EDT

Digital Critical Race Mixtape
In his seminal work _Digital Griots_, Adam Banks (2011) argues for the mixtape as both an epistemological framework and a mode of writing that is particularly suited for multimedia digital environments. Drawing heavily on mixing and remixing, mixtapes represent a communal orientation to knowledge production that differs from that of the academy. Grounded in the synthesis of tradition and innovation, mixtapes foreground existing material in an act of intentional canon formation while simultaneously offering new insights and perspectives. They bring together oral traditions, print literacies, and technology (Banks, 147) in ways that are potentially productive for the contemporary digital landscape. In this experimental session, five scholars of race and technology ask, "What happens when scholars take seriously the mixtape as a framework for knowledge production?"

The session seeks to generate knowledge guided by the structures and characteristics of the mixtape. Just as mixtapes are comprised of tracks that are at once individual texts and seamless components of an integrated whole, participants will present their individual work in progress, weaving those contributions together, aligning and overlapping, drawing on the same "samples" (i.e., citations and quotations), and using preexisting audio, video, and print materials.

We argue that the mixtape framework is both a logical and a useful approach for digital scholars. Marisa Parham (2017) demonstrates that Black culture and experience "reproduce some of the technical structure of what we otherwise call the digital," and therefore, digital technologies "can be productively understood as technically parallel to the complex matters of cultural ownership, transmission, and participation in African American culture." Paul Miller (2004), AKA DJ Spooky, asserts that DJ culture, with its open-source and recombinant approach to creation, was one of the foundations of networked internet culture. Thus, Black epistemological frameworks stand to be illuminating entry points for understanding digital phenomena. In addition to being of interest to digital media scholars for this reason, the mixtape approach also allows opportunities for synthesizing wide ranging, and often conflicting traditions of thought.

Banks, Adam. (2011). _Digital Griots: African American Rhetoric in a Multimedia Age._ Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

Miller, Paul. (2004). _Rhythm Science._ Cambridge: MIT Press.

Parham, Marisa. (2017). "Sample, Signal, Strobe." Digital Blackness in the Archive: A DocNow Symposium. Ferguson/St. Louis, MO.

Saturday October 13, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 8

11:00am EDT

Future Imaginaries of the Internet: Playing "The Thing From the Future"
Given the extensive academic research on future imaginaries and their impact on shaping discourse about technologies (Brown, Rappert, and Webster, 2000; Borup et al., 2006; Jasanoff, 2009; Wyatt, 2004), our experimental session proposes playing a future planning game called "The Thing From the Future," followed by a discussion moderated by the panelists about the game and imaginative futures of information technology. We believe this kind of session would be well received by the AoIR community, particularly as an experimental session that motivates intellectual conversation about internet research in a form different than a traditional panel.

The Thing from the Future is an imagination game from the Situation Lab that challenges players to collaboratively and competitively describe objects from a range of futures. Players are given a predetermined set of constraints (arc, terrain, object, and mood), and asked to describe and draw creative possibilities for new innovations. For example, one might be asked to imagine something in a future society that has "grown for a century", in the "terrain of education", with "media" as the object, and a mood of "delight." Each player comes up with their own idea and shares it with the rest of the group. The player with the most votes for their idea wins the cards for that round, and another round commences. After playing the game for a few rounds, participants in this experimental session will lead a discussion session about the relevance of these types of futures for internet research, or thinking about where AoIR research might be headed.

Unlike other future or scenario planning exercises such as the Delphi method, this one does not offer rigid assumptions or developments geared toward an economic/policy analysis, rather it is game that offers loose guidelines for the future to allow people to be creative. The object of the game is to come up with the most entertaining and thought-provoking descriptions of hypothetical objects from different near, medium, and long-term futures. We have played this game with students in class, other academics at workshops, and it has often been the prompt for many interesting ideas as well as provocative fodder for academic discussion. It is also quite fun, as people can think out of the box and offer creative ideas.

We will provide the cards and the worksheets for playing the "Thing from the Future", and we will also take the pictures/drawings and document the process for the AoIR community. Another benefit of this session is that participants would be introduced to a game that they could utilize for teaching purposes.

The panel discussion will be centered around questions raised by the game, the assumptions people made about the future, the ways that these futures could inform internet research, and ways in which internet research can inform thinking about these futures.

The session organizers are experts in researching sociotechnical futures, and some are planning an academic workshop around this topic:


For information about the game, see link:


Saturday October 13, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 4

11:00am EDT

The Matter of Queer Intimacies
We situate our paper in Karen Barad’s proposition that all matter is queer (Barad 2007, p.39). Against ideas that matter is passive we explore the complex discursive, material, and affective forces at play in determining: what matters, and how matter matters in research? Implicit too, in the notion of queer materiality, is a dimension of morality. Queering materiality is a process involving openings for affectivity and potential, intimacy and vitality, fluidity, and flows. Hence, our teasings in the realm of queer materiality are also implicitly flirtations with affect, sensation, bodily and felt senses of margins and boundaries. Many of our papers draw on the theories or provocations of materialism as those tangible surfaces and substances that evoke connection, disconnection and affective resonance (Barad 2007; Braidotti 2016; van der Tuin 2010; Dolphijn and van der Tuin 2012) to explore matter. An attention to intimacy means the work of our case studies is to complicate and fundamentally queer, and bring an intimacy to previous hard boundaries between nature/culture, human/non-human, material/discursive, rational/affective, and—particular to networked publics—national and transnational boundaries of place, space, community and citizenship. Our five papers, which gather scholars across the early-to-late-stage spectrum from four continents and five countries, map and narrate a diverse range of case studies exploring the manifold dimensions of intimate queer materiality. We draw our work via diverse methodologies (digital ethnography, qualitative interviews, posthumanism), examining various platforms (YouTube, Grindr, Blued, Instagram), and drawing from a range of transnational geographies (Canada, Britain, Australia, and China).

Saturday October 13, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond West

11:00am EDT

Configurations of Affect, Privacy and Community
Adrienne Shaw, Christopher Persaud
Queer media scholars have long identified that queerness of media texts is not soley comprised of explicit and obvious representation. Queer authorship, reception practices, and uses of media texts offer possibilities for representation that reflect the fluidity and instability of non-normative gender and sexual identities and practices (Doty, 1993; Benshoff and Griffin, 2006). Yet when it comes to assessing queer representation in digital games, the focus has largely been on explicit forms of representation, even when addressing audience or industry perspectives on this representation. Despite a growing body of work applying queer theory to game studies (Ruberg and Shaw, 2017; Chess, 2016; Youngblood, 2013), however, there is no work that has yet reconsidered the analysis of game content in light of queer media scholarship. Specifically, this paper discusses a model for making sense of queer game content in a way that encompasses the text, authorship, and audience reception, while accounting for the instability of and tensions around defining queer representation in this medium. Drawing on an ongoing archival project documenting LGBTQ content in games (1985-present), we will discuss the process we have developed to address and attempt to reconcile game content, producer commentary, and fan debates around the gender and sexuality of digital game characters in assessing whether a game has LGBTQ content. In concluding, we will discuss the ethical obligations of drawing on fan labor in this type of research.

Anjuli Joshi Brekke
This project explores the potential of creating, sharing and listening to oral stories online to open affectively charged spaces for listening across difference. In a world in which we are increasingly able to tailor the technologies that surround us to echo back our own voices and worldviews, we seem less willing to slow down and listen deeply to the voices of those whose presence risk placing our tidy worlds into turmoil. This project explores the affective political potential of both the processes of production and dissemination of the multiplatform oral history project StoryCorps. Drawing together recent work on affect from rhetorical studies, cultural studies and new media studies, this project uses textual analysis to analyze how the various StoryCorps platforms (NPR segments, the podcast, the StoryCorps me app) generate affective archives that invite different forms of interactivity from listeners. This paper explores the affective power of mediated voice to bring minoritized experiences and calls for equity to the ears of broader publics. It is significant because it highlights the boundaries and possibilities of digital storytelling as a way to connect with others across difference. The boundaries remind us of the persistence of structures of marginality that limit the seemingly democratic practices of storytelling in a digital age; the possibilities gesture to the power of minoritized voices to disrupt entrenched narratives. The significance of these stories rests in their claim to be at once particular and generalizable, and the digital format enables their travel in new ways and to new audiences.

Christian Simon Ritter
This paper examines how professional practices of software developers forge global assemblages in the oil and gas industry by shedding light on the implementation of cloud technologies within a Norwegian-based digital service company. Delivering digital solutions to oil and gas extracting corporations, this company primarily develops proprietary software providing engineers with business intelligence dashboards that assist in managing the assets involved in the extraction of resources. This extended case study seeks to gain a better understanding of the materialities emerging in cloud environments by illuminating transnational divisions of labor within global assemblages. Committed to a holistic contextualization, this mixed-method investigation is primarily based on ethnographic fieldwork, including participation in industry events and a three-month secondment in a small-scale digital service company. Drawing from a materialistic approach to internet technologies, the study provides a comprehensive account of the digital service company since its founding in 2001. Based on evidence from industry events and a long-term immersion in the working lives of software developers, I suggest that the implementation of cloud technologies in the oil and gas industry prompted new digital divisions of labor and replaced the physical travel of professionals with a remote control system facilitating an enhanced circulation of data. The findings of this investigation imply that cloud computing continues to restructure the global economy and accelerates the migration of data through internet technologies.

Yuan Stevens, Ryan Ellis
Anti-hacking laws in both the U.S. and Canada are now over 30 years old, with the U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act enacted in 1986 (CFAA) and amendments to Canada’s Criminal Code concerning computer-assisted crime in 1985. Despite significant attention to anti-hacking laws in the U.S., further research is needed to better understand how Canadian policymakers have sought to regulate computer hacking particularly in comparison to the US.

This paper seeks to track the continual divergence, rooted in history, between Canadian anti-hacking laws and that of its American counterparts, which has led to far less litigation in Canada against alleged computer-assisted crime. Using comparative historical and legal analyses, it examines the contexts in which the American and Canadian governments implemented their initial anti-hacking laws and the evolution of how courts in each country have broadly come to interpret these laws in intervening years. This examination is augmented by discourse analysis of each laws’ legislative documents, with a focus on the impact that American and Canadian notions of property rights had on these laws. More specifically, this paper accomplishes two things: it focuses on the distinct underlying values and metaphors that sit at the foundation of initial U.S. and Canada responses to computer hacking, and examines the divergent trajectory of these legal approaches across decades.

avatar for Anna Jobin

Anna Jobin

Researcher, ETH Zurich


Saturday October 13, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 5

11:00am EDT

Digital Activism and Politics
Dan Mercea
This article leverages social media and survey data to probe the scope and depth of political knowledge possessed by participants in the Romanian 2017 #rezist protests. For several months, demonstrators gathered in town squares around the country to oppose a project law intended to water down penalties for corruption in high office. Against the backdrop of well-founded scepticism regarding exposure to and engagement with political knowledge on social media, we scrutinize the social media usage of protestors with an interest in the formulation and circulation of political knowledge. We find evidence of applied political knowledge as a prominent component of public activist communication on Facebook. An examination of the network structure further revealed bottlenecks in the circulation and brokerage of knowledge, a result that helps qualify the aforementioned scepticism.

Ehsan Dehghan
This paper presents an empirical investigation of the concept of ad hoc issue publics, through a mixed-methods analysis of a year of debate over a contentious topic in the Australian public sphere. Following two controversial racial discrimination cases in 2016, a number of Australian conservative politicians called for amendments to a specific section of the Racial Discrimination Act (Section 18C), which they claimed restricted freedom of speech. Similar proposals had been put forward and shelved in 2013. The issue was discussed widely on Twitter and other social media platforms. Eventually, the Australian Senate voted down changes to section 18C. Using a range of network analyses, examining the various network structures created by Twitter’s affordances, this study identifies the publics and communities involved in the debate. The discourses of these communities are then qualitatively analysed. The findings show that different—and sometimes antagonistic—discourse communities are involved in the debate, and while all of these use the same hashtags and keywords, they have contrasting discursive positions. This paper argues that in this case, the publics created as a result of the affordances of Twitter cannot be regarded as ad hoc issue publics, since the discourse communities involved were formed as a result of a priori ideological affinities. Broadly, the findings of this study help in the theorisation of online publics and communities, particularly the necessary elements involved in the formation of ad hoc issue publics and/or online discourse communities.

Robert Tynes, Claire Peters
The internet offers the possibility of forming de-institutionalized, organizational structures that engage in the democratic process in ways that go far beyond volunteering, protesting, or voting. The digital space enables people to collaborate and communicate with one another more effectively, even if they have never met in real life (Shirky 2009). Formations such as Telecomix and Project PM show that this capability can be harnessed in the service of meaningful collective political and social actions. Journalist and activist Barrett Brown's latest venture, $2 , hopes to further that potential. Pursuance looks to empower political actors via "process democracy" (Brown 2018), offering participants a platform in which they can organize, build, and act on social justice endeavors. Pursuance is important because it provides a means for individuals to rapidly and effectively assemble, disassemble, and reassemble into mission-driven teams. This lessens the need for stable institutions to direct civic or political activism, thus reducing the problems that often follow, e.g. the Iron Law of Oligarchy (Michels 2015). We explore the potential of Brown's endeavor, asking: How can Pursuance most effectively further the practice of deinstitutionalized democracy? What can be learned from past groups that have engaged in the kind of activity Pursuance aims to facilitate?

Jeanette Hofmann
The relationship between digitalization and democracy is a topic of growing public and academic interest. However, what seems striking about the emerging literature on this topic is its tendency to reify either the concept of democracy and or that of digital technologies or both. Most of the nuanced observations to be found in works addressing either the evolution of democracy or that of the Internet seem to vanish once the relationship of the two phenomena are explored. This article addresses the problem of how to avoid the traps of technical determinism that pave the path towards a better understanding of the relationship between digitalization and democracy. Its assumption is that we need to establish a viewpoint that allows telling a story of the evolution of digital technologies in concert with other long-term social and political changes.

The viewpoint suggested combines two lines of theories: a philosophy of technology's approach to the co-evolution of technical systems and societies, and social theories on late modernity, which help to situate the evolution of digitalisation as part of long-term structural changes of modern societies. From this perspective, the Internet emerges as a space of possibility for experimenting with the new political, cultural and economic freedoms gained by the weakening of the institutional apparatus once characteristic of organised modernity. Digital technologies provide a material form for articulating old ideas of democratic organisation in new ways. Civic technologies such as cloud and blockchain-based citizenship models serve as a case for demonstrating the fruitfulness of this approach.

avatar for Ehsan Dehghan

Ehsan Dehghan

PhD Candidate, Queensland University of Technology

Saturday October 13, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Ballroom East

11:00am EDT

Joining up, joining in - the vagaries of Facebook
Tero Jukka Karppi
Experimenting with emotions is becoming a part of what Facebook does. In 2013 the social media company actively experimented with emotions trying to prove that emotional states are contagious and spread through News Feed content. In 2017, Facebook Inc.’s patent for boredom detector was accepted. In this paper, I explore the cultural politics of boredom detector patent in conjuncture with Facebook’s “emotional contagion study”. I look into how Facebook is incorporating emotions as part of both their platform’s functions and business logic. I trace how boredom is being de-centered from the experiencing human individual into platform-specific processes that affects masses of users.

Andra Siibak, Anu Masso
The paper will present the findings of a small-scale qualitative study carried out with the active members of the biggest public Estonian-language based anti-immigration Facebook group “Estonians against refugee quotas”. Semi-structured individual interviews (N=12) with active members of the group were carried out in spring 2016 with an aim to find out their reasons and motivation behind joining an anti-immigration community in Facebook. Furthermore, our intention was also to study what kind of role the members of the group apply to social media and their Facebook group in particular, in Estonian public debates about the refugee crises. We were able to differentiate between both institutional/regional-, national/institutional-, individual- and interactional level drivers behind joining the Facebook community.

Cecilia Sumita Louis
This study examines distinctions between active and passive audiences on Facebook, America’s most popular social network site (SNS). The study also explores whether lurking behavior differs between undergraduates and graduate students, and their technological affordances and social capital bonding from the use of this social network.

In an exploratory study, the researcher applies uses and gratifications for new media, MAIN or technological affordances and credibility heuristics scale and social capital scale to analyze responses to an online survey of 2000 undergraduate and graduate students at a large college campus in the northwest. Preliminary data reveals that Facebook is still the dominant social media network of choice followed by Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and LinkedIn. Findings present a clear indication of lurking or passive audience behavior on Facebook with the majority or 75% of the sample surveyed reporting they rarely update (55%) or never update (22%) their own status on Facebook. However, more than 31% report logging into their Facebook accounts up to 4 times a day, 23% log in more than 4 times a day, and 17% log in once a day, thereby indicating a clear lurker paradox. This exploratory study provide some clear direction that passive audiences are a reality for social network sites and future research is necessary to study this significant audiences on SNS.

Keywords: Active audiences, passive audiences, Facebook, social network sites (SNS), lurkers, MAIN, technological affordances, social capital, weak ties.

Will Marler
This work-in-progress considers how Chicago's homeless navigate privacy on social media. I refer to "connective ambition" to describe the co-mingling of personal goals with a perception of the power derived from accumulating ties on social networking sites. Preliminary interviews and participant observation with unstably housed Chicagoans suggests that with great ambition comes great risk for exposure to unwanted advances and digital crooks. These risks may be magnified for those lacking personal computers and sufficient computer literacy. At stake is our understanding of how activity on social media translates into social capital. The paper promises to inject new concern for those who stand to gain the most from social networking online.

Saturday October 13, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond East

11:00am EDT

Performing Tech Cultures
Yonit Rusho, Daphne R. Raban
Research to date on the value of information has mostly focused on the consumption side of information, namely, that consumers need to experience information in order to evaluate it. When it comes to digital media, users have multiple roles. In this context, materiality is applied to assess the role that technological components play in the interaction between user and digital media. The concurrent consumption and production of information raises questions as to the influence of information production on information value perception. To this end, we conceptualize the information production process.

The fundamental assumption in this research is that value perception changes as a result of production experience. Furthermore, this study examines the boundaries of value perception for producers of information.

309 participants took part in a set of experiments. Willingness-to-pay by consumers and willingness-to-accept payment by producers were measured before and after consumption/ production/ peer-production.

Results show that consumers’ and producers’ subjective value before their experience were equivalent; Change in value perception before and after consumption/production produced a statistically significant effect; Producers who evaluate the information after the experience, evaluated it higher than producers who evaluated the information before the experience; and value perception measured before the production by a single producer is lower than value perception by peer-producers. Hypotheses were accepted. If accepted, additional results will be presented at the conference.

Li Cornfeld
At the beginning of each new year, the transnational technology industry convenes in Las Vegas, Nevada for the world’s most massive tech tradeshow. Formerly the Consumer Electronics Show, the event recently rebranded as CES in order to better signal its inclusion of internet technologies, which are among the most important components of the show. Before any such technologies enter public circulation, their futures hinge in part on their debut on the tradeshow floor. There, startups seek investors to fund their projects, designers seek manufacturers to convert prototypes into products, and distributors look for products that will sell in markets across the globe. This paper looks to the tech tradeshow as a convention that concretizes multiple distributed networks involved in the industrial production of internet technologies. Far from natural or obvious collaborations, the cross-sector and transnational partnerships that drive the advancement of internet technologies emerge through social labor, exemplified by the industry rituals on display in Las Vegas during CES.

Misti Hewatt Yang
On September 26, 2015, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivered a keynote address to the 70th annual meeting of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. In the speech, Zuckerberg equated access to the Internet with other human rights. Zuckerberg’s remarks provide an opportunity to examine how Silicon Valley leaders, the UN, and the Internet co-construct imperatives for action. In this paper, I employ actor-network theory (ANT) to trace the relationship between Zuckerberg, the UN, and the Internet. I suggest that because agency is networked and communal it is intimately connected to the ancient Greek conception of ethos. By approaching Zuckerberg’s speech as an articulation of agency, I illustrate a network that advances what I call a technoliberal ethos. In support of this argument, the paper provides a deep contextualization and close reading of Zuckerberg’s speech. The paper recognizes the agency of the Internet as an actant alongside the UN and Zuckerberg.

Rachel Bergmann
Research within the “material turn” of Internet scholarship has sought to uncover the physical infrastructures behind Internet technology and its circulation; however, another layer of materiality exists within these networks. Although often hidden from view, philanthropic practice plays a major role in funding the scientific research, technological development, and political advocacy surrounding contemporary digital technology. In recent years, Silicon Valley tech companies have shown particular interest in funding philanthropic work on AI research, ICT4D, Internet policy, and political advocacy. Humanities researchers have contributed excellent work on tech culture and Silicon Valley ideology (Marwick 2013, Losse 2012, Barbrook & Cameron 1996); however, few Internet scholars have included the philanthropic practices of tech companies and founders in their analyses. Drawing on grey literature and the web presences of a few Silicon Valley philanthropies, I will discuss the material practices and politics of tech philanthropies. I examine the projects they choose to fund, the vocabulary and rhetoric used in their literature, and the underlying theories of change they promote. I argue that their approaches represent a kind of philanthrocapitalism mixed with what Barbrook & Cameron call the “Californian Ideology” and a strong belief that technology is a universal solution to complex global problems. The philanthropic practices of the San Francisco tech community constitute a vital element of Silicon Valley’s political existence in material, infrastructural ways.

Saturday October 13, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond Centre

11:00am EDT

Social Media Bots, Trolls, and Cyborgs Round Table: Implications for Research
This round table discusses the implications of bots (automated accounts), trolls (human actors aiming to be provocative), and cyborgs (accounts automated part time, operated by humans other times), for social media research. The definitions of these entities are contested, and their impacts are not fully understood. We do know that they drive or are implicated in wide-ranging activities on social media, especially in political conversations. For instance, recent work on the 2016 U.S. Presidential election estimates that roughly 20% of the political discussion on Twitter came from bots (Bessi & Ferrara, 2016) and that bots may have had a structural influence on online political behavior around major candidates (Woolley & Guilbeault, 2017). Bot armies have been deployed to counteract criticism in Mexico during elections (Salge & Karahanna, 2016), and recent news has highlighted the roll of troll farms, many users working together to spread misinformation, in information warfare campaigns (Snider, 2018).

We will start by having each organizer present for five minutes to introduce each of these entities and bring up concrete examples from their own work. The organizers will facilitate discussion around issues such as: 1) how might we identify these actors in datasets; 2) how should we treat these actors when analyzing the social landscape and activity; 3) what are the implications for publishing; and 4) how do researchers keep up with the changing media environment and platform policies related to these actors.

Bessi & Ferrara. (2016). Social bots distort the 2016 US Presidential election online discussion.

Salge, C., & Karahanna, E. (2016). Protesting Corruption on Twitter: is it a Bot or is it a Person? Academy of Management Discoveries.

Snider. (2018, February 16). Robert Mueller investigation: What is a Russian troll farm? USA TODAY.

Woolley & Guilbeault. (2017). Computational Propaganda in the United States of America: Manufacturing Consensus Online. Oxford Internet Institute working Paper.

avatar for Brenda Moon

Brenda Moon

Data Scientist, Queensland University of Technology
Brenda Moon is a research associate at the QUT Digital Media Research Centre, Brisbane, Australia. Her research interests include social media, science communication and data visualisation. http://www.qut.edu.au/research/dmrc

Saturday October 13, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 7

11:00am EDT

Transnational Communities of Practice: The Value Regimes of ‘Indie’ and Sustainable Game Development in Canada and Australia
In the past decade a vast range of game development practices has emerged beyond traditional Triple-A studios and multinational publishers in North America, Western Europe, and Japan. Through local and transnational spaces, 'independent' game developers are building communities driven by a diverse range of goals and values. Local cultural scenes, global social media, state funding opportunities, and the presence or absence of large studios have each been identified as giving shape to different value regimes and manifestations of an 'indie' identity in different local contexts. There is a vital need for more direct comparisons in order to better comprehend global game development

To provide such a comparison, this roundtable brings together Australian and Canadian researchers with an expertise in each country's local development cultures. While these countries are of similar size and population and have similar colonial histories, they possess starkly different game development industries.

Drawing from their respective fieldwork, roundtable participants will debate what it means to research 'indie' developers in these varied local contexts. What does it mean to be 'indie' in Montreal, Toronto, Melbourne or Brisbane? How does economic and cultural policy, adjacent cultural scenes, and access to mainstream industry networks and resources shape how developers navigate different regimes and discourses of value? What can sustainable game development look like, and what support structures reduce precarity? This roundtable may benefit those interested in intersections of 'indie', cultural economy, and 'creative' industries, as well as those interested in academic research partnerships with 'indie' game developers. Intended outcomes include a greater understanding of how local and transnational imperatives foster different value regimes, shape how 'indie' is strategically resisted and deployed, and leads to alternative visions for and routes to more sustainable development.

Saturday October 13, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 6

2:00pm EDT

Teaching ethics
This fishbowl builds on three premises:

1. Not teaching ethics is not an option. Complexity and opaqueness permeate networked information environments. The relative ease of big data-research, interventions, and product/service development means that people across disciplines and professions must (re)think what constitutes a responsible techno-social actor.

2. Teaching ethics is difficult. Stand-alone “responsible conduct” trainings fall short. There is a growing awareness of the need to shift from procedural rules to broader moral agency but no shared path forward.

3. Practicing ethics is complicated, contextual and perpetually changing. For decades (internet) researchers have claimed that ethical behavior can’t be standardized, nor can risks be predicted by “responsible conduct” frameworks.

The 5 initial fish bring a rich mix of experience teaching ethics to diverse audiences. We use these reflections to prompt sharing and brainstorming to inspire development of teaching resources by the AoIR ethics committee.

Initial fish:

Annette Markham has been teaching ethics to social studies, communication and information studies students for 20 years. Her favorite audience have been computer scientists and machine learning specialists.

Michael Zimmer teaches “information technology ethics" to students of IT, engineering, and business; provides overviews of ethical frameworks and research ethics to various graduate seminars.

Mary L Gray teaches ethics to media studies and CS students at Harvard, is on the Ethics Advisory Board for Microsoft Research and on the executive board of the Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research.

Linnet Taylor leads the ERC-funded DATAJUSTICE project which aims to understand the different perspectives worldwide on what constitutes just treatment through data technologies. Teaches ethics to engineers, lawyers, software developers, data scientists and computer scientists.

Aline Shakti Fanzke taught ethics to data scientists, data protection officers, data analysts, project leaders snf manager at Utrecht municipality.

Kat Tiidenberg will moderate the fishbowl.

Saturday October 13, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 4

2:00pm EDT

Netflix at the Nexus: Transnational Viewer Practices in Streaming Television
Netflix's rise as an online content provider has been well documented and much debated in the popular press and in academic circles. It has been praised as the future of television and also decried as the end of TV's Golden Age. Much of the research on Netflix has dealt primarily with the algorithmic culture and binge watching. This panel seeks to extend this conversation and to especially examine issues of concern for an AoIR audience, namely, analyses of the Netflix platform and an attention to user practices.

This panel presents research from an upcoming edited essay collection on Netflix that explores the impact of the streaming platform on television viewing practices, considering the implications of the company at the level of the platform, the content on the streaming service, and the nature of Netflix user practices. The work contained on this panel is especially concerned with user practices with the Netflix platform and user perceptions of different elements of the platform. One study on this panel examines perceptions of Netflix recommendation algorithms and analyzes user interactions with the platform. Another study examines changes in individuals' television viewing habits with the introduction of Netflix to that market, and the last study considers second screen applications in connection to Netflix viewing practices. This panel also takes a transnational approach in considering the larger, global impact of Netflix, as well as local perceptions of Netflix and its influence. One study was conducted in Italy, one analyzed user practices in Singapore, and the third emphasized American viewers. This transnational approach demonstrates the importance of studying streaming video not only from distinct local contexts, but also in considering the more global impact of video streaming services, as much of Netflix's original content is available in multiple countries and regions. The work contained in this panel also represent a diversity of methods for studying Netflix and similar platforms, including content analysis, qualitative, and mixed methods approaches. Together, this panel seeks to contribute to a continued examination of Netflix and streaming television viewing practices.


Daniela Varela

Master in Media, Communications and Cultural Analysis, Sodertorn Hogskola

Saturday October 13, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond West

2:00pm EDT

Transnational Intimacies And Invasions
It is almost a cliché to describe digital technology’s impact of on everyday life as one that collapses borders of time and space, or blurs the distinction between public and private. This boundary-crossing is attributed to technologies as diverse as mobile phones, pacemakers, social networking systems, and global communications networks. As processing and storage power increases, devices and systems can produce collections of all kinds of data hitherto unavailable. This provides new possibilities for tracking, inferring and generalizing about humans based on more fine-grained detail than has ever been available-- at such a distance-- before. This should challenge how we understand the significance, especially, of knowledge that has historically been intimate: about bodies, tastes, feelings and relationships. Under what conditions do technologies produce the capacity for intimacy, and when do they invade our intimate selves? The papers on this panel address, in various ways, the difference between intimacy and data, which in a sense are opposites. One connecting theme is attention to information that people hold in their bodies: for *Intimacy with Fashion Tech: Navigating Creepiness versus Cool* and *Intimacy On The Air: How The Need For Cultural Intimacy Shapes Technology Adoption And Innovation In Audible Media* this involved analyzing how bodily experiences of feeling and listening generate or reinforce relationships between people, but also between people and technologies. In *Intimacy with Fashion Tech*, these relationships can lead to a kind of betrayal of the embodied intimacy since the technological object (device or article of clothing) may be sharing its knowledge with entities unknown to the wearer. The intimate knowledge is valuable, but for the wrong reasons: commodified and alienated it invades the intimate relationship. For *Intimacy on the Air*, people who listen to the same music or understand the same language in a shared auditory experience, whether in a restaurant kitchen, a front porch or a car, are simultaneously intimate with fellow listeners who respond the same way, but also may be negotiating their relationship with a larger world where those sounds are read as ‘foreign’ ‘disruptive’ or even ‘threatening.’ This concern is heightened for people in diasporic communities such as immigrants in cities. Intimate knowledge in this context is not necessarily read as valuable by non-intimates, and that very fact preserves intimacy with the people who share the knowledge. By contrast, *Love in the Time of Surveillance Capitalism* addresses how personal expressions of human connection become valuable as they becomes technologically visible to economic actors, who benefit from encouraging people to still believe in the social value of engaging in these intimate but trackable behaviors. The value of that knowledge for capital depends on preserving people’s faith in exactly what information’s alienation has destroyed; the embeddedness in social relations of particular kinds of knowledge. These intimate connections are often already transnational, especially for, as *Intimacy on the Air* and *C’est Pas L’temps De Niaiser: Beyond Interculturalism, Online And In Montreal* address, marginalized mobile communities such as immigrants who may be culturally unwelcome in their host country. Intimate connections of marginalized identities can become newly visible in the digital era and can lose some of their capacity to connect, or they may circulate on terms that allow some intimacy to be retained. *C’est Pas L’temps De Niaiser* examines how a Montreal identity as a city can be forged from intimate connections to self, community and the intertwinings of "mother tongues.” Through analyzing a viral Youtube’s video online and offline life, this work reveals the viability of diasporic cultural language play in forging an identity (through Quebecois French, Moroccan French, Kreyol and Montreal slang) more intimately connected with the life of the city than the more staid and hierarchical official Quebec “interculturalism.”

This panel provides of range of analysis on the implications of technology’s increasing intertwinement with our bodies and relationships. It focuses especially on vulnerability and desire, both of which are necessary for a flourishing emotional and cultural life but also increasingly commodified and weaponized by corporate capitalist logics. The interplay between them also reveals some possible affordances for communities’ and individuals’ resistance and escape, which require that we look beyond unidirectional understandings of innovation and exploitation.

avatar for Katrin Tiidenberg

Katrin Tiidenberg

Associate Professor, Tallinn University

avatar for Elizabeth Wissinger

Elizabeth Wissinger

Professor, City University of New York
I would love to talk with you about your research into biological computing, biodata, biodigitization, wearable biotech, biodesign, and technology and embodiment more generally.

Saturday October 13, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Ballroom East

2:00pm EDT

Digital Governmentalities of the Everyday
Alecea Irene Standlee
Abstract: This article explores the emergence of technologically integrated relationship practices among college students in two U.S. universities. This work is situated within the significant body of social research and popular cultural discourse surrounding the consequences of technology and cultural integration among young adults. Analyzing interviews with 52 participants, I explore how they construct, establish and maintain cultural practices and social norms that shape peer interaction, social networks and interpersonal relationships in offline and online settings. This paper focuses specifically on the emergence of techno-social cultural norms that impact friendship and social network construction. Findings suggest the establishment and maintenance of friendships using social networks frequently includes the use of social media profiles as means to collect social and political attitude data on potential friends. Some participants report the use of such data as essential to the decision-making process utilized while establishing and maintaining offline friendships. Motivations for this practice include safety and security, social normativity and a desire for efficiency. Furthermore, participants articulate a social and politically homogeneous friendship network as a desirable outcome to data collection. These findings contribute to our ongoing understanding of the role of informational echo chambers within a technologically integrated social environment.

Stefania Milan, Miren Gutierrez
The fundamental paradigm shift brought about by datafication alters how people enact their citizenship in their daily practices of participation. "Big data" has come to constitute a new terrain of engagement, which brings organized collective action, communicative practices and data infrastructure into a fruitful dialogue. While scholarship is progressively acknowledging the emergence of bottom-up data practices, to date no research has explored the influence of these practices on the activists themselves. Leveraging the disciplines of critical data studies and social movement studies, this article explores "proactive data activism", that is to say, grassroots connection with data that use, produce and appropriate data for social change, and examines its biographical, political, tactical and epistemological consequences. Approaching engagement with data as practice, this study focuses on the social contexts in which data are produced, consumed and circulated, and analyzes how tactics, skills and emotions evolve in interplay with data. Through content and co-occurrence analysis of semi-structured practitioner interviews (N=20), the paper shows how the employment of data and the data infrastructure in activism fundamentally transforms the way activists go about changing the world.

Martin Hand
This paper examines individual framings and experiences of temporal management via smartphone applications. It asks: to what extent and in what ways do configurations of smartphones and scheduling applications intervene in and restructure the temporality of practices and people’s experiences of time?

The paper draws upon in-depth semi-structured interview material with (a) professional urban and suburban householders (N=25), (b) individuals transitioning to retirement (N=20), and (c) university students (N=25) to examine how a range of temporal expectations are being perceived, articulated, and negotiated in practice. Interviews included talking through temporal data of many kinds on personal devices. The analytic questions guiding interviews were: where do identifiable expectations about temporal synchronization, coordination, duration, reciprocity, and productivity come from? What are the relations between institutionally defined temporal expectations and subjective experiences of temporal ordering? Does data produced through daily activities alter the temporal contours of those activities? Are social actors reorienting themselves in-time, in relation to mediatized temporal expectations?

In terms of findings, four modes of temporal management are identified and described in relation to demographic information. Following Sharma (2014), these are expressed here as ‘recalibrations’ – managing precariousness; synchronizing (to) the time of others; temporal self-disciplining; filling in future time - stressing the different ways in which temporal demands are perceived and experienced, leading to alternative efforts to coordinate and synchronize different elements of daily life through interconnected smartphone anchored applications.

Joeb Høfdinghoff Grønborg
Self-tracking applications (apps) like $2 , $2 and $2 have made it effortless for laypeople to measure their exercise activity and turn it into detailed data on running time, distance, average pace, calories burned etc. The users can share the exercise data with personal networks of users (often named $2 ) on the apps’ internal $2 (Ellison & boyd, 2013) or external social network sites such as $2 or $2 .

Few studies, however, have shed light on how people use self-tracking in their everyday lives (Lupton, 2016) – e.g. why people share exercise data on social network sites.

Some people feel uneasy by exercising with – or in the presence of – people. In this paper, I provide a thick description of people that bypass their struggle with social exercise by sharing exercise data on social network sites. I utilize the lived experience of two female newcomers to exercise, Amanda and Dorte, to illustrate this. Firstly, using the philosopher and medical doctor Drew Leder’s phenomenological investigations into embodiment, I analyze how the females’ bodies $2 (Leder, 1990) when they exercise near/with people. Secondly, I examine how their networks of friends function as a beneficial form of exercise sociality that encourages Amanda and Dorte’s exercise activity.

My empirical data originates from an exploratory, interview study of 12 Danish, recreational athletes’ experiences with exercise-related self-tracking apps.

Saturday October 13, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond East

2:00pm EDT

Family, Youth and the Quotidian Practices of Social Media
Jodi Dworkin, Pooja Brar, Heather Hessel
We are only beginning to understand the ways in which young people are introducing technologies into the family system and the ways that is impacting family relationships. What seems clear is that the face-to-face relationship does not translate directly to the online context, and online communication is not completely replacing in-person family relationships. Despite the lack of existing research, it is reasonable to expect that family relationships impact how youth and parents use online media. Building on socialization theory, in the current study we considered the ways in which youth technology use impacts parent technology use in parent-child dyads from India and the U.S. (98 dyads; youth: 37% female; mean age=17.3; parents: 54.6% female; mean age=41.5). When considering frequency of six types of technology use in a series of linear regression analyses: 1) general use to look for information, news, and use online tools, 2) audio or video calls, 3) texting, instant messaging, discussion boards, or email, 4) sending or receiving audio or video, and photos, 5) create or maintain blogs, microblogs, or websites, and 6) social networking sites, child technology use accounted for 8.4% to 27.0% of the variance in parent use. Despite the small sample size, it is clear that child technology use is strongly associated with parent use, even when considering diverse ways of using technology. Future research should use longitudinal data to explore how children impact parents’ technology use over time – how that influence changes with age, sociohistorical time and place, and life transitions.

Lina Eklund, Helga Sadowski
Based on qualitative interview material, in this paper we analyze how contemporary Swedish families negotiate family intimacy with the help of Internet and communication technologies (ICTs). For this purpose, we conducted home-based group and individual interviews with members from 6 Swedish families (n=28) from the age of 14 to 84.

In our analysis we identified four interrelated ‘distances’ which complicate traditional understandings of intimacy (such as intimacy necessarily depending on face-to-face interaction), namely spatial, temporal, generational, and emotional distances, and explore concrete strategies of how families attempt to overcome those.

For this purpose, we draw on the concept of remediation (Bolter and Grusin 1999) in order to demonstrate how here intimacy itself is remediated into digitals realms. Our results show that families actively find ways of translating or re-creating intimate family settings, situations, and interactions into digital contexts. Thus, our study highlights the importance of digital technology use for the sustenance of intimacy in modern Swedish families, and additionally shows how users actively shape their ICT use in order to build and sustain family bonds.

Andra Siibak, Merike Lipu
Becoming a Facebook friend with your parent is one of the often used strategies parents use in order to mediate pre-teens’ social media use (Child and Petronio, 2011). Considering that various policy documents emphasize the role of parents and caregivers in protecting children’s privacy, personal data and online reputation we set out to explore how parents handle this task.

During summer 2017 semi-structured individual interviews were carried out with parents (n=15) and their 9-13 year old children (n=15) to study their experiences and reflections about their Facebook friendships. We especially focused on exploring their opinion and experiences with privacy and were interested in finding out if they had some unwritten rules or family regulations to guide their Facebook communication. Our interviews suggest that although parents are accustomed to using restrictive meditation and monitoring their children in Facebook; they seldom question or evaluate their own online behaviour in the light of the children’s rights and privacy. In fact, there is a big discrepancy in the attitudes of parents and pre-teens about if a parent should ask a permission to post about their child on social media. Furthermore, even when parents know that the child resents their sharenting practices, they still continue this practice despite the child’s wishes. The latter is also a reason why pre-teens in our sample were often frustrated by the posts their parents made, as they found many of their posts either “embarrassing” or simply “inappropriate”.

Saturday October 13, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 5

2:00pm EDT

Social Mediations of the Political III
Joel Penney
This study uses qualitative focus groups to investigate emergent patterns of youth political social media use in the context of the controversial leadership of U.S. President Donald Trump. The participants’ accounts suggest that the election of Trump was a transformative moment in their lives as young citizens, and that they have shifted their approaches to political social media in response. First, Trump’s mainstreaming of far-right ideologies that target ethnic and sexual minorities corresponds with many anti-Trump participants feeling that it is their ‘duty’ to counter these ideas on social media, suggesting the development of emergent ‘dutiful citizenship’ norms that prioritize discursive and persuasion-oriented forms of online activism. Additionally, some pro-Trump participants report feeling emboldened by Trump’s example to share controversial right-wing views more freely online. Second, the proliferation of online disinformation in the Trump era corresponds with many participants emphasizing the importance of sharing credible, accurate, and verified news articles with their peers in order to counteract the influence of ‘fake news.’ Third, Trump’s unprecedented embrace of social media to communicate directly with the public corresponds with participants approaching platforms like Twitter as spaces for citizen interaction with institutional power. However, in this case, ‘speaking back’ to Trump on Twitter resembles less a civic duty and more a playful mode of engagement in which youth define their political identities and communities in relation. Together, the data suggest a hybridization of ‘actualizing’ and ‘dutiful’ citizenship styles in young people’s online political activities at a time of perceived urgency and crisis.

Eedan R Amit-Danhi, Limor Shifman
While digital political infographics have become an integral part of contemporary electoral campaigners, we know very little about the features that boost the success of political infographics in terms of user engagement. This study is the first scholarly exploration addressing this question. Relying on literature on political campaigns, virality, and infographics, we analyzed a sample of all infographics posted by the four leading candidates in the 2016 US Presidential Election (N=253). A quantitative content analysis, which traced the association between two success factors (likes and shares) and infographic features generated three main findings: (1) infographics based on comparisons that mention data sources are more successful; (2) in contrast to previous findings in virality studies, infographics that include direct calls for digital action (as well as general calls for action in the post text) are liked and shared less; (3) cues that invoke emotions are not associated significantly with infographics in the general sample, yet anger and fear were found to augment success in the case of infographics posted by Donald Trump. Our findings led to the conceptualization of genre-specific success enhancers, pointing out that not all content types succeed or fail according to the same characteristics but rather that success is modified by the features unique to it as a communicative genre.

Gabriela Zago, Raquel Recuero, Felipe Soares
In this proposal, we discuss the role of superparticipants in political conversations on Twitter. Our hypothesis is that these highly active users show a clear political position and intentionally act to give visibility to some topics and to reduce the visibility of others, practices that are similar to those observed among fans in popular culture. In terms of methods, we use social network analysis metrics to identify the modularity of the network and users that receive more attention than others (higher indegree) or mention more other users (higher outdegree). We collected tweets related to the impeachment of the Brazilian ex-president Dilma Rousseff in 2016 in three critical dates of the process. By observing the users with higher outdegree in each network, we noticed some patterns and behaviors that can characterize those users as political fans. Our main finding is that the superparticipants with higher outdegree helped to shape the polarized networks by retweeting like-minded accounts, and thus are important and influence the study of polarized political networks on Twitter.

Lianrui Jia, Xiaofei Han
The key question this paper addresses is how Weibo platform evolves over the years in push-and-pull forces of commercialization, capitalization and political control? We will provide a historical and critical analysis of Weibo as a popular social media platform in China (2009-2017). Our analysis will unfold along three dimensions: firstly, we focus on the political economy of Weibo by investigating the changing ownership structure, business models, board of directors, market capitalization, and various government regulations and guidelines on Weibo (such as real name registration policy, intermediary liability, licensing requirement for audio visual streaming, etc.). In this way, we will make Weibo’s relations to state, other internet giants, foreign and domestic capitals explicit and showcase the intricate power relations between them. Such analysis will then foreground the second dimension of this paper, which focuses on user interfaces and infrastructures on Weibo. We examine the discursive aspects and digital objects on Weibo and compare how changes of user interface design reflect what the company proposed in the Prospectus and annual reports about its functionality and value for users, advertisers and developers. In analyzing infrastructures on Weibo, we employ digital historical research method to reconstruct a timeline of ongoing and former declared platform-industry partnerships and programs to showcase the dynamics between Weibo and industry partners and how Weibo diversifies its revenue streams from digital marketing.


Gabriela Zago

Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul - Communication and Information

Saturday October 13, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 6

2:00pm EDT

Tim Highfield
This paper examines how time and the temporal are critical underpinnings for the presentation and experience of popular social media platforms. Understanding and transforming the temporal is key to the operation of such platforms: it showcases how platforms variously privilege the new and novel, the old and forgotten as catalysts for participation, while moves away from reverse-chronological displays of content to algorithmic ordering further demonstrate temporal disruption. Platforms also use temporal prompts to gain user attention and promote ongoing participation while dissuading inactivity, while time is prominently featured in the automated curation of users’ (digital) memories.

The paper argues that temporal strategies are forms of platform interventions which serve to render time as a site of contestation between digital media platforms and users. It focuses on temporal prompts and archive curation by popular platforms, cumulatively treated as 'platformed time' . The paper analyses archives of temporal notifications and content published by Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat between 2016 and 2018, supplemented by coverage of additional temporal features on these and other apps and platforms. In doing so, it explores how these temporal aspects exemplify realisations of the power dynamics of digital media The examples studied underline the temporality promoted (and privileged) by digital media platforms through non-linear displays, temporally-framed notifications, reminders, and updates, and pushing new and whimsical topical features – and how this may be at odds with the temporalities experienced (or desired) by its users.

Minna Saariketo
This presentation examines how the softwarization of everyday life is experienced. The point of embarkation is the observation that despite the proliferation computation in the everyday, people pay little attention to the conditions of software and its role in shaping their mundane time-spaces.

I will discuss results from a case study that used Henri Lefebvre’s rhythmanalysis (1992/2004) to shed light on how the rhythms of code-based technology are experienced. The research design of the intervention was inspired by the idea of privacy mirrors (Ngueyn and Mynatt 2002). Research participants (n=13), who described their relation to their devices as intense, used tracking software (RescueTime, ManicTime, App Usage or RealizD) in their ICTs and kept media diaries. These were used as artefacts in the interviews to enable reflection on the role of ICTs in daily life.

The results from the rhythmanalysis show how the complex intertwinement of digital devices and applications in the everyday evokes manifold feelings. Simultaneously, technology is perceived as an aid in organizing and managing the daily life, but it also induces feelings of losing control, chaos, and burden. The results suggest that although people might take for granted the infrastructural conditions of technology, such as data mining, they still actively negotiate their relation to devices and applications vis-à-vis temporality. Outcomes from the intervention encourage developing further research designs that use the means of softwarization itself (e.g. tracking and digital traces) to enable critical reflection.

Delia Dumitrica, Georgia Gaden Jones
Media coverage of digital technologies fulfills a double role: it contributes discursive repertoires (i.e. symbols, stock phrases, narratives, arguments, etc.) to the social imaginary of technology; and it makes technology meaningful by relating it to existing social concerns and dynamics. In this process, media coverage participates in the symbolic construction of ‘legitimate’ social hierarchies and norms for leading a ‘good life’. In this paper, we examine the portrayal of digital technologies in 75 covers of Time magazine (1950-2017). Digital technologies were defined here as hardware such as computers, peripherals or networks; and software. The covers were analyzed using a combination of thematic and discourse analysis. Four themes were identified across the covers: the ambivalence of the computer/human integration; the moral panics around children’s uptake of digital technologies; the question of trust in a digitized environment; and, the celebration of the techno-capitalist. In one way of another, these themes speak to the issue of control: over ourselves (and our children) and over our future (with the accompanying corollary: get ready, or be left behind). We conclude by arguing that this preoccupation with control speaks to wider anxieties associated with the reflexive awareness of uncertainty in modernity, and ask: what forms of control of the self and of the social body are legitimized by these symbolic constructions? And what allocation of power and social roles do they recommend?

Saturday October 13, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond Centre

2:00pm EDT

Kicking the Black Box: The Perils and Promise of Algorithm Auditing
Faced with “black box” algorithmic decision-making on Internet platforms (Pasquale 2015), researchers have developed “algorithm audits” (Sandvig et al. 2014). These adapt the classic social scientific “audit” design to investigate computer systems from the outside. Historically, audits were in-person field experiments identifying discrimination in housing and employment. For instance, a black person and a white person would ask a landlord for vacancies, then compare results. In an algorithm audit, bots, fake accounts (“sock puppets”), or cooperating users are used to diagnose the behavior of online platforms without requiring permission or source code.

Algorithm audit research is booming: The Obama White House named it “essential” for big data (2016), while in the EU there may be an implied right to algorithm explanation (Selbst & Powles 2018). An array of algorithm audits have been published, with normatively important results. For instance, audits of online ad-serving platforms alone found discrimination by race (Sweeney 2013), gender (Datta et al. 2015), age (Angwin et al. 2017), and disability (Lecuyer et al. 2015). The method itself remains controversial (Desai & Kroll, 2018) with a lawsuit in the US seeking to confirm its legality there (Sandvig v. Sessions).

Most audits have appeared in computing venues (for a review: http://auditing-algorithms.science/). This roundtable proposes to bring algorithm auditors from computer science to AoIR for the first time. They will discuss the method, results so far, and future prospects for algorithm auditing in Internet studies.

The presenters have published award-winning algorithm audits that include search (e.g., Google), maps (Google, Bing), social media (Facebook, Twitter, Sina Weibo), ride-sharing (Uber, Lyft) employment (Monster, CareerBuilder), “gig” platforms (TaskRabbit, Fiverr), travel (Expedia, Booking.com), e-commerce (Amazon, Walmart), and ad exchanges (DoubleClick). They propose a lively format intended to foster a multi-disciplinary conversation via initial short (5 minute) provocations followed by interactive questions.

Saturday October 13, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 8

2:00pm EDT

The path to a social and ethical IoT
The Internet of Things (IoT) concerns bringing the physical world online. The grand vision is often described as a highly-connected environment, in which the physical and digital worlds blend to transform our homes, workplaces, businesses, hospitals, and cities---leaving no aspect of society untouched.

Though such a vision raises many social and ethical concerns, in practice, these aspects are rarely properly considered by those actually producing the technology. As such, the aim of this roundtable is to _explore the challenges and means for embedding social and ethical considerations into the IoT’s design, development and deployment._

The nature of the topic means an interdisciplinary approach is crucial. As such, we will begin the session with a series of short IoT perspectives from the participants (see author list), who span a range of backgrounds, before opening up to audience participation. Specifically, these perspectives include:

* The nature of the IoT as a ‘systems of systems’, and the points for technical interventions (Jat - technology)

* The role of law, as not only as imposing restrictions, but as a language to mediate competing concerns in the IoT’s development (Christian - law)

* Impacts on disadvantaged, excluded, and potentially endangered groups, through tech-abuse and tech-misuse (Leonie - politics/gender)

* The nuances and mismatches between public perceptions, ethical considerations, and specific technical practices (Alison - ethics)

Charles Ess, who has extensive social-ethical-techno experience, has agreed to both moderate and contribute to the discussion.

Post-event, the participants aim to publish a paper summarising and drawing conclusions from the discourse. This is to ensure a reach beyond the session’s audience, as such considerations will only grow in prominence as the IoT continues to emerge.

Saturday October 13, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 7

4:00pm EDT

Association General Meeting (AGM)
Saturday October 13, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Ballroom East

7:00pm EDT

AoIR Dinner Reception
Saturday October 13, 2018 7:00pm - 10:00pm EDT
Sheraton - Ballroom Centre and West
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