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Fishbowl [clear filter]
Thursday, October 11

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
Friday, October 12

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

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

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
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

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