The third speaker at this ASMC14 session is Paolo Gerbaudo, whose interest is in the organisational processes of informal collaboration in social media activism. In order to understand these processes it is not enough to study the large datasets of their outputs, but to also ask the people behind such activities why and how they do this work.
Across the various cases of social media activism in recent years there has been a clear power distribution – a handful of leading accounts have been driving protests such as Occupy, Indignados, or the Arab Spring. These accounts have attracted a large number of followers and serve as movement leaders and organisers. Who is behind these accounts; who is working to keep such feeds going, and how?
I’ve continued to update my lists of publications and presentations over the past months, but I think it’s time to do another quick round-up of recent work before all the new projects start in earnest.
First off, my colleagues Darryl Woodford, Troy Sadkowsky and I have been making some good progress developing further methodological approaches to Twitter research – focussing this time especially on examining how accounts gain their followers (for some of the outcomes from that research, also see our coverage at Mapping Online Publics):
More generally, I’ve also been involved in a couple of related publications led by Stefan Stieglitz from the University of Münster (one in English, one in German) which highlight the contribution which the emerging field of social media analytics will be able to make to the disciplines of business informatics and information systems:
After the “Compromised Data” symposium in Toronto I’ve made my way over to Europe, where my first stop is a PhD symposium in Copenhagen where I’ve been invited to present an update on my work on produsage. Here, I’ve revisited the fundamental concept of produsage and made the link to my current work on the uses of social media, especially in a journalistic context. Slides and audio below:
The final day at AoIR 2013 starts for me with a panel on conflict, controversy and aggression in online spaces in which Theresa Sauter and I also have a paper - but the first presenter is Heather Ford, whose focus is on Wikipedia. She has been involved with Wikipedia for some time, and has seen a substantial level of conflict (leading to article deletions and user bannings) during that time. Her paper here focusses on the specific case of a Wikipedian being stalked and banned.
Being a Wikipedian means being part of a peer-production community, which Benkler and Nissenbaum have claimed fosters virtue. But more recent research has exposed some of the darker sides of Wikipedia - as experienced especially to newcomers to the community. Entering the now-mature project at a late stage is difficult, and many contributions from newbie users are reverted by established participants; this has been seen as contribution to Wikipedia's decline and the slow-down of new user sign-ups.
The final speaker in this AoIR 2013 plenary is Gina Neff, who notes that the study of online practices and texts can only provide a limited perspective on resistance to capitalism. The political and economic affordances of the Internet are less open to resisting capitalist models than we might have thought; it tends to subsume resistant practices into online capitalism in the end.
This leads Gina to suggest that the era of the amateur is over. Capitalist dynamics privilege the platform developers, policy makers, proprietors and others over users; the Net is tool for and symbol of the reproduction of this set of power relations. Through it, proto-, pseudo-, and not-quite-yet-professional media makers are subsumed into the system.
When this site goes quiet, it’s usually because work is exceptionally busy. My apologies for the long silence since the launch of our major collection A Companion to New Media Dynamics – a range of projects, variously relating to the uses of social media in crisis communication, of Twitter in a number of national elections, of social media as a second-screen backchannel to televised events, and of ‘big data’ in researching online issue publics, have kept me occupied for the past eight months or so.
Now, I’m about to head off to Denver for the annual Association of Internet Researchers conference and on to a number of other events, and you can expect the usual bout of live blogging from these conferences – but before I do so, here’s a quick update of some of the major publications and papers I’ve completed during the past few months. For some more frequent updates on the work of my colleagues and me, you can also follow our updates at Mapping Online Publics and the site of the QUT Social Media Research Group, of course. On the SMRG site, we’ve also posted a list of the presentations we’ll be making at AoIR and beyond – hope to see you there!
As we’re hurtling down the last few hours towards 2013, it seems like a good idea to take stock of what was an incredibly busy 2012. Here, then, is a round-up of all (I think) of my publications and presentations for the year, organised into loose thematic categories. In all, and with my various collaborators from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation and beyond, I seem to have generated some 4 book chapters, 12 journal articles, 22 conference presentations and one major report – and that’s not counting various articles in The Guardian, The Conversation, and other media outlets. There’s also a few more articles still in the pipeline – but given today’s date, I suspect they’ll end up counting towards 2013 rather than 2012…
Social Media Research Methods
One major component of our Mapping Online Publics work for this year has been the further development of our social media research approaches, especially as far as Twitter research is concerned. A number of my publications have dealt with the practical aspects of this work:
Before this conference and the Copenhagen event, though, I spent a few days in Helsinki, where I gave two guest lectures in the international Masters course – and I've neglected to post those lectures here so far. So, here they are. Unfortunately, my audio recorder ran out of batteries during the first lecture, so there are only slides for it - however, that lecture was a repeat of my SBPJor keynote in Brazil last October, so you can go to those slides for the audio.