Beyond bugs and features: A case for indeterminacy

spandrels-of-san-marco
Spandrels of San Marco. [CC License from Tango7174]
In 1979, Harvard professors Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin identified what they saw as a shortcoming in American and English evolutionary biology. It was, they argued, dominated by an adaptationist program.[1] By this, they meant that it embraced a misguided atomization of an organism’s traits, which then “are explained as structures optimally designed by natural selection for their function.”[2] For example, an exaggerated version of the adaptationist program might look at a contemporary human face, see a nose, and argue that it was adapted and selected for its ability to hold glasses. Such a theory of the nose not only ignores the plural functions the nose serves, but the complex history of its evolution, its shifting usefulness for different kinds of activities, its mutational detours, the different kinds of noses, and the nose’s evolution as part of the larger systems of faces, bodies, and environments.  So how should we talk about noses? Or, more importantly, how do we talk about any single feature of a complex system? Continue reading “Beyond bugs and features: A case for indeterminacy”

SMC at AoIR 2016: Internet Rules!

The 17th annual meeting of the Association of Internet Researchers is being held this week (Oct 5-8) in Berlin, Germany. It is a thrill to see so many past and present SMC members presenting their latest work, especially with Kate Crawford as part of the conference’s plenary panel Thursday evening. Below is a cheat sheet of all the SMC presentations, in case you want to follow along. (If we forgot somebody, please email us and we’ll add you!)

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Nancy Baym 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM Studying Labor: A Workshop on Theory and Methods
Jean Burgess 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM Digital Methods in Internet Research: A Sampling Menu
Kevin Driscoll 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM 404 History Not Found: Challenges in Internet History and Memory Studies
Tarleton Gillespie 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM The Internet Rules, But How? A Science and Technical Studies Take on Doing Internet Governance
Mary L. Gray 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM Studying Labor: A Workshop on Theory and Methods

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Mike Ananny 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM Like, Share, Discuss? How News Factors and Secondary Factors Predict User Engagement with News Stories on Facebook
Nancy Baym 9:00 AM – 10:30 PM Platform Studies: The Rules of Engagement
Jean Burgess 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM Platform Studies: The Rules of Engagement
Katrin Tiidenberg 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM Session Chair: Fakes
Nancy Baym 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM Economies of the Internet
Eszter Hargittai 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM Session Chair: (Non)Participation
Tero Karppi 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM Algorithmic Identities
Alice Marwick 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM Scandal or Sex Crime? Ethical Implications of the Celebrity Nude Photo Leaks
Nancy Baym 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM Technically Unequal: Representational Issues in Technology Scholarship and Journalism
Eszter Hargittai 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM Unconnected: How Privacy Concerns Impact Internet Adoption
Katrin Tiidenberg 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM Representation, Presentation, Embodiment/Emplacement
Siva Vaidhyanatha 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM Technically Unequal: Representational Issues in Technology Scholarship and Journalism
Tarleton Gillespie 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM Roundtable: Censorship Online, and the Challenges of Studying What’s No Longer there
Kishonna Gray 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM Color-Coded: Breaking the Rules of Whiteness Online
Kate Crawford 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM Plenary Panel: Who Rules the Internet? Kate Crawford (Microsoft Research NYC), Fieke Jansen (Tactical Tech), Carolin Gerlitz (University of Siegen)

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Mike Ananny 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM Roundtable: Still Platforms: The Apparent Stability of Digital Intermediaries in the Face of Change and Challenge
Solon Barocas 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM Roundtable: Still Platforms: The Apparent Stability of Digital Intermediaries in the Face of Change and Challenge
Tarleton Gillespie 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM Roundtable: Still Platforms: The Apparent Stability of Digital Intermediaries in the Face of Change and Challenge
Stacy Blasiola 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM The Rules of Engagement: Managing Boundaries, Managing Identities
Jean Burgess 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM What Would Feminist Big Data, Data Studies and Datavis Look Like?
Kate Crawford 11:00 AM – 12:30 AM What Would Feminist Big Data, Data Studies and Datavis Look Like?
Airi Lampinen 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM The Rules of Engagement: Managing Boundaries, Managing Identities
Katrin Tiidenberg 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM Making and Breaking Rules on the Internet
Kate Miltner 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM Playing with the Rules
Kishonna Gray 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM The Cultural Politics of Feminism and Anti-Feminism After Gamergate
Tero Karppi 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM Disconnect. Unfriend. Disengage.
Susanna Paasonen 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM The Cultural Politics of Feminism and Anti-Feminism After Gamergate

Saturday, October 8th, 2016

Jean Burgess 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM The Sharing Economy and Its Discontents
Stefanie Duguay 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM The Sharing Economy and Its Discontents
Mary L. Gray 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM The Sharing Economy and Its Discontents
Dan Greene 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM Internet Industry Research Rules! A Roundtable on Methods
Germaine Halegoua 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM Intersections of Technology & Place
Jessa Lingel 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM Session Chair: Tech/Place
Nick Seaver 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM Internet Industry Research Rules! A Roundtable on Methods
Lana Swartz 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM Internet Industry Research Rules! A Roundtable on Methods
Kevin Driscoll 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM Session Chair: Histories
Annette Markham 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM AoIR Institutional Memory Panel
Dylan Mulvin 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM Embedded Dangers: The History of the Year 2000 Problem and the Politics of Technological Repair

New Article in New Media + Society

Germaine Halegoua (University of Kansas), Alex Leavitt (Facebook), and Mary L. Gray recently published an article based on research conducted while Germaine was a Ph.D. Intern and Alex was a Research Assistant at MSR.

The article, “Jumping For Fun?: Negotiating Mobility and the Geopolitics of Foursquare” was published in Social Media + Society and is available here: http://sms.sagepub.com/content/2/3/2056305116665859.full.pdf+html.

Abstract: Rather than assume that there is some universal “right way” to engage social media platforms, we interrogate how the location-based social media practice known as “jumping” played out on the popular service Foursquare. We use this case to investigate how a “global” or universal system is constructed with an imagined user in mind, one who enjoys a particular type of mobility and experience of place. We argue that the practices of “Indonesian” Foursquare jumpers and the discourses surrounding their use of Foursquare illustrate that practices understood as transgressive or resistive might best be read as strategies for engaging with a platform as groups contend with marginalizing social, economic, and/or political conditions.

Citation: Halegoua, Germaine R., Alex Leavitt, and Mary L. Gray. “Jumping for Fun? Negotiating Mobility and the Geopolitics of Foursquare.” Social Media + Society 2, no. 3 (July 1, 2016): 2056305116665859. doi:10.1177/2056305116665859.