Re-assembling the Assembly Line: Digital Labor Economies and Demands for an Ambient Workforce

Watch Mary Gray’s talk at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society where she discusses her findings from a two-year collaborative study on crowdwork –“the process of taking tasks that would normally be delegated to an employee and distributing them to a large pool of online workers, the ‘crowd,’ in the form of an open call.” In this talk she addresses ideas about the cultural meaning, political implications, and ethical demands of crowdwork.

Presentation; Between Platforms and Community: Moderators on Reddit

Presentation by intern Nathan Matias on the project he worked on during the summer at the SMC. He has continued to work on his research, so in case you have not read it here is a more updated post on his work:

Followup: 10 Factors Predicting Participation in the Reddit Blackout. Building Statistical Models of Online Behavior through Qualitative Research

Below is the presentation he did for MSR earlier this month:

(Part1)

(Part 2)

(Part 3)

(Part 4)

Co-creation and Algorithmic Self-Determination: A study of player feedback on game analytics in EVE Online

We are happy to share SMC’s intern Aleena Chia’s presentation of her summer project titled “Co-creation and Algorithmic Self-Determination: A study of player feedback on game analytics in EVE Online”.  

Aleena’s project summary and the videos of her presentation below:

Digital games are always already information systems designed to respond to players’ inputs with meaningful feedback (Salen and Zimmerman 2004). These feedback loops constitute a form of algorithmic surveillance that have been repurposed by online game companies to gather information about player behavior for consumer research (O’Donnell 2014). Research on player behavior gathered from game clients constitutes a branch of consumer research known as game analytics (Seif et al 2013).[1] In conjunction with established channels of customer feedback such as player forums, surveys, polls, and focus groups, game analytics informs companies’ adjustments and augmentations to their games (Kline et al 2005). EVE Online is a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) that uses these research methods in a distinct configuration. The game’s developers assemble a democratically elected council of players tasked with the filtration of player interests from forums to inform their (1) agenda setting and (2) contextualization of game analytics in the planning and implementation of adjustments and augmentations.

This study investigates the council’s agenda setting and contextualization functions as a form of co-creation that draws players into processes of game development, as interlocutors in consumer research. This contrasts with forms of co-creation that emphasize consumers’ contributions to the production and circulation of media content and experiences (Banks 2013). By qualitatively analyzing meeting minutes between EVE Online’s player council and developers over seven years, this study suggests that co-creative consumer research draws from imaginaries of player governance caught between the twin desires of corporate efficiency and democratic efficacy. These desires are darned together through a quantitative public sphere (Peters 2001) that is enabled and eclipsed by game analytics. In other words, algorithmic techniques facilitate collective self-knowledge that players seek for co-creative deliberation; these same techniques also short circuit deliberation through claims of neutrality, immediacy, and efficiency.

The significance of this study lies in its analysis of a consumer public’s (Arvidsson 2013) ambivalent struggle for algorithmic self-determination – the determination by users through deliberative means of how their aggregated acts should be translated by algorithms into collective will. This is not primarily a struggle of consumers against corporations; nor of political principles against capitalist imperatives; nor of aggregated numbers against individual voices. It is a struggle within communicative democracy for efficiency and efficacy (Anderson 2011). It is also a struggle for communicative democracy within corporate enclosures. These struggles grind on productive contradictions that fuel the co-creative enterprise. However, while the founding vision of co-creation gestured towards a win-win state, this analysis concludes that algorithmic self-determination prioritizes efficacy over efficiency, process over product. These commitments are best served by media companies oriented towards user retention rather than recruitment, business sustainability rather than growth, and that are flexible enough to slow down their co-creative processes.

[1] Seif et al (2013) maintain that player behavior data is an important component of game analytics, which includes the statistical analysis, predictive modeling, optimization, and forecasting of all forms of data for decision making in game development. Other data include revenue, technical performance, and organizational process metrics.

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(Video 2)

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Video: TL Taylor on Pro Gaming, Live Streaming & Spectatorship

 
Current and future visitor TL Taylor spoke last week at the Berkman Luncheon series on “Live Streaming, Computer Games, and the Future of Spectatorship.”

Computer gaming has long been a social activity, complete with forms of spectatorship. With the growth of live-streaming the boundaries of audience are shifting. Professional e-sports players and amateurs alike are broadcasting their play online and in turn growing communities. But interesting issues lurk around notions of audience (and revenue), IP and licensing, and the governance and management of these spaces. T.L. Taylor — Associate Professor in the Center for Computer Games Research and author of the newly released “Raising the Stakes: E-Sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming” (MIT Press, 2012) — presents some preliminary inquiries into this emerging intersection of “social media,” gaming, and broadcasting.

TL just accepted a job as Associate Professor at MIT’s Department of Comparative Media Studies. We’re all stoked to have her in the Boston area.

You’re the Manager but I’m the Mayor: Understanding Foursquare Check-ins in Claimed Venues

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This talk is by Germaine Halegoua, one of our fantastic interns this summer and a brand-new Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas. She outlines her findings from her summer research project, about the location-based mobile service Foursquare.

The presentation includes preliminary findings and analysis from an ethnographic study of Foursquare users in the Boston area, focusing on their relationships with “friends” as well as “claimed venues” on Foursquare. This project aims to investigate how and why managers of Foursquare’s claimed venues and their patrons use location-based services; what relationships are forged between vendors and customers via Foursquare; how participants understand their own participation and the audiences for their actions; as well as attitudes about locational privacy and the meaning of location announcement over these networks. Some of these findings reflect information flows, practices of listening and responding, and relations of power that are relevant across other social network sites as well.

If you’re interested in LBS, this is a great introduction to some academic thinking on the topic.

Watch the full talk here.