Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Data Power: A Digital Society Network Event

The Faculty of Social Sciences Digital Society Network is pleased to invite you to 'Data Power: A Digital Society Network Event' featuring talks by Mark Andrejevic and José van Dijck.

The event takes place on Tuesday 23 June, 09:30 – 11:15, in Cutlers’ Hall, Church Street, S1 1HG.  This is a free event, but please register here and bring a printed copy of your registration to get in to the event.  

Mark Andrejevic (Pomona College, USA)
Big Data Disconnects

Drawing upon ongoing interviews, this presentation explores a series of disconnects between how people think about the ways in which their data is being put to work and the discourses of data mining and predictive analytics. In particular it explores the disconnect between individual conceptions of the value of data and commercial practices of aggregation and sorting; on differing conceptions of the relevance of particular forms of data to different types of decision making; and on the disconnection between expectations of informed consent and the speculative character of data mining. The presentation situates these disconnects within broader concerns about the asymmetrical and opaque character of data mining and the power imbalances associated with control over and access to data gathering and mining platforms.

Biography: Mark Andrejevic is Associate Professor of Media Studies at Pomona College in the US. He is the author of Reality TV: The Work of Being Watched (2004), which applies critical theory to the example of reality TV to explore the changing character and portrayal of surveillance in the digital era. His second book, iSpy: Surveillance and Power in the Interactive Era (2007) examines the deployment of interactive media for monitoring and surveillance in the realms of popular culture, marketing, politics, and war. His third book, Infoglut: How Too Much Information Is Changing the Way We Think and Know, explores the social, cultural, and theoretical implications of data mining and predictive analytics. His work has appeared in a edited collections and in academic journals including Television and New Media; New Media and Society; Critical Studies in Media Communication; Theory, Culture & Society; Surveillance & Society; The International Journal of Communication; Cultural Studies; The Communication Review, and the Canadian Journal of Communication. His current work explores the logic of automated surveillance, sensing, and response associated with drones.

José van Dijck (University of Amsterdam)
The Social Web & Public Value

The 'social Web' is anything but a fixed concept; notions of 'privacy' and 'publicness' are constantly negotiated in the various attempts to shape network sociality. So far, most attention has been devoted to questions regarding privacy - the exploitation of personal data vis-a-vis commercial or government agents. And rightly so: over the past ten years, the norms for privacy have fundamentally shifted as a result of the emerging online ecosystem driven by powerful platforms such as Google and Facebook. Privacy issues have been a bone of contention between platform owners, state regulators, watchdog organizations and lawyers.

Equally poignant, however, are questions of publicness: how does a data-based social Web transform the public realm - a space where we create public value and define the public good? Questions of publicness are at least as important as questions of privacy, but they often seem less palpable and more diffuse. In this lecture, I want to reflect on the transformation of power relationships between citizens, (state) institutions and corporations in a networked world - a world that is still for the most part structured by (nationally based) institutions, which are increasingly mediated by (corporate) platforms. These platforms do not simply repackage or reroute everyday social traffic, but strongly influence basic relationships and democratic structures in societies. The case of online education will serve to illustrate these transformations.

The evolution of online sociality in relation to publicness is tightly interwoven with larger narratives of privatization, globalization, commercialization and de-collectivization. It is vital to not just study digital culture as a 'hard' system of technological and economic agents or as 'soft' process of narratives, but as dialectic. Looking at the mutual shaping of platforms, users, and institutions, I try to explain how social media platforms come to propose a certain version of 'public' and how institutions and individual users go on to enact it. These proposals and enactments may be conflicting contestations of what 'public value' actually means. But one of the core questions remains: what happens to public values once former institutional anchors are (partly) incorporated into the data-based infrastructure of the social Web?

Biography: Jose van Dijck is a professor of Comparative Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. Her work covers a wide range of topics in media theory, media technologies, social media, television and culture. She is the author of six books, three co-edited volumes and approximately one hundred journal articles and book chapters. Van Dijck served as Chair of the Department of Media Studies from 2002-2006, and was the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Amsterdam between 2008 and 2012. Her visiting appointments include the Annenberg School for Communication (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA), Massachussetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge USA), and the University of Technology, Sydney (AUS). For more information, click here.

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