October 29th, Goldsmiths, University of London

Open research is much more than open access. It is about making all aspects of the research process open to all possible interested parties. It involves innovative approaches to communicating results and sharing outputs. It is about accessibility, inclusivity, citizen science, public engagement, radical transparency, reproducibility, data sharing, social media and more.

Supported by the British Academy, this event aims to inspire and educate researchers across all disciplines on how to benefit from opening up their research. Attendance is free, with free lunch, a free wine reception and great prizes to be won.

Keynotes (10 AM – 1 PM)

The morning session will feature short keynotes from champions of open research, including:

– Jo Barratt – Project manager of Open Knowledge Foundation Frictionless Data project

– Mark Carrigan – Sociologist & author of the book Social Media for Academics

– Sophia Collins – Founder of the Nappy Science Gang, a citizen science project that changed NHS policy.

– Gary Hall – Founder of the Open Humanities Press & author of Digitize this book (2008), Pirate Philosophy (2016) & The Uberfication of the University (2016)

– Simon Makin – Former neuroscientist turned science journalist who writes for Nature, Scientific American & New Scientist.

& others to be confirmed

Hackathon (1 PM – 5 PM)

The afternoon session will be organised as a “hackathon”. Keynote speakers and other experts will run hands-on workshops on a range of practical topics and be available to provide 1-on-1 advice.

Working in teams or individually attendees have 4 hours to take concrete steps to make their own research more open. Ideas include sharing a dataset, setting up a research blog or project website, planning an engagement project, pitching a news article, or creating a video biography or a podcast.

There are prizes for everyone who gives a presentation or uploads a project idea to conference website and several grand prizes for the judges’ and audience’s favourite ideas.

Presentations, prizes and wine reception (5 PM – 7 PM)

Judging panel chaired by Professor Nigel Vincent FBA, former British Academy Vice President for Research & HE Policy

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/open-research-for-academics-a-workshop-and-hackathon-tickets-27093168396

Another really generous review of Social Media for Academics. I particularly liked this bit:

So, there is a whole bunch of good ideas here, and I’ve tended to read this as an ideas prompt, suggesting things I’d not really thought of and while sensibly not telling how I might do those things, it challenges me to come up with other ‘I-wonder-if-I-could’ thoughts.

This is exactly what I was hoping for! I’d love to hear more about ideas people had after reading the book and any projects they’ve undertaken as a result.

This is one of the best discussions about social media for academics I’ve heard: Episode 58 of This Week In Health Law.

Fresh from ASLME’s Health Law Professors’ Conference in Boston: a special TWIHL! Pharmalot’s Ed Silverman joins a cavalcade of past show guests (Rachel Sachs, Ross Silverman, and Nicholas Bagley) for a conversation about social media and health law, scholarship, and policy.

Some of the works cited: Mark Carrigan, Social Media for Academics; Tressie McMillan Cottom, Microcelebrity and the Tenure Track; Tressie McMillan Cottom, When Marginality Meets Academic Microcelebrity; UW Stout, Rubrics for Assessing Social Media Contributions; Wiley, Altmetrics

Notes for my talk at the ESRC North West DTC tomorrow

Social media has changed a lot since I began my PhD. But what’s notable about this is that I didn’t start my PhD particularly long ago. When I began in 2008, my blogging was a personal hobby which I couldn’t possibly conceive of as relevant to my research. But by the time I finished in 2014, social media had come to shape every aspect of my developing research career. It’s possible I’ve been an outlier in this respect, but the same transition can be seen within my discipline. At my first British Sociological Association conference, the event’s hashtag felt like it was dominated by digital tumbleweeds and a few lonely voices speculating about how few sociologists were using Twitter in the UK. By the time of the most recent British Sociological Association conference, the event’s hashtag had become a thriving hub of activity, as scores of sociologists attending the conference live tweeted their way through the event. These are personal experiences, grounded in my own career and my engagements with my discipline in the UK, but they are representative of a broader transition. What was once a fringe pursuit, regarded with disinterest at best or suspicion at worst, increasingly finds itself seen as a central part of what academics are expected to do. What might once have been a curiosity about how a particular academic conducts themselves looks increasingly likely to be incorporated, formally or otherwise, into the expectations to which academics are subject in their professional lives.

This is a recipe for anxiety. Something that moves so fast, as can be seen in the hypnotic resource that is Internet Live Stats for which I’ve only attached a screen shot, can be bewildering. So much happens in what we might call an ‘internet minute’ that it can be hard to make sense of the sheer scale of the activity, let alone determine how to make the most of it. But it’s this speed and scale which has created so much attention because of the sheer size of the audiences which can be found through social media. On paper, the possibilities seem tremendous: free, open, accessible platforms that allow us to access hundreds of millions of users. In practice, the reality is more complex: how can we actually ensure that we’re heard above all that noise? How do we negotiate the already competing demands upon our time when engaging on social media is added to them? How do we square the requirements of visibility online with the most conventional expectations about how researchers comport themselves offline? In other words: how do we make the most of social media?

Unfortunately, there are no universal right or wrong answers to these questions. There are general tips which apply to all researchers engaging online, as well as common issues that those in the academy face when they use social media. But so much still depends on the individual scholar, what they’re comfortable with, what they hope to achieve and the environment within which they’re working. What I’ll do today is to offer some general tips & address these common issue. But my main focus is on how to address these deeper underlying question of why you want to use social media and what you want to do with it, because I firmly believe that if you address these questions of ‘what’ and ‘why’ then the ‘how’ questions become much clearer. Deciding on which platform is right for you, how you wish to use it and how you wish to combine these as part of a much broader range of activities you’re committed to becomes much easier once you’re animated by a clear understanding of what you’re setting out to achieve and why it matters to you. Ultimately, existing platforms change so fast and new ones spring into being with such rapidity, that a preoccupation with the platforms themselves can just be confusing. Plus remember MySpace as a timely reminder of the capacity of hugely popular social media platforms to die.

Instead, I think it’s useful to think in terms of scholarly activities and the various ways in which different sorts of technologies are used to enact these, helping or hindering them in the process. The radical sociologist C Wright Mills wrote a wonderful appendix to his famous The Sociological Imagination about scholarly craft: he argued for the necessity of keeping a ‘file’ in order to ‘keep one’s inner world awake’. These are activities we all engage in but which, rather interestingly, tend not to feature in public discourse: the daily minutae of scholarship. Notebooks, filing cabinets, file cards, newspaper clippings, print outs, drawings, marginalia in books, annotated papers, reading lists etc. My favourite example from my own experience is the fixation on Moleskin notebooks which dominated the early stages of my PhD. I loved these notebooks, still do in fact. I would enthusiastically scrawl ideas as I was travelling, record notes of what I was reading and try to develop a research journal to track my engagements over time. I’d then proudly place these notebooks on a shelf, admiring the odd sense of solidity they conveyed when I stacked them up near my computer. In my more pretentious moments, I found myself thinking about the weight of the ideas contained within them and how satisfying this was.

The problem was that I could rarely read my own hand writing, couldn’t search them and as much as I admired them aesthetically, they were pretty useless to me as a research journal. Plus as many people will tell you, they are by definition quite easy to lose if you carry them with you all the time. I never experienced this because I didn’t carry them with me all the time. This in itself caused problems because I’d often find that I had an idea or insight that I wanted to record, but I didn’t have my current notebook with me. I’d sometimes record it on a scrap of paper, hoping that I’d add it into the notebook when I got home but I rarely succeed in this. On other occasions, I’d hope I remembered the thought once I was home. I never did. In contrast, the research blog I soon started, replacing my older blogs filled with rants about politics and song lyrics I liked, could be found wherever I had internet access. The very fact of other people, at least in principle, reading what I wrote forced me to elaborate upon fleeting thoughts in order to make them legible for others. Tagging and categorising these notes, as blogging platforms encourages you to do, quickly built up a living archive of my scholarly engagements that I’ve since got into the habit of frequently tracing back. It enabled me to connect with others that shared my interests, as well as building up an audience for publications long before I’d actually published anything. It became for me how one of my favourite science fiction authors, Cory Doctorow, describes his own blog: “my major way of thinking through the stuff that matters to me”. This is exactly what I hoped my Moleskine notebooks would do but they never quite did.

But this isn’t for everyone and my point in telling this story is not say that you should all use blogs as research journals. Many people, including myself, wouldn’t be comfortable blogging about field work and data in such a journal. Many people would prefer to fully work out their thoughts before making them public, though I do think the risks entailed by this are overstated because, as the philosopher Daniel Little puts it, people enjoy seeing ‘ideas in motion’. Many people would prefer the option to share a note on social media, something which digital journals like Evernote provide very effectively, rather than sharing by default. I think it’s a mistake to assume social media platforms and digital tools are necessarily an improvement. In fact, I don’t think such a judgement makes sense in the abstract. A particular social media platform is only going to be useful to someone in a particular context for a particular purpose. The key to negotiating the world of social media as an academic is to develop clarity about what you’re doing and enough familiarity with social media platforms and digital tools then you can think clearly about how they might help or hinder particular tasks. These tasks are manifold: locating literature, reading literature, analysing data, conducting field work, networking within your field, engaging with publics outside the academy and many more. Social media can be used for all of them, in all manner of ways, but how to do this is likely to be confusing unless we’re specific about what we want to do and why we want to do it.

But I think there are other, more hands on, pointers which apply to most if not all:

  1. Use the opportunities afforded to you as an ESRC funded researcher. Sign up to their e-mail alerts and engage with the digital opportunities contained within them. Engage with the ESRC on social media platforms. For instance, add your status to your Twitter profile and they’ll follow you back. Tag @ESRC when you’re discussing your activities and making announcements.
  2. Share what you care about online. In a recent book, the Sociologist Les Back suggests that Twitter sometimes facilitates our “inhabiting the attentiveness of another writer” by providing “signposts pointing to things going on in the world: a great article, an important book, a breaking story”. Through the things that others share, we sometimes enter into their world and participate in an economy of “hunches and tips” which is the “lifeblood of scholarship”. These provide pathways through the literature, allowing others to use them as guides into and through often difficult bodies of work. If you consistently share what you care about then other people to whom this matter will find you online. It’s in this subtle way that I think everyday use of social media can help mitigate the competitive individualism which dominates the academy.
  3. Try not to get hung up on the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways to behave on social media platforms. These norms are not so different from the rest of your life, something which the contrived opposition of ‘offline’ and ‘online’ often works to obscure. Are social media platforms ultimately that different to an academic conference, albeit on where the words linger on in the room after being spoken? Each profile is a spot on the internet that’s staked out as yours. What you do with it is up to you. Some people choose to wander over to their podium every now and again, make an announcement and then wander off. Some people give their presentation at the podium and then leave, only returning when they want to give another. Some do their presentation but thrive on the Q&A afterwards. Some might not like the feel of the podium and eschew a formal presentation to go and chat more directly with their audience. Likewise some people just want to listen and ask questions of other speakers. Others would rather ditch the conference and go straight to relaxing at the pub.
  4. But if you’re unsure about how to behave, the best thing to do is to seek out exemplars, both positive and negative. Do you like how someone engages on a particular platform? Try and articulate precisely what you like about it and whether it’s right for you. Conversely, if someone frustrates or bothers you, don’t just get irritated. Instead try and clarify exactly what it is you don’t like in order that you’re better able to avoid this. In this way, it becomes easier to develop a deliberate sense of how you feel you ought to behave online, rather than be plagued by a diffuse anxiety that you might be ‘doing it wrong’.
  5. When in doubt, connect! The capacity of social media to flatten academic hierarchies is vastly overstated but there’s a kernel of truth to it: unless you’re a remarkably outgoing and talented networker, it’s much easier to approach well known academics online then it is in person. If you find yourself hesitating about whether to make contact with them, err on the side of connection. At worst they’ll ignore you & the architecture of social media is built from the ground up to encourage people to interact as much as possible. Furthermore, use community resources like hashtags to connect with others at a similar stage to you. As well as #PhDChat, which I found almost indescribably comforting at many points during the last year of my PhD, there’s #ECRChat and #ESRCPhD as well as many other localised to particular fields of practice. Plus don’t forget all the people you already know. Add your social media profiles to your e-mail signature and look for your friends and acquaintances when you try a new platform.
  6. Tell a story about yourself using your profile. This can feel narcissistic but in an information saturated world, these snippets of biographical information are key to allowing people to know where you’re coming from. This isn’t just a matter of people within the academy. Social media radically increases the ease with which academics can be found by those within the media, government and civil society. But they need to know who you are and why they might want to talk to you for those conversations to begin.

Much as there are practical tactics which work for most, if not all. There are common issues academics face when they engage online. Social media collapses the boundaries between the different groups which we engage with and poses the question of how to manage overlapping relations between them: for instance, are you ok with your students reading material you’ve shared with your friends? One response to this problem is never to say anything online that you wouldn’t be happy with everyone in your life hearing. Another is to try and mark out particular material as being for different audiences, perhaps even by having separate profiles. My own approach has been to assume everyone in my life realises there are different facets to me and if something I share online seems confusing to them, they probably weren’t my intended audience. But then again, this might be why all my non-academic friends unfollowed me on Twitter a long time ago.

There’s also the more unpleasant side to social media. Sometimes, this might be a matter of getting drawn into pointless arguments. For instance, I’m as enthusiastic about Twitter as one can be, yet I’ve never seen any evidence that meaningful debate is possible within 140 characters, though it’s certainly possible to have constructive discussions amongst people who share things in common. As a general rule, if it feels important to you that someone on the internet is wrong, that’s the time to step away from social media. On the other hand, there’s a much darker world of online harassment, far beyond the simple matter of academic egos and cantankerousness. This is a big topic, one which most social media platforms are failing to do enough about. The only general advice I can offer is to be aware of the issue, particularly if you’re working on a very politicised topic. Also familiarise yourself with the facilities each platform offers to ban and block and don’t hesitate to use them if you feel the need.

There’s the ever present risk of time wasting. I think this issue can be overstated and it’s often framed in terms of an assumption that social media is just ‘one more thing to do’: scholarship is assumed to be something prior to what scholars do on social media. But the more that you’ve embedded social media in your everyday activities, the less this is true because what you’re doing on social media is scholarship. Nonetheless, sometimes it can be a bit compulsive and tools like Anti-Social, Freedom and Rescue Time all provided effect mechanisms for carving out time away from social media to immerse yourself in other things.

But the most important thing is to try and enjoy it. You’re unlikely to make the most of social media if you don’t. My experience has been that the promise of academic social media lies in its use as a platform for trying to work things out. More so, doing it in the open grants each of these attempts a social existence, one that comes with undoubted risks but also enormous rewards. Little bits of thought shrapnel, brief attempts to make some sense of the ‘feel of an idea’, come to enjoy their own existence within the world. They’re mostly forgotten or even ignored from the outset. But there’s something quite remarkable about occasions when these fragments resurface as someone sees something of value in them, perhaps when you saw no value in them yourself.

In this way, it attunes you to the impulse to write because you have “something to say and communicate”. This isn’t always the case and I worry that the metricisation of scholarly blogging will prove immensely destructive of it. But there is at least for now something deeply rewarding about seizing on an inchoate idea, developing it and throwing it off into the world to see what others make of it. For no other reason than the pleasure inherent to it. Making the most of social media can help develop your career, build your network and make an impact. But more importantly, it can deepen your enjoyment of what you do, keep you connected to the curiosity which animates your research, help you connect with others who care about the same things as you do and build up opportunities to work together enjoyably in an environment otherwise dominated by competitive individualism.

This looks good. I’ll be tempted to apply for the scheme next year if it runs on the same basis. The lab is run by one of the Big Data & Society editors:

The Social Media Lab, part of the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson
University (Toronto, Canada) invites academic researchers at any stage of
their career and senior PhD candidates for a short-term (1-4 month) research

This year’s deadline is fast approaching – December 15.

The Social Media Lab is an interdisciplinary community of scholars who
eagerly address issues surrounding the impact and implications of social
media on society. With two funded and two self-funded openings for the
program, visiting scholars can further their own research at our Lab, as
well as develop and complete a collaborative research project with members
of the Lab.

During the program, visiting scholars will meet and interact with the Social Media Lab’s academic community, both at Ryerson University, in Toronto, and beyond, through our international network of expert collaborators. They will also have the chance to explore Toronto – Canada’s largest and most
multicultural city.

For more information and how to apply, please visit

From Addiction By Design, by Natasha Dow Schüll, pg 12:

A zone in which time, space, and social identity are suspended in the mechanical rhythm of a repeating process may seem an unpromising object for cultural analysis. Yet such a zone, I argue, can offer a window onto the kinds of contingencies and anxieties that riddle contemporary American life, and the kinds of technological encounters that individuals are likely to employ in the management of these contingencies and anxieties. Over the last two decades, social theorists have focused a great deal of attention on the leading role that technology has played in the production of broad- scale insecurities— from global warming and other catastrophic environmental disasters to financial crises and unstable job markets. 44 While some have acknowledged the subjective insecurities that percolate through so- called risk society as a result of these “manufactured uncertainties” (as the sociologist Ulrich Beck has termed them), fewer have examined how individuals use technology to manufacture “certainties” of the sort that Sharon discussed above. 45 Counterintuitively, machine gambling can serve as a “port of entry,” to borrow Lears’s term, into this less examined but no less significant territory. Although the activity explicitly entails risk— involving money, no less, a key measure of social and economic value— it contains that risk within a dependable framework, allowing gamblers to enact a mode of self- equilibration that has become typical of everyday technological interactions.

I really like this focus and I’m wondering whether compulsive reliance upon social media, in order to provide what Danny Miller describes as a “meta-best friend”, could be analysed in these terms. They certain provide a “a means through which individuals can manage their affective states and create a personal buffer zone against the uncertainties and worries of their world” as Schüll puts it.

Social Media: Connected Cultures

Call for Participation 2016
The Social Media Project: 1st Global Conference
Sunday 8th May – Tuesday 10th May 2016

Prague, Czech Republic
This inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary project seeks to start
a dialogue about the global impact, development, role and functions of
social media in the life of individuals, groups and nations. Our
experience with the world around us is informed extensively by social
media, whose uses range from mobilising global awareness of a cause,
to generating mass participation in philanthropic activities such as
the “ice bucket challenge”, to providing entertainment through
jokes, memes and human interest stories, to calling out individuals
and organisation for ridicule and condemnation. Thus, social media is
a double-edged sword where the benefits associated with inter-personal
communication, information-sharing and leisure are balanced against
the criminal activity, harassment and manipulation that takes place
through the social media channels. Although many processes in life
have already been transported from the ‘real’ world into
cyberspace, new digital media are extending deep into the foundations
of nations, cultures, societies, families, educations, businesses and
politics. By now, new media have largely moved beyond initial
anonymities of cyberculture, past avatars and pseudonyms, and into
radical categorizations and disclosures of individual personalities to
countless factions and institutions. For many of us, Internet and
mobile technology accompany every aspect of life, from birth to death,
and new generations are born into an understanding of constant
connection with friends, partners, classmates, co-workers, children,
parents, superiors or governments, for better or worse. Have these
developments made us more aware of our actions and nourished a
curiosity for the mundane as well as the extraordinary aspects of
human life? Or, has the imperative to communicate through carefully
designed virtual identities diminished the values and pleasures that
lie at the essence of engaging with other human beings?
The project seeks to understand how social media influence the life of
individuals in their various professions, relationships, roles and
identities, how they have redefined the meaning of ‘public and
private’ and established new power balances between consumers and
producers of content. New media reality affords a redefinition of
traditional paradigms and values such as ‘social,’
‘friendship,’ ‘democracy,’ ‘privacy,’ ‘freedom’ and
‘memory.’ People do not only develop intense new relationships
with each other, but also with their technology, whose proximity to
the body has decreased as much as the physical distance between people
has increased. Through this interconnectedness, people and their
technology constantly feed their presence into global networks of
commerce or surveillance, but also turn into regular witnesses of
history in the making, creating not only infinite data, but also
historical documents and ‘evidence’ for each other’s
accomplishments, failures and violations.
The first international conference of the ID.net project seeks to
focus on three major aspects of social media networking (SMN):
“sharing,” “content creation” and “communication” with a
special section reserved for the “hashtag” phenomenon. Though the
hashtag originated on Twitter, its omnipresence as well as the
evolution of its usage have invested this cultural phenomenon with
social, political, cultural, ideological, aesthetic, linguistic,
technological and economic implications that warrant closer
For this launch event, the Social Media Project invites presentations
from academics, professionals, artists and practitioners with specific
insights, experience, practices or skills. Examples of the above can
be seen in, but are not exclusive to, the following categories:
General Social Media Infrastructure

• Types and versions of social networks; histories, definitions,
appearances, applications, usages, effects; Facebook, YouTube,
Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Weibo etc., case studies, demographics

• Networking and collaboration

• Public and private, ownership and control

• Temporalities, spatiality

• Visions of humanity and civilizations, values and moralities

• Audiences, communities, producers and consumers, millennials,
digital natives

• The virtual and the real, immersion

• Spectacle, performance, fame, fans and celebrities

• Identity, visualities, selfies, profiles

• Establishing love, friendships, relationships, memberships
Utilization, actions, liberties and restrictions

• Attention, spectatorship, witnessing, archiving, collecting, point
of view, memory, deleting and forgetting

• File-sharing as form of social media (and its implications for
intellectual property, user-generated content and artistic creation)

• Use by different age groups, professions, religions, sub-cultures,
minorities, ethnicities, genders etc.

• Education, skill and knowledge acquisition

• Campaigns, activism, revolutions

• Social media in crisis, disaster, migration, war

• Business models, brands, markets and advertising; consumerism in
the age of digital media, the meaning of power and capital,
recommendations, peer-reviewing, consumer trust

• Everyday life changes, adaptations, gains and losses

• Archiving and collecting; memory, deleting, data accumulation,
timelines, portfolios, histories

• Memes, viral videos, flash mobs, “shitstorms” and other

• Following, sharing, liking, friending, poking, tagging, commenting

• Content creation and consumption, copyright, fair use

• Gaming

• Hashtags

• GPS location services, tracking
Effects, risks and dangers

• Psychological effects and medical issues, addictions, physical and
neurological symptoms

• Taboos, scandals, provocations, extremism

• Dangers, fears and security issues, crime and terror, predators

• Hate groups, trolling, bullying, harassment

• Privacy and security issues, identity theft

• Laws, governments, censorship, investigations, data mining and

• The digital divide

• Media effects

• Narrative, genre, story, reality and fiction

• Themes, topics, threads and fads

• Trolling, flame wars

• Visual and verbal communication

• Language, rhetoric, netiquette, codes

• Satire, humour, happiness and pleasure
Technology and Reception

• Mobile devices, material culture

• Wearable technology

• Media conversion

• Reception and presentation in art, on TV, in the movies and

• Social media criticism

• The role of smartphones and social media in times of crisis,
disaster, migration or revolution

• Metrics for assessing social media engagement

• Ideological implications

• Methodologies for measuring, analysing and visualising data,
hashtag datamining

• Hashtags and monetisation, hashtag campaigns, advertising,
marketing and public relations, evergreen/forever hashtags

• Hashtags as paralanguage, rules, conventions and etiquette around

• Irony, wit and humour in hashtags, hashtag games (e.g.
#FiveWordsToRuinADate), hashtag rap (e.g. Big Sean), poetry and art

• Hashtags as catalysts for groupthink and ‘hive mind’

• Hashtag journalism, Breaking News

• Issues of authenticity regarding feelings expressed in hashtags

• Hashtags and virtual citizenship and communities

• From hashtag to bashtag (e.g. #SochiProblems)

• Relationship between hashtag activism and offline activism

• Hashtags in institutional politics
Further details and information can be found at the conference web


Call for Cross-Over Presentations

The Social Media project will be meeting at the same time as a project
on Apocalypse and another project on Cars in/of Culture. We welcome
submissions which cross the divide between both project areas. If you
would like to be considered for a cross project session, please mark
your submission “Crossover Submission”.
What to Send

300 word abstracts, proposals and other forms of contribution should
be submitted by Friday 4th December 2015.

All submissions be minimally double reviewed, under anonymous (blind)
conditions, by a global panel drawn from members of the Project Team
and the Advisory Board. In practice our procedures usually entail that
by the time a proposal is accepted, it will have been triple and
quadruple reviewed.
You will be notified of the panel’s decision by Wednesday 16th
December 2015.

If your submission is accepted for the conference, a full draft of
your contribution should be submitted by Friday 18th March 2016.
Abstracts may be in Word, RTF or Notepad formats with the following
information and in this order:
a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in
programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of
proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.

E-mails should be entitled: Social Media Abstract Submission
Where to Send

Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising
Organising Chairs:

Petra Rehling: petrarehling@gmx.de <mailto:petrarehling@gmx.de>

Rob Fisher: sm1@inter-disciplinary.net

This event is an inclusive interdisciplinary research and publishing
project. It aims to bring together people from different areas and
interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are
innovative and exciting.
All papers accepted for and presented at the conference must be in
English and will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook.
Selected papers may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy
volume(s). All publications from the conference will require editors,
to be chosen from interested delegates from the conference.

Inter-Disciplinary.Net believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and
professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should
attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make
this commitment, please do not submit an abstract for presentation.
Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we
are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or

This is a slightly crude attempt to thematise something which I’ve been struggling to express for a while: has there been an acceleration of the rate at which bullshit emerges in the digital economy? Here’s an example of what I have in mind. I’ve been looking through Amazon for business books about the newer social media and sharing economy companies for part of my new project. This is what I find when searching for Instagram in the books section of Amazon:


If you can’t read the screenshot closely enough, trust me when I say they look crap. What appear to be a uniformly substitutable array of questionably written books united by the underlying motif of how to get rich from Instagram. I’ve found something similar for almost every search I’ve undertaken in the last half hour.

The presence of many crap books on Amazon might not be a revelation. But what interests me is the motivations of those writing them. The buzz around a new platform presents an opportunity to establish oneself as a guide to that platform. But the nature of this buzz means awareness of that opportunity is almost as pervasive as awareness of the platform itself. The barriers to entry are minimal and the rewards appear to be great, particularly given the tendency of those who have ‘made it’ to “publicize successful outliers to propagate the illusion”. Furthermore, there’s a broader acceleration of the rate at which people seize on opportunities against a structural background of destructured careers and a cultural background of entrepreneurial individualism.

The result: we find ourselves drowning in an ever expanding pool of bullshit. The cognitive costs entailed by sorting the wheat from the chaff become ever more onerous, our reliance upon human and algorithmic intermediaries tends to increase as a result, making a small but meaningful contribution to the upwards spiral of individual distraction and collective fragmentation that I’m increasingly convinced is perhaps the defining characteristic of digital capitalism.


From The Boy Kings, by Katherine Losse, pg 13:

I liked to listen to Mark’s discussion of the product philosophy and goals at these meetings, which were to me the most fascinating part of the job: what were we trying to do, with this fledgling Internet identity registration system? “I just want to create information flow,” he said in his still nearly adolescent voice, lips pursed forward as if jumping to the next word, and everyone would nod, all cogitating in their own way about what this meant. Mark’s idea of information flow, though vague, was also too vague to be disagreed with, and even if we came up with counter- instances to a model of pure information efficiency (for example, I wondered, do I want my Social Security number to flow freely?), we knew that we weren’t supposed to disagree. Mark was our leader, for better or worse. When the meetings ended he would say either “domination” or “revolution,” with a joking flourish of a fist, and everyone would laugh, nervously, but with a warm and almost chilling excitement. It was like we were being given a charter, by a boy younger than most of us, to take over the world and get paid to do it.

As if my reading list for the new project hadn’t grown enough over recent weeks, I just stumbled across this fascinating looking special issue of I,C,S co-edited by Paolo Gerbaudo:

Special Issue of Information, Communication & Society  – Volume 18, Issue 8, 2015

edited by Paolo Gerbaudo and Emiliano Treré

How does collective identity operate in social media activism across protest movements as Occupy Wall Street, the indignados and Anonymous? What are the different social media practices involved in the construction of collective identity? And how do forms of collective identity produced via social media reflect the affordances of these communication technologies and the dilemmas of digital society? Examining these and similar questions, this special issue sets out to explore the changing nature of collective identity in a digital era and to establish what opportunities and threats the new media ecology brings to processes of identity construction in contemporary protest movements. The contributions to the special issue recognize and problematize collective identity as a central object of concern for digital activists and conceive social media as platforms in which new identities are forged and channelled. The authors demonstrate that social media has become the key site where protest identities are created, channelled, and contested. Far from having disappeared from the horizon of contemporary activism, collective identity still constitutes a pivotal question for activists and scholars alike; one which is decisive to understand the emergence, persistence, and decline of protest movements, and to discern their meaning and worldview.


From this fascinating Jacobin piece. This observation is key to what I’m planning on focusing on over the next few years:

One of the features of recent digital capitalism is the tendency for firms to build companies that appear to skirt around the spirit, and perhaps the letter, of the law regarding vertical monopolies (for example, some have argued that Facebook’s “internet.org” initiative might have vertical-monopolistic consequences). Unsurprisingly, the Koch-funded Mercatus Center insists that regulators should keep their hands off.