Research in Progress: Patricia Rossini to speak on Private vs Public Digital Spheres

In this talk, Rossini presents a research-in-progress around the use of WhatsApp for political discussion and (mis)information in Brazil, and some of the challenges around doing research on private social media platforms. Research on the use of social media for political discussion has been primarily focused on social networking sites (SNSs), such as Facebook and Twitter, with less attention to mobile instant messaging services (MIMS) such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Yet, these applications are increasingly central to how people engage with politics, receive information, and participate in discussions in many countries. Considering that much of people’s online activities happen in private spaces, my research examines the dynamics of political discussion and access to news and political information in the ever-changing digital world by examining the differences and similarities in how private and public social media platforms are used to participate in political discussions, to access and share news, and the extent to which the use of these platforms may contribute to expose people to misinformation. 

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Research in Progress: Carsten Østerlund to speak on Building an Apparatus: Refractive, Reflective & Diffractive Readings of Trace Data

Professor Carsten Østerlund will speak on the topic of his recent paper, titled "Building an Apparatus: Refractive, Reflective & Diffractive Readings of Trace Data", co-authored by Kevin Crowston and Corey Jackson.


We propose a set of methodological principles and strategies for the use of trace data, i.e., data capturing performances carried out on or via information systems, often at a fine level of detail. Trace data comes with a number of methodological and theoretical challenges associated with the inseparable nature of the social and material. Drawing on Haraway and Barad’s distinctions among refraction, reflection and diffraction, we compare three approaches to trace data analysis. We argue that a diffractive methodology allows us to explore how trace data are not given but created through construction of a research apparatus to study trace data. By focusing on the diffractive ways in which traces ripple through an apparatus, it is possible to explore some of the taken-for-granted, invisible dynamics of sociomateriality. Equally important, this approach allows us to describe what distinctions emerge and when, within entwined phenomena in the research process. Empirically, we illustrate the guiding methodological principles and strategies by analyzing trace data from Gravity Spy, a crowdsourced citizen ...

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