Category Archives: Articles

The November Playlist

The monthly update on smash hits and rare tunes in media and communication studies. A personal collection.

Of Note

Academia’s Magic and Dread Nature has a special issue on Young Scientists and Career Prospects (h/t ZEIT.de)

Books

The Who’s Who in Journalism Studies Today – Thinking: Chris Peters,  Marcel Broersma (eds.). Rethinking Journalism Again: Societal role and public relevance in a digital age. Abingdon: Routledge.

Rewiring the Digital Mind: Douglas Coupland (2016). Bit Rot. London: William Heinemann (h/t M.Lange). In parallel and extension of the exhibition at Witte de Witt in Rotterdam until 3 January.

The Making of Collective Memory in/thru the Media: Sonnevend, Julia (2016). Stories Without Borders: The Berlin Wall and the Making of a Global Iconic Event. New York: Oxford University Press.

Embedding the Mobile Me: Adriana de Souza e Silva (ed.) (2016). Dialogues on Mobile Communication. Abingdon: Routledge.

In production – high expectations: Mirko Schäfer & Karin van Es (eds.). Datafied Society – Studying Culture Through Data. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Linked: Starosielski, Nicole (2015). The Undersea Network. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Processing Links of Networks: Parks, Lisa; Starosielski, Nicole (eds.) (2015). Signal Traffic: Critical Studies of Media Infrastructures. Chicago IL.: University of Illinois Press.

The Idioms and Pathologies of Networks: Bollmer, Grant (2016). Inhuman Networks: Social Media and the Archaeology of Connection. New York: Bloomsbury.

Articles

“[T]he ‘collective’ is experienced through the ‘individual’ and the group is the means of collective action”: Milan, Stefania (2015). “From Social Movements to Cloud Protesting: The Evolution of Collective Identity.” Information, Communication & Society 18(8): 887-900. https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2015.1043135

Personal Politics: Thomas Poell & José van Dijck (2016). Constructing Public Space: Global Perspectives on Social Media and Popular Contestation. International Journal of Communication, 10, 226-234. http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/4984/1535

Meet-up

It’s ECREA again. In Prague. 9-12 November. Make sure to connect to the Digital Culture and Communication Section.

In December:Infrastructures of Publics – Publics of Infrastructures” University of Siegen. Hosted by SFB 1187 Media of Cooperation

Loud and Live: Autechre Live Europe–Onesix in Berlin 19 Nov @Kraftwerk [and sold out]. At home/In the Studio: Reissue of Autechre Classics Amber, Incunabula & Tri Repetae. Start of sale for repress vinyl bundle November 11.

Why does everyone think that sampling started modern electronic music? It started with sequencing analog synths.  Benge explains creating a sequence on a modular syntheziser.

Want to stay tuned for the next playlist? Follow me on Twitter. Want to add tunes? Comment.

Disclaimer: The research, literature or events listed here are recommended based on my own interests, and are not sponsored. Pictures are my own. Trees too.

The September Playlist

The monthly update on smash hits and rare tunes in media and communication studies. A personal collection.

Articles

The mobile bone: Zhang, Yanqing; Juhlin, Oskar (2016). “The “Life and Death” of Great Finnish Fashion Phones: A Periodization of Changing Styles in Nokia Phone Design between 1992 and 2013.” Mobile Media & Communication 4(3): 385-404. https://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2050157916654510

Give and take: Holton, Avery E.; Coddington, Mark; Lewis, Seth C.; Zuniga, Homero Gil de (2015). “Reciprocity and the News: The Role of Personal and Social Media Reciprocity in News Creation and Consumption.” International Journal of Communication 9: 2526-2547.

High Expectations: Borger, Merel; van Hoof, Anita; Sanders, José (2016). “Expecting Reciprocity: Towards a Model of the Participants Perspective on Participatory Journalism.” New Media & Society 18(5): 708-725. https://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1461444814545842

The 4A Matrix of Media Change: Westlund, Oscar; Lewis, Seth C. (2014). “Agents of Media Innovations: Actors, Actants, and Audiences.” The Journal of Media Innovations 1(2): 10-35. To be reissued in Steensen, S., Ahva, L. (eds.) (2017). “Theories of Journalism in a Digital Age“. Abingdon: Routledge.

Books

Forget about contingency: Harman, Graham (2016). Immaterialism: Objects and Social Theory. Basingstoke: Polity Press.

Mixed Feelings: Broadbent, Stefana (2016). Intimacy at Work: How Digital Media Bring Private Life to the Workplace. Walnut Creek, CA.: Left Coast Press.

Back in Paperback: Hermida, Alfred (2014). Tell Everyone: Why We Share and Why it Matters. Toronto: Doubleday Canada.

The Spectre Haunting Modern Media: Natale, Simone (2016). Supernatural Entertainments: Victorian Spiritualism and the Rise of Modern Media Culture. University Park, PA.: The Pennsylvania State University Press.

Miscellany

Dataism vs. Humanism: Yuval Noah Harari on big data, Google and the end of free will. Financial Times, 26 August 2016

Symphonic Blast: Christian Fennesz to play in Japan, two dates with Kyoto Symphonic Orchestra at Miyako Messe

Use Cases for Web Archives: Submissions of abstracts opens for RESAW – Research Infrastructure for the Study of Archived Web Materials – to be held in London 14–15 June 2017. See page or call for papers.

Notes and Quotes

Unruly rules: Gearing up for the annual conference of the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) in Berlin. 5-8 October. What a line-up.

The public sphere as space of signs?
“The public sphere is thus a generic term denoting all virtual or real spaces, the contents of which obtain general visibility or audibility. These spaces are public spaces—space meaning any container of signs that can be sensorily accessed with or without mediation.”

Adut, Ari. 2012. “A Theory of the Public Sphere.” Sociological Theory 30(4): 238-262. https://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0735275112467012 (see p.243)

Want to stay tuned for the next playlist? Follow me on Twitter. Want to add tunes? Comment.

Disclaimer: The research, literature or events listed here are recommended based on my own interests, and are not sponsored. Pictures are my own. Trees too.

 

 

Is Data the New Coal? – Four Issues with Christian Fuchs on Social Media

Following up on my initial review of Christian Fuchs’ Social Media – A Critical Introduction (Sage 2014) in German, I have expanded the main arguments and published a review essay this summer. Coming to terms with an author as prolific as Fuchs is not easy, especially as he seems to be publishing more and more books and articles by the minute. But reading through some of his most recent publications, I couldn’t help but see the same argumentative patterns emerge, and the same examples being mustered in support of his theses on exploitation and the political economy of social media. With some due reflection and sympathy for a critique of social media, I have tried to review the book on its own terms and delineate four main issues that seem important for the current scholarly and public debate about the connections of social media, publics and users.

Here are the main points:

  • Is Social Media an introduction, a theory, or a critique of social media? The book outlines basic elements of Fuchs’ Marxist framework. But the abridged, didactic format of an introduction leads to a very troubling and peculiar form of ‘theoretical sampling’, which fails to elucidate the relevance of Karl Marx’s work in relation to social media. One consequence is that the role and status of data in the analysis remains unclear and one-dimensional.
  • What kind of social media does Fuchs have in mind? There is an ambiguous tension in his argument that social media are primarily defined as “applications” by large global players, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter or Weibo, while he acknowledges that Wikipedia, Wikileaks or similar open-source platforms are embodying positive and beneficial social principles of collaboration and cooperation. The unresolved opposition of social media® as trademarked applications and social media as technologies of collaboration remains a blind spot in Fuchs’ argument.
  • What is the status of free labour and exploitation in Fuchs’s view of social media? A cornerstone of his theorising of social media is that social media usage is exploitative just as mining for rare sands in Sub-Saharan Africa or working in Foxconn’s electronics sweatshops is. But his argument on the creation of the ‘audience commodity’ through data is far from convincing and needs to be discussed in context.
  • What kind of concept does Fuchs have of users? He typically emphasises the structurally exploitative nature of social media platforms because the sheer volume of user activity is an infinite source of surplus value on the side of owners and shareholders. By associating power primarily with questions of ownership, Fuchs deliberately avoids considering the dimensions of user agency, not to say of individual creativity or rational judgement in theorising social media.

The article was published in Networking Knowlegde, the open access journal of the Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association. Cite as: Christoph  Raetzsch (2016). “Is Data the New Coal? – Four Issues with Christian Fuchs on Social Media.” Networking Knowledge. Journal for the MeCCSA Postgraduate Network. 9(5).

The Network Celebrity

Fred Turner and Christine Larson, both researchers at Stanford University, have just published an article in Public Culture on a new type of celebrity – the network intellectuals. Discussing the examples of Norbert Wiener, Stuart Brand and Tim O’Reily, the authors present a compelling account of how opinion leadership is both outcome of network effects and entrepreneurial zest to create those networks and opportunities in the first place.

In their historical and iconographic review of Wiener, O’Reilly and Brand, the authors find that the network intellectual is both a spokesperson, who condenses interests not yet formulated as an agenda, as someone who is actively pursuing to build a community to support his (or her) interests and who is committed to spreading a worldview beyond those circles.

Their power and their celebrity no longer come from the ability to express ideas in words or the ability of mass media technologies to broadcast images around the world. Rather, they come from the ability to build new social networks, to generate new ideas, new language, and new identities within them and, ultimately, to promulgate these networks’ labors—all in such a way that entrepreneurs can come to stand before the public as emblems of the worlds they have helped create. Celebrities in this model are hardly empty vessels. Rather, they are full to the brim with the cultural assumptions and social aspirations of the communities they represent (p. 80)

Turner, Fred, & Larson, Christine. (2015). “Network Celebrity: Entrepreneurship and The New Public Intellectuals.” Public Culture 27(1): 53-84. doi:10.1215/08992363-2798343

Further reading: