Oct 082016
 

Today is the last day of the Association of Internet Researchers Conference 2016 – with a couple fewer sessions but I’ll be blogging throughout.

As usual this is a liveblog so corrections, additions, etc. are welcomed. 

PS-24: Rulemaking (Chair: Sandra Braman)

The DMCA Rulemaking and Digital Legal Vernaculars – Olivia G Conti, University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States of America

Apologies, I’ve joined this session late so you miss the first few minutes of what seems to have been an excellent presentation from Olivia. The work she was presenting on – the John Deere DMCA case – is part of her PhD work on how lay communities feed into lawmaking. You can see a quick overview of the case on NPR All Tech Considered and a piece on the ruling at IP Watchdog. The DMCA is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998). My notes start about half-way through Olivia’s talk…

Property and ownership claims made of distinctly American values… Grounded in general ideals, evocations of the Bill of Rights. Or asking what Ben Franklin would say… Bringing the ideas of the DMCA as being contrary to the very foundations of the United Statements. Another them was the idea of once you buy something you should be able to edit as you like. Indeed a theme here is the idea of “tinkering and a liberatory endeavour”. And you see people claiming that it is a basic human right to make changes and tinker, to tweak your tractor (or whatever). Commentators are not trying to appeal to the nation state, they are trying to perform the state to make rights claims to enact the rights of the citizen in a digital world.

So, John Deere made a statement that tractro buyers have an “implied license” to their tractor, they don’t own it out right. And that raised controversies as well.

So, the final register rule was that the farmers won: they could repair their own tractors.

But the vernacular legal formations allow us to see the tensions that arise between citizens and the rights holders. And that also raises interesting issues of citizenship – and of citizenship of the state versus citizenship of the digital world.

The Case of the Missing Fair Use: A Multilingual History & Analysis of Twitter’s Policy Documentation – Amy Johnson, MIT, United States of America

This paper looks at the multilingual history and analysis of Twitter’s policy documentation. Or policies as uneven scalar tools of power alignment. And this comes from the idea of thinking of the Twitter as more than just the whole complete overarching platform. There is much research now on moderation, but understanding this type of policy allows you to understand some of the distributed nature of the platforms. Platforms draw lines when they decide which laws to tranform into policies, and then again when they think about which policies to translate.

If you look across at a list of Twitter policies, there is an English language version. Of this list it is only the Fair Use policy and the Twitter API limits that appear only in English. The API policy makes some sense, but the Fair Use policy does not. And Fair Use only appears really late – in 2014. It sets up in 2005, and many other policies come in in 2013… So what is going on?

So, here is the Twitter Fair Use Policy… Now, before I continue here, I want to say that this translation (and lack of) for this policy is unusual. Generally all companies – not just tech companies – translate into FIGS: French, Italian, German, Spanish languages. And Twitter does not do this. But this is in contrast to the translations of the platform itself. And I wanted to talk in particularly about translations into Japanese and Arabic. Now the Japanese translation came about through collaboration with a company that gave it opportunities to expand out into Japen. Arabic is not put in place until 2011, and around the Arab Spring. And the translation isn’t doen by Twitter itself but by another organisaton set up to do this. So you can see that there are other actors here playing into translations of platform and policies. So this iconic platforms are shaped in some unexpected ways.

So… I am not a lawyer but… Fair Use is a phenomenon that creates all sorts of internet lawyering. And typically there are four factors of fair use (Section 107 of US Copyright Act of 1976): purpose and character of use; nature of copyright work; amount and substantiality of portion used; effect of use on potential market for or value of copyright work. And this is very much an american law, from a legal-economic point of view. And the US is the only country that has Fair Use law.

Now there is a concept of “Fair Dealing” – mentioned in passing in Fair Use – which shares some characters. There are other countries with Fair Use law: Poland, Israel, South Korea… Well they point to the English language version. What about Japanese which has a rich reuse community on Twitter? It also points to the English policy.

So, policy are not equal in their policynesss. But why does this matter? Because this is where rule of law starts to break down… And we cannot assume that the same policies apply universally, that can’t be assumed.

But what about parody? Why bring this up? Well parody is tied up with the idea of Fair Use and creative transformation. Comedy is protected Fair Use category. And Twitter has a rich seam of parody. And indeed, if you Google for the fair use policy, the “People also ask” section has as the first question: “What is a parody account”.

Whilst Fair Use wasn’t there as a policy until 2014, parody unofficially had a policy in 2009, an official one in 2010, updates, another version in 2013 for the IPO. Biz Stone writes about, when at Google, lawyers saying about fake accounts “just say it is parody!” and the importance of parody. And indeed the parody policy has been translated much more widely than the Fair Use policy.

So, policies select bodies of law and align platforms to these bodies of law, in varying degree and depending on specific legitimation practices. Fair Use is strongly associated with US law, and embedding that in the translated policies aligns Twitter more to US law than they want to be. But parody has roots in free speech, and that is something that Twitter wishes to align itself with.

Visual Arts in Digital and Online Environments: Changing Copyright and Fair Use Practice among Institutions and Individuals Abstract – Patricia Aufderheide, Aram Sinnreich, American University, United States of America

Patricia: Aram and I have been working with the College Art Association and it brings together a wide range of professionals and practitioners in art across colleges in the US. They had a new code of conduct and we wanted to speak to them, a few months after that code of conduct was released, to see if that had changed practice and understanding. This is a group that use copyrighted work very widely. And indeed one-third of respondents avoid, abandon, or are delayed because of copyrighted work.

Aram: four-fifths of CAA members use copyrighted materials in their work, but only one fifth employ fair use to do that – most or always seek permission. And of those that use fair use there are some that always or usually use Fair Use. So there are real differences here. So, Fair Use are valued if you know about it and undestand it… but a quarter of this group aren’t sure if Fair Use is useful or not. Now there is that code of conduct. There is also some use of Creative Commons and open licenses.

Of those that use copyright materials… But 47% never use open licenses for their own work – there is a real reciprocity gap. Only 26% never use others openly licensed work. and only 10% never use others’ public domain work. Respondents value creative copying… 19 out of 20 CAA members think that creative appropriation can be “original”, and despite this group seeking permissions they also don’t feel that creative appropriation shouldn’t neccassarily require permission. This really points to an education gap within the community.

And 43% said that uncertainty about the law limits creativity. They think they would appropriate works more, they would public more, they would share work online… These mirror fair use usage!

Patricia: We surveyed this group twice in 2013 and in 2016. Much stays the same but there have been changes… In 2016, 2/3rd have heard about the code, and a third have shared that information – with peers, in teaching, with colleagues. Their associations with the concept of Fair Use are very positive.

Arem: The good news is that the code use does lead to change, even within 10 months of launch. This work was done to try and show how much impact a code of conduct has on understanding… And really there was a dramatic differences here. From the 2016 data, those who are not aware of the code, look a lot like those who are aware but have not used the code. But those who use the code, there is a real difference… And more are using fair use.

Patricia: There is one thing we did outside of the survey… There have been dramatic changes in the field. A number of universities have changed journal policies to be default Fair Use – Yale, Duke, etc. There has been a lot of change in the field. Several museums have internally changed how they create and use their materials. So, we have learned that education matters – behaviour changes with knowledge confidence. Peer support matters and validates new knowledge. Institutional action, well publicized, matters .The newest are most likely to change quickly, but the most veteran are in the best position – it is important to have those influencers on board… And teachers need to bring this into their teaching practice.

Panel Q&A

Q1) How many are artists versus other roles?

A1 – Patricia) About 15% are artists, and they tend to be more positive towards fair use.

Q2) I was curious about changes that took place…

A2 – Arem) We couldn’t ask whether the code made you change your practice… But we could ask whether they had used fair use before and after…

Q3) You’ve made this code for the US CAA, have you shared that more widely…

A3 – Patricia) Many of the CAA members work internationally, but the effectiveness of this code in the US context is that it is about interpreting US Fair Use law – it is not a legal document but it has been reviewed by lawyers. But copyright is territorial which makes this less useful internationally as a document. If copyright was more straightforward, that would be great. There are rights of quotation elsewhere, there is fair dealing… And Canadian law looks more like Fair Use. But the US is very litigious so if something passes Fair Use checking, that’s pretty good elsewhere… But otherwise it is all quite territorial.

A3 – Arem) You can see in data we hold that international practitioners have quite different attitudes to American CAA members.

Q4) You talked about the code, and changes in practice. When I talk to filmmakers and documentary makers in Germany they were aware of Fair Use rights but didn’t use them as they are dependent on TV companies buy them and want every part of rights cleared… They don’t want to hurt relationships.

A4 – Patricia) We always do studies before changes and it is always about reputation and relationship concerns… Fair Use only applies if you can obtain the materials independently… But then the question may be that will rights holders be pissed off next time you need to licence content. What everyone told me was that we can do this but it won’t make any difference…

Chair) I understand that, but that question is about use later on, and demonstration of rights clearance.

A4 – Patricia) This is where change in US errors and omissions insurance makes a difference – that protects them. The film and television makers code of conduct helped insurers engage and feel confident to provide that new type of insurance clause.

Q5) With US platforms, as someone in Norway, it can be hard to understand what you can and cannot access and use on, for instance, in YouTube. Also will algorithmic filtering processes of platforms take into account that they deal with content in different territories?

A5 – Arem) I have spoken to Google Council about that issue of filtering by law – there is no difference there… But monitoring

A5 – Amy) I have written about legal fictions before… They are useful for thinking about what a “reasonable person” – and that can be vulnerable by jury and location so writing that into policies helps to shape that.

A5 – Patricia) The jurisdiction is where you create, not where the work is from…

Q6) There is an indecency case in France which they want to try in French court, but Facebook wants it tried in US court. What might the impact on copyright be?

A6 – Arem) A great question but this type of jurisdictional law has been discussed for over 10 years without any clear conclusion.

A6 – Patricia) This is a European issue too – Germany has good exceptions and limitations, France has horrible exceptions and limitations. There is a real challenge for pan European law.

Q7) Did you look at all of impact on advocacy groups who encouraged writing in/completion of replies on DCMA. And was there any big difference between the farmers and car owners?

A7) There was a lot of discussion on the digital right to repair site, and that probably did have an impact. I did work on Net Neutrality before. But in any of those cases I take out boiler plate, and see what they add directly – but there is a whole other paper to be done on boiler plate texts and how they shape responses and terms of additional comments. It wasn’t that easy to distinguish between farmers and car owners, but it was interesting how individuals established credibility. For farmers they talked abot the value of fixing their own equipment, of being independent, of history of ownership. Car mechanics, by contrast, establish technical expertise.

Q8) As a follow up: farmers will have had a long debate over genetically modified seeds – and the right to tinker in different ways…

A8) I didn’t see that reflected in the comments, but there may well be a bigger issue around micromanagement of practices.

Q9) Olivia, I was wondering if you were considering not only the rhetorical arguements of users, what about the way the techniques and tactics they used are received on the other side… What are the effective tactics there, or locate the limits of the effectiveness of the layperson vernacular stategies?

A9) My goal was to see what frames of arguements looked most effective. I think in the case of the John Deere DCMA case that wasn’t that conclusive. It can be really hard to separate the NGO from the individual – especially when NGOs submit huge collections of individual responses. I did a case study on non-consensual pornography was more conclusive in terms of strategies that was effective. The discourses I look at don’t look like legal discourse but I look at the tone and content people use. So, on revenge porn, the law doesn’t really reflect user practice for instance.

Q10) For Amy, I was wondering… Is the problem that Fair Use isn’t translated… Or the law behind that?

A10 – Amy) I think Twitter in particular have found themselves in a weird middle space… Then the exceptions wouldn’t come up. But having it in English is the odd piece. That policy seems to speak specifically to Americans… But you could argue they are trying to impose (maybe that’s a bit too strong) on all English speaking territory. On YouTube all of the policies are translated into the same languages, including Fair Use.

Q11) I’m fascinated in vernacular understanding and then the experts who are in the round tables, who specialise in these areas. How do you see vernacular discourse use in more closed/smaller settings?

A11 – Olivia) I haven’t been able to take this up as so many of those spaces are opaque. But in the 2012 rule making there were some direct quotes from remixers. And there a suggestion around DVD use that people should videotape the TV screen… and that seemed unreasonably onorous…

Chair) Do you forsee a next stage where you get to be in those rooms and do more on that?

A11 – Olivia) I’d love to do some ethnographic studies, to get more involved.

A11 – Patricia) I was in Washington for the DMCA hearings and those are some of the most fun things I go to. I know that the documentary filmmakers have complained about cost of participating… But a technician from the industry gave 30 minutes of evidence on the 40 technical steps to handle analogue film pieces of information… And to show that it’s not actually broadcast quality. It made them gasp. It was devastating and very visual information, and they cited it in their ruling… And similarly in John Deere case the car technicians made impact. By contrast a teacher came in to explain why copying material was important for teaching, but she didn’t have either people or evidence of what the difference is in the classroom.

Q12) I have an interesting case if anyone wants to look at it, around Wikipedia’s Fair Use issues around multimedia. Volunteers take pre-emptively being stricter as they don’t want lawyers to come in on that… And the Wikipedia policies there. There is also automation through bots to delete content without clear Fair Use exception.

A12 – Arem) I’ve seen Fair Use misappropriated on Wikipedia… Copyright images used at low resolution and claimed as Fair Use…

A12- Patricia) Wikimania has all these people who don’t want to deal with law on copyright at all! Wikimedia lawyers are in an a really difficult position.

Intersections of Technology and Place (panel): Erika Polson, University of Denver, United States of America; Rowan Wilken, Swinburne Institute for Social Research, Australia; Germaine Halegoua,University of Kansas, United States of America; Bryce Renninger, Rutgers University, United States of America; Adrienne Russell, University of Denver, United States of America (Chair: Jessica Lingel)

Traces of our passage: Locative media and the capture of place data – Rowan Wilken

This is a small part of a book that I’m working on. And I am looking at how technologies are geolocating us… In space, in time, but moreso the ways that they reveal our complex socio-technical context through place. And I’m seeing this from an anthropological point of view of places as having particular

Josia Van Dyke in her work on social media business models talks about the use of “location intelligence” as part of the social media ecosystem and economic system.

I want to focus particular on FourSquare… It has changed significantly changed since repositioning in 2014 and those changes in their own and the Swarn app seek to generate real time and even predictive recommendations. They so this through combining social data/social graph and location/Places Graph data. They look to understand People as nodes with edges of proximity, co-location, etc. And in places the places are nodes, the edges are menus, recommendations, etc. So they have these two graphs, but the engineers seen to understand “What are the underlying properties and dynamics of these networks? How can we predict new connections? How do we measure influence?”. Their work now builds up this rich database of places and data around them.

And these changes have led to new repositioning… This has seen FourSquare selling advertising through predictive analysis… The second service called PinPoint, allowing marketers to target users of FourSquare… And for users beyond FourSquare. This is done through GPS locations, finding patterns and tracking shopping and dining routes…

In the last part of this talk I want to talk about Tim Ingol’s work in . For Ingol our perception of place is less about the birds eye view of maps, but of the walked and experienced route, based on the course of moving about in it, of ambulatory knowing. This is perceptual and way finding, less about co-ordinates, more about situating position in the context of moving, of what one knows about routing and moving.

So, my contention is that it’s way finding or mapping not map making or use that are primarily of use and interest to these social platforms going forward. Ingols talks about how new maps come from the replacement and changes over time… I think that is no longer the case, as what is of interest to companies like Foursquare is the digital trace of our passage, not the map itself.

“We know that right now we are not funky”: Placemaking practices in smart cities – Germaine Halegoua, University of Kansas

I am looking at attempts to use underused urban spaces, based on interviews with planners, architects, developers, about how they were developing these spaces – often on reclaimed land or infill – and about what makes them special and unique.

Placemaking is almost always defined as a bottom up process, often linked to home or making somewhere feel like home… But theories of placemaking are less thought of as strategic, thinking of KirkPatrick, or La Corbuisier. And the idea that these are spaces for dominant players – military, powerful people. So in these urban settings the strategic placemaking connects to powerful people, connected and valued around these international players.

I wanted to look at the differences between the planning behind these spaces and smart cities versus the lived experiences and processes. Smart cities are about urbanism imagines, with sustainable urbanism – everything is leaf certified!; technscientific ubranism – data capture is built in, data and technology are thought of as progressive and solutions to our problems; urban triumphalism (Brenner & Schmid 2015). These smart cities are purported as visionary designs, of this coming from the modern needs of people… Taking the best of global cities around the world, naming locations and designs coming in as fragments from other places. Digital media are used to show that this place works, as a place for ideas, a place to get things done… That they are like campus-based communities, like Silicon Valley, a better place than before…

There is this statistic that 70% of all people live in cities, and growing… But they are seen as dumb, problematic, in need of updating… They need order and smart cities are seen as a solution. There is an ordered view of the city as a lab – showroom and demonstration space as well as petri dish for transforming technology. And these are cities built of systems on top of systems – literally (Le Corbeusier-like but with a flowing soft aesthetic) and bringing of things together. So, in Songdu you see this range of services in the space. And in TechCity we see apps and connectedness within the home… Smart cities are monitoring traffic and centralised systems, to monitor biosigns, climate, etc… But in the green spaces or sustainable urban of getting you to live and linger… So you have this odd mixture of not spending the time in the streets, and these green spaces to linger…

But these are quite cold spaces… Vacancies are extremely high. They are seen as artificial. My talk quote is from a developer who feels that the solution is to bring in some funk… To programme serendipity into their lives… The answer is always more technology…

So a few themes here… There is the People Problem… attracting people to the place – not “funky”; placing people within the union of technology and physical design – claim that tech puts man first and needs of the end user… but there is also a sense of people as “bugs”. And I am producing all this data that aren’t about my experience of the city, but which shape that experience.

Geo-social media and the quest for place on-the-go – Erika Polson, University of Denver

This is coming out of my latest book, a multi-site ethnographic project. In the recent work I have developed an idea of digital place making… And this has been about how location technology can be used to shape the space of mobile people.

Expatriation was previously a post WWII experience, and a family affair… Often those assignments failed, sometimes as one partner (often female) couldn’t work. So, as corporations try to globalise there is a move to send younger, single assignees replacing families – they are cheaper and easier to relocate, they are more used to a global professional life as an idea and are enthusiastic.

And we don’t just see people moving once, we see serial global workers… The international experience can be seen as “a global lifestyle is seen as attractive and exciting” Anne Marie Fetcher 2009(?) but that may not reflects reality. There can be deep feelings of loneliness, the experience does’t match experience, they miss out on families, they lack social connections and possibilities to socialise. Margaret Malewski writes in Generation Expatriot (2005) about how there can be an increasing dependency on friends at home, and the need for these extratiots to get out and meet people…

So, my work is based on a range of meetup apps, from Grindr and Tinder, to MeetUp, InterNations and (less of my focus) Couch Surfing… Tools to build connections and find each other. I have studied use of apps in Paris, Bangalore and Singapore. So this image is of a cafe in Paris full of people – the first meetup that I went to and it was intimidating to walk into but immediately someone approached… And I started to think about Digital Place-making about two months into the Paris experience when a friend wanted to meet for dinner and I was at a MeetUp, and he was super floored by his discomfort with talking to a bar full of strangers in Paris – he’s a local guy, he speaks perfect English, he’s very sociable… On any other night he would have owned the space but he was thrown by these expats making the space their own, through Meetup, through their profiles, through discourse of “who we are” and pre-articulation of some of the expectations and norms.

This made me think about the idea of Place and the feelings of belonging and place attachment (Coulthard and Ledema 2009), about shared meanings of place. We’ve seen lots of work on online world and how to create that sense of place, of attachment, or shared meaning.

So, if everyone is able to drop in and feel part of a place… And if professionals can do this, who else can? So, I’m excited to hear the next paper on Grindr. But it’s interesting to think about who is out-of-place, of the quality of place and place relations. And the fact that even as these people maintain this positive narrative of working globally, but also a feeling of following a common template or script. And problems with place-on-the-go for social commitments, community building… Willingness to meet up again, to drop in rather than create anything.

Grindr – Bryce Renninger, Rutgers University, United States of America

I work on open government issues and the site of my work is Grindr – a location based, mainly male, mainly gay and bi casual dating space. And where I am starting from is the idea that Grindr is killing the gay bar (or gayborhood or the gay resort town), which is part of the gay press, for instance articles on the Pines neighbourhood of Fire Island, from New York Magazine. And quotes Ghaziani, author of There Goes the Gaybourhood, that having the app means they don’t need Boystown any more… And I think this narrative comes from concerns of valuing or not valuing these gay towns, resorts, bars, and of the willingness to defend those spaces. Bumgarner (2013) argues that the app does the same thing as the bar… But that assumes that the bar/place is only there to introduce people to each other for narrow range of purposes…

And my way of thinking about this is to think of technologies in democratic ways… Sclove talks about design criteria for democratic technologies, mainly to do with local labour and contribution but this can also be overlaid on social factors as well. And I think there is a space for democratically deliberating as sex publics. Michael Warner respoonds to Andrew Sullivan by problematizing his idea that “normal” is the place for queer people to exist. There are also authors writing on design in public sex spaces as a way to improve health outcomes.

The founder of Grindr says it isn’t killing the gay bar, and indeed provides a platform for the m to advertise on. And showing a quote here of how it is used shows the wide range of use of Grindr (beyond the obvious). I don’t think that Ghaziani’s writing doesn’t talk enough about what the gayborgoods and LGBT spaces are, how they can be class and race exclusive, fitting into gentrification of public spaces… And therefore I recommend Christina Lagazzi’s book.

One of the things I want to do with this work is to think about narratives in which platforms play a part can be written about, spoken about, that allow challenges to popular discourses of technological disruption. The idea that technological disruption is exciting is prevelant, and we aren’t doing enough to challenge that. This AirBnB billboard campaign – a kind of “Fuck You” to the San Francisco authorities and the legal changes to limit their business – are a reminder that we can respond to disruption…

I’m out of time but I think we need to think critically, about social roles of technology and how technological organisations figure into that… And to acknowledge ethnography and press.

Defining space through activism (and journalism): the Paris climate summit – Adrienne Russell, University of Denver

I’ve been working with researchers around the world on the G8 Climate Summits for around ten years, and coverage around it. I’ve been looking at activists and how they kind of spunk up the sapces where meeting take place…

But let me start with an image of Black Lives Matter protestors from the Daily Mail commenting on protestors using mobile phones. It exemplifies the idea that being on your phone means that you are not fully present… If they are on their phone, that arent that serious. This fits a long term type of coverage of protests that seems to suggest that in-person protests are more effective and authentic than social media. Although our literature shows that it is both approaches in combination that is most effective. And then the issue of official versus unofficial action. Activists in the 2014 Paris protestors were especially reliant on online work as protests were banned, public spaces were closed, activists were placed under house arrests… So they had been preparing for years but their action was restricted.

So, the ways that protestors took action was through tools like Climate Games, a real time game which enable you to see real time photography, but also you could highlight surveillance… It was non-violent but called police and law enforcement “team blue”, and lobbyists and greenwashers were “team grey”!

Probably many of you saw the posters across Paris – mocking corporate ad campaigns – e.g. a VW ad saying “we are sorry we got caught”. So you saw these really interesting alternative narratives and interpretations. There was also a hostel called Place to B which became a defacto media centres for protestors, with interviews being given throughout the event. There was a hub of artists who raised issues faced in their own countries. And outside the city there was a venue where they held a mock trial of Exxon vs the People with prominent campaigners from across the globe, this was on the heals of releases showing Exxon had evidence of climate change twenty years back and ignored it. This mock trial made a real media event.

So all these events helped create an alternative narrative. And that crackdown on protest reflects how we are coming to understand this type of top-down event… And resistance through media and counter narratives to mainstream media running predictable official lines.

Panel Q&A
Q1) I have a question, maybe a pushback to you Germaine… Or maybe not… Who are the “they” you are talking about… You talk about city planners… I admire the critique so I want to know who “they” are, and should we problematise that, especially in contemporary smart cities discourses…
A1 – Germaine) It’s CISCO, Seimans, IBM… Those with smart cities labs… Those are the “they”. And I’ve seen the networking of the expert – it is always the same people… The language is really specific and consistent. Everyone is using this term “solutions”… This is the language to talk about the problems… So “they” are transnational, often US based tech corporation with in-house smart cities labs.
Q1) But “they” are also in meetings across the world with lots of different stakeholders, including those people, but others are there. It looks like you are pulling from corporate discourses… Have you traced how that is translating into everyday city planners who host conferences and events they all meet at… And how that plays out and adopt it…
A1 – Germaine) The most I’ve gone with this is to CIOs and City Planners… But it’s a really interesting questions…
Q1) I think it would be interesting and a direction we need to take… How discourses played out and adopted.
Q2) So I was wanting to follow up that question by asking about the role of governments and funders. In the UK right now there is a big push from Government to engage in smart cities, and that offers local authorities a source of capital income that they are keen to take, but then they need providers to deliver that work and are turning to these private sector players…
A2) With cities I have looked at show no vacancy rates, or very low vacancy rates… Of the need to build more units because all are already sold. Some are dormitories for international schools… That lack of join up between ownership and real estate narrative really differs from lived experience. In Kansas they are retrofitting as a smart cities, and taking on that discourse of efficiencies and costs effectiveness…
Q3) How do narratives here fit versus what we used to have as the Cultural Cities narrative…. Who is pushing this? It’s not the same people from civil society perhaps?
A3 – Erika) When I was in Singapore I had this sense of an almost sterile environment. And I learned that the red light district was cleaned up, moved the transvestities and sex workers out… People thought it was too boring… And they started hiring women to dress as men dressed as women to liven it up…
Q4 – Germaine) I wanted to ask about the discourse around the gaybourhood and where they come from…
A4 – Bryce) I think there are particular stakeholders… So one of the articles I showed was about closure of one of the oldest gay bars in New York, and the idea that Grindr caused that, but someone pointed out in the comments that actually real estate prices is the issue. And there is also this change that came from Mayor Giuliani wanting Christopher Street to be more consistent with the rest of New York…
Q5) I was wondering how that location data and tracking data from Rowan’s paper connects with Smart Cities work…
A5 – Germaine) That idea of tracing is common, but the idea of relational space, whilst there, doesn’t really work as it isn’t made yet… There isn’t sufficient density of people to do that… They need the people for that data. In the social media layer it’s relatively invisible, it’s there… But there really is something connected there.
A5 – Rowan) The move to pinpoint technology at FourSquare, they may be interested in Smart Cities… But quite a lot of the critiques I’ve read is that its just about consumption… I’m tired of that… I think they are trying to do something more interesting, to get at the complexity of everyday life… In Melbourne there was a planned development called Docklands… There is nothing there on Foursquare…
A5 – Erika) I am surprised that they aren’t hiring people to be people…
A5 – Rowan) I was thinking about that William Gibson comment about street signs. One of the things about Docklands was that it had high technology and good connections but low population so it did become a centre for crime.
Q6) I work with low income/low socio-economic groups, and how are people ensuring that those communities are part of smart cities, or how their interests are voiced.
A6 – Germaine) In Kansas Cities Google wired neighbourhoods, but that also raised issues around neighbourhoods that were not reached… And that came from activists. Cable wasn’t fitted for poor and middle income communities, but data centres were also located in them. You also see small MESH and Line of Sight networks emerging as a counter measure in some neighbourhoods. I that place it was activists and the press… But in Kansas City it is being picked up as a story.
A6 -Rowan) In my field Jordan Frick does great work on this area, particularly on issues of monolingualism and how that excludes communities.
A6 – Erika) Tim Cresswell does really interesting work in this space… As I’ve thought about place and whose place a particular space it, I’ve been thinking about activists and police in the US. Would be interesting to look at.
A6 – Adreinne) People who have Tor, who resist surveillance, are well off and tech savvy, almost exclusively…
PS-32: Power (chair: Lina Dencik)
Lina: We have another #allfemalepanel for you! On power. 
The Terms Of Service Of Online Protest – Stefania Milan, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
This is part of a bigger project which is slowly approaching book stage, so I won’t sum everything up here but I will give an overview of the theoretical position.
So, one of our starting points is the materiality and broker role of semiotechnologies, and particularly about mediation of social media and the ways that materiality contributes here. I am a sociologist and I’m looking at change. I have been accursed of being a techno-determinist… Yes, to an extent. I play with this. And I am working from the perspective that algorithmically mediated environment of social media has the ability to create change.
I look at a micro level and meso level, looking at interactions between individuals and how that makes differences. Collective action is a social construct – the result of interactions between social actors (Melucci 1996) – not a huge surprise. Organisation is a communicative and expressive activity. And centrality of sense-making activities (ie how people make sense of what they do) Meaning construction is embedded here. That shouldn’t be a surprise either here. Mediata tech and internet are not just tools but as both metaphors and enablers of a new configuration of collective action: cloud protesting. That’s a term I stick with – despite much criticism – as I like the contradiction that it captures… the direct, on the ground, individual, and the large, opaque, inaccessible.
So, features of “cloud protesting” is about the cloud as an “imagined online space” where resources are stored. In social movements there is something important there around shared resources. In this case resources are soft resources – information and meaning making resources. Resources are the “ingredients” of mobilisation. Cyberspaces gives these soft resources and (immaterial) body.

The cloud is a metaphor for organisational forms… And I relate that back to organisational forms of the 1960s, and to later movements, and now the idea of the cloud protest.  The cloud is also an analogy for individualisation – many of the nodes are individuals, who reject pre-packaged non-negotiable identities and organisations. The cloud is a platform for the movements resources can be… But a cloud movement does not require commitment and can be quite hard to activate and mobilise.

Collective identity, in these spaces, has some particular aspects. The “cloud” is an enabler, and you can identify “we” and “them”. But social media spaces overly emphasise visibility over collective identity.

The consequences of the materiality of social media are seen in four mechanisms: centrality of performance; interpellation to fellows and opponents; expansion of the temporality of the protest; reproducability of social action. Now much of that enables new forms of collective action… But there are both positive and negative aspects. Something I won’t mention here is surveillance and consequences of that on collective action.

So, what’s the role of social media? Social media act as intermediaries, enabling speed in protest organisation and diffusion – shaping and constraining collective action too. The cloud is grounded on everyday technology, everyone has the right in his/her pockets. The cloud has the power to deeply influence not only the nature of the protest but also the tactics. Social media enables the creation of a customisable narrative.

Hate Speech and Social Media Platforms – Eugenia Siapera, Paloma Viejo Otero, Dublin City University, Ireland

Eugenia: My narrative is also not hugely positive. We wanted to look at how social media platforms themselves understand, regulate and manage hate speech on their platforms. We did this through an analysis of terms of service. And we did in-depth interviews with key informants – Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. These platforms are happy to talk to researchers but not to be quoted. We have permission from Facebook and Twitter. YouTube have told us to re-record interviews with lawyers and PR people present.

So, we had three analytical steps – looking at what constitutes hate speech means.

We found that there is no use of definitions of hate speech based on law. Instead they put in reporting mechanisms and use that to determine what is/is not hate speech.

Now, we spoke to people from Twitter and Facebook (indeed there are a number of staff members who move from one to another). The tactic at Facebook was to make rules, what will be taken down (and what won’t), hiring teams to work to apply then, and then help ensure rules are are appropriate. Twitter took a similar approach. So, the definition largely comes from what users report as hate speech rather than from external definitions or understandings.

We had assumed that the content would be manually and algorithmically assessed, but actually reports are reviewed by real people. Facebook have four teams across the world. There are native speakers – to ensure that they understand context – and they prioritise self-/harm and some other categories.

Platforms are reactively rather than proactively positioned. Take downs are not based on number of reports. Hate speech is considered in context – a compromising selfie of a young woman in the UK isn’t hates speech… Unless in India where that may impact on marriage (See Hot Girls of Mumbai – in that case they didn’t take down on that basis but did remove it directly with the ). And if in doubt they keep the content on.

Twitter talk about reluctance to share information with law enforcement, protective of users, protective of freedom of speech. They are not keen to remove someone, would prefer counter arguments. And there are also tensions created by different local regulations and the global operations of the platforms – tension is resolved by compromise (not the case for YouTube).

A Twitter employee talked about the challenges of meeting with representatives from government, where there is tension between legislation and commercial needs, and the need for consistent handling.

There is also a tension between the principled stance assumed by social media corporations that sends the user to block and protect themselves first – a focus on safety and security and personal responsibility. And they want users to feel happy and secure.

Some conclusions… Social media corporations are increasingly acquiring state-like powers. Users are conditioned to behave in ways conforming to social media corporations’ liberal ideology. Posts are “rewarded” by staying online but only if they conform to social media corporations’ version of what constitutes acceptable hate speech.

#YesAllWomen (have a collective story to tell): Feminist hashtags and the intersection of personal narratives, networked publics, and intimate citizenship – Jacqueline Ryan Vickery, University of North Texas, United States of America

The original idea here was to think about second wave feminism and the idea of sharing personal stories and make the personal political. And how that looks online. Working on Plummer’s work (2003) in this areas. All was well… And then I got stuck down the rabbit hole of publics and public discourses that are created when people share personal stories in public spaces… So I have tried to map these aspects. Thinking about the goals of hashtags and who started them as well… not something non-academics tend to look at. I also will be talking about hashtags themselves.

So I tried to think about and mapping goals, political, affective aspects, and affordances and relationships around these. The affordances of hashtags include: Curational – immediacy, reciprocity and conversationality (Papacharissi 2015); they are Polysemic – plurality, open signifiers, diverse meanings (Fiske 1987); Memetic – replicable, ever-evolving, remix, spreadable cultural information (Knobel and Lankshear 2007); Duality in communities of practice – opposing forces that drive change and creativity, local and broader for instance (Wenger 1988); Articulated subjectivities – momentarily jumping in and out of hashtags without really engaging beyond brief usage.

And how can I understand political hashtags on Twitter and their impact? Are we just sharing amongst ourselves, or can we measure that? So I want to think about agenda setting and re-framing – the hashtags I am looking at speak to a public event, or speak back to a media event that is taking place another way. We have op-option by organisations etc. And we see (strategic) essentialism. Awareness/mobilisation. Amplification/silencing of (privileged/marganlisation narratives). So #Yesallwomen is adopted by many privileged white feminists but was started by a biracial muslim women. Indeed all of the hashtags I study were started by non-white women.

So, looking at #Yesallwomen was in response to a terrible shooting and wrote a diatribe about women denying him. The person who created that hashtags left Twitter for a while but has now returned. So we do see lots of tweets that use that hashtag, responding with appropriate experiences and comments.  But it became problematic, too open… This memetic affordance – a controversial male monologist used it as a title for his show, using it abusively and trolling, and beauty brands being there.

The #WhyIStayed hashtag was started by Beverley Gooden in response to commentary that a woman should have left her partner, and that media wasn’t asking why they didn’t ask why that man had beaten and abused his partner. So people shared real stories… But also a pizza company used it – though they apologised and admitted not researching first. Some found the hashtag traumatic… But others shared resources for other women here…

So, I wanted to talk about how these spaces are creating these networked publics, and they do have power to deal with changes. I also think that idea of openness, of lack of control, and the consequences of that openness. #Yesallwomen has lost its meaning to an extent, and is now a very white hashtag. But if we look at these and think of them with social theories we can think about what this means for future movements and publicness.

Internet Rules, Media Logics and Media Grammar: New Perspectives on the Relation between Technology, Organization and Power – Caja Thimm, University of Bonn, Germany

I’m going to report briefly on a long term project on Twitter funded by a range of agencies. There is also a book coming on Twitter and the European Election. So, where do we start… We have Twitter. And we have tweets in French – e.g. from Marine Le Pen – but we see Tweets in other languages too – emoticons, standard structures, but also visual storytelling – images from events.

We have politicians, witnesses, and we see other players, e.g. the police. So first of all we wanted a model for Tweets and how we can understand them. So we used the Functional Operator Model (Thimm et al 2014) – but thats descriptive – great for organising data but not for analysing and understanding platforms.

So, we started with a conference on Media Logic, an old concept from the 1970s. Media Logic offers an approach to develop parameters for a better analysis of such new forms of “media”. It defines players, objectives and power. And how players interact and what do they do (e.g. how do others conquer a hashtag for instance). Consequently you can consider media logics that are to be considered as a network of parameters.

So, what are the parameters of Media Logics that we should understand?

  1. Media Logic and communication cultures. For instance how politicians and political parties take into account media logic of television – production routines, presentation formats (Schulz 2004)
  2. Media Logic and media institutions – institutional and technological modus operandi (Hjarvard 2014)
  3. Media Grammar – a concept drawn from analogy of language.

So, lets think about constituents of “Media Grammar”? Periscope came out of a need, a gap… So you have Surface Grammar – visible and accessible to the user (language, semiotic signs, sounds etc). Surface Grammar is (sometimes) open to the creativity of users. It guides use through media.

(Constitutive) Property Grammar is difference. They are constitutive for the medium itself, determines the rules the functional level of the surface power. Constitutes of algorithms (not exclusively). Not accessible but for the platform itself. And surface grammar and property grammar form a reflexive feedback loop.

We also see van Dijk and Poell (2013) talking about social media as powerful institutions, so the idea of connecting social media grammar here to understand that… This opens up the focus on the open and hidden properties of social media and its interplay with communicative practices. Social media are differentiated, segmented and diverse to such a degree that it seems necessary to focus in more to gain a better idea of how we understand them as technology and society…

Panel Q&A

Q1) A general question to start off. You presented a real range of methodologies, but I didn’t hear a lot about practices and what people actually do, and how that fits into your models.

A1 – Caja) We have a six year project, millions of tweets, and we are trying to find patterns of what they do, and who does what.  There are real differences in usage but still working on what those means.

A1 – Jacqueline) I think that when you look at very large hashtags, even #blacklivesmatter, you do see community participation. But the tags I’m looking at are really personal, not “Political”, these are using hashtags as a momentary act in some way, but is not really a community of practice in a sustainable movements, but some are triggering bigger movements and engagement though…

A1 – Eugenia) We see hate speech being gamed… People put outrageous posts out there to see what will happen, if they will be taen down…

Q2) I’ve been trying to find an appropriate framework… The field is so multidisciplinary… For a study I did on native american activists. We saw interest groups – discursive groups – were loosely stitched together with #indigenous. I’m sort of using the phrase “translator” to capture this. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on how we navigate this…

A2 – Caja) It’s a good question… This conference is very varied, there are so many fields… Socio-linguistics has some interesting frameworks for accommodations in Twitter. No-one seems to have published on that.

A2 – Jacqueline) I think understanding the network, the echo chamber effects, mapping of that network and how the hashtag moves, might be the way in there…

Q2) That’s what we did, but that’s also a problem… But hashtag seems to have a transformative impact too…

Q3) I wonder if we say Social Media Logic, do we loose sight of the overarching issue…

A3 – Caja) I think that Media Logic is in really early stages… It was founded in the 1970s when media was so different. But there are real power symmetries… And I hope we find a real way to bridge the two.

Q4) Many of these arguments come down to how much we trust the idea of the structure in action. Eugenia talks about creating rules iteratively around the issue. Jacqueline talked about the contested rules of play… It’s not clear of who defines those terms in the end…

A4 – Eugenia) There are certain media logics in place now… But they are fast moving as social media move to monetise, to develop, to change. Twitter launches Periscope, Facebook then launches Facebook Live! The grammar keeps on moving, aimed towards the users… Everything keeps moving…

A4 – Caja) But that’s the model. The dynamics are at the core. I do believe that media grammar on the level of small nitpicks that are magic – like the hashtag which has transgressed the platform and even the written form. But it’s about how they work, and whether there are logics inscribed.

A4 – Stefania) There is, of course, attempts made by the platform to hide the logic, and to hide the dynamics of the logic… Even at a radical activist conference who cannot imagine their activism without the platform – and that statement also comes from a belief that they understand the platform.

Q5) I study hate speech too… I came with my top five criticisms but you covered them all in your presentation! You talked about location (IP address) as a factor in hate speech, rather than jurisdiction.

A5 – Eugenia) I think they (nameless social platform) take this approach in the same way that they do for take down notices… But they only do that for France and Germany where hate speech law is very different.

A5 – Caja) There is a study that has been taking place about take downs and the impact of pressure, politics, and effect across platforms when dealing with issues in different countries.

A5 – Eugenia) Twitter has a relationship with NGOs. and have a priority to deal with their requests, sometimes automatically. But they give guidance on how to do that, but they are outsourcing that process to these users…

Q6) I was thinking about platform logics and business logics… And how the business models are part of these logics. And I was wondering if you could talk to some of the methodological issues there… And the issue of the growing powers of governments – for instance Benjamin Netanahu meeting Mark Zuckerberg and talking to him about taking down arabic journalists.

A6 – Eugenia) This is challenging… We want to research them and we want to critique them… But we don’t want to find ourselves blacklisted for doing this. Some of the people I spoke to are very sensitive about, for instance, Palestinian content and when they can take it down. Sometimes though platforms are keen to show they have the power to take down content…

Q7) For Eugenia, you had very good access to people at these platforms. Not surprised they are reluctant to be quoted… But that access is quite difficult in our experience – how did you do it.

A7) These people live in Dublin so you meet them at conferences, there are cross overs through shared interests. Once you get in it’s easier to meet and speak to them… Speaking is ok, quoting and identifying names in our work is different. But it’s not just in social media

Comment) These people really are restricted in who they can talk to… There are PR people at one platform… You ask for comparative roles and use that as a way in… You can start to sidle inside. But mainly it’s the PR people you can access… I’ve had some luck referring to role area at a given company, rather than by name.

Q8 – Stefania) I was wondering about our own roles, in this room, and the issue of agency and publics…

A8 – Jacqueline) I don’t think publics take agency away, in the communities I look at these women benefit from the publics, and of sharing… But actually what we understand as publics varies… So in some publics some talk about exclusion of, e.g. women or people of public, but there are counter publics…

A8 – Caja) Like you were saying there are mini publics and they can be public, and extend out into media and coverage. I think we have to look beyond the idea of the bubble… It’s really fragmented and we shouldn’t overlook that…

And with that, the conference is finished. 

You can read the rest of my posts from this week here:

Thanks to all at AoIR for a really excellent week. I have much to think about, lots of contacts to follow up with, and lots of ideas for taking forward my own work, particularly our new YikYak project

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

(required)

(required)