08 Jan

Neworked Societies – First Year Seminar

Finally finished the syllabus for my brand-spanking-new class!

Description

The “network” is the 21st century’s most popular metaphor, used to describe relationships, economies, the movement of people and goods around the globe, technological infrastructures, and politics. In this class, we will delve into the relationship between networked digital technologies (social media, video games, server farms, gig economy apps like Uber, etc.); networked logistics, finances, and labor; and the ways we think about ourselves, our communities, our careers, our possessions and our futures. Specifically, this semester we will be using amazon.com, the world’s biggest retailer (and most valuable US company), to examine the impact of digital and communication technologies on labor, supply chains, publishing, retail, urban planning, web hosting, infrastructures, and gaming, to name but a few.

The goal of this seminar is to provide participants with a set of critical and theoretical tools to interpret the complexity of everyday life—from algorithms to big data to the internet of things. We will do a lot of reading, try out a variety of new networked technologies, and debate their ethical ramifications in class, culminating in a series of podcasts on technology and society. This class is a great fit for sci-fi nerds, Black Mirror fans, social media gurus, gamers, tech enthusiasts, or anyone who likes thinking deeply about the impacts of technology locally and globally.

Syllabus (PDF):

Networked Societies Syllabus _ Spring 2019_final

18 Sep

Fall Travel 2018

Working away on Book Two! A few trips this fall:

October 10-13: AOIR in Montreal; participating in the Early Career workshop and presenting on a great panel on disinfo featuring me, Sam Woolley, Francesca Tripodi and Caroline Jack

October 17: On the Science of Disinformation panel at the Harvard Data Science Initiative conference, Boston, MA.

October 27-28: Locked out of Social Platforms: An iCS Symposium on Challenges to Studying Disinformation (IT University, Copenhagen, Denmark) – keynote

November 2: “My Mother Was a Computer”: Legacies of Gender and Technology” digital humanities symposium at William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA

24 Jul

New Paper: Why do people share fake news?

I’m really proud of this paper. It’s my attempt to further a new model of media effects that takes into account active audiences, media messages, and technological affordances. I focus on conservative audiences for fake news as a case study.

Basically: People share fake news because it furthers partisan narratives that are promoted by mainstream (mostly) conservative media and expresses personal and political identity.

Findings:

  • Most fake news isn’t political, but sensational. Still more is created to be polysemic and appeal to people across the political spectrum in order to increase viewership (and therefore money).
  • Conservative fake news doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Much of it builds on “deep stories” that have been present on Fox News for decades.
  • The mainstream media (NYTimes, WaPo, etc.) is tied to an elite, liberal identity. Part of this is due to years of conservative media promoting the idea that urban elites look down on rural/southern white people, part of it is that MSM consistently references urban/cosmopolitan identity markers (e.g. talking about Korean food, Kendrick Lamar, & frequent flyer miles) [I took this idea directly from Reece Peck, a sociologist at CUNY who studies Fox News and who has an amazing upcoming book on the subject. ] This means that conservatives are alienated from MSM as a matter of course.
  • Sharing fake news is about expressing partisan identity, which is ever-increasingly polarized and personal.

Implications:

  • These findings suggest that fact-checking will cause anger, resentment, and allegations of bias against conservatives (since MSM is, well, more factual and correct than hyper-partisan or conservative media).
  • Media literacy doesn’t work either because, as sociologist Francesca Tripodi has shown in great detail, conservatives already engage in close reading and source-checking when they consume news.
  • We have to stop pretending that fake news is a neutral, non-partisan issue. The type of sensational fake news that is non-partisan is relatively harmless in that it doesn’t spread dangerous disinformation. Partisan fake news has serious civic ramifications, and refusing to admit that there’s more fake news on the right (and that it’s reinforced by a hyper-partisan mediasphere) is disingenuous and makes it impossible to actually solve the problem.

Let me know what you think! But in a nice way, please.

Marwick, A. (2018). “Why Do People Share Fake News? A Sociotechnical Model of Media Effects.” Georgetown Law Technology Review 2: 474-512. [Open Access!]

26 Jun

Travel updates 2018

I’m trying to keep my travel schedule fairly light so I can finish the book, but here’s what’s coming up:

  • June 29- July 1: CSST Decennial Sociotech Futures Symposium – Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Two personal trips to NYC in July, one including a dissertation defense 🙂
  • October 10-13: AOIR in Montreal; participating in the Early Career workshop and presenting on a great panel on disinfo featuring me, Sam Woolley, Francesca Tripodi and Caroline Jack
  • October 27-28: Locked out of Social Platforms: An iCS Symposium on Challenges to Studying Disinformation (IT University, Copenhagen, Denmark) – keynote
  • November 2: “My Mother Was a Computer”: Legacies of Gender and Technology” digital humanities symposium at William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA