[re-search] Astrid Mager on her work
geert at xs4all.nl
Thu Jun 5 08:55:03 CEST 2014
> From: astrid mager <astrid.mager at univie.ac.at>
> Subject: [iDC] introduction
> Date: 4 June 2014 1:27:47 PM GMT+02:00
> To: idc at mailman.thing.net
> Dear Samuel, dear list,
> your email finds me in the middle of a two-day conference and a two-week family trip, so please excuse me for a rather brief introduction.
> I'm a postdoctoral researcher from Vienna working at the Institute of Technology Assessment. My background is in science and technology studies (STS) and my current research is concerned with search technology and how sociotechnical visions, value-systems, and ideologies shape search algorithms, but also business models based on practices of user profiling in different cultural contexts.
> At the moment, I'm leading a project on search engines at the intersection of global capitalism and local (Austrian) socio-political cultures - obviously, the European level will be central here as a kind of middle ground for governance processes. The ongoing reform of the EU data protection legislation will be central in this analysis since it is an important arena where supposedly global search engines - Google first and foremost - are imagined and governed in European contexts. It's a site where tensions between US-American search engines/ social media and European, but also different national visions and values may be observed, where IT lobbying takes place on a grand scale, and where Edward Snowden and the NSA scandal plays a crucial role too.
> The analysis of European visions and value-systems will then be compared to my past research on capitalist ideologies driving search engines in US-American contexts.That's where digital labor comes into play. I've argued that we need to go beyond the political economy of search engines to understand complex actor-networks and power relations involved in the construction and stabilization of big players like Google. Accordingly, content providers and users are not merely exploited by Google & co, but rather stabilize its powerful role and capital accumulation cycle by contributing mundane forms of labor - Profit is generated due to heavy sharing, liking, poking, messaging, watching videos, creating content etc. Drawing on contributions from critical theory (Althusser, Marx, Gramsci) I've conceptualized the notion algorithmic ideology to grasp co-shaping processes of algorithmic logics and socio-cultural values, capitalist ideologies in particular.
> Grounded in this body of work, I'll talk about "digital labor, capitalist ideology, and alternative future" at #DL14. I will discuss how ideology critique can help us to understand the gridlock of mundane forms of digital labor that help corporate search engines (and social media etc.) to further expand, exploit, and commodify larger and larger parts of the web (and social reality). However, I will further discuss how users may opt out of Google's capital accumulation cycle and what role “organic intellectuals” (Gramsci 2012) can play in challenging hegemonic actors like Google, Facebook, Twitter, ...
> If you got interested in my work, you'll find further information/ publications etc on my blog:
> or you just get in touch with me on twitter, facebook etc. - ironically, I'm using these tools to share critical ideas about search engines, social media, and so forth.. - underlining the dialectical nature of the digital objects we are working with.. hehe.
> I guess that's all for now. I'm looking forward to interesting discussions and an exciting time at #DL14!!!
> Have a nice summer! Best, Astrid
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