Online anonymity: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

An article came out today by J. Nathan Matias (find it here, it’s really interesting) calling for a re-examination of online anonymity, which for so long has been painted as a pantomime villain that automatically leads to abuse and problematic behaviour.

In the article J. Nathan Matias argues in essence for a reversal of the approach to anonymity and abuse, calling for a re-evaluation of online abuse that acknowledges the fact that it is and obviously is not solely an online phenomenon, but that it emerges from pre-existing social structures and resources. This is really interesting, especially in the wake of a re-emergence of anonymous platforms such as Yik Yak (before the update) and ask.fm.

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Picturing the Social Conference

 

This sounds like such a great event. Below the break is the details of a one-day conference on June 20th in Manchester with some really awesome people talking about image sharing and online visual culture. Thanks to the always awesome Mark Carrigan for the heads-up about this one! If you’re not following him I thoroughly recommend that you do!

As the internet becomes increasingly multi-modal, and as an increasingly diverse range of Social Media sites are becoming purposefully heterogeneous, understanding visual culture is so important.

What’s so great about this event, and what I love about Digital Sociology at the moment is it’s really broad in scope. So many fields with so many epistemological stances all want to try and understand the increasingly ubiquitous role of Social Media. We need this diverse input in the field, we need to throw open the doors and try and come at this from a range of perspectives.

I cannot make the day so I’m going to follow along online, but I thought I’d flag it up for all those up north interested in Visual Culture and wanting to look at it from a purposefully broad perspective. More of this sort of thing please!

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Curating identity online. Why do we insist that this is a unique feature of online social interaction?

I’ve been noticing a trend in the discussion of Social Media

In digital research there has been a move towards accepting that the internet is now a mundane and routine part of life, and as such an equal move away from distancing social media and the internet writ large from the rest of everyday life. Most researchers accept that the internet has quickly become routine. Rather than being a sparkly wonder for which we had to schedule time in our day to sit down and literally plug in, it has become accepted, ubiquitous, and demystified.

We have lifted the curtain and found that Oz is just some old white guy.

Research is now accepting that the internet is not a space to escape everyday life but a space in which we continue to project and live everyday life via new modes and new mediums.

However, researchers still seem to want to put some of the sparkle back into the internet; they still want to see it as something special and unique in some way. And in part this is true. The internet offers new possibilities, new ideas, new opportunities, new methods… BUT not everything that happens on the internet is unique and solely found online.

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#IStillFacebookBecause …

This week, a fascinating hashtag started up on Twitter asking users why they still used Facebook. According to Twitter (when I last checked) 40000 odd tweets had been sent by users asking them why they still used Facebook, and the replies were fascinating, funny, and provided a really interesting insight into what’s happening on and with Facebook.

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Call For Papers: Eastern Sociological Society Digital Sociology Mini-Conference

I had the pleasure and privilege of attending and presenting at the Eastern Sociological Society’s conference in New York in February this year, and it was a fascinating, invigorating, and thoroughly useful and challenging event.

There was a wide range of speakers and attendees from a wide range of backgrounds, all with useful thoughts and ideas on the present and future of Digital Sociology. I’d thoroughly recommend it to anybody and am hoping to go again in 2016.

The 2016 event is to be held in Boston, at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and Towers, March 17-20, and the Call For Papers is below. I’m submitting a paper on digital identity, and hope to see you all there!


Digital Sociology Mini-Conference

In keeping with the Eastern Sociological Society’s theme of “My Day Job: Politics and Pedagogy in Academia,” the Digital Sociology Mini-Conference seeks papers that address the many digital ways of knowing, particularly as those impinge on the work we do as scholars, both within and outside the academy. We seek abstracts, and wholly constituted panels, on a wide range of topics, including, but not limited to, the following themes:

·       Public Scholarship, Digital Media and the Neoliberal University: How is the participation of scholars on public, digital media platforms regarded within the neoliberal university?

·       Digital Sociologists, Legacy Institutions: What does it mean to do digital sociology within institutions that are steeped in legacy modes of rewarding scholarship? How are scholars navigating the landscape of getting hired, tenured and promoted with a strong digital presence, or without one?

·       Digital Sociological Methods: How do traditional, analog sociological methods become digital? Are there new, “born digital” sociological methods? Is knowledge production different now? Will big data replace survey methodology?

·       Critical Theories of the Digital Itself: How have we theorized the digital? What challenges does the digital pose to epistemologies underlying sociological methods?

·       Digital Structures, Digital Institutions: The datafication of everyday life is posing unique challenges to the composition of social institutions and giving rise to new instantiations of education, finance, labor, and governance. How do we theorize, study, and conceptualize the recomposition of these institutions?

·       Identity, Community, and Networks: How do sociological concepts of micro and macro, personal and public, “front stage” and “back stage,” evolve as digital and mobile technologies increasingly blur these boundaries? How do digital environments shape identities of race, gender, sexuality and queerness? And how do the identities of those who create the platforms we use shape the platforms? How do race, gender, sexuality and queerness shape the communities and networks in which we participate?

·       Digital Pedagogies, Digital Sociology: How are digital technologies changing the sociological classroom? Beyond simply a recitation of ‘what I did in my class,’ we’re interested in theoretical and empirical explorations of how to think about digitally-informed pedagogies in the sociology classroom.

We encourage submissions from scholars at all levels, and are particularly enthusiastic to support the work of graduate students and early career researchers. We welcome submissions for individual papers and for entirely constituted sessions. The organizers share a commitment to creating a field that honors diverse voices, and as such are excited to see scholars from groups that are typically underrepresented in sociology. When proposing entirely constituted panels, please keep this commitment to diverse voices in mind.

If you have any questions about proposals, topics, or session ideas please contact one of the organizers: Leslie Jones (lesjones@sas.upenn.edu), Tressie McMillan Cottom or Jessie Daniels (jdaniels@hunter.cuny.edu).

For individual presentations, please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words, as well as the title of the paper, name of presenter, institutional affiliation and contact details.   For wholly constituted sessions, please include a short description of the concept behind your session, and then include all of the abstracts (along with names and affiliations of presenters) in one document. Deadline: October 19, 2015.  Please email your submissions to: ESSDigitalSociology@gmail.com.   Those whose proposals are not accepted for the Mini-Conference will be alerted in time to submit to the ESS general call for submissions.


Facebook shouldn’t be conceptualised as a social space; it’s an agora.

Here’s an analogy that I’ve been playing with for quite a while. I’ve been trying to find the best way to describe Facebook that adequately sums up the experience; something that serves to capture the many varied aspects of the Facebook experience, and I think I’ve finally found the answer – Facebook is a modern Agora.

This may seem slightly odd, but it’s a metaphor that I’ve found useful when thinking about various Social Networking Sites, and I think it’s worth explaining and fleshing out.

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Online/Offline – Why it’s not a clear cut dichotomy any more….

A while ago I wrote about how there’s been a breakdown in the public/private dichotomy. This time I want to discuss another dichotomy, the online/offline dichotomy. If anything, this dichotomy is more pervasive than the public/private divide, and potentially more damaging for digital sociology, as it affects the ontological approaches we take to the digital medium.

Today, I give my take the online/offline divide. It’s a much discussed topic; a topic that has, and is, changing, and a topic that it seems there’s much disagreement on. Should we view them as separate realms? Should we contextualize the internet? How much do the two realms influence each other? Are the even two realms, or are there less? Or more?

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