Each year, AoIR presents three awards for outstanding scholarship on topics related to internet research. I am pleased to announce this year’s winners.
The recipient of the Nancy Baym Book Award is Robert W. Gehl for his book Reverse Engineering Social Media: Software, Culture and Political Economy in New Media Capitalism (Temple University Press, 2014). The committee–which included Adi Kuntsman and Kylie Jarrett and was chaired by Andrew Herman–found this book to be theoretically sharp and elegantly written, with a rich sense of historicity. By taking into account software engineering and the power inscribed into its socio-technical affordances, the book articulates a valuable method and model for further analysis of social media. The committee was particularly impressed with Gehl’s presentation of alternative scenarios and alternative possibilities for social media.
The AoIR Dissertation Award goes to Nora Draper for her dissertation: “Reputation, Inc.: Assessing the industrialization of self-presentation and privacy in the digital era.” The committee felt her topic was a very strong choice. The dissertation expertly attended to commercial exploitation of the tensions between the desire to share/self-present and the desire for privacy, as well as the commercialization of the internet in general. Through her industry study, Draper traces shifts from a right to privacy to concerns about reputation management, providing an original and rigorous contribution to the field.
The dissertation committee was comprised of André Brock, Helen Kennedy, Guillaume Latzko-Toth, and was chaired by Kate O’Riordan. They reviewed 30 dissertations and report that the field was incredibly strong, making their choice a difficult one. They have awarded honorary mentions to three additional dissertations: Lisa Silvestri’s, “Friended at the Front: Social Media and 21st Century War,” Nicole Grove’s “Gamers, Hunters, Provocateurs: Digital Mediations of Violence, Gender and Faith in the Arab World,” and Tero Jukka Karppi’s, “Disconnect.Me – User Engagement and Facebook.”
The Best Student Paper award goes to Lillian Boxman-Shabtai, for “User-Generated Parody as Negotiation over Meaning: A Typology of Frame Alignment in Musical Renditions”. The committee–which included Jeff Hemsley and Daren Brabham, and was chaired by Sun Sun Lim–found that the paper provides a fresh and innovative perspective to audience studies through an analysis of user-generated music video parodies on YouTube. It was methodologically robust and analytically elegant, offering an illuminating taxonomy of the frames employed by parodists, capturing their meaning-making and acts of subversion.
Please join me in congratulating our award winners, who have demonstrated the breadth and strength of internet research. I invite you all to attend their presentations at the conference in October in Phoenix. Please also give your thanks to all of our committee members. Their task was time-consuming but very important.