Keynote: The Platform Society, José van Dijck, University of Amsterdam

Online platforms are gradually converging with all kinds of sectors and institutions that structure Western democratic societies. From transportation to the hospitality sector, from education and journalism, the ecosystem of platforms is gradually infiltrating all pockets of life. Far from being a smooth and self-evident process, the ‘platform society’ is a confrontation between different value systems, a clash where nothing less than the balance between private and public interests is at stake. It involves a struggle between various social actors—governments and their institutions, global corporations and businesses, consumers and citizens—who all have stakes in the shaping of public values and common goods. This lecture will lay out the framework for discussion. How are platforms and their mechanisms implemented in various sectors? How does the struggle for the implementation of platforms reflect and construct the public values at stake in each sector and in different countries? And who is responsible and accountable for anchoring public values and defending the common good in a platform society?

José van Dijck is a professor of Comparative Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. Her research areas include media technologies, digital culture, social media, popularisation of science and medicine, and television and culture. Her latest book, titled The Culture of Connectivity: A Critical History of Social Media, was published by Oxford University Press (2013). She is currently writing a book on the role of online platforms in the public sphere. We are thrilled to have her present the keynote talk at AoIR 2016 in Berlin!


Plenary panel discussion: Who rules the Internet?

Who are the actors both in practices of rule-making and rule-breaking online, what are their motivations and resources, and how can their power relations and communicative figurations be described? How does the Internet influence the proliferation of the values that its platforms, services and infrastructures embody, and what spaces of creative resistance persist? How do various forms of technical, social, and cultural hacking subvert these orders? Drawing on the conference theme, we look forward to discussing these important questions with:

Kate Crawford is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research New York City, a Visiting Professor at MIT’s Center for Civic Media, and a Senior Fellow at NYU’s Information Law Institute. Her research addresses the social impacts of big data, and she’s currently writing a new book on data and power with Yale University Press.

Fieke Jansen researches and writes on the Politics of Data and digital shadows at Tactical Tech. She hopes to bring more transparency to the global data industry. Prior to moving to Berlin, Fieke worked on the intersection of the internet, social change and security, working at Hivos to set up and manage their digital emergency programme for human rights defenders and activists. She also co-authored a book called Digital AlterNatives.

Carolin Gerlitz is professor for digital media and methods at the University of Siegen  Her research addresses quantification and valuation in social media and the role of app ecologies. She is also a member of the Digital Methods Initiative Amsterdam and works on digital research methods for studying platforms and mobile media.


The conference program is available online here.