Travel Scholarship Winner for #AoIR2017 – ​Kat Braybrooke

Photo of Kat BraybrookeWho are you?
Kat Braybrooke (@codekat)
I am a designer, curator and digital anthropologist. Over the past 10 years, my work with open technology organizations like Mozilla and the Open Knowledge Foundation has explored unexpected and rebellious interactions between machines and communities. I’m in my last year of a doctorate in Media and Cultural Studies with the University of Sussex Humanities Lab and the School of Media, Film and Music, where I am exploring the effects and implications of a new generation of sites for digital making and learning, which I am calling collections makerspaces, that have started to open at large cultural institutions in London like the Tate, the V&A and the British Museum.

Where are you from?
As a classic third culture kid, my national identity is a bit muddled, and all too often I find myself changing my answer to this question depending on who is asking it. I grew up in the heat-wave deserts of Las Vegas for 18 years. I then moved to Vancouver, where I was born, to do my first university degree. Las Vegas and Vancouver raised me, but I really came of age in another much crazier city across the world: London. I’ve lived here, on and off, for the past 7 years, and am proud to call myself a Londoner. Despite having had a tough few years, London’s global nature continues to breed a unique kind of chaotic, creative, defiant energy that is very special.

What is your current area of study?
My current doctoral research looks at the effects of digital making and hacking practices on users and communities – specifically in the cultural sector. This project builds on findings from my MSc Digital Anthropology dissertation at the University College London (UCL) where I studied the complexities of gender and identity for 30 female Millennial-aged F/LOSS (Free, Libre, Open Source Software) hackers under the age of 30, where I found a much more nuanced set of interplays between the digital identities of hackers than expected.

 

My research examines circumstances and realities at three sites in London – the Tate Britain’s Taylor Digital Learning Studio, the British Museum’s Samsung Digital Discovery Centre and the Wellcome Collection’s Reading Room. An interdisciplinary researcher-in-resident model has been employed at each site over the past year which has combined action research, critical making and ethnographic methods. The goal of this work is to build a replicable, theoretically-grounded empirical framework to explore the qualitative efficacy of these collections makerspaces for the first time, drawing theoretical inspiration from the critical perspectives of spatial power-geometries (c.f. Massey 2005, Löw 2008, Bishop 2012) and material semiotics (c.f. Anderson and Wylie 2009; Haraway 1992, Latour 2005).

Describe the research you will present at AoIR 2017.
I will present preliminary findings of this work through a paper entitled ‘Digital studio, reading room, discovery centre: Emergent practices at ‘collections makerspaces’ within cultural institutions in London’ which I am currently writing for the Journal of Peer Production Issue #12 on the institutionalization of shared machine shops, which I am editing with Adrian Smith. This paper will be presented as part of the AoIR panel “When does IRL matter? Location and networked creativity in gamer, hacker and maker publics” with collaborators Tim Jordan at the University of Sussex and Annika Richterich and Karin Wenz at Maastricht University. Our panel examines four different case studies wherein which communities engaged in digital practices have relied on both offline and online environments for public and private interaction. We argue that understanding how these kinds of spaces are used for private and public interaction is crucial in order to make sense of the networked practices of digitally grounded communities.

With the four papers that make up the panel, we will analyse gamer, hacker, and maker communities as examples of networked actors known to rely on and create digital technologies, discussing how different kinds of networked publics create different kinds of public/private divides. We will examine ‘online founded’ networked groups of hackers and gamers, both of which generate their own sense of what they make public and what they try to keep private. In contrast, we will also explore communities of makers who are heavily afforded by networked technologies but, unlike gamers and hackers, require physical collocation to create their public/private divides. In taking a site-specific approach inspired by practice theories drawn from the works of Bourdieu (practices as habitus), Wenger (communities of practice) and Löw (spatial structuration through practices) my paper will examine the uniqueness (or lack thereof) of user practices at each site with regards to their spatial, structural and social environments.

Have you presented at AoIR in the past? If yes, what has been your experience? If #AoIR2017 Tartu is your first AoIR conference, what made you choose this conference? What do you expect from it?
This is my first-ever AoIR. I have spoken at – and curated – many other conferences and festivals, mostly in the open technology sector, but I’ve never made it to this one despite hearing many good things about it and being a passive participant of the excellent AoIR discussion list for years. What attracts me to AoIR is its specificity – in bringing together thinkers from around the world who are exploring critical perspectives regarding the effects of digital technologies, it’s doing something special. Critical approaches are all too often absent from the largely adulatory tech conferences I am used to, so it’s refreshing to be able to engage more thoughtfully with these issues. I look forward to learning from the AoIR community and its members.

Posted in Awards, Conferences

Travel Scholarship Winner for #AoIR2017 – ​Amanda Chevtchouk Jurno

Who are you?
Amanda Chevtchouk Jurno​ (@amandajurno​). PhD candidate at the Post Graduate Program in Communication Studies at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG-Brazil). I am a researcher at the New Media Convergence Center and at the Intermedia Connections Research Group where we are engaged in studying several subjects related to new media.

Where are you from?
I am Brazilian, currently living in São Paulo.

What is your current area of study?
I study algorithmic, journalistic and institutional mediations on Facebook’s platform. I am specially interested in all the policies and politics embedded in algorithmic mediation and how they mediate users’ social media access routinely. I currently work with the writings of several authors, but I can say that my main references are the Platforms Studies’ and Science and Technology Studies’ authors. Within my main references are researches like Tarleton Gillespie, Langdon Winner, Bruno Latour, John Law, Michel Callon, Taina Bucher, Lucas Introna, Rob Kitchin, Malte Ziewitz, Anne Mol, Pablo Boczkowski, and others.

Describe the research you will present at AoIR 2017.
I will present the paper “Do algorithms have cosmopolitics? A discussion based on Facebook’s nudity policy​” at #AoIR 2017 in Tartu with my professor advisor PhD. Carlos d’Andrea (​@carlosdand​).

The paper proposes a discussion about the policies of Facebook’s algorithms and their implications on the circulation of information on the platform. With this presentation we aim to discuss an important issue, the algorithmic regimes of power, and the question of cosmopolitics and/or Culture in such regimes.

By analysing two censored pictures, our purpose is to show how the increasing presence of Facebook in everyday life may be a problem when we think about cosmopolitics and different kind of cultures. As Facebook is based on the United States, the american and ocidental way of life turns out to be the only way of life people can see when they look at their Facebook profiles, because it is based on this way of thinking that its algorithms are written.

What does that mean? How other cultures or ways of dealing with central issues (like nudity) are treated or thought about in this platform? One of the pictures shows the image of an Amazonian Yawalapiti woman with naked breasts that was censored due to the display of nudity. How does this fact contribute to an invisibilization of certain types of image, and Cultures?

Have you presented at AoIR in the past? If yes, what has been your experience? If #AoIR2017 Tartu is your first AoIR conference, what made you choose this conference? What do you expect from it?
No, I have never been at a AoIR event. I am very glad to participate at the event, specially to receive AoIR’s Scholarship to help me pay the costs of the trip to Estonia in a time we’re facing a big crisis in science in Brazil, with decreasing of financial support everyday.

Posted in Awards, Conferences

Travel Scholarship Winner for #AoIR2017 – Olga Boichak

Each year, through the generous donations of AoIR conference attendees, we are able to fund several travel scholarships for junior scholars to attend the conference. We want to recognize our scholarship recipients and share with you a little bit about them and their interests.

Olga Boichak

Who are you?
Olga Boichak (@xelgabraun)

Where are you from?
I am a social scientist from Ukraine, pursuing a doctorate at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, NY.

What is your current area of study?
My research interests span material and infrastructural properties of social media – I am curious to know how human and non-human agents use social media to advance political goals. My dissertation foregrounds the role of Facebook in the emergence of a battlefront volunteer movement in Ukraine – an instance of platform-mediated collectives, mitigating the casualties of war.

Describe the research you will present at AoIR 2017.
Our study explores the role of automated Twitter accounts (a.k.a. bots) throughout the stages of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. Under the guidance of Dr. Jeff Hemsley, our research team at Syracuse University is developing an innovative approach to bot detection. We are excited to share our findings with colleagues who might utilize our method to discover orchestrated social media campaigns in other cultural and political contexts.

Have you presented at AoIR in the past? If yes, what has been your experience? If #AoIR2017 Tartu is your first AoIR conference, what made you choose this conference? What do you expect from it?
#AoIR2017 will be my first AoIR conference, and I am excited for an opportunity to be part of this active and vibrant community of internet researchers.

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