Social Media

The Algorithms of Busyness

Thursday, May 22, 2014 Comment 3 screenshots of busy iphone calendar agendas

During the past week, I have been busy. I know this because my phone tells me so. Each night, before I go to bed, I check my schedule for the next day — seeing where I need to be, what time, any student meetings I’ve scheduled, and any notes I’ve made for my classes. That sentence makes it sound like an arduous process, but it’s little more than a swipe on my iPhone’s home screen to see what’s scheduled and a mental calculation about the level of formality my attire will require. Lately, my phone — I


Rolezinhos: Flash Mobs, Social Media and Teens

Monday, February 10, 2014 Comment large group of teenagers dancing in the street youth voices t-shirts

A new movement — the “rolezinhos” (meaning something like “hang out somewhere” or “little strolls”) — has taken hold in Brazil. Through social media, the rolezinhos started as a simple call for fun teen gatherings in malls, organized by teenagers. Because of their increasing popularity, however, they have evolved into something similar to a flash mob, attracting thousands of rowdy participants, causing some panic among mall vendors and sparking police clashes. Rolezinhos are a phenomenon that started with teens from the urban periphery of São Paulo. But teens — nearly 80% — all over Brazil engage


The End of Theory in Digital Social Research?

Monday, January 20, 2014 Comment image of codes creating a light tunnel

Computer code, software and algorithms have sunk deep into the “technological unconscious” of our contemporary “lifeworld.” How might this affect academic research in the social sciences and the formation of the professional identities of academics? These are important questions for researchers working in Digital Media and Learning, asking us to consider how the digital devices and infrastructures that we study might actually be shaping our practices, shaping our production of knowledge, and shaping our theories of the world. Professional work across the natural, human and social sciences is now increasingly mediated and augmented by computer coded


Capabilities of Movements and Affordances of Digital Media: Paradoxes of Empowerment

Thursday, January 09, 2014 Comment man holding up hands fingers in heart shape in front of federal building

From the “Indignados” in Spain, to “Occupy” in the United States, from Tahrir Square in Egypt to Syntagma Square in Greece, from Gezi Park in Turkey to #Euromaidan in Ukraine, the recent years have witnessed a proliferation of protests which, while embedded in differing circumstances and specific grievances, share multiple characteristics. Social media, an integral aspect of all these movements, is not a mere “tool” that is external to the organizational and cultural structure of these movements. Instead, it has become increasingly clear that communication is a form of organization, and the form of communication strongly


Human Rights and Social Media in India: Blank Noise

Monday, October 21, 2013 Comment group of teenagers leaning against outside fence in india

On a recent visit to Sarai, a Delhi research think tank housed in the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, I met a number of female university students who described participating in the mass protests that occurred after a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was raped and murdered in what many perceived as an event that unleashed a torrent of dissent to express longstanding dissatisfaction about lax policing and prosecution of crimes against women in India.  Participants recounted assaults at demonstrations that included braving tear gas, water cannons, and violent interruptions by police of the peaceful sharing


Pepper Spray and Penguins: Analysis of Turkey’s Social Media-fueled Gezi Protests

Thursday, October 03, 2013 Comment protest sign in the air and hand holding iphone during turkey protest

The Gezi protests took everyone, including the protesters themselves, by surprise. “This wasn’t what I had planned to do in June at all,” said a man in his early 30s to me as we sat in the small grassy area in front of his tent where he had been staying for more than a week. His wife nodded as she fiddled with her smartphone. I asked her what she was looking at. “Twitter,” she said, “I’m just getting the hang of it.” The protesters in Gezi were also getting the hang of being tear-gassed – as


Using Social Media for Women’s Rights: Breakthrough

Friday, September 13, 2013 Comment students working around table on laptops

The horrific Delhi gang rape case in which a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was murdered as a result of a grotesque sexual assault brought tens of thousands of protesters into the streets of the city to express outrage about the prevalence of gender-based violence in India.  Many have credited access to sites like Facebook and Twitter for allowing Indian citizens to express their dissent, but the story of political organization and awareness campaigns on the ground is much more complicated and predates this galvanizing high-profile crime by a number of years. For example, Breakthrough describes itself as


Social Media: Brazil’s Indigenous Tribes Go Online in their Struggle To Be Heard

Friday, September 06, 2013 Comment screenshot of stop the belo monte dam facebook page

Brazil has several marginalized groups that often don’t have a voice in government decision-making and are invisible to the majority of the country’s population. One such group, the country’s indigenous tribes, must constantly fight for their land against farmers and developers. Conflicts arise regularly but very few of them reach into the mainstream because they happen in isolated areas (for example, in the Amazon rainforest or in the Mato Grosso do Sul‘s savannah and swamp areas where several tribes are fighting to retain their lands). Confronted with the need to raise visibility and awareness of their


Social Media, Citizen Media, Online Tools Are Shaping Brazil’s Protests and Politics

Friday, June 28, 2013 Comment large crowd of protesters rallying in brazil outside government building

What started earlier this month as a protest against the cost of public transportation has spread like wildfire across Brazil. One estimate said protests have taken place in 430 cities. The range of issues has grown too, including education reform, high taxes, healthcare and public corruption. I’m not sure there has ever been so much discussion about the country by so many people using social media – and it has created some instability for the government. To begin to understand the story that is unfolding, two colleagues, Fabio Malini from the Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo


Be Quiet and Don’t Move So You Can Be Heard

Thursday, June 20, 2013 Comment protesters standing outside building in turkey with turkey flag

Last Saturday, one day after I left Istanbul following an intense week of interviews with more than 100 Gezi Park protest participants, Turkish police forcefully cleared out the park, which had been occupied by protesters for the last three weeks trying to halt the construction of a replica Ottoman Barracks and a shopping mall in Taksim Square’s only park. It was a sad, violent end to a joyful, eventful occupation that had a Woodstock meets Paris Commune vibe, where drum circles got interrupted by tear gas volleys, and diverse groups ranging from soccer fans to anti-capitalist