Pluralising Critical Technical Practices

A gathering and reconsideration of critical technical practices in digital research and beyond.

Contributions published in a special issue in Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies.

Further details (links will be added here as they are available):

Special issue articles:

Image credit: “All Gone Tarot Deck” co-created by Carlo De Gaetano, Natalia Sánchez Querubín, Sabine Niederer and the Visual Methodologies Collective from Climate futures: Machine learning from cli-fi, one of the special issue articles.

Profiling Bolsobot Networks

How to capture the operation of political bots networks? Which types of accounts compose bot ecologies? How do bots promote content? To what extent do platform moderation policies impact bots’ activities over time? How does inauthentic activity change as content moderation measures refine their capture of bots and other “platform manipulations”? This project gathers and profiles accounts operating in Brazilian online political debates through the use of quali-quantitative methods. It investigates the activities of pro- and anti- president Jair Bolsonaro bots across platforms (i.e. Instagram, Twitter and TikTok) to make “inauthentic” behaviour visible, as well as addressing challenges of studying networked disinformation environments.

The project explores methodological approaches for studying inauthentic behaviour online that moves beyond bot detection towards an analysis of their vernacular, collective strategies and particularities. The project aims to produce a series of research reports on “bolsobots”, their networks and digital methods recipes to understand their social lives.

For more details see: Omena, J. J., Lobo, T., Tucci, G., Bitencourt, E., de Keulenaar, E., Kerche, F., Chao, J., Liedtke, M., Li, M., Paschoal, M. L., & Lavrov, I. (2024). Quali-quanti visual methods and political bots: A cross-platform study of pro- & anti-bolsobots. Journal of Digital Social Research6(1), 50-73. https://doi.org/10.33621/jdsr.v6i1.215

Reports

Articles

Field Guide to Public Data Projects

The United Nations has suggested the need for a “data revolution” to address urgent transnational issues such as climate change and inequality. It has endorsed not only improving national statistical data collection, but also opening public sector data up for broader societal re-use, as well as exploring the capacities of emerging forms of digital data, infrastructures and devices in understanding and responding to public problems.

Over the past decade, open data and civic tech initiatives around the world have been set up to promote the re-use of public data for participation and involvement; citizens are gathering their own data on air, soil and biodiversity; and journalists and activists are increasingly using and creating data to support their investigations and campaigns around economic, racial and ecological justice.

What do public data projects do? How do they invite and enable participation and action, and to what end? How can they be studied? How can we critically engage with their histories, social lives and politics? How might studies of these kinds of projects lead to modifications in data practice?

The Field Guide to Public Data Projects explores methods and approaches for finding, following, gathering and comparing different kinds of projects involving public data – from data portals to data communities, sensing practices to mobile apps.

Exploratory research for this project is being developed with support from the King’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship (KURF) scheme at King’s College London.