06 SES 11 B, Developing Research Approaches for an Era of Digitalisation
It is not a new idea that a modern and complex society describes itself through its technological progress. The internet plays a crucial role in that ensemble; it makes it surprisingly easy for us to articulate ourselves today in different public spheres. It offers us a high variety of options to discuss, share or even collaborate in different social contexts. We live in a digitally networked society, supported by information technologies that not only enable us to communicate in many ways, but at the same time generate a wealth of information around us. This is to some degree due to our urban architectures and spaces that are stuffed with digitally networked resources (see Kitchin and Dodge 2011).
However, we do not just consume information, by surfing or browsing through our favorite news- or social-streams; we also produce a huge amount of data consciously and unconsciously at the same time by clicking and visiting websites. Even our mobile devices track our physical location at almost any time. Personal data therefore is a not only a very fragile good giving stability and certainty in such a complex and technology-driven society, it has a highly ambivalent character since the re-assemblage, re-contextualization or re-mixing of personal data can have a huge impact and provoke uncertainty – not only in a relation of human-computer interaction (Kitchin 2014a, Kitchin 2014b). Social problems and phenomena like hate speech, fake news (Guess, Nagler and Tucker 2019) and doxing (Douglas 2016), are tightly bound to the digital personae and actual identity of the involved subjects.
Yet, research on the high variety of digital data, especially data that is bound to personal behavior - struggles with digital data in both, a systematic and methodological perspective. The proposal therefore wants to address some of the basic issues doing research on digital data and personal data. The motivation of this proposal is based on the quality of such datasets. There is a high ambivalence of description models concerning the digital data. On the one hand, the data – at least in an empirical sense – is not lying about us, which suggests the idea of a powerful access to information, which in consequence, offers stability in action and creates certainty due to the fact of non-negotiable data. On the other hand, there is often no chance for individuals to look into the black boxes of the computational architecture surrounding us (Pasquale 2015).
Additionally, concepts like digital literacy or media literacy are limited to the complexity and contingency of a networked society, as the problem of identifying fake news suggests (boyd 2017). Considering concepts of media and digital literacy from different European countries shows these limitations and complexities despite the various national and international perspectives and theories (Buckingham 2014; Janetzko 2017; Gutiérrez Martín 2003). So, what are possible ways to approach these problems and to which degree does digital data affect methodical or even methodological questions? The paper addresses this question initially from a theoretical perspective considering preliminary empirical studies.
The proposal is a first step of larger and ongoing interdisciplinary research efforts, which includes the theoretical framing of how to address digital data and discuss its special quality. Therefore the paper offers a systematically view on digital data and the idea of media literacy considering different European perspectives (Buckingham 2014; Janetzko 2017; Gutiérrez Martín 2003; Moser, Grell and Niesyto 2011). Paying attention to these different concepts of media or digital literacy allows us to draw an overarching perspective on similarities and differences that highlight current trends and ideas across a range of contexts while avoiding distortion effects through focusing on merely one concept. Using a theoretical approach the paper will reflect on these issues on utilizing relevant theoretical and conceptual findings.
Discussing the implications of digital data, its special qualities and the meaning for both, self-formation in a narrow sense and Education in a wider sense might allow research to get a better understanding of the complexity that lies not only in the factual given data but also in the process of data generation. The latter is tightly bound to social practices and therefore related to research on informal learning processes that are the topic of relevant literature in the field of media education.
•boyd, d. (2017). “Did Media Literacy Backfire?”. Journal of Applied Youth Studies 1(4). •Buckingham, D. (2014). Developing Media Literacy: Concepts, Processes and Practices. Retrieved: 13.10.2018: https://ddbuckingham.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/media-literacy-concepts-processes-practices.pdf •Douglas, D. M. (2016). Doxing: a conceptual analysis. Ethics and information technology, 18(3), 199-210. •Guess, Andrew; Nagler, Jonathan; Tucker, Joshua (2019): Less than you think: Prevalence and predictors of fake news dissemination on Facebook. In: Science advances 5 (1), eaau4586. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau4586. •Gutiérrez Martín, A. (2003). Alfabetización Digital: Algo más que ratones y teclas. Barcelona: Gedisa Editorial. •Moser, Heinz; Grell, Petra; Niesyto, Horst (Eds.) (2011). Medienbildung und Medienkompetenz. Beiträge zu Schlüsselbegriffen der Medienpädagogik. München: kopaed. •Janetzko, D. (2017). Social Bots and Fake News as (not) seen from the Viewpoint of Digital Education Frameworks. In MedienPädagogik. 00(July) (pp. 61-80) DOI:10.21240/mpaed/00/2017.07.05.X •Kitchin, R., Dodge M. (2011) Code/Space: Software and Everyday Life (Software Studies). Cambridge, Mass und London, England: MIT Press. •Kitchin, Rob (2014a). Big Data, new epistemologies and paradigm shifts. In: Big Data & Society 1 (1), 205395171452848. DOI: 10.1177/2053951714528481. 19. •Kitchin, Rob (2014b). The data revolution. Big data, open data, data infrastructures & their consequences. London: SAGE.
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