UTW Episode 29: Siva Vaidhyanathan

The Operating System of Our Lives

Our guest for this episode is Siva Vaidhyanathan, a media studies professor at the University of Virginia. Siva is a regular columnist for The Guardian as well as the author of Anti-Social Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy (Oxford, 2018) and The Googlization of Everything: (And Why We Should Worry) (University of California Press, 2011), among other books. He focuses on how big tech companies – especially Google and Facebook – are permeating our lives.

In this conversation, Siva talks about the creation of Google Books and why he thinks Google was the wrong choice to be a platform that houses the world’s online library. He also talks about how authoritarian rulers have used Facebook to win elections and ties this fact into a discussion of the big tech companies’ race to become “the operating system of our lives” – and to manage everything from our houses to our minds. 

 

WebSci21 – Video Vault No 1 – Matt Weber

Notes

As a place for organizing and the emergence of new organizations, the Web is a platform that has been evolving for more than 25 years. Digital data from the Web provides a rich platform for observing a wide range of social science phenomena – especially patterns of organizational activity. Simultaneously, Web Science has emphasized the intersection of disciplines as a way to understand the science of the Web, but it is equally important to theorize how we connect levels of activity on the Web (from individuals to organizations to ecosystems and governments). Building off a foundation grounded in institutional theory and the emergence of institutions, this talk outlines a multilevel perspective of institutions on the Web as a means of understanding the various processes by which organizational activity occurs. New approaches to data collection and analysis are discussed in order to enable a multilevel and longitudinal analysis of Web-based activity.

Summary

In this talk Matthew Weber discusses how the theory and practice of institutional (organizational) behaviour has been modified by the growth of the Web and the corresponding opportunity and need to collect data from the Web to model and understand this evolving activity.

About the Video Vault Series

In partnership with the ACM we are pleased to be able to release a series of videos from the most recent Web Science Conference (ACM WebSci’21) that were previously only available to attendees of the conference.

The series will be released fortnightly and will include a selection of Keynote talks and Spotlight panel discussions.

Copyright / Links

This video is (c) 2021 provided under license from the ACM.

 

UTW Episode 28: Sonia Livingstone

Children and the Digital Future

Our guest for this episode is Sonia Livingstone, a professor of social psychology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Sonia’s research focuses on children and young people’s media literacy and rights in the digital environment. She recently co-authored (with Alicia Blum-Ross) the book Parenting for a Digital Future: How hopes and fears about technology shape children’s lives, published by Oxford U Press.

In this episode, Sonia suggests we examine children’s media use in more expansive ways, thinking beyond how much time children spend online and also considering how exactly they’re engaging with screens. She also emphasizes that technology inequalities merit more attention and discusses children’s rights and agency within the digital space. 

 

UTW Episode 27: Deborah McGuinness

Using Web Science to Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy

Our guest for this episode is Deborah McGuinness, Professor of Computer, Cognitive, and Web Sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Deborah specializes in creating ontology-enabled research infrastructure for work in interdisciplinary settings. 

In this episode, Deborah explains how we can use ontologies to create programs that help us make the best decisions, from pairing wine and food to choosing to start a new medication. She shares her excitement about the potential intersections between health science and web science, detailing ways that medical professionals and web scientists can work together to elevate how we provide medical care. 

 

UTW Episode 26: Sandra González-Bailón

The Role of Research

In this episode, we chat with Sandra González-Bailón, who is on the faculty at the Annenberg School for Communication. Her research lies at the intersection of network science, data mining, computational tools and political communication. She is the author of Decoding the Social World, published by MIT Press in 2017, and was also the keynote speaker of the ACM Web Science Conference in 2019.

During this conversation, Sandra discussed some of her research about people’s news exposure — and what it surprisingly revealed. She also explains how the medium of data that gets studied — the web v.s. apps data and desktop v.s. mobile data — can impact results. And she digs into how exactly research can help the world — but also that the world needs to know the right questions to ask. To hear all this and more, take a listen of this episode.