When it comes to studying media distribution, one of the more useful insights from my field/disciplinary approach is that the qualities of large sociotechnical systems may appear ‘seamless’ or natural, but can be denaturalized by surfacing the labour, decisions, and values that underlie their operation. The distribution of media has profound social and political consequences, but these should be taken as “matters of concern” rather than “matters of fact” (in Latour’s language). In my work I am not only interested in unpacking the functioning of sociotechnical systems but also concerned with if and how those systems should be changed.
One thing I hope to get out of the preconference is to discuss ways of drawing attention to the background work that shapes media distribution systems. I’m in the early stages of my dissertation research, which examines a federated social web project and pays close attention to its content distribution systems, and I’m looking forward to meeting with scholars with similar or neighbouring interests. A lot of federated social web projects have clear social and political aims, and the systems I’m discussing in my conference paper articulate those goals through systems for circulating online content (centralization vs. decentralization being a central axis). I draw heavily from approaches including infrastructure studies and platform studies, but I’m hoping to get a better sense of distribution systems in particular through this preconference.
Here’s a link to Jack’s academic profile at the University of Toronto