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Saturday, October 8 • 11:00 - 12:30

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Internet Industry Research Rules! A Roundtable on Methods
Daniel Greene (1), Nora Draper (2), Tony Liao (3), Nick Seaver (4), Lana Swartz (5), Brooke Duffy (6)
1: Microsoft Research New England; 2: University of New Hampshire, USA; 3: Temple University, USA; 4: Tufts University, USA; 5: University of Virginia, USA; : 6Cornell University, USA
By looking beyond the public discourses of internet industries, researchers have the opportunity to uncover the “rules”—the codes, praxes, and ideologies—shaping media products and services. But to researchers, internet industry spaces can look like closed black boxes or restricted clubhouses. This roundtable will surface a set of “rules” (or at least hard-earned insights) for research into internet industries. The discussion brings together researchers who recently studied internet industries to demystify their process and describe crucial details—beyond what is normally included in the “methods section.”
AoIR's most recent Nancy Baym Annual Book Award (for Robert Gehl’s Reverse Engineering Social Media) and Annual Dissertation Award (for Nora Draper’s Reputation, Inc.) both recognized scholarship exploring industrial praxis and the cultural, political, and economic influences of media industries. It is essential to attend to the methods through which this research was conducted. How do researchers from a variety of methodological traditions--ethnography, historiography, political economy and HCI-- actually do research into internet industries? What are our best, and maybe worst, practices?
We will discuss and solicit both nitty-gritty and big picture questions: How did we gain entrance to startups jealously guarding their intellectual property? How did we access corporate archives? What habits did we practice to integrate ourselves into the life of our field sites? What sort of gendered, racialized, and other politics did we encounter? How do we interface with expert knowledge? How did we negotiate the relationship between industry actors’ public media presence and private decision-making process? What obligation do we have to participant anonymity in these professional worlds? What are the challenges of telling the story of firms that rapidly grow, merge, or die? Because this roundtable is composed of early career scholars from a variety of disciplines, it may be of particular interest to graduate students planning their dissertation research.


Nora Draper

University of New Hampshire, United States of America

Brooke Duffy

Cornell University, United States of America

Daniel Greene

Microsoft Research New England

Tony Liao

Temple University, United States of America

Nick Seaver

Tufts University, United States of America

Lana Swartz

University of Virginia, United States of America

Saturday October 8, 2016 11:00 - 12:30 CEST
HU 1.205 Humboldt University of Berlin Dorotheenstr. 24