2016: year of the tactical takedown?

Cross-posted from MIT's Center for Civic Media blog. The present presidential election is a spectacle, in the truest sense of the word, like few before. Just as FDR's weekly radio addresses and JFK's success in the first televised presidential debate watermark the adoption and cooption of a particular communication medium for political ends, so the… Continue reading 2016: year of the tactical takedown?

Consider the Lawn Sign: elections as civic engagement

Cross-posted from the Center for Civic Media blog. Last week I had the chance to watch one of the world’s great electoral-political spectacles - the New Hampshire primary - up close. It wasn’t by any means my first dalliance with American politics: I’ve had at least a loose involvement in the fascinating and frequently Freudian… Continue reading Consider the Lawn Sign: elections as civic engagement

Causation, Correlation, and Big Data in Social Science Research

Cowls, Josh and Schroeder, Ralph (2015) Causation, Correlation, and Big Data in Social Science Research. Policy & Internet 7 (4), 447-472. The emergence of big data offers not only a potential boon for social scientific inquiry, but also raises distinct epistemological issues for this new area of research. Drawing on interviews conducted with researchers at the forefront… Continue reading Causation, Correlation, and Big Data in Social Science Research

Designing for Debate: Towards a Design Taxonomy for Online Deliberation Platforms

This paper was submitted as my final project for the Media Arts and Sciences class, Unpacking Impact, in December 2015. Introduction In this position paper I explore the possibilities and challenges surrounding the design of platforms for civic debate. I draw on lessons from theory and practice to offer a taxonomy of characteristics, which may… Continue reading Designing for Debate: Towards a Design Taxonomy for Online Deliberation Platforms

What’s at the end of Facebook’s rainbow?

In a talk I gave at the Data Power conference in Sheffield a couple of weeks ago, I posed the following thought experiment: what if Mark Zuckerberg woke up feeling like Rupert Murdoch? For decades it's been accepted - if seldom celebrated - that Murdoch's red-tops command serious influence over the British electorate. Not for nothing,… Continue reading What’s at the end of Facebook’s rainbow?

Big Data – What’s New(s)?

The following is a slightly edited version of a talk I gave at the Data Power conference in Sheffield this week, presenting work by myself and Ralph Schroeder. The question of what drives news coverage far pre-dates the Internet and the rise of social media, and over the decades – or indeed the centuries –… Continue reading Big Data – What’s New(s)?

The MPs whose Wikipedia pages have been edited from inside Parliament

Grant Shapps is in the headlines after being accused of self-serving edits made to his own entry on Wikipedia, as well as unflattering changes made to rivals' pages. But he may not be the only politician giving himself a virtual facelift. Analysis of the Twitter account @parliamentedits, which tracks edits to Wikipedia made from inside… Continue reading The MPs whose Wikipedia pages have been edited from inside Parliament