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December 6, 2021
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December 6, 2021
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December 9, 2021

Open Platforms: Developing Culture in the Age of Big Data TV

Thursday, January 23, 2020
4:00 pm
FIMS and Nursing Building (FNB)
Room: Creative Commons (2nd floor)

Presented by Aymar Jean Christian, Associate Professor of Communication, Northwestern University, and founder of Open TV, a platform for intersectional television pilots and series, supporting independent artists and producers in Chicago.

Description: From Netflix to Facebook, platforms promise users a seamless space to engage and create culture. Expanding access to the means of production and consumption, they rapidly distribute a staggering number of representations. Yet behind the scenes, these intermediaries use largely quantitative big data sets to value culture and information, harnessing algorithms that sort, segregate, or systematize our interactions. Far from an open ecosystem, they discriminate, quickly, discreetly and with constant adaptation. This power is invisible or so complex as to evade textual analysis, the crux of most studies of cultural representation. The complexity of platform power demands scholars pay greater attention to culturally complex representations, or intersectionality, and adopt new methods for analysis that go beyond the text and identify alternative systems. I argue that developing culture in collaboration with intersectional artists and community can test whether social media can bridge disparate, segregated communities, helping researchers deconstruct platform power and advance what I call "networked solidarity." Participatory methods show us how narratives emerge online and in physical space, allowing scholars to track the distance between representation on platforms and broader contexts of their production or exhibition. These methods might help us understand how to open platforms to develop culture in more organic, local and culturally specific ways, pointing a path to sustainable and equitable media economy.

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Women’s Studies and Feminist Research at Western University, and the Nona MacDonald Organizational Communication Fund.

Part of the FIMS Making Matters Lecture Series.

Faculty of Information and Media Studies
FIMS Communications

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