The Affordances of Social Media Platforms

Taina Bucher and I would like to circulate our chapter on “The Affordances of Social Media Platforms,” our contribution to the SAGE Handbook of Social Media, edited by Jean Burgess, Thomas Poell, and Alice Marwick, forthcoming in 2017. Abstract In this chapter we want to reflect on the concept of affordance as a key term for understanding and analysing social media interfaces and the relations between technology and its users. We first describe five different–but related–ways in which affordance has been conceptualized and subsequently address how it has been employed to analyse social media in particular. We then outline a platform-sensitive approach to affordance as an analytical tool for examining social media based on recent examples of changes to the Twitter platform. Our approach is sensitive to the medium-specificity of platforms, as technological intermediaries and entities that can be built upon, and which draw different stakeholders together and orchestrate their relationships to each other (Gillespie, 2010; Helmond, 2015). Such a perspective requires taking into account how affordances relate not only to end-users and their activities but also to third-parties such as developers who extend the affordances offered by the platform, and advertisers who monetize platform activities. Affordances, we argue, manifest in […]

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The Data Sprint Approach: Exploring the field of Digital Humanities through Amazon’s Application Programming Interface

My co-authored article with David M. Berry, Erik Borra, Jean-Christophe Plantin and Jill Walker Rettberg on “The Data Sprint Approach: Exploring the field of Digital Humanities through Amazon’s Application Programming Interface” has been published in Digital Humanities Quarterly, Volume 9 Number 4. Abstract This paper documents the results of an intensive “data sprint” method for undertaking data and algorithmic work using application programming interfaces (APIs), which took place during the Digital Method Initiative 2013 Winter School at the University of Amsterdam. During this data sprint, we developed a method to map the fields of Digital Humanities and Electronic Literature based on title recommendations from the largest online bookseller, Amazon, by retrieving similar purchased items from the Amazon API. A first step shows the overall Amazon recommendation network for Digital Humanities and allows us to detect clusters, aligned fields and bridging books. In a second step we looked into four country-specific Amazon stores (Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr and Amazon.de) to investigate the specificities of the Digital Humanities in these four countries. The third step is a network of all books suggested for the Electronic Literature field in the four Amazon stores we searched, which offers a comparison to the field of Digital Humanities. The full article is available online at […]

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Bij Radio Swammerdam met presentator Lieven Heeremans. Foto: Karin van Es.

Over liveness, realtime en de politieke economie van sociale media platformen op Radio Swammerdam, AmsterdamFM

Deze ochtend was ik samen met Dr. Karin van Es (UU) te gast bij Radio Swammerdam, het wetenschapsprogramma van AmsterdamFM, om te praten over liveness, realtime, APIs en de politieke economie van sociale media platformen. Karin sprak over haar proefschrift ‘The Paradox of Liveness. From the Broadcast Media Era to the Social Media Era’ (vanaf 09:26 minuten) en ik sprak over mijn proefschrift ‘The web as platform: Data flows in social media’ (vanaf 31:35 minuten) en samen discussieerden we over het verschil tussen liveness en realtime (vanaf 44:45 minuten).                  Luister de uitzending terug op SoundCloud of beluister de podcast op iTunes.

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The Platformization of the Web: Making Web Data Platform Ready

My article on ‘The Platformization of the Web: Making Web Data Platform Ready‘ has been published in the first issue of the new (open access) journal Social Media + Society. Abstract In this article, I inquire into Facebook’s development as a platform by situating it within the transformation of social network sites into social media platforms. I explore this shift with a historical perspective on, what I refer to as, platformization, or the rise of the platform as the dominant infrastructural and economic model of the social web and its consequences. Platformization entails the extension of social media platforms into the rest of the web and their drive to make external web data “platform ready.” The specific technological architecture and ontological distinctiveness of platforms will be examined by taking their programmability into account. I position platformization as a form of platform critique that inquires into the dynamics of the decentralization of platform features and the recentralization of “platform ready” data as a way to examine the consequences of the programmability of social media platforms for the web. The full article is available online at Social Media + Society.

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The web as platform: Data flows in social media

On September 23, 2015 I will publicly defend my dissertation ‘The web as platform: Data flows in social media’ at the University of Amsterdam. Read the English summary/Nederlandse samenvatting or download the full dissertation as PDF (43Mb). Abstract This dissertation looks into the history of Web 2.0 as “the web as platform” (O’Reilly 2004) and traces the transition of social network sites into social media platforms to examine how social media has transformed the web. In order to understand this process from an infrastructural perspective, I develop the concept of “platformization”. This notion refers to the rise and consequences of the platform as the dominant infrastructural and economic model of the social web. Platformization, I argue, rests on a dual logic of social media platforms’ extension into the rest of the web and, simultaneously, their drive to make external web data “platform ready”. I draw on digital methods to study the effects of social media on the web’s infrastructure and formulate a platform critique by examining the platform-specific objects that have been introduced by social media platforms such as social buttons and short URLs. Doing so, the thesis offers a contribution the emerging fields of software studies and platform studies. […]

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De nieuwe gebruikersvoorwaarden van Facebook: Like of Dislike?

An English version of this text has appeared in the Internet Policy Review. Een nieuwe versie van deze tekst is verschenen in de Correspondent. Heb je de nieuwe Data Policy van Facebook al gelezen? Of heeft u, net als vele gebruikers, de notificatie bovenaan in de nieuwsfeed zonder te lezen weggeklikt en de email van Facebook genegeerd? Onderzoek heeft aangetoond dat weinig mensen mensen de Terms of Service, de gebruikersvoorwaarden van een dienst, gedeeltelijk of helemaal lezen. Dat is ook niet zo verwonderlijk als je bijvoorbeeld kijkt naar de Algemene Voorwaarden van iTunes (Apple) die ruim 16.000 woorden, zo’n 40 pagina’s, bevatten. Daarnaast zijn de voorwaarden vaak in gecompliceerde juridische taal geschreven waardoor ze niet makkelijk te lezen zijn. De nieuwe voorwaarden van Facebook zijn gelukkig wat korter en toegankelijker geschreven. Naast de Terms of Service zijn er echter vaak nog vele aparte documenten waarin beschreven staat wat er met onze data gedaan wordt. Zo hebben Facebook en Twitter bijvoorbeeld aparte Data Policies, Privacy Policies en Cookie Policies waarin beschreven staat hoe data wordt vergaard en hoe en door wie het wordt gebruikt. Dat er verschillende documenten naast elkaar bestaan maakt het nog onwaarschijnlijker dat alle gebruikers goed op de hoogte zijn van alle voorwaarden. Deze belangrijke documenten […]

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