Perpetual Beta & Challenges of Capturing Digital Flows

Bjarki Valtýsson
Onsdag 13. Marts, kl. 14.15-16.00
KUA, Lokale 21.1.18
Culture encoded in digital form can be described as being in the state of perpetual beta. It is subject to change, and potentially, it never reaches a fixed state. Indeed, it is exchange oriented rather than object oriented. As an example of this a Facebook page, Twitter stream, or Pinterest board generate and gather streams of digital flows that when agile, take different guises from one day to the next. In some cases this is due to the productivity of the sender in question who codes a given page, profile, or board with certain symbolic meaning, purpose and aim. But this is also due the inherent affordances of specific media environments and the imagined collectives they create as networked publics.
This ‘fluidness’ of digital flows presents researchers with various methodological challenges, which can be epitomised in the following question: How to capture digital flows?
This talk will focus on the methodological challenges I faced when capturing and analysing 2 studies that included streams of communication on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.
The first case is centred on the Mayor of Reykjavik’s communication on Facebook. Shortly after his inauguration the Mayor started up a Facebook page, which he calls the ‘Mayor’s Diary’. Currently, approximately 10% of the Icelandic population is following the Mayor’s Diary generating streams of digital flows.
The second case is a cross-media study on how social media were applied in the rewriting processes of the Icelandic Constitution. Here, Constitutional council strategically applied social media in order to encourage citizens to assist the council in its rewriting endeavours – again generating vast amounts of data.
The focus of this talk will be on the methodological challenges I confronted when capturing and analysing these particular instances of ‘perpetual beta’.
[Foredraget er det andet i en række på otte som arrangeres af LARMs WP4.3]