About

This collaborative research project explores the platformization of cultural production against the backdrop of wider transformations in the technologies, cultures, and political economies of digital media.

 

Platformization describes the process by which major tech companies—GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft) in the West, and the so-called “three kingdoms” of the Chinese internet (Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent) in Asia—are reconfiguring the production, distribution, and monetization of cultural products and services.

 

The logic of platformization is impacting traditional cultural industries (e.g., music, news, museums, games, and fashion), as well as emergent digital sectors and communities of practice, such as livestreaming, podcasting, and “Instagramming.”

 

Accordingly, new industrial formations and partnerships are constantly being wrought; for example, newspapers increasingly host their content on Facebook, and game developers offer their products in app stores operated by Apple and Google.

Principal Investigators

Dr. Brooke Erin Duffy

Cornell University

Email

Dr. David Nieborg

University of Toronto

Email

Research

Nieborg & Poell (2018). The platformization of cultural production: Theorizing the contingent cultural commodity. New Media & Society.
Poell et al. (2017). The Platformization of Cultural Production. Panel hosted at Association of Internet Research (AoIR) conference.

Conferences & Events

Platformization of Cultural Production Conference (public event)

October 9, 2018
Conference registration (free)

 

University of Toronto Scarborough

1265 Military Trail, Toronto, Ontario

HW305

Paper Workshop (invite only)

October 7 & 8, 2018

McLuhan Center for Culture and Technology

39A Queens Park Crescent East

Toronto, Ontario

Add to Calendar

October 9, 2018 - Platformization Conference & Agenda

Overview

This 1-day conference explores the platformization of cultural production against the backdrop of wider transformations in the technologies, cultures, and political economies of digital media. During this day we explore how the platformization of cultural production unfolds in a non-US context.

Program October 9

  • 10am Welcome

  • 10:30 Keynote 1. Prof Charles Davis – Platformization of Cultural Production and Canadian Cultural Policy

  • 11:30 Coffee break

  • 11:45 Media/Policy roundtable moderated by Dr. Ira Wells on Platformization in a Canadian context

  • 12:45 Lunch

  • 2pm Keynote 2. Prof Stuart Cunningham – Platforms, politics, and precarity with Chinese characteristics

  • 3pm Coffee break

  • 3:15 pm Keynote 3. Prof José van Dijck – How can European societies guard public values in an online world?

  • 4:15-5pm Refreshments

Keynote 1 – Prof Charles Davis (Ryerson University) – Platformization of Cultural Production and Canadian Cultural Policy

 

Since the 1930s, Canada has used the domestic broadcasting system as a major vehicle to attain cultural policy objectives, and the policy framework has successfully adapted to waves of change in content distribution technologies. However, the transition from a linear broadcasting to a digital media policy framework is proving to be more challenging to national cultural policy objectives than earlier transitions. The Canadian media ecosystem is partitioned into a regulated domestic ‘walled garden’ and a lightly-regulated digital sphere. The question of what are the effective political, legal, and operational bases for national jurisdiction over digital cultural content distribution on transnational Internet-based platforms remains unsettled. In this talk I will discuss challenges in bringing digital platforms into domestic cultural policy, illustrating with the recently-announced Creative Canada Policy Framework and its reception.

 

Keynote 2 – Prof Stuart Cunningham (Queensland University of Technology) – Platforms, politics, and precarity with Chinese characteristics

 

This presentation examines China’s live streaming industry through a creator-centric critical media industries studies perspective. 422 million users of live-streaming platforms represent more than half of the Internet user base in China. Live streamers enjoy a greater degree of economic stability and opportunity than their Western online creator counterparts due to China’s advanced ecommerce platform integrations but this is offset by the greater precarity they face around the cultural politics of live streaming. In a rapidly-scaling Chinese middle-class consumption culture, Chinese livestreamers ride marketing imperatives directing consumers to cross-integrated ecommerce platforms. The industry has been fueled by cultural shifts, notably increasing gender inequality as women have migrated to urban settings to service-based labor opportunities coupled with increased access to high-speed and affordable mobile technology by rural and lonely men. These conditions have contributed to a gendered performativity across these platforms that has empowered female streamers appealing to the emotional needs and limited relationship opportunities of rural men. Across a highly competitive and rapidly evolving landscape of live and recorded video platforms, Chinese live streamers foster improvisational content, engage in mediated intimacy and synchronous interactivity to aggregate and engage fan communities and build and sustain their media businesses. But these streamers are subject to an ever-increasing level of state regulatory restraint that signals the return of ideology designed to “proactively mold online expression and behavior” (Yang 2014, 109). The presentation examines conditions placing China’s live streamers as central focal points in the increasing tensions between the cultural politics and economic ambitions of digital China.

 

Keynote 3 – Prof José van Dijck (Utrecht University) – How can European societies guard public values in an online world?

 

Online digital platforms, which are overwhelmingly American-based and operated, have penetrated every sector of Western-European societies, disrupting markets and labour relations, circumventing institutions, and transforming social and civic practices. This lecture concentrates on the position of European (private and public) interests vis-à-vis the interests of an American online ecosystem, driven by a handful of high-tech corporations (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) that have become global data mining companies. The emerging ‘platform society’ involves an intense struggle between competing ideological systems and contesting societal actors—market, government and civil society—raising important questions like: Who is or should be responsible and accountable for anchoring public values in a platform society? Public values and the common good are the very stakes in the struggle over the platformization of societies around the globe. At the heart of the online media’s industry’s surge is the battle over information control: who owns the data generated by online social activities? Particularly in the European context, governments can be proactive in negotiating public values on behalf of citizens and consumers.

October 7-8, 2018 - Workshop Agenda

Overview

This thematic workshop and special issue explores the platformization of cultural production against the backdrop of wider transformations in the technologies, cultures, and political economies of digital media. Platformization describes the process by which major tech companies—GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft) in the West, and the so-called “three kingdoms” of the Chinese internet (Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent) in Asia—are reconfiguring the production, distribution, and monetization of cultural products and services. The logic of platformization is impacting traditional cultural industries (e.g., music, news, museums, games, and fashion), as well as emergent digital sectors and communities of practice, such as livestreaming, podcasting, and “Instagramming.” Accordingly, new industrial formations and partnerships are constantly being wrought; for example, newspapers increasingly host their content on Facebook, and game developers offer their products in app stores operated by Apple and Google.
Location

McLuhan Center

Time

9:30am - 18:30pm

Day 1: Sunday, October 7, 2018

09:30 – 09:40     Doors open

 

09:40 – 10:00     Welcome

 

10:00 – 12:00     Welcome

 

Chair: Josè Van Dijck

 

  • Hesmondhalgh, David (University of Leeds), Jones, Ellis (University of Oslo) & Rauh, Andreas (University of Leeds) – How Musicians Respond to the Platformisation of Music: Bandcamp, SoundCloud, Facebook, and Musical Genre

Discussant: David Craig

 

  • Prey, Robert (University of Groningen) – Platform pop

Discussant: Jeremy Morris

 

  • Navar-Gill, Annemarie (University of Michigan) – The Golden Ratio of Algorithms to Artists: Streaming Services and the Platformization of Creativity in American Television Production

Discussant: Aymar Jean Christian

 

  • Bonini, Tiziano (Università degli studi di Siena) & Gandini, Alessandro (King’s College) – First week is editorial, second week is algorithmical. The New Gatekeepers of the Music Industry

Discussant: Caitlin Petre

 

12:00 – 13:00     Lunch

 

13:00 – 15:00    Session 2

 

Chair: Brooke Erin Duffy

 

  • Kim, Ji-Hyeon (Goldsmith’s) & Yu, Jun (London School of Economics and Political Science) – Be creative for platforms? Digital labour and platformization of webtoon production in South Korea

Discussant: Michael Palm

 

  • Sullivan, John (Muhlenberg College) – The Platforms of Podcasting: Past & Present

Discussant: Samantha Close

 

  • Steinberg, Marc (Concordia University) – LINE and the Platformization of Visual Culture

Discussant: Jose Miguel Tomasena

 

  • de Kloet, Jeroen & Lin, Jian (University of Amsterdam) – Platformization of the unlikely

Discussant: Stuart Cunningham

 

15:00 – 15:15    Coffee

 

15:15 – 16:45    Session 3

 

Chair: Thomas Poell

 

  • Morris, Jeremy Wade (University of Wisconsin-Madison) – Gaming music platforms

Discussant: Sophie Bishop

 

  • Partin, Will (University of North Carolina) – Nickeled and Dimed to (Twitch) Bits: Precarity, Creativity, and the Platformization of Culture

Discussant: Ji Hyeon Kim

 

  • Tomasena, Jose (Pompeu Fabra University) – Negotiating collaborations: booktubers, the publishing industry and youtube’s ecosystem

Discussant: John L. Sullivan

 

16:45 – 17:00    Coffee

 

17:00 – 18:00    Session 4

 

Chair: Tarleton Gillespie

 

  • O’Meara, Victoria (Western U) – Instagram influencer comment pods: Practices of resistance within platformized cultural production

Discussant: Ellis Jones

 

  • Arriagada, Arturo (Universidad Adolfo Ibañez) & Ibáñez, Francisco (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile) – “It must be organic”: fashion influencers and the platformization of branded content

Discussant: Brooke Erin Duffy

 

17:00 – 18:30    Dinner

Location

McLuhan Center

Time

9:50am - 18:30pm

Day 2: Monday, October 8, 2018

09:50 – 10:00     Arriving

 

10:00 – 12:00     Session 5

 

Chair: Stuart Cunningham

 

  • Banet-Weiser, Sarah (London School of Economics and Political Science) & Hearn, Alison (University of Western Ontario) – Uncanny remainders: glamour in/as platformed cultural production

Discussant: Tarleton Gillespie

 

  • Bishop, Sophie (University of East London) – Algorithmic expertise

Discussant: Tiziano Bonini

 

  • Petre, Caitlin (Rutgers University), Duffy, Brooke Erin (Cornell University) & Hund, Emily (University of Pennsylvania) – “You Have to Beat the Algorithm”: Gaming Metaphors in the Digital Culture Industries

Discussant: Robert Prey

 

  • van Es, Karin (Utrecht University) & Poell, Thomas (University of Amsterdam)- Platformization of Public Service Broadcasting

Discussant: Annemarie Navar-Gill

 

12:00 – 13:00     Lunch

 

13:00 – 14:30     Session 6

 

Chair: David Hesmondhalgh

 

  • Close, Samantha (DePaul) – International Platforms, International Prejudice in the Cultural Production of Handmade Crafts

Discussant: Marc Steinberg

 

  • Christian, Aymar Jean (Northwestern University), Day, Faithe (University of Michigan) & Díaz, Mark (Northwestern University) – Platforming Intersectionality: Scale as Value in Local and Networked Engagement

Discussant: Alison Hearn

 

  • Kneese , Tamara (University of San Francisco) & Palm, Michael (University of North Carolina) & – Listing Labor, or Cataloging Collectibles in the Digital Vintage Economy

Discussant: Maxwell Foxman

 

14:30 – 14:45     Coffee

 

14:45 – 16:15     Session 7

 

Chair: Caitlin Petre

 

  • Johnson, Mark (University of Alberta) – “And today’s top donator is”: How Live Streamers on Twitch.tv Monetise and Gamify their Broadcasts

Discussant: Will Partin

 

  • Caplan, Robyn (Rutgers + Data & Society) & Gillespie, Tarleton (Microsoft Research + Cornell University) – Demonetized: Cultural Production, Content Standards, and the Platform Economy

Discussant: David Hesmondhalgh

 

  • Cunningham, Stuart (Queensland University of Technology) & Craig, David (USC Annenberg – The Platformization of Cultural Governance

Discussant: Arturo Arriagada

 

16:15 – 16:30     Coffee

 

16:15 – 17:30     Session 8

 

Chair: Robert Prey

 

  • Foxman, Maxwell (University of Oregon) – United We Stand: Platforms, Tools and Innovation with the Unity Game Engine

Discussant: Victoria O’Meara

 

  • Nieborg, David, Young, Chris & Dan Joseph (University of Toronto) – Canada App imperialism

Discussant: Mark R. Johnson

 

17:30 – 18:00     Concluding thoughts

 

18:30     Dinner

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