At the IT University of Copenhagen, we have just established a new research group: Digital Platforms and Data. The research group organizes and coordinates research activities related to digital platforms and digital data and to their roles, functions, and impact on digital society.
Platforms are “digital infrastructures that enable two or more groups to interact” (Srnicek, 2017: 43), and there can be little doubt that they play an increasingly important role in the shaping of the social world. Much of this shaping takes place through the capture, circulation, and utilization of data traces left behind by users in their interaction with digital devices and services, and it transforms visibilities, organizational development, and business opportunities. However, the research community as well as society in general struggle to keep up with current developments, even if platform studies and datafication research have become most central to the international research agenda in recent years (Gillespie, 2010; Moore & Tambini, 2018; Nielsen & Ganter, forthcoming; Schäfer & van Es, 2017; van Dijck, Poell & de Waal, 2018).
From sociological, social science, and humanistic points of departure, the members of the Digital Platforms and Data research group explore pertinent questions about how individuals, groups, and organizations engage with digital platforms and digital data, and how practices, policies, and people structure and are structured by them. Even though these questions relate to different domains for the different members of the research group, they all build upon the shared understanding that digital platforms and the ubiquitous availability of digital data create opportunities and challenges for participation, reshape markets and business models, drive innovation, distribute information and knowledge, and constitute indispensable implements for navigating modern life. The heterogeneity is reflected in the empirical areas found in the research group, which include (but are not limited to) platform economies, social media and networks, civic engagement, political communication, datafication, regulation, and the uses of digital technology.
Over the next couple of months, we organize two public events: Professor Leighton Andrews from Cardiff University will present his research into Facebook, the media, and democracy on October 31; and Associate Professor David Karpf from George Washington University will present what he found when he read through 25 years of WIRED (here is a teaser: “25 Years of WIRED Predictions: Why the Future Never Arrives“). Both events are open to the public and registration is not required. We hope to see you!
The Digital Platforms and Data research group is part of the Digitalization Research Cluster at the Digital Design Department at the IT University of Copenhagen. I am head of the research group, which furthermore consist of my good colleagues Christina Neumayer, Luca Rossi, and Gitte Stald (and we expect to grow in the near future).