“Hackathons, data and discourse: Convolutions of the data (logical)” (new paper)

Led by Helen Thornham we just published a paper (Big Data & Society journal). Here is the link to the open full text and here is the abstract:

This paper draws together empirical findings from our study of hackathons in the UK with literature on big data through three interconnected frameworks: data as discourse, data as datalogical and data as materiality. We suggest not only that hackathons resonate the wider socio-technical and political constructions of (big) data that are currently enacted in policy, education and the corporate sector (to name a few), but also that an investigation of hackathons reveals the extent to which ‘data’ operates as a powerful discursive tool; how the discourses (and politics) of data mask and reveal a series of tropes pertaining to data; that the politics of data are routinely and simultaneously obscured and claimed with serious implications for expertise and knowledge; and that ultimately, and for the vast majority of hackathons we have attended, the discursive and material constructions of data serve to underpin rather than challenge existing power relations and politics.

Fotografía Digital y vida cotidiana: Estudios Empíricos sobre prácticas visuales materiales (nuevo libro)

Hace más años de los que quisiera contar, Guillermo Orozco, ya entonces uno de los académicos más renombrados en México dijo, en el marco de un encuentro de CONEICC en Toluca (¿o era Querétaro? Ya dije que son demasiados años), que ningún académico escribía nada que valiera la pena antes de los 40 años. Sea cierto o no este “dictum” lo cierto es que éste es el primer libro que publico pasada esa marca. Afortunadamente de éste puedo decir que sí, que vale la pena. Bien es cierto que es un libro editado (no seré yo quien defienda la importancia de los libros editados pero aquí tienen algunos argumentos interesantes al respecto). En mi opinión no creo que haya escritura académica que valga más la pena que aquella que es colectiva, y lo que más me llena de orgullo de este libro es que confluyen dos generaciones de académicos interesados en la fotografía digital, unos que inician su carrera con mucho impulso, otros cuyo trabajo nos ha servido de inspiración y a quienes admiramos profundamente. Digital Photography bookEl libro, que edito junto con un colega finlandés, Asko Lehmuskallio, y que representa un esfuerzo colectivo de más de dos años, comenzó a gestarse cuando Asko y yo nos conocimos en Finlandia, en el primer congreso Photomedia. Visto en retrospectiva no hay nada aleatorio en ello. El libro, que todavía no sabía que lo sería, siguió su historia en el maravilloso jardín frente a la biblioteca de Berkeley en un día soleado que supo a gloria aterrizando del invierno infernal inglés. Nuestra colaboración se extendió en encuentros en Leeds, Helsinki dos veces más e innumerables correos y sesiones de skype. Es un placer haber trabajado con todos ellos. Y ya me dirán si vale la pena o no.

Onlife Ethnography: Researching Technologically Mediated Worlds (notes for a presentation)

Notes for the talk Oxford Digital Ethnography Group Seminar Series. March, 2014.

Acknowledgements and presentation

It feels good to be back at the OII. Many thanks to Heather Ford, Shireen Walton and the rest of the Oxford Digital Ethnography group for the invitation. I want to specially thank Eric T. Meyer for all his support to my career and his confidence in my work. It is a huge responsibility to be here while my predecessors in these series are people that I deeply admire and have read for inspiration and knowledge.

Since I’m still an apprentice I feel free to still experiment so, this paper is not an academic paper as usual, it is more a series of aloud reflections that I want to share with you all this afternoon. The plan for today is as follows: a small introduction to my personal history with digital ethnography, an introduction to my work about digital photography practices, and I’ll be discussing how I did it and what methodological decisions I took, focusing specifically in the role of the ethnographer in mediated settings, the construction of the field, the relevance of ethical decision-making, and some ideas about tools to gather analyse and present data in technologically mediated settings. But, since Helen told me this was an informal seminar, somehow this is a presentation à la carte. Please stop me in any specific moment if you are curious or interested in know more about a particular point. The ultimate goal of this talk is to share some thoughts about how I’ve been doing ethnographic research in mediated settings for more than a decade now. Continue reading

Ethnography and the Field in Media(ted) Studies: A Practice Theory Approach (new article)

I can’t help it, I’m extremely disappointed by the times and forms of academic publishing. I won’t complain about it but I want to point to the fact that a paper that we wrote two years ago has just see the light. What we do is a labour of love and I’m sure that what many colleagues in open access publications do is exactly the same. We’re all in the same boat and we have to fight together but we definitely have to improve as much as we can on our endeavors to create open but professional-standard scientific product that can cope with the fast-changing times of our objects and our ideas.

Anyway, the article is called Ethnography and the Field in Media(ted) Studies: A Practice Theory Approach (coauthored with Elisenda Ardèvol) and it’s published in a Special Number of the Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture: Media Ethnography: The Challenges of Breaking Disciplinary Boundaries. Here is the link to the full journal and here the abstract:

The aim of this article is to reflect upon the concept of field when doing ethnographies related to digital technologies of communication in everyday life. Following the example of ethnographic fieldwork carried out by one of the authors with a group of highly mediated photographers in Barcelona (Gómez Cruz, 2012), we reflect on the conceptualization of fieldwork in digital ethnographies and discuss how ‘Practice Theory’[1] could be useful as a basis for media and digital ethnographies.

Finally, I want to thank Andrea Medrado for her editing labour and her “religiously” patience with our constant mails about the publication.


[1] Although more than a single theory or group of theories, ‘Practice Theory’ stands as an approach to the study of the social. For an in-depth introduction see Warde (2005) and Reckwitz (2002).

Co-creation and Participation as a Means of Innovation in New Media: An Analysis of Creativity in the Photographic Field (new article)

It is not always easy to co-author a paper with someone. I’ve come to understand that the process of writing is indeed a process of dialogue and learning about other’s points of views (and yours as well). I’m really proud that a paper I participated in (I have to say that the soul of the paper is based on her effort and interesting ideas) has just been published. In my career I’ve published with many colleagues and it has always been inspiring and a great lesson so, thank you for sharing this dialogue with me, Gemma. The full text is here and this is the abstract

This study endeavors to shed some light on the notion of co-creation in the global context of new media user participation and its relationship with innovation. First, the different discourses surrounding the notion of co-creation will be discussed, which are mainly addressed to industry-oriented projects. Alternatively, a nondirected case study focused on digital photography will be presented, enabling an analysis of co-creation through the lens of the theories of creativity. Consequently, through connecting creativity with our fieldwork, we suggest that the transformation of a cultural field by means of co-creation can lead to innovations that affect the entire field.

Hacia la construcción de una sociología de la imagen digital más allá de la representación (working paper)

Estoy tan desencantado con los (largos) tiempos de publicación en las revistas académicas (más sobre esto pronto) que decidí subir las notas sobre las que basé mi reciente participación en el encuentro “El álbum familiar: otras narrativas en los márgenes” organizado por ViSiONA, Programa de la Imagen de Huesca y la Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo. Si puedo regresar a ellas y redondearlas un poco, sería genial publicarlo en el marco de alguna revista. Si no, pues que quede ahí como un “working paper” y que al menos sirva para la discusión. Copio aquí el preámbulo y aquí está el texto completo:

Este texto se enmarca en una agenda de investigación que busca dar cuenta de las prácticas de fotografía digital más allá de la representación (Gómez Cruz, 2012). Este proyecto ha establecido una serie de reflexiones sobre la fotografía digital: como una red sociotécnica (Gómez Cruz & Meyer, 2012), como una práctica que genera una cierta estética (Gómez Cruz, 2012b), y sobre cómo dichas prácticas pueden tener implicaciones importantes en la concepción de lo público y lo privado (Lasén & Gómez-Cruz, 2009; Ardévol y Gómez Cruz, 2012). El objetivo global de esta agenda es intentar pensar a la fotografía digital más allá de la imagen y su poder de representación y situarla en una discusión amplia sobre los procesos de digitalización y construcción de la vida cotidiana. Este texto busca ser un paso más en este  proyecto que bien podría definirse como una sociología de la imagen digital más allá de la representación.