Category: Critical Digital and Social Media Studies series

AI for Everyone? Critical Perspectives

UWP is pleased to announce that it will soon be publishing a new book exploring the role of contemporary AI and issues that need to be addressed concerning it. The volume will be edited by Pieter Verdegem of the University of Westminster. And it will be published open access in the series, Critical Digital and Social Media Studies edited by Christian Fuchs.

Description
We are entering a new era of technological determinism and solutionism in which governments and business actors are seeking data-driven change, assuming that AI is now inevitable and ubiquitous. But we have not even started asking the right questions, let alone developed an understanding of the consequences. Urgently needed is debate that asks and answers fundamental questions about power. This book brings together critical interrogations of what constitutes AI, its impact and its inequalities in order to offer an analysis of what it means for AI to deliver benefits for everyone.

The book is structured in three parts: Part 1, AI: Humans vs. Machines, presents critical perspectives on human-machine dualism. Part 2, Discourses and Myths about AI, excavates metaphors and policies to ask normative questions about what is ‘desirable’ AI and what conditions make this possible. Part 3, AI Power and Inequalities, discusses how the implementation of AI creates important challenges that urgently need to be addressed.

Bringing together scholars from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and regional contexts, this book offers a vital intervention on one of the most hyped concepts of our times.

Contents

  1. 1. Introduction: Why We Need Critical Perspectives on AI
    Pieter Verdegem

Part 1: AI – Humans vs. Machines

2.Artificial Intelligence (AI): When Humans and Machines Might Have to Coexist 
Andreas Kaplan

3. Digital Humanism: Epistemological, Ontological and Praxiological Foundations 
Wolfgang Hofkirchner

4. An Alternative Rationalization of Creative AI by De-Familiarizing Creativity: Towards an Intelligibility of Its Own Terms 
Jenna Ng

5. Post-Humanism, Mutual Aid
Dan McQuillan

Part 2: Discourses and Myths About AI

6. The Language Labyrinth: Constructive Critique on the Terminology Used in the AI Discourse
Rainer Rehak

7. AI Ethics Needs Good Data
Angela Daly, S. Kate Devitt and Monique Mann

8. The Social Reconfiguration of Artificial Intelligence: Utility and Feasibility
James Steinhoff 

9. Creating the Technological Saviour: Discourses on AI in Europe and the Legitimation of Super Capitalism
Benedetta Brevini

10. AI Bugs and Failures: How and Why to Render AI-Algorithms More Human?  Alkim Almila Akdag Salah

Part 3: AI Power and Inequalities 

11. Primed Prediction: A Critical Examination of the Consequences of Exclusion of the Ontological Now in AI Protocol
Carrie O’Connell and Chad Van De Wiele

12. Algorithmic Logic in Digital Capitalism
Jernej A. Prodnik

13. Not Ready for Prime Time: Biometrics and Biopolitics in the (Un)Making of California’s Facial Recognition Ban
Asvatha Babu and Saif Shahin

14. Beyond Mechanical Turk: The Work of Brazilians on Global AI Platforms  Rafael Grohmann and Willian Fernandes Araújo

15. Towards Data Justice Unionism? A Labour Perspective on AI Governance  Lina Dencik

The Authors

Index 

(Paperback): 978-1-914386-16-9 (PDF): 978-1-914386-13-8 (EPUB): 978-1-914386-14-5

ISBN (Kindle): 978-914386-15-2

DOI: 10.16997/book55

A Cool Million: UWP Reach Readership Landmark

A Cool Million: UWP Reach Readership Landmark

Over 1 million views and downloads have now been achieved by the University of Westminster Press since publishing its first journal issue in September 2015. (Figures end April 2021). The graphic presenting the following (and more) can be downloaded from our website.

Total Readership: 1,089,280

Books: 560,573

Journal Articles: 528,707

Readership by Nationality (estimate, where recorded) from 197 countries and territories.

1. UK 2. USA 3. Canada 4. Germany 5. Brazil 6. China 7. Australia 8. India 9. Italy 10. Spain 

Authors of New Publications: 276 unique authors from 38 countries, recorded by institution or current domicile.

Publications total:

35 books and 7 policy briefs

192 new journal articles from 2 new titles launched and 3 existing journals new to UWP

719 archive journal articles and 5 books distributed

Most Popular Book Titles: (1) Critical Theory and Authoritarian Populism (ed. J. Morelock) 68,260 views/downloads (2) The Propaganda Model Today (ed. J. Pedro-Carañana et al.) 63,353 (3) Critical Theory of Communication (C. Fuchs) 37,350.

Top Journal Titles: Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture (290,505 since 15/9/2015), Entertainment and Sports Law Journal (165,847 since 26/06/2016) and Journal of Deliberative Democracy 55,787 (since 28/08/2020).

UWP Series: Critical Digital and Social Media Studies‘, 20 titles: 353,317; ‘CAMRI Policy Briefs‘, 7 titles, 44,413; ‘Law and the Senses‘ 24,102 (3 titles).

Context: UWP was established by a University steering group in 2014, hired its first part-time employee in February 2015 and published its journal issue in September 2015 and first book in October 2016. Its website went fully live on 12 May 2015. UWP has worked with platform providers Ubiquity Press and more recently for journals since 5 January 2021 Michigan Publishing/Janeway. It has functioned as a mixed model diamond open access publisher supported by income from book sales, central university and departmental contributions, one-off external university and grant-holder donations and library membership collective funding notably Knowledge Unlatched’s ‘Select’ programmes for individual titles. Many of its publications are in the area of media and communications but it has published book titles in history, philosophy, geography, education and politics. Its activities are overseen by a single UWP Editorial Board and it works within Research and Scholarly Communications, of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Office, Student and Academic Services, University of Westminster.

UWP is considered to be a ‘New University Press‘, digital-first with open access as a key principle. Its logo is a ‘W’ consisting of an open laptop and an open book.

Thanks to our editors, authors, peer reviewers, UWP editorial board members past and present, series board members and our partners Ubiquity Press (books and website) and Michigan Publishing Services and Janeway (journals) and all our colleagues at the University of Westminster for helping UWP reach this landmark.

Digital Streaming of Entertainment Content and The Regulation of Social Media Entertainment Special Collections: Call for Papers

Digital Streaming of Entertainment Content and The Regulation of Social Media Entertainment Special Collections: Call for Papers

Special collections are planned for Digital and Social Media Entertainment topics by The Entertainment and Sports Law Journal

ESLJ is an established and internationally recognised online open access journal publishing open access with no author fees since 2002. It is currently published by the University of Westminster Press working with Michigan Publishing and the Janeway journals system.    

1.     Digital Streaming of Entertainment Content 
The Editors wish to embrace a variety of different disciplinary approaches to the broad area of Content Streaming. Suggested topics may include, but are by no means limited to:

Control over access for both established and new artists Artist perspectives
Content controversy and content control Copyright issues
Royalty Calculation and Distribution
Licensing and geo blocked content
Impact on existing market models
Delivery and environmental concerns.
Playlists and Recommendations

Authors are encouraged to submit material rooted in their own disciplinary perspective or from a cross disciplinary view.

2.     The Regulation of Social Media Entertainment 
Cunningham and Craig refer to Social Media Entertainment SME) as: ‘an emerging proto-industry fuelled by professionalizing, previously amateur content creators using new entertainment and communicative formats, including vlogging, gameplay, and do-it-yourself (DIY), to develop potentially sustainable businesses based on significant followings that can extend across multiple platforms’ (2019, 13).

Social media has developed exponentially from primarily being a source of information or a means to connect and share experiences to a vehicle to both host and consume entertainment content. Thus, Social Media has become part of the entertainment industry in its own right. This is in addition to the use of Social Media platforms such as YouTube to deliver more traditionally created content.

What are the implications of this new ‘proto-industry’ for the other parts of the industry, creators and consumers as the old regulatory structures dissipate? What is the impact on the creative artist in terms of ownership and payment? Are copyright concerns magnified in this new environment?

We consider regulation in its broadest sense to cover both control by platforms and self-censorship in addition to more traditional legal intervention. Gaps in regulation are just as significant. Pieces may cover broader themes such as the protection of minors or self-censorship that cut across different areas or more specific case studies.

Again, we encourage work from disciplines other than law especially from the creative field. We also welcome shorter pieces of work as well as full length articles.  

The Editors are proposing two special collections to be published between 1 October 2021 – March 2022. Articles to be published iteratively based on full text submission according to the ESLJ guidelines: https://www.entsportslawjournal.com/site/author-guidelines.

Our article types are:  

Research Articles: 6,000-8,000 words
Interventions: up to 4,000 words
Commentaries: up to 3,000 words
Book Reviews/Reviews: 1,000 to 2,000 words
Multimedia

If you would like to run an idea past an ESLJ editor or require any further information please contact Dr Steve Greenfield on S.Greenfield@westminster.ac.uk

Slave to the Algorithm? Changing the Tune

Slave to the Algorithm? Changing the Tune

UWP are pleased to announce a forthcoming title DIGITAL PLATFORMS AND ALGORITHMIC SUBJECTIVITIES* exploring the changing nature of subjectivities produced in an era of changing boundaries between the social and personal and the economic and technological for its Critical Digital and Social Media Studies series edited by Christian Fuchs. The title is edited by Emiliana Armano, Marco Briziarelli and Elisabetta Risi (State University of Milan, University of New Mexico and IULM University of Milan respectively and will be published open access thanks to the support of Knowledge Unlatched.

*Amended 27 July 2021

DESCRIPTION

Algorithms are a form of productive power – so how may we conceptualise the newly merged terrains of social life, economy and self in a world of digital platforms? How do multiple self-quantifying practices interact with questions of class, race and gender? This book considers algorithms at work – for what purposes encoded data about behaviour, attitudes, dispositions, relationships and preferences are deployed – and black box control, platform society theory and the formation of subjectivities. It details technological structures and lived experience of algorithms and the operation of platforms in areas such as crypto-finance, production, surveillance, welfare, activism in pandemic times. Finally, it asks if platform cooperativism, collaborative design and neomutualism offer new visions. Even as problems with labour and in society mount, subjectivities and counter subjectivities here produced appear as conscious participants of change and not so much the servants of algorithmic control and dominant platforms.

CONTENTS

Introduction. Platforms, Algorithms and Subjectivities.– Emiliana Armano, Marco Briziarelli, Joseph Flores, Elisabetta Risi

Part I: Conceptualizing an algorithmic society

  1. The Californian Ideology Revisited – Lawrence Quill & Hasmet Uluorta
  2. Platform Politics and a World Beyond Catastrophe – Ned Rossiter & Soenke Zehle
  3. Platforms in Time of Pandemic– Niccolò Cuppini, Mattia Frapporti & Maurilio Pirone
  4. Domus Capitalismi. Domesticated Subjectivities in Times of Covid-19 – Marco Briziarelli & Emiliana Armano  
  5. Black Box Power Zones of Uncertainty in Algorithmic Management – Heiner Heiland 
  6. Algorithmic Management in Food Delivery Platforms, between Digital Neo-Taylorism and Enhanced Subjectivity – Emiliana Armano, Daniela Leonardi & Annalisa Murgia
  7. Extracting Free Labour– Patrick Cingolani  
  8. On Value And Labor In The Age Of Platforms– Andrea Miconi

Part II: Phenomenology and experiences. 

9. The Digital Traces of Crypto-Finance– Alberto Cossu  
10. The Social Costs of the Gig Economy and Institutional Responses. Forms of Institutional Bricolage in Italy, France, and the Netherland – Maurizio Franzini & Silvia Lucciarini
11. Plat-Firming Welfare. Examining Digital Transformation in Local Care Services – Davide Arcidiacono, Ivana Pais & Flaviano Zandonai
12.Algorithmic Prosumers – Elisabetta Risi & Riccardo Pronzato
13. Performed Subjectivities in Ranking and Recommendation Systems – Tatiana Mazali & Nicoletta Gay
14. Labour Control and Commodification Strategies Within A Food Delivery Platform in Belgium – Milena  Franke  & Valeria Pulignano
15. Emerging Forms of Sociotechnical Organisation the Case of the Fediverse – Jacopo Anderlini & Carlo Milani
16. A Workers’ Inquiry into Canvas and Zoom Disrupting the Algorithmic University – Robert Ovetz

ABOUT THE EDITORS

Emiliana Armano, PhD in Labour Studies at the Department of Social and Political Sciences at the State University of Milan. She collaborates in research into informational capitalism, knowledge work, flexibility and precariousness, with a social inquiry and coresearch methodological approach.

Marco Briziarelli is professor of Department of Communication and Journalism of the University of New Mexico. He studies critical approaches to media and communication theory, especially as these fields intersect with broader issues in political and social theory, intellectual and cultural history. Dr. Briziarelli is also interested in media and social movements and critical conceptualization of digital labor. His work has appeared in triple C: Communication, Capitalism & Critique, CommunIcation and Critical/Cultural Studies and many other journals.

Elisabetta Risi, PhD in Information Society, is Research Fellow of the Department of Communication, Arts and Media of IULM University (Milan). She teaches disciplines related to digital methods and her research interests include critical study of society and media, platform society the relationship between communication practices, identity and social change.

RELATED PUBLISHING

UWP has previously published The Spectacle 2.0 by two of the book’s editors Marco Briziarelli and Emiliana Armano in the CDSMS series, the CAMRI Policy Brief Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things with AI FOR EVERYONE edited by Pieter Verdegem of the University of Westminster also scheduled for 2021.

A Taste of Power? Making Sense of Workers’ Struggle at Deliveroo

A Taste of Power? Making Sense of Workers’ Struggle at Deliveroo

Author Jamie Woodcock (The Fight Against Platform Capitalism, UWP 2021) guest blogs offering his view of recent developments in workers’ struggle in the food delivery sector in the wake of Deliveroo’s IPO last month.

On the 7th of April, Deliveroo riders took strike action across the UK as part of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB). In London, riders in green and silver jackets assembled outside Shoreditch High Street station, a local hub of restaurants. Workers, mopeds, bicycles, a mobile sound system, and press quickly filled the street. Then, as fits with their working day, the strikers set off for a ride around the city, ending with a protest outside Deliveroo’s headquarters in Cannon Street.

It has been almost five years since the first strike of Deliveroo workers in the summer of 2016. When I visited the picket line on the first day of the strike, we were not sure what to expect. The IWGB had come to support the strike, but it had been organised my workers on WhatsApp. What we found was a connected workforce of riders who were organising for basic rights and fair pay. As Callum Cant has demonstrated, the strike in London triggered a wave of worker resistance in European food platforms.

Much has changed with Deliveroo since 2016. It has grown rapidly, both across the UK and in an increasing number of countries. There are now an estimated 50,000 Deliveroo riders in the UK. However, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Deliveroo warned it faced an imminent financial crash. Although it has previously blocked the move, Competition and Markets Authority gave Amazon the greenlight to invest in Deliveroo, spurring investment in so-called “Dark Kitchens.” As the lockdown shut restaurants, these separate facilities for churning out takeaway food helped to create massive growth for the platform.

Throughout the pandemic, essential workers like those at Deliveroo have continued to work. For many isolating, takeaway food – and increasingly other offerings like groceries – have allowed those working from home to shield from the risks of the virus. Due to the bogus self-employment status used by Deliveroo, many riders fell between either furlough or the self-employed support scheme. The IWGB launched the #ClappedAndScrapped campaign to highlight how little support workers have received during the lockdown.

Buoyed by the surge in business during the lockdown, Deliveroo went from almost failing to an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in March of 2021. The coordination of the strike of riders makes this a good moment to stake stock of what has changed since the first open sign of workers struggle on the platform. The strikes in 2016 were against a change in payment scheme from an hourly rate with payment to drop, to only being paid for deliveries made. During the strike, a manager from Deliveroo came out to address the crowd – although he was quickly ushered away after strikers rejected his argument that the they “need to understand how the payment scheme was better for them.”

In my recent book, I have argued that there are three dynamics we can see unfolding with platform work – and each of these can be seen with Deliveroo. First, there is an increasing connection between platform workers, both on WhatsApp and social media, as well as in the streets. Second, despite that early attempt at interaction from a Deliveroo manager, there is a lack of communication from platforms, which leads to escalating worker action. Third, due to the growth of these platforms internationally, there is a new basis for transnational solidarity emerging.

Fast forward to 2021 and pay for deliveries is now the standard model, with hourly rates a distant memory. As part of a worker-led study of their own invoice data, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that some riders today are paid as little as £2 per hour. Workers have formed networks and joined unions, with WhatsApp chats remaining a key organising tool. Deliveroo refuse to recognise or negotiate with unions.

Over the past five years, Deliveroo has now achieved status as the most protested platform in the world. The recent IWGB strike was over familiar issues: fair pay, safety protections, and basic worker rights. It received support from unions internationally, including in Australia, France, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Spain. In the UK, the action around the IPO led to 12 institutional investors pulling out, with over £3 billion wiped off Deliveroo’s valuation. The Financial Times called it the ‘worst IPO in London’s history.’

With the recent Uber case in London, as well as the recent workers’ rights claim at the delivery company Stuart, the use of self-employment to deny rights is starting to crumble. There is still a lot that Deliveroo workers are fighting to change, but the recent strike felt like a taste of what workers power could look like with food platform deliveries.

JAMIE WOODCOCK is a senior lecturer at the Open University and a researcher based in London. He is the author of The Gig Economy (2019), Marx at the Arcade (2019) and Working the Phones (2017), also serving on the editorial boards of Notes from Below and Historical Materialism.

The Fight Against Platform Capitalism: An Inquiry in the Global Struggles of the Gig Economy (2021) is published in the Critical Digital and Social Media Studies series edited by Christian Fuchs. The book is available open access from the University of Westminster Press.

Sustainable Fashion: ‘Journalism and Media Influencers Are Being Overlooked’

The latest CAMRI Policy Brief, Fashion Media and Sustainability addresses the problem of throwaway fashion and how regulation and advocates a more proactive approach that can promote sustainable fashion, drawing on original analysis of 1,000+ media artefacts.

Fashion is among the biggest polluters, yet the media still promote throwaway fast fashion. The growing fashion public relations industry encourages and enables this media coverage. This policy brief identifies patterns in the way journalists and influencers cover fashion which contribute to unsustainable buying behaviours. Recent research recommends practical steps to improve media coverage to make consumption sustainable, by changing consumers’ understanding and reducing the pressure on them to buy ‘fast’ satisfaction. Policy recommendations here suggested are based on the extensive recording of fashion coverage – from magazines to newspapers, gossip weeklies to Instagram influencers. Anastasia Denisova proposes regulation of vocabulary and of affiliated links in journalism and social media, greater discussion of the psychology of buying and a ‘paid advertisement label’. Also recommended is a more engaged approach from magazines and other media with the aim of promoting restyling advice and more sustainable coverage for readers of differing financial means. 

THE AUTHOR
ANASTASIA DENISOVA is is Senior Lecturer and Course Leader BA (Hons) Journalism at the University of Westminster. Her monograph Internet Memes and Society was published in 2019. She researches viral online communication and digital journalism, fashion media and sustainability.

CONTENTS
Key Messages
Whats the Issue?
Research Evidence
Psychology of Fashion
The Sustainable Consumption Paradox
Sample and Method
Ten Patterns of Unsustainable Media Coverage
Impact of Research 
Review of Policy Options
Policy Recommendations
Notes

PDF, ePub and kindle versions available free from:
https://uwestminsterpress.co.uk/site books/10.16997/book/50
PDF 978-1-912656-91-2
ePub 978-1-912656-92-9
Kindle 978-1-912656-93-6
https://10.16997/book50
Published 1 March 2021

This title is published open access in the CAMRI POLICY BRIEFS series by the Communication and Media Research Institute, University of Westminster and the University of Westminster Press