Abstract - The Information Society 33(4)


Computing the everyday: Social media as data platforms

Cristina Alaimo and Jannis Kallinikos

We conceive social media platforms as socio-technical entities that variously shape user platform involvement and participation. Such shaping develops along three fundamental data operations that we subsume under the terms of encoding, aggregation and computation. Encoding entails the engineering of user platform participation along narrow and standardized activity types (e.g. tagging, liking, sharing, following). This heavily scripted platform participation serves as the basis for the procurement of discrete and calculable data tokens that are possible to aggregate and, subsequently, compute in a variety of ways. We expose these operations by investigating a social media platform for shopping. We contribute to the current debate on social media and digital platforms by describing social media as post transactional spaces that are predominantly concerned with charting and profiling the online predispositions, habits and opinions of their user base. Such an orientation sets social media platforms apart from other forms of mediating online interaction. In social media, we claim, platform participation is driven towards an endless online conversation that delivers the data footprint through which a computed sociality is made the source of value creation and monetization.


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