#SA4: Up Close and Personal Roundtable
Up Close and Personal: Ethical Social Media Research in a Distant and Big Data World
1University of Waterloo; 2University of Toronto; 3Concordia University; 4Case Western Reserve University
This panel considers and proposes small-scale methodologies for ethical social media research. Normative “big data” and “distant reading” methods promote critical distance and objectivity as ideals. In our work together and individually, however, we find that these methods and these orientations to the source texts can be dehumanizing and exploitative towards the social media subjects under study. In our panel, we explore various alternatives to big data methods, or the re-working of these methods, to propose a practice of ethical, respectful, and productive “close reading” and “small data.” In other words, the panel describes and advocates for social media research that is up close and personal.
Philip Miletic's presentation will frame the ethical questions related to social media research in a DH frame as we see them, using examples of specific projects as well as a more general overview of the methodological and theoretical underpinnings of current practice. This will set the stage and offer context for the other papers to follow.
Arun Jacob's presentation will discuss how geofences are virtual perimeters established around target locations to transform locative media information into saleable alternative data. Jacob will be speaking about how geofencing is likely to reproduce existing societal discrepancies via data-driven discriminatory techniques reconfiguring state power in new immaterial forms.
Eileen Mary Holowka's paper will examine how from June 2018 until now, the hashtag #SeeMyInvisible has brought together a collection of stories and a small archive of visually rendered invisible illnesses. This presentation uses #SeeMyInvisible to reflect on how best to ethically analyze and bear witness to the small, but important, everyday life writing practices of those with chronic invisible illnesses.
Stormy Compeán Sweitzer will discuss how social media has changed both the social narrative and physical representation of what it means to be a “biker chick,” as well as how female motorcyclists discover and organize riding communities. Data gained through social media offer situated and naturalistic insight into how such online and digitally-supported offline communities operate.