RE-VALUING PLATFORMS, RECLAIMING THE LOCAL

Alex Gekker, Sam Hind

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

Abstract

This panel brings together emerging scholarship that challenges the contemporary hold of major platforms over public and private life. It critically questions the scope, valence, and embeddedness of platforms in the everyday, challenging (commercial) platformization as the new normal. We attempt to offer new ways of managing, changing and co-opting platforms for the benefit of end-users rather than proprietors only. To this end, the panel discusses and debates 'non-market' approaches to tackling social and environmental effects of platforms. It is designed to build on recent work within infrastructure, platform and critical data studies to suggest alternative approaches to the neoliberal ordering of economic life. A central question is whether the data streams monetized by “big tech” can be harnessed for public, democratic, or socialist ends; in doing so, bringing them 'in house' and into competition with big tech itself. In other words, the panel takes a “protocological” (Galloway 2004) resistance approach, in appropriating the methods of algorithmic- and data-governance occurring under platformization, and utilising them at the regional (state) or (hyper-)local (city, city block) level. Moreover, it seeks to highlight examples of successful community-based and cooperative instances of platformization. Looking at the seemingly ruthless efficiency of Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft (GAFAM) in the extraction of value through digital means, the panellists ask: what would resistance look like if we use the economic and infrastructural strategies levied against us? 

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