new research: “divergent spaces” wins SSRC Just Tech award

Very excited to share that my new fieldwork project on digital platforms and gentrification, “Divergent Spaces,” has been awarded an SSRC Just Tech Rapid-Response COVID-19 grant! I am currently conducting digital fieldwork based in Brooklyn as part of this new research project.

New research project! “Terra Incognita: Mapping NYC’s New Digital Public Spaces in the COVID-19 Outbreak”

Excited to announce a new research project with Dr. Mona Sloane and Civic Signals! “Terra Incognita: Mapping NYC’s New Digital Public Spaces in the COVID19 Outbreak” is a digital fieldwork project examining new forms of online public space in NYC, led by me (Jordan Kraemer) and Dr. Sloane, with Eli Pariser and the team at Civic Signals.

We’re looking for research assistants with expertise in digital ethnography & urban space, check out the CfA! Applications due 5/22/20.

Send in the Trolls

My research on identity-based cyberharassment with Implosion Labs for the Anti-Defamation League’s Center for Technology & Society is now out!

We found that coordinated, identity-based harassment disproportionately harms transgender users and women of color in spaces like social media and online gaming, and draws on anti-Semitic, misogynistic, and other hateful rhetoric. From the full report:

Our interview subjects represent a collection of experiences that have been described as distressing but are also displays of powerful resilience against a barrage of hate. Embedded in their stories are tales of setback, courage, and resistance. But beyond compelling narratives, they also serve a more practical function—these interviews help us more fully understand the dynamics of online harassment at a depth that would be very challenging to extract from survey results. Moreover, these interviews shine a light on how harassers exploit the design of social media platforms.

Our in-depth interviews show that online harassment and hate come in a variety of forms, ranging from single, but intense episodes of hate, to months-long sustained harassment campaigns. They cross from online-only events to offline incidents. They can target one person, or seek to disrupt entire personal and professional networks.

While the breadth of strategies available to attackers can be an overwhelming topic to explore, the impetus for harassment appears to be especially myopic. More often than not, targets felt they were attacked because of an identity-related attribute. Equally troubling is the fact that targets felt they did not have any legitimate recourse for action. They felt stymied in their attempts to remove hateful content by the content reporting mechanisms across major social media platforms.

Representation & Representativeness at EPIC2019

On Monday, Nov. 11, I’ll be joining Donna Lanclos, Amber Greene, Ruchika Muchhala, and Autumn Sanders Foster to discuss how ethnographic researchers think about representing the experiences of others, especially in the context of industry research, at EPIC2019 in Providence, RI. From the abstract:

Ethnographers take pride in representing people’s voices with fidelity, empathy, and deep contextual understanding. But our work can end up reinforcing a distinction between people who “have experience” that we study for insights and people who “have expertise” to use, shape, and monetize that experience.

Donna Lanclos previews the panel discussion on the challenges of representation for ethnographic researchers over on the EPIC blog, Perspectives:

More information on the panel:

Design & Society Workshop, NYC Nov. 30-Dec. 1

I’m excited to be partnering with Danya Glabau of Implosion Labs to offer a day-and-a-half workshop on Design & Society!

“Design is a dominant paradigm for building and understanding the modern world. The language of design is especially prominent in the digital realm, where its assumptions influence how we interact with the world and with each other. But how has design come to matter? Why does it seem like such an important tool in our current cultural moment? What norms and assumptions inform the design of everyday technologies via design schools like UX? And what are the political implications of interface design?”

We will learn about critical and ethnographic approaches to design, especially digital design, through readings, discussion, and hands-on exercises.

Our webinar from October 16 on Design & Society is also now online!

Design & Society Webinar Oct. 16

Join me and Danya Glabau of Implosion Labs, LLC for a free webinar on critical & anthropological approaches to design, from 1-2pm on Tuesday, October 16. Why has design become such an important tool in thinking about technology and society?

Graphic of a 3D wireframe urban block

Design is a dominant paradigm for building and understanding the modern world. The language of design is especially prominent in the digital realm, where its assumptions influence how we interact with the world and with each other.

In this 45-minute webinar, media anthropologist Dr. Jordan Kramer will outline critical perspectives on digital design that will shake up participants’ assumptions about the impact of design on society. Participants will consider questions like: How has design come to matter? Why does it seem like such an important tool in our current moment? What norms and assumptions inform the design of everyday technologies through approaches like UX? And what are the political effects of interface design?

Participants will leave this webinar with an overview of the critical questions that practitioners, users, and observers can ask to ensure that the futures we design will truly be better than the past that designers seek to transcend.

Implosion Labs
Design & Society Webinar

1-2pm EST
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Logistical Labor: Stop doing companies’ digital busywork for free

A man from the back, in a striped dress shirt and blue jeans, facing a grey wall, hands on hips, looking up at a graphic of five white stars, four of which are filled in.

How much time and energy do people spend rating, reviewing and answering surveys?

Jordan Kraemer, New York University

Over the past year, I stopped responding to customer surveys, providing user feedback or, mostly, contributing product reviews. Sometimes I feel obligated – even eager – to provide this information. Who doesn’t like being asked their opinion? But, in researching media technologies as an anthropologist, I see these requests as part of a broader trend making home life bureaucratic.

Consumer technologies – whether user reviews and recommendations, social media or health care portals – involve logistical effort that means more administrative work at home. As economic anthropologist David Graeber observes, “All the software designed to save us from administrative responsibilities [has] turned us into part- or full-time administrators.” Companies may benefit when customers create content, provide feedback and do busywork once done by paid employees, but what about the customers themselves – all of us?

Many researchers recognize professional workplaces are becoming more bureaucratic, managing workers through documentation and quantification. But fewer acknowledge the expansion of this logic into private life. It might not feel like a burden to update your Facebook profile, review a business or log in to a web portal to message your doctor. But when you lose time answering customer surveys, setting privacy rules, resetting a password, wading through licensing agreements or updating firmware, it becomes clear how digital technologies increase managerial work at home. In my forthcoming book, I explore this phenomenon, which I call logistical labor. Continue reading

The Cultural Anxiety of the White Middle Class

This week in Counterpunch, I write about the cultural & racial dimensions of identity & belonging for the white middle class in the “knowledge” economy:

Whiteness has long stood in for class status, ensuring respectability and legitimacy for those who imagine themselves the protagonist of the (white) American narrative. For many whites, losing economic status entails a profound loss of selfhood and cultural belonging—not only economic anxiety, but cultural anxiety.

Read more…