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Volume 3, No. 1

Published February 8, 2021

Issue description

We are happy to present this new issue of JDSR, illustrating the wide scope of current digital social research. Kicking off the issue is Graßl et al. with an analysis of design patterns in online cookie consent requests. They show how ‘dark’ design choices can nudge users towards privacy-unfriendly options, thereby highlighting the work which remains to ensure meaningful choices for internet users in relation to their online preferences. Crucially, they also offer some paths towards better fulfilment of EU policy goals in this area. Meanwhile, Soudias’ contribution offers a strong call to action for understanding public libraries as non-commercial digital arenas furthering the digital commons. Soudias argues that libraries can mobilise to assume a dual role of being a bulwark against the commodification of knowledge, while also contributing to the production of freely and openly accessible knowledge. Furthermore, in their contribution,

Casemajor and Rocheleau analyse the vitality of discussions regarding a memorial to the victims of communism in Ottawa. They develop the theoretical foundations of cascade models with perspectives from platform studies, bringing new insights into issues of concentration of media ownership, algorithmic news processes, grassroots engagement and more. Johanssen, in turn, brings a psychoanalytic perspective on datafication while showing how our relationship to data can be described as a perversion characterised by dominance, exploitation and dehumanisation, but also by care, love, and idealisation. In this case, the platform, and its owners and developers are ‘the perverts’, while we as users are active participants in the perversion. Beyond the perhaps fitting self-reflection that this diagnosis may cause in us as platform users, it also offers ‘a complex conceptualisation of the interplay between affirmation, attraction and exploitation that is immanent to platforms and users today’.

Next up, Pournaki et al. gives us ways to analyse a specific platform in a more practical sense, by contributing the open-source interface ‘the Twitter Explorer’, allowing scientists to explore Twitter data through interactive network visualisations. This interface lowers the technological barriers of data-driven research and can further the type of interdisciplinary research and new perspectives that JDSR is all about. Rounding up the issue, and connecting to many of the themes above, Demertzis et al. analyse privacy attitudes and behaviours of internet users in Greece. Through locating connections between different levels of digital literacy and privacy attitudes they highlight three important imperatives: the need for legislation and regulation; information and digital literacy; and algorithmic transparency through explainable AI.

Full Issue