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Venture Labor
Surviving the New Economy

The Political Economy of Digital Health

The Internet and digital media are increasingly seen as having enormous potential for solving problems facing healthcare systems. This chapter traces emerging “digital health” uses and applications, focusing on the political economy of data. For many people, the ability to access their own data through social media and connect with people with similar conditions holds enormous potential to empower them and improve healthcare decisions. For researchers, digital health tools present new forms of always-on data that may lead to major discoveries. Technology and telecommunications Companies hope their customers’ data can answer key health questions or encourage healthier behavior. 

  • Gina Neff, “The Political Economy of Digital Health” in Society and the Internet: How Networks of Information and Communication are Changing Our Lives. Edited by Mark Graham and William H. Dutton (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2019).

Innovation Through Practice

Purpose: Through the study of visualizations, virtual worlds, and information exchange, this research reveals the complex connections between technology and the work of design and construction. The authors apply the socio-technical view of technology and the ramifications this view has on successful use of technology in design and construction.

Approach: This is a discussion paper reviewing over a decade of research that connects  three streams of research on architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) teams as these teams grappled with adapting work practices to new technologies and the opportunities these technologies promised.

Findings: From studies of design and construction practices with Building Information Modeling and energy modeling, the authors show that given the constructed nature of  models and the loose-coupling of project teams, these team organizational practices need  to mirror the modeling requirements. Second, looking at distributed teams, whose interaction is mediated by technology, the authors argue that virtual world visualizations
enhance discovery, while distributed AEC teams also need more traditional forms of 2D abstraction, sketching, and gestures to support integrated design dialogue. Finally, in information exchange research the authors found that models and data have their own logic and structure and as such require creativity and ingenuity to exchange data across systems. Taken together, these streams of research suggest that process innovation is  brought about by people developing new practices.

Originality: In this paper the authors argue that technology alone does not change practice. People who modify practices with and through technology create process innovation. 

The Potential of Networked Solidarity

This chapter argues that the concerns of propaganda, voice, and democracy that characterized the rise of communication and media studies as disciplines were anchored in a set of twentieth-century liberal ideals that presumed the key role that information plays in people’s lives. This chapter argues that media and communication scholars need to update their theories for the twenty-first century. Both the election of Trump and the ‘Brexit’ referendum in the UK are case studies how twentieth century ideas about information, media and democracy are no longer sufficient to anchor contemporary media and communication scholarship. This chapter suggests a corrective by means an early twentieth century thinker who has not been used widely in media and communication, Emile Durkheim. By reintroducing the metaphor of organic and mechanical solidarity, this chapter argues that empathy and social cohesion might be alternates for intellectual anchors for our field for the future.

  • Neff, Gina. “The Potential of Networked Solidarity: Communication at the End of the Long Twentieth Century” in Pablo Boczkowski and Zizi Papacharissi, eds. Trump and the Media. MIT Press.