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Self Tracking
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Surviving the New Economy

The Gendered Affordances of Craigslist “New-in-town Girls Wanted” Ads

Sex-for-rent schemes have emerged on online sites as rental options. We analyzed 583 advertisements that were posted on Craigslist in London and Los Angeles and interviewed 34 women who were or had been in these arrangements. This research yielded four key tensions: (1) navigating innuendo (mis)interpretation versus preserving arranged ambiguity, (2) the guise of amateurism and romance versus persistent specificity, (3) calculated sacrifice versus narrative of a better life, and (4) consent versus consensual non-consent. Findings attest to the affordances online platforms offer by connecting geographically dispersed parties in a low risk, anonymous forum. Furthermore, present research joins discourses on the commercialization of intimacy and forms of precarious, gendered labor while asserting Internet features are pivotal in facilitating these arrangements. We propose gendered affordances to conceptualize how individual aspirational labor efforts, combined with platform affordances, commodify intimacy for sale on the moral marketplace.

  • Schwartz, Becca, & Gina Neff. “The Gendered Affordances of Craigslist ‘New-in-Town Girls Wanted’ Ads.” New Media & Society, (May 2019). doi:10.1177/1461444819849897.  

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. 

Critique and Contribute

What would data science look like if its key critics were engaged to help improve it, and how might critiques of data science improve with an approach that considers the day-to-day practices of data science? This article argues for scholars to bridge the conversations that seek to critique data science and those that seek to advance data science practice to identify and create the social and organizational arrangements necessary for a more ethical data science. We summarize four critiques that are commonly made in critical data studies: data are inherently interpretive, data are inextricable from context, data are mediated through the sociomaterial arrangements that produce them, and data serve as a medium for the negotiation and communication of values. We present qualitative research with academic data scientists, “data for good” projects, and specialized cross-disciplinary engineering teams to show evidence of these critiques in the day-to-day experience of data scientists as they acknowledge and grapple with the complexities of their work. Using ethnographic vignettes from two large multiresearcher field sites, we develop a set of concepts for analyzing and advancing the practice of data science and improving critical data studies, including (1) communication is central to the data science endeavor; (2) making sense of data is a collective process; (3) data are starting, not end points, and (4) data are sets of stories. We conclude with two calls to action for researchers and practitioners in data science and critical data studies alike. First, creating opportunities for bringing social scientific and humanistic expertise into data science practice simultaneously will advance both data science and critical data studies. Second, practitioners should leverage the insights from critical data studies to build new kinds of organizational arrangements, which we argue will help advance a more ethical data science. Engaging the insights of critical data studies will improve data science. Careful attention to the practices of data science will improve scholarly critiques. Genuine collaborative conversations between these different communities will help push for more ethical, and better, ways of knowing in increasingly datum-saturated societies.