Earlier this month, the journal Information, Communication & Society published the paper “The Google Voter: Search Engines and Elections in the New Media Ecology,” of which I am the lead author. This article, which can be accessed freely on the journal’s website, discusses some of the main research findings from the VoterEcology project, on which I collaborated with Profs. Andrew Hoskins (University of Glasgow) and Sarah Oates (University of Maryland, College Park), as well as Dr. Dounia Mahlouly (King’s College, London). The paper fills an important gap in our understanding of contemporary information-gathering practices and media environments that surround elections, focusing on the use of search engines by voters in the U.S. and the UK. While search engines remain the primary channel for citizens in these and other democratic countries to engage with election-related information online, there is a dearth of research about the implications of this practice. This paper combines Google Trends data with the analysis of news media coverage to shed light on the opportunities and drawbacks generated by search engine use in elections and reflects on the need to develop innovative methodologies capable of exploring the new media ecologies that are emerging from the interaction of novel and more established forms of media.
I’m excited to announce that my book “Disability Rights Advocacy Online: Voice, Empowerment and Global Connectivity” was released in October 2016. Both hard back and e-book versions are available from the Routledge website, as well as on Amazon and other online vendors (where it’s cheaper!).
This book charts the recent digitalization of disability rights advocacy in the U.K. and the U.S., and discusses the implications of this transformation for disabled citizens and other traditionally under-represented groups. In just a few short years, disability rights groups have gone from using the Internet much less than other advocacy organizations to pioneering new uses of social media to foster a deep sense of agency and unify a very diverse community. To read a full book synopsis, click here.
This week I will attend the 9th Conference of State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) at the U.N. headquarters in New York City as part of the delegation from American University’s Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP), of which I recently became Deputy Director. This year marks a particularly important occasion as it is the 10th anniversary of the CRPD. In collaboration with other partners, IDPP has prepared two side events to this conference. These include:
- Disability and Digital Societies side event: Wednesday, June 15th, 8-9:30am, UN conference room 11 – click here to attend this side event remotely;
- Accessible Global Governance side event: Thursday, June 16th, 6:15-8pm, UN conference room 11 – click here to attend this side event remotely.
More information about each event is available here.
Earlier this month I started a new job as tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Public Communication Division at American University’s School of Communication. It’s incredibly exciting to be in Washington, DC and I received the warmest of welcomes from a fantastic group of colleagues with whom I look forward to collaborating over the coming years. Following several weeks of anticipation, teaching starts today and it’s terrific to meet the students too, who are the center of a very vibrant learning and research community here at AU. Keep an eye out for more updates from DC in the coming weeks, but now I need to run to go teach another class!
Routledge just released a great volume on media representations of disability in the run up to, during and after the 2012 London Parlyampic Games. This book was edited by Dan Jackson, Caroline Hodges, MIke Molesworth and Richard Scullion at Bournemouth University and is entitled “Reframing Disability? Media, (Dis)empowerment and Voice in the 2012 Paralympics.”
I contributed one chapter to this book, which focuses on media representations of disability rights protesters during the London Games. The full citation is: “Contentious Disability Politics on the World Stage: Protest at the 2012 London Paralympics,” pp. 145-171. For more information about the book on Routledge’s website, click here.
I was awarded a grant from the Principal’s Early Career Mobility Fund to visit Columbia University and will be heading to New York for two weeks in spring 2015. I will be based at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, where I will liaise with Prof. Amy Fairchild and colleagues to discuss collaborative plans for the study of contested public health policy debates (e.g. e-cigarette regulations, ‘soda-tax’ proposals) on both emergent and established forms of media in the UK and the U.S. I am thrilled to have been able to secure this visit, which will no doubt enhance the comparative aspect of this new and exciting research project.
My paper on using Google Trends in academic research is out – thank you to the First Monday team for their super-quick copy-edit efforts. Here is the abstract, you can access the full paper (open access) by clicking here.
Search Engines: From Social Science Objects to Academic Inquiry Tools – by Filippo Trevisan – First Monday, 19(11)
This paper discusses the challenges and opportunities involved in incorporating publicly available search engine data in scholarly research. In recent years, an increasing number of researchers have started to include tools such as Google Trends (http://google.com/trends) in their work. However, a central ‘search engine’ field of inquiry has yet to emerge. Rather, the use of search engine data to address social research questions is spread across many disciplines, which makes search valuable across fields but not critical to any one particular area. In an effort to stimulate a comprehensive debate on these issues, this paper reviews the work of pioneering scholars who devised inventive — if experimental — ways of interpreting data generated through search engine accessory applications and makes the point that search engines should be regarded not only as central objects of research, but also as fundamental tools for broader social inquiry. Specific concerns linked to this methodological shift are identified and discussed, including: the relationship with other, more established social research methods; doubts over the representativeness of search engine data; the need to contextualize publicly available search engine data with other types of evidence; and the limited granularity afforded to researchers by tools such as Google Trends. The paper concludes by reflecting on the combination of search engine data with other forms of inquiry as an example of arguably inelegant yet innovative and effective ‘kludgy’ design (Karpf, 2012).
I am thrilled to say that I have signed a contract to publish my first book in the “Routledge Studies in Global Information, Politics, and Society” series edited by Ken Rogerson (Duke University) and Laura Roselle (Elon University). The book is entitled “Disability Rights Advocacy and New Media in Britain and America” and builds on my doctoral research. This work, which will be released in 2016, explores whether the Internet can re-configure political participation and policy-making to be more inclusive experiences for users with disabilities, enhancing their stakes in democratic citizenship.
Following the successful defense of my thesis “Connected Citizens or Digital Isolation? Online Disability Activism in Times of Crisis” in June this year, I was awarded my PhD in political communication and public policy from the University of Glasgow in September.