The Global Digital Citizenship Lab (GDCL) at York University uses the conceptual, methodological, and theoretical tools of critical social science to research the cultural and socio-political effects of nascent forms of digital citizenship in global civil society. While much media and scholarly attention is devoted to technologically-driven phenomena in the digital age—such as the popularity of social media platforms, the advent of ‘disruptive’ sectorial entrants, the promises of Big Data, and the spread of crowdsourcing—, little consideration is given to the ways in which such phenomena are reconfiguring public discourse and knowledge of crucial socio-political debates and problems. In particular, what needs to be better understood is how the digital informalization and decentralization of processes of creating, evaluating, and disseminating information and artifacts are leading to a questioning of established or conventional principles, rituals, experts, and institutions through which knowledge is produced, truth claims are adjudicated, and social activities are regulated...GDCL Mission Statement
Five themes guide the GDCL’s research about digital cultures:
Does the digitally-driven democratization of knowledge compromise its quality?
Digital technologies and practices widen the circles of those participating in the creation and evaluation of knowledge and artifacts, but what kinds of procedures of validation of claims and verification of findings are these forms of collective intelligence and networked expertise adopting?
How can online abuse and hate speech be curbed?
Keen to advocate in favour of the unrestricted exchange of ideas and expression of opinions, several social media platforms and online forums also have become incubators of digital forms of abuse and havens for hate speech disproportionately targeting marginalized groups. What standards and techniques are social media corporations and governmental or legal bodies implementing to address these problems, by what organizational processes are such mechanisms being proposed and enforced, and how is their arbitrary, selective, or opaque application being avoided?
What constitutes evidentiary reliability in the digital age?
Our epoch is characterized by two paradoxical trends: the public’s increasing reliance on visual and textual material to interpret an event or phenomenon, and the unprecedented ease with which images can be manipulated and facts can be manufactured. Therefore, according to what criteria and through what mechanisms can the reliability of visual and factual evidence be established?
What alternative models of open access culture are possible?
Digital reproduction and distribution technologies have eroded restrictive copyright and intellectual property regimes as well as conventional monetization strategies in several cultural and knowledge-based industries, effectively converting the material from these industries free and widely available online. However, is it possible to preserve the ethos of anti-commercialism and resistance to commodification embodied in the open access culture movement while ensuring fair compensation for content creators, fair use of their material, and organizational sustainability for the networks and organizations supporting them?
How can public oversight of the digitally-based ‘sharing’ economy be realized?
Utilizing online platforms and mobile applications, multinational corporations have invented a deregulatory movement labelled the ‘sharing’ economy, which embodies libertarian ideals by framing the supply and demand of services as technologically-enabled free market transactions connecting individual consumers to supposedly independent private service providers—thereby skirting or largely operating outside of local and national regulatory regimes. Thus, what progressive discourses conceptually re-embed these corporations and the economic activities that they generate within the domain of the social and the political, in order to protect public interests and advance robust collective oversight of the ‘sharing’ economy?