NPC Wired Episode 4: On Playing Games of Persuasion with Big Data and Micro-targeting

This week's episode, hosted by Professor Ben O'Loughlin and Dr Elinor Carmi, features Dr Jennifer Pybus. She discusses an array of important subjects, from Trump's use of data in his Facebook campaign (read more about that here), the covert shift to consumerist purchasing funnel in politics resulting in a large degree of personalisation, to China's social credit system.

Dr Jennifer Pybus is Lecturer in Digital Culture and Society at King's College London. Her current research looks at the politics of datafication and everyday life, specifically in relation to those critical points of tension that lie at the intersections between digital culture, Big Data and emerging advertising and marketing practices. Read more about her research here, and follow her on Twitter here.

NPC Wired Episode 2: Dr Anna Feigenbaum on Digital Storytelling and Social Change

The second episode of NPC Wired features Dr Anna Feigenbaum, Principal Academic in Digital Storytelling at Bournemouth University. Speaking with Professor Ben O'Loughlin and Dr Elinor Carmi, she discusses her current research (she is presently writing The Data Storytelling Workbook for Routledge, which will be coming out in 2019), draws on practitioners’ experiences and research to investigate how the rise in big and open data can be put to use to tell better data stories for social change. They also talk about the barriers various practitioners face when analysing data, and the fetishisation of data visualisation, among other things.

Her latest book, Tear Gas: From the Battlefields of WW1 to the Streets of Today, published with Verso, is available now. Find out more about Anna's work here, and follow her on Twitter here

New article by Szostek on Russian coercion

Dr. Joanna Szostek has published a new research article in Geopolitics entitled, The Mass Media and Russia’s “Sphere of Interests”: Mechanisms of Regional Hegemony in Belarus and Ukraine. In it, she argues why Russia is becoming more reliant on coercion to secure its regional ambitions, based on analysis in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. A full abstract is below. Congratulations Joanna!

Read the article here.

The Mass Media and Russia’s “Sphere of Interests”: Mechanisms of Regional Hegemony in Belarus and Ukraine

As conduits for ideas, values and geographical knowledge, the mass media contribute to the construction of regional order. Moscow-based media organisations with audiences in post-Soviet republics have been described as ‘soft power tools’ or ‘information weapons’ which aid the Russian state in its pursuit of regional dominance. However, a heavy focus on the agency of the Russian state obscures the important role that local actors and their motives often play in delivering Russian media content to large audiences in neighbouring countries. This article examines several major news providers which export content from Russia to Belarus and Ukraine, reaching large audiences thanks to partnerships that serve particular local interests and accommodate some local sensitivities. These news providers resemble mechanisms of neo-Gramscian regional hegemony, where actors in the ‘periphery’ are involved in perpetuating norms from the ‘centre’. The article argues that Russia’s political leadership, despite promoting consensual hegemony as its preferred regional order, has in fact undermined the type of media mechanisms that might have helped to sustain such an order. As the Russian state has projected narratives without regard for negative local reactions, it has made itself more reliant on coercive means to secure its declared ‘sphere of interests’ across formerly Soviet territory.