My name is Stefania and I am Associate Professor of New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam. I am the Principal Investigator (PI) of the DATACTIVE project (European Research Council Starting Grant No 639379), Co-Principal Investigator of the e-LADDA project (Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions Grant No 857897) and Project Leader of Citizenship and Standard-Setting in Digital Networks (NWO Grant No MVt.19.032). I am also the principal of the DATACTIVE Ideas Lab, a consultancy agency (KvK-nummer 69570132).

I am passionate about the interplay between technologies and society. I am interested in the possibilities of self organization, emancipation, and autonomy that digital infrastructure opens up. A social scientist by formation, I value interdisciplinary (or ‘un-disciplined’) research, and feel myself at home at the intersection of a variety of fields, including critical data studies, political sociology, and science and technology studies. My CV hides here. Here is the list of my publications.

academic musings
I hold a PhD in Political and Social Sciences from the European University Institute (EUI), Italy (2009). Prior to joining the EUI, I studied Communication Sciences at the University of Padova, Italy.

Before joining the University of Amsterdam, I was an Assistant Professor of Data Journalism at Tilburg University (2012-2014) where I funded and directed the Data J Lab dedicated to ‘Big Data’ analytics. I was  a postdoctoral fellow at the Citizen Lab, University of Toronto (2011-2012); a visiting professor at the Department of Political Science of the Central European University, in Budapest, Hungary (2011); a visiting scholar at Media@McGill, McGill University, Montreal, Canada (2010); a research fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute (2009-2010), and at the Political and Social Sciences Department, European University Institute (2011); a lecturer at the University of Lucerne, Switzerland (2008-2010); a junior specialist at the Center for the Study of Democracy at the University of California, Irvine (2008), and a research associate at the Stanhope Center for Communications Policy Research, in London (2005-2006).

I have worked in exciting projects like the European Union Democracy Observatory on Citizenship and Caught in the act of protest: Contextualizing contestation. With many of these people and organizations, I keep alive fruitful connections and collaborations. I am particularly proud of being a member of the Center on Social Movement Studies (COSMOS) at the Scuola Normale Superiore (Italy).

what bubbles in my head these days

My main line of work concerns emerging data epistemologies and the notion of data activism. We live in a time of data abundance, one in which data is not merely a commodity or a tool for surveillance, but also a metaphor of power. The hype that surrounds ‘data’ as a driving force of contemporary societies has affected not only governments and companies, but also the organized civil society. Data as a metaphor for transparency and a tool for mobilization inspire an array of citizen’s practices in the digital domain, including civic hackers initiatives, and campaigns that take advantage of ‘freedom of Information’ legislation. The DATACTIVE project explores how movements and citizens use data and data analysis techniques (as the craft of getting stories out of numbers) to provoke social change and resist surveillance. To know more you can read about the contentious politics of data, the alternative data epistemologies of data activism, data activism as the new frontier of media activism, and the consequences of playing with data.

My work on cloud protesting, initiated in the aftermath of the Occupy mobilisation, explores the impact of social media platforms, their materiality and their governamentality, in contemporary collective action, with a focus on cultural aspects of collective identities and narratives, and on the evolution of organization forms. ‘Cloud protesting/ indicates a type of social organizing for collective action which has individuals (and their needs, identities, and bodies) at its core. It is enabled by social media platforms and mobile devices. My work on cloud protesting has appeared on a number of writings exploring, among others, the evolution of collective identities, the shaping role of platform algorithms, individuality and personalization.

people’s sport and gyms.

Methodological innovation 

In 2018-2020, I was the Principal Investigator of the ALEX project (European Research Council Proof of Concept Grant No 825974).

earlier work

By politics of code I intend to capture the cultural, political and ideological forces at play behind technology development. In particular, I explore how cultural and political values of socially-engaged technological developers (“radical techies”) shape digital communication infrastructure and power in cyberspace. For radical techies, software development is a way of “express[ing] people’s political aspirations in the form of code” (field interview). I look at code as both a cultural artifact and a form of policy intervention. Case studies include the crisis mapping community and alternatives to commercial social networking services.

internet governance 

I am a member of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR), and I was elected to the International Council of the organization in 2012, and again in 2020. I co-chaired the IAMCR Emerging Scholars Network (2008-2012) and served as co-chair of the IAMCR Communication Policy Task Force (2012-2016). I also served in the Executive Committee of the Non-Commercial User Constituency of the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (XX-XX), and as an elected representative in Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) (XX-XX). I was a member of the Steering Committee of /1net. I am a member of a number of other academic associations, including the International Communication Association, GIGANet, the International Studies Association, the European Sociological Association, and counting. As a consultant, I have worked for the European Commission, the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research, and many international NGOs.

there is life beyond academia
I am a journalist (although I rarely practice these days), and a member of the UK National Union of Journalists. I am also a lifeguard and a swimming instructor. I love sports and the outdoors, possibly in combination: you can see what keeps me busy beyond academia in the section of this website.

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