Pereira, G., Bojczuk, I., & Parks, L. (accepted/in print). WhatsApp Disruptions in Brazil: A content analysis of user and news media responses, 2015-2018. Global Media and Communication. Preprint. See abstract.
Brazilians have adopted WhatsApp as a national media and communication infrastructure over the past several years, although it is controlled by its private U.S.-based owner, Facebook. To contribute to critical analysis of WhatsApp usage in Brazil, this article explores the diverse, contentious, and influential roles the app played in the country during disruptions to its use from 2015 to 2018. Using content analysis the article critically engages with user-generated memes and news media coverage responding to these disruptions. Brazilians self-reflexively questioned the app’s role in their everyday lives and country, reassessing what it means to rely on a national infrastructure owned by an unaccountable global media conglomerate. This situation compels scholars to engage further with the nationalization and localization of U.S.-owned platforms and to assess their political, economic and cultural impacts, given their connection to the rise of far-right populism in Brazil and elsewhere.
Pereira, G., Moreschi, B. (2020). Artificial Intelligence and Institutional Critique 2.0: Unexpected Ways of Seeing with Computer Vision. AI & Society. doi:10.1007/s00146-020-01059-y, or see the Open Access Accepted Manuscript. See abstract.
During 2018, as part of a research funded by Deviant Practice Grant, artist Bruno Moreschi and digital media researcher Gabriel Pereira worked with the Van Abbemuseum collection (Eindhoven, NL), reading their artworks through commercial image-recognition (Computer Vision) Artificial Intelligences from leading tech companies. The main takeaways were: somewhat as expected, AI is constructed through a capitalist and product-focused reading of the world (values that are embedded in this sociotechnical system); and that this process of using AI is an innovative way for doing institutional critique, as AI offers an untrained eye that reveals the inner workings of the art system through its glitches. This research aims to regard these glitches as potentially revealing of the art system, and even poetic at times. We also look at them as a way of revealing the inherent fallibility of the commercial use of AI and Machine Learning to catalogue the world: it cannot comprehend other ways of knowing about the world, outside the logic of the algorithm. But, at the same time, due to their “glitchy” capacity to level and reimagine, these faulty readings can also serve as a new way of reading art; a new way for thinking critically about the art image in a moment when visual culture has changed form to hybrids of human-machine cognition and “machine-to-machine seeing”.
Mangabeira, M., Goveia, F., Moreschi, B., Pereira, G., & Criste, I. (2020). Network of Speeches: Constructing “Another 33rd Sao Paulo Biennial” from digital traces on Twitter and Facebook. Trama Interdisciplinar. Only in Portuguese: doi:10.5935/2177-5672/trama.v10n1p23-47. See abstract.
As part of the artwork “Another 33rd Sao Paulo Biennial”, which sought to create an alternative archive of the Biennial’s artistic system, a group of multidisciplinary artists and researchers analyzed the discourses constructed and published on social networks about the exhibition. Through the collection and analysis of public traces of user interactions on Facebook and Twitter, the objective of this research was to investigate which unofficial speeches about the event reverberated out of the exhibition space. Data was collected and mined using the Ford Parse script, developed by Labic (Ufes). We obtained 2,764 Twitter posts, and 38 posts and 827 comments on Facebook between August 28 and November 2, 2018. Quantitative and qualitative analysis allowed us to observe a close relationship between artistic space and social and political issues. The most relevant theme in the period was the pro-Lula act, called “Lulaço”, which was held at the opening of the Biennial. Other research results show point to diverse unofficial discourses reverberated through social networks during the main art event in Brazil: between press attention, negative and positive emotions, a traffic radio, and check-in through photos. Instead of an elucidative or even definitive study on the subject, this work had the intention of contributing to the creation of a culture of investigation of the repercussions that escape the traditional methods of measuring the impact of a large art event. We offer a broader understanding, which understands the art system as something larger than its traditional encoded discourse. By carefully gathering, selecting, and analyzing other voices, this paper emphasizes that art is above all a set of social practices and should be viewed as a field beyond its objects. Further studies can be made in the future from the collected data sets, as the data collected is kept as part of the institution’s archive, offering layers of the exhibition that are usually not taken into account and preserved.
Moreschi, B., Pereira, G., & Cozman, F.G. (2020). The Brazilian Workers in Amazon Mechanical Turk: Dreams and realities of ghost workers. Contracampo – Brazilian Journal of Communication [Special Issue on Platform Labor]. In English: doi:10.22409/contracampo.v39i1.38252, or in Portuguese. See abstract.
Contributing to research on digital platform labor in the Global South, this research surveyed 149 Brazilian workers in the Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT) platform. We begin by offering a demographic overview of the Brazilian turkers and their relation with work in general. In line with previous studies of turkers in the USA and India, AMT offers poor working conditions for Brazilian turkers. Other findings we discuss include: how a large amount of the respondents affirmed they have been formally unemployed for a long period of time; the relative importance of the pay they receive to their financial subsistence; and how Brazilian turkers cannot receive their pay directly into their bank accounts due to Amazon restrictions, making them resort to creative circumventions of the system. Importantly, these “ghost workers” (Gray & Suri, 2019) find ways to support each other and self-organize through the WhatsApp group, where they also mobilize to fight for changes on the platform. As this type of work is still in formation in Brazil, and potentially will grow in the coming years, we argue this is a matter of concern.
Markham, A., & Pereira, G. (2019). Analyzing public interventions through the lens of experimentalism: The case of the Museum of Random Memory. Digital Creativity [Special Issue on Hybrid Pedagogies]. doi:10.1080/14626268.2019.1688838. See abstract.
Over 30 computational scientists, designers, artists, and activists collaboratively performed eight Museum of Random Memory workshops and exhibitions from 2016 to 2018. Here, we explore how the framework of ‘experimentation’ helped us analyze our own iterative development of techniques to foster critical data literacy. After sketching key aspects of experimentation across disciplines, we detail moments within where researchers tweaked, observed, tested, reflected, and tweaked again. This included changing scale, format, and cultural context; observing how people responded to digital versus analog memory-making activities; modifying prompts to evoke different conversations among participants about how future memories might be imagined or read by future archeologists; and finding creative ways to discuss and trouble ethics of data sharing. We conclude that coopting some of the techniques typical in natural science laboratories can prompt scholar activists to continuously recalibrate their processes and adjust interactions as they build pedagogical strategies for fostering critical data literacy in the public sphere.
Raetzsch, C., Pereira, G., Vestergaard, L. S., & Brynskov, M. (2019). Weaving seams with data: Conceptualizing City APIs as elements of infrastructures. Big Data & Society, 6(1), doi:10.1177/2053951719827619. See abstract.
This article addresses the role of application programming interfaces (APIs) for integrating data sources in the context of smart cities and communities. On top of the built infrastructures in cities, application programming interfaces allow to weave new kinds of seams from static and dynamic data sources into the urban fabric. Contributing to debates about “urban informatics” and the governance of urban information infrastructures, this article provides a technically informed and critically grounded approach to evaluating APIs as crucial but often overlooked elements within these infrastructures. The conceptualization of what we term City APIs is informed by three perspectives: In the first part, we review established criticisms of proprietary social media APIs and their crucial function in current web architectures. In the second part, we discuss how the design process of APIs defines conventions of data exchanges that also reflect negotiations between API producers and API consumers about affordances and mental models of the underlying computer systems involved. In the third part, we present recent urban data innovation initiatives, especially CitySDK and OrganiCity, to underline the centrality of API design and governance for new kinds of civic and commercial services developed within and for cities. By bridging the fields of criticism, design, and implementation, we argue that City APIs as elements of infrastructures reveal how urban renewal processes become crucial sites of socio-political contestation between data science, technological development, urban management, and civic participation.
Full-Length Articles in Conference Proceedings (Refereed)
Markham, A., & Pereira, G. (2019). Experimenting with algorithmic memory-making: Lived experience and future-oriented ethics in critical data science. Proceedings of the Workshop on Critical Data Science of the AAAI ICWSM Conference 2019. Frontiers in Big Data. doi:10.3389/fdata.2019.00035. See abstract.
In this paper, we focus on one specific participatory installation developed for an exhibition in Aarhus (Denmark) by the Museum of Random Memory, a series of arts-based, public-facing workshops and interventions. The multichannel video installation experimented with how one memory (Trine’s) can be represented in three very different ways, through algorithmic processes. We describe how this experiment troubles the everyday (mistaken) assumptions that digital archiving naturally includes the necessary codecs for future decoding of digital artifacts. We discuss what’s at stake in critical (theory) discussions of data practices. Through this case, we offer an argument that from an ethical as well as epistemological perspective critical data studies can’t be separated from an understanding of data as lived experience.
Tiidenberg, K., Markham, A., Pereira, G., Rehder, M. M., Dremljuga, R-R., Sommer, J. K., & Dougherty, M. (2017). “I’m an addict” and other sensemaking devices: a discourse analysis of self-reflections on lived experience of social media. Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Social Media & Society, 21, Association for Computing Machinery. doi:10.1145/3097286.3097307. See abstract.
How do young people make sense of their social media experiences, which rhetoric do they use, which grand narratives of technology and social media do they rely on? Based on discourse analysis of approximately 500 pages of written data and 390 minutes of video (generated by 50 college students aged 18-30 between 2014-2016) this article explores how young people negotiate their own experience and existing discourses about social media. Our analysis shows that young people rely heavily on canonic binaries from utopian and dystopian interpretations of networked technologies to apply labels to themselves, others, and social media in general. As they are prompted to reflect on their experience, their rhetoric about social media use and its implications becomes more nuanced yet remains inherently contradictory. This reflects a dialectical struggle to make sense of their lived experiences and feelings. Our unique methodology for generating deeply self-reflexive, auto-ethnographic narrative accounts suggests a way for scholars to be able to understand the ongoing struggles for meaning that occur within the granularity of everyday reflections about our own social media use.
Extended Abstracts in Conference Proceedings (Refereed)
Pereira, G. (2019). Apple Memories and automated memory-making: Marketing speak, chip-engineering, and the politics of prediction. Selected Papers of #AoIR2019: Proceedings of the 20th international conference of the Association of Internet Researchers. Link
Rehder, M., Pereira, G., & Markham, A. (2017). “Clip, move, adjust”: Video editing as reflexive rhythmanalysis in networked publics. Selected Papers of #AoIR2017: Proceedings of the 18th international conference of the Association of Internet Researchers. Link
Other Publications (lightly or non peer-reviewed)
Moreschi, B., & Pereira, G. (2019). Recoding Art: Van Abbemuseum collection. Deviant Practice Research Programme, 2018-2019. ISBN: 9789490757205.
Carvalho, A., Moreschi, B., & Pereira, G. (2019). The History of _rt: deconstructions of the official history of art narrative. Revista do Centro de Pesquisa e Formação do SESC, 8. In PT/BR, English translation forthcoming.