Dept. of Media Studies and Production
School of Media and Communication
2020 North 13th Street
email: hector [dot] postigo [at] temple [dot] edu
My research focuses on new digital media and cultural production both large and small. My endeavors have centered on 2 areas of inquiry. The first interrogates notions of value, participation, and “free” labor on the internet. I have looked at a number of “sites” as case studies to ask: what kinds of value does the work of fan communities, volunteers and others add to commercial enterprises? What are their (industry and user) norms, practices and values? And how do they engage with technologies/laws/policies that afford or frustrate participation? I was one of the first researchers to study video game fan communities that make valuable modifications to popular PC games (modders), for example, and have written on the history of AOL volunteer communities and their labor disputes.
My second line of research focuses on technologically mediated activism. I study this topic by asking how technological resistance structures activism in social movements? I am concerned with how ICTs, hacks, workarounds and other circumvention and organization measures might impact the role of individuals and organizations bent on social change. I’m a fan of Jennifer Earl’s work on that topic. My own contributions in that vein have centered on the digital rights or free culture movement and their use of technological measures as a form of activism. My book on that topic just came out from MIT Press. I’ve also conducted research on Web 2.0 and social change organizations, for example. I’m doing that with Carla Ilten from the Technical University of Berlin who now a graduate student on sociology at the University of Illinois Chicago . I’ve also been researching privacy and participation in web platforms. In 2015 wrapped up research on the US security/privacy industry and its branding and marketing practices.
That project was funded by the European Commission 7th Programme Framework. My collaborators and I published a co-edited a volume on that topic. It’s available from Palgrave Macmillan Press. Recently the MIT Press released portions of my Digital Rights Movement as a part of its MIT BIT initiative. That volume is titled Origins of the Digital Rights Movement and its available here.
In 2011 Tarleton Gillespie (from Microsoft Research and Cornell) and I received funding from the National Science Foundation for a project on cultural production in the digital age. We had great collaborators from all over the world join us for this project founded a blog, Culture Digitally, and it has grown into a wonderful research community.
My most recent project, again with the generous support of the National Science Foundation, involves me in studying how video game platforms can create creative spaces to solve long standing questions in biochemistry, engineering and physics. That project is in collaboration with Casey O’Donnell from Michigan State University. We’re very excited about our findings. Stay tuned.