March 15th, 2014

Hector Postigo
Associate Professor
Temple University
Dept. of Media Studies and Production
School of  Media and Communication
Annenberg Hall
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 within cultural production.  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 interrogate this topic generally 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.

As I look forward to the next few years I’m hoping to continue looking into technology and activism.   Currently I’m conducting 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 .  Recently,  I’ve started thinking about privacy and participation in web platforms.  I’ve just 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 recently 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 Origings of the Digital Rights Movment and its available here.

Lastly, Tarleton Gillespie (from Cornell University) and I recently received funding from the National Science Foundation for a new project on cultural production in the digital age.  We have some great collaborators from all over the world joining us for this project and are also organizing some workshops.  We’ve founded a blog, Culture Digitally, which is getting some nice traffic!

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