[iDC] Introductions and salutations

Sarah T. Roberts sarah.roberts at uwo.ca
Fri Jun 13 18:34:12 UTC 2014

Greetings to all -

It’s been a pleasure getting caught up on reading the introductions of colleagues whom I already know and those from people I look forward to meeting. My name is Sarah Roberts; at present, I am an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Information and Media Studies (FIMS) at Western University in Ontario. At FIMS, where I recently completed my first year in residency, my research focuses on the practice of commercial content moderation (CCM).

CCM is the practice of screening of user-generated content (UGC) posted to Internet sites, social media platforms and other online outlets that encourage and rely upon such material to generate visits to and participation from users. Despite being essential to the media production cycle for these commercial websites and social media platforms as a major source of brand protection, gatekeeping and tastemaking, commercial content moderation is largely unknown outside its own industry and those that rely on it. My research endeavors to unveil the practice of commercial content moderation and to further contextualize it alongside contemporary trends of globalization, outsourcing and other economic and geospatial reconfigurations facilitated by the increasingly networked nature of the world. CCM tasks vacillate from the mind-numbingly repetitive and mundane to exposure to images and material that can be violent, disturbing and, at worst, psychologically damaging, and it requires these tasks of workers that are frequently relatively low-status and low-wage. The workers are typically further isolated because the work they do is in secret, considered an issue of brand protection by their employers. More can be found at http://illusionofvolition.com for those interested.

I’ll stop myself here and just say simply that I look forward to meeting the workers, artists and academics who will be in attendance, and sharing ideas with you. In addition to participating in the conference itself, I am honored to serve the event as a member of the advisory board, which mostly means supporting Trebor’s exciting vision for this event. Can’t wait to see all of you in New York.

With very best wishes,


S a r a h  T.  R o b e r t s,  P h. D.

Assistant Professor
Faculty of Information and Media Studies (FIMS) 
Western University

Blogging periodically at

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