[iDC] Intro

Antonio Casilli antonio.casilli at telecom-paristech.fr
Sun Sep 14 17:23:55 UTC 2014

Hiya everyone, 

I'm so very late for this, but let me please introduce myself: my name's Antonio Casilli and I'm a sociologist studying computer-mediated sociabilities (re: privacy, surveillance, free-speech, and political autonomy). 

In my previous life, I was trained as a political economist. Also, I was raised as an Italian. That all stopped in 2000, when Berlusconi was elected for the second time and I left my ancestral homeland to embark for a life of poverty and freedom. But things didn't work out as expected, so I ended up becoming a research fellow at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS, Paris) and an associate professor at Telecom ParisTech (the engineering university founded in 1878 which prides itself to have invented the word "telecommunication" -- thus its name). 

These days I mainly deal with "problematic speech online": so-called "pro-ana" websites (like here http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/08/30/should-pro-ana-sites-be-criminalized.html), anonymity (here http://qz.com/174988/it-turns-out-people-are-better-at-protecting-their-privacy-than-companies-would-like/) and trolling (here http://www.bodyspacesociety.eu/2012/06/12/trollarchy-in-the-uk/). 

Which leads us to the topic of my contribution to the DL conference: exploring the links between trolling and digital labor. Building up on the remarkable research work of Sylvain Abel and Estelle Auboin (two brilliant co-authors and students with whom I've had the privilege of collaborating), we start by analyzig the moral panic surrounding trolling, and the current discursive effort to personalize and essentialize both trolls and their victims. We envision trolling as a social process, embedded in contemporary dynamics of value extraction. By focusing on cases of monetization of trolling in online environments (native advertising in 'meme marketing', astroturfing in political and corporate communication, crowdsourcing for product beta-testing in the software industry and in gaming), we highlight tech companies’ ambivalent attitude towards this phenomenon: calls for censorship on the one side, subsumption in the value chain on the other. This reveals the continuity between "troll labor" and digital labor per se. As far as both modalities are caught in cycles of repression and exploitation, trolling and labor cut across the same socio-technological territories (and might actually point to the development of innovative repertoires of contention). 

That's about it folks, looking forward to seeing all of you on the other side of the pond.

Antonio A. Casilli
Associate Professor (Telecom ParisTech)
Researcher Edgar-Morin Center (EHESS)
Twitter: @AntonioCasilli
Blog: http://www.bodyspacesociety.eu

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