CARGC Colloquium: Fernanda Rosa, Annenberg School

Code Ethnography and the Materiality of Power in Digital Communication Infrastructures
Fernanda Rosa Headshot
06 Feb 2020 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
3901 Walnut Street, 6th Floor
Open to the Public

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About the Talk

The aim of this presentation is to introduce code ethnography, defined as a method for the study of technology affordances or characteristics of technical digital objects, in consideration of their inherent social, political, and economic impacts. It aims to contribute to how social science scholars capture critical aspects of digital communication infrastructures that are not only inaccessible to outsiders and researchers with a non-technical background, but may also be hidden from insiders and specialists.  To introduce such a method, this presentation will focus on results from code ethnography application in the study of internet interconnection dynamics. The research is built on Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) data collected at internet exchange points (IXPs)— physical facilities where internet networks interconnect to exchange routes and traffic. It compares two IXPs: in São Paulo and DE-CIX in Frankfurt, and highlights differences that lead to disparities of power concentration in internet infrastructure between the global North and global South heretofore overlooked in internet governance and internet studies scholarship. The concepts of infrastructural interdependencies and giant internet nodes are presented.

About the Speaker

Fernanda R. Rosa is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication. Her work applies a sociotechnical lens to the study of internet interconnection politics to unveil the social, political and economic aspects that arise from internet infrastructure. Specifically, her work shows how unbalanced relations of power in internet interconnection arrangements challenge values embedded in local indigenous networks. It also addresses how highly privatized dynamics in interconnection facilities known as Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) exacerbate interdependencies between the global North and the global South, and raise human rights questions in face of surveillance in contemporary communication infrastructures.

Her research has received awards from American University, Columbia University and the Carnegie Corporation of New York. In 2018, her paper “Internet Infrastructure as a Network of Relations, Devices and Expectations” won one of the Best Student Paper Awards at the TPRC 46 (Research Conference on Communications, Information and Internet Policy). Previously, she co-authored the book Mobile Learning in Brazil (Zinnerama, 2015) on technology and education issues.

Fernanda holds a Ph.D. in Communication from American University, in Washington DC, a Masters in Management and Public Policy from Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV), and a BA in Social Sciences from the University of São Paulo (USP).

Lunch begins at 11:45. Space is limited, RSVP to

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