Òscar Coromina, a visiting researcher from Universitat Autònoma Barcelona, created a new approach to Digital Marketing tools together with TANTLab. Developed by platforms such as Google and Facebook, these tools clearly aren’t neutral; they are designed to guide the user in a certain direction. Òscar explains what happens when we see the tools through the eyes of a Techno-Anthropologist, and how we can reappropriate them without taking everything we find for granted. The approach was tested January 15th-20th in a data sprint at the TANT Lab.
“It is as if the inner workings of private worlds have been pried open because their inputs and outputs have become thoroughly traceable.” -Latour, B. (2007). Beware, your imagination leaves digital traces. Times Higher Literary Supplement, 6.4
During the three days long sprint, we explored the methods and data provided by marketing platforms, while taking into account what assumptions guide the practices of digital marketing professionals and the context in which these practices occur. By this, we connected media studies with STS tradition by paying particular attention to the processes in which knowledge is constructed. Thus, our proposal echoes with Callon’s claim that economics is embedded in economic science (1998). In our case, Digital Marketing is embedded in Digital Marketing Epistemologies. By acknowledging the existence of a specific set of methods and premises that frame digital marketing operations, we also propose that this epistemology can be repurposed to study society and culture in a similar way as digital methods repurpose digital media practices (Rogers, 2009). With this sprint, our goal was two-fold. We simultaneously sought to appropriate the methods of digital marketing, using the AdWords platform by google, and the Ahrefs tool, to see how we could use them in doing techno anthropological research. Besides that, we sought to evaluate and critically examine the technologies, and the way they inform certain viewpoints and actions by marketers, people and tech companies alike. Thus to put the focus on what actors do instead of what actors say. Here you can hear what participating researchers Carina Ren and Andreas Birkbak have found out about the role and responsibility of Google: