Technology and Culture Reading Group

TCRG – School of Culture and Communication – University of Melbourne

Month: August, 2013

TCRG August 27: “The Politics of Platforms” (Gillespie)

by lukevanryn

ImageFrom Dale, author of “Rebranding the Platform“, comes this week’s reading by Tarleton Gillespie, “The Politics of Platforms”. Focusing on YouTube, Gillespie suggests that discourses of “platforms” smooth over the political aspects of intermediaries like Google.

The term ‘platform’ helps reveal how YouTube and others stage themselves for these constituencies, allowing them to make a broadly progressive sales pitch while also eliding the tensions inherent in their service: between user-generated and commercially-produced content, between cultivating community and serving up advertising, between intervening in the delivery of content and remaining neutral. (248)

The apparent smoothness of the platforming performed by Google will be debated in the weeks to come, when we turn to Bogost and Montfort’s Platform Studies series on MIT Press.

[PDF] Gillespie, T. (2010). The Politics of ‘Platfoms’. New Media and Society, 12(3), 347-264.

TCRG August 20: “Hospital platforms” revisited

by lukevanryn

Screenshot from “Oil Platform Simulator” (2011)


After our recent discussions of platforms, we return to a piece that the TCRG read in 2010: Keating and Cambrosio’s Biomedical Platforms. In this chapter, “Hospital Platforms”, the authors analyse the historical polysemy of the term “platform”, before showing how the concept of a “biomedical platform” organises architecture, clinical practice, and diagnostic technology. This chapter presents a slice of “platform sociology”, which the authors describe in the dialogue that concludes the book:

Say I want to use your platform sociology to analyze my own material, for instance, the application of molecular genetic approaches to schizophrenia. How should I go about it? Where should I begin? In other words, do you have a checklist of steps for performing platform analysis?

Well, we do not really like checklists and methodological algorithms, but here are a few indications. Start right in the middle of the game, with regulation. Look, for instance, to quality-control procedures, the meetings and discussions surrounding their development and enforcement, the formal and informal agreements in which they are grounded; from there, move up and down along the regulatory continuum, letting your investigation range from matters of equipment to clinical matters such as those discussed during consensus conferences. Then, investigate the debates and practices surrounding the redefinition of the lesion that defines the disease. Do so with a view toward specifying biomedical (i.e., normal and pathological) entities that are both the input into and the outcome of this process. Finally, look for alignments with other forms of work. You can ask yourself, for instance, how the new entities generated by the platform have been articulated with previous ones, for instance, with prior diagnostic and prognostic classifications. Does this answer your question?

We meet as usual at 5pm in the Pierre Gorman Rm, 1888 Building. All are welcome.

[PDF] Keating and Cambrosio (2003) “Hospital Platforms” Biomedical Platforms. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 25-47, 235-341