This fishbowl session will take on questions related to systemic trust by discussing platform power and politics, diversity and inclusion in digital environments, and research and data ethics. AoIR has recently seen a burst of renewed interest in discussions about evolving digital methods in these areas. To understand the complexities surrounding boundary-defying digital platforms, digital practices, and academic institutions, we aim to foreground digital research methodologies. We ask: what could critical digital methods entail? We will start this conversation by pointing towards ongoing research 1) into trans-, feminist and queer online spaces for research and creation, 2) transformations within and across digital archives, 3) translocal media studies, 4) journalism and creative management policies, and 5) the political economy of platforms. Through this review, we aim to foreground questions related to equity, diversity, inclusion and trust. While tremendous progress has been made in developing digital methods, we want to contribute to these efforts by highlighting approaches that cross the boundaries of discipline and academic units and that draw from feminist, grounded, and participatory scholarly legacies.

The fishbowl will be hosted by researchers all based at the University of Toronto; Canada’s largest research-intensive university. The members are working across disciplines and departments, including the Department of Arts, Culture and Media (ACM), the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information & Technology (ICCIT) and the Faculty of Information (iSchool). This conversation will thus build on ongoing efforts to rethink, redesign, and rebuild methods that engender trust in genuinely interdisciplinary work. Specifically, we aim to create a space at AoIR to share knowledge about community-based, critical methods-driven curricula. Our starting fish in this fishbowl include David Nieborg (platform power), T.L. Cowan (digital research ethics), Kenzie Burchell (journalism, surveillance), Mary Elizabeth Luka (creative networks and mapping), Jas Rault (digital architectures), and Yi Gu (art history and mapping).

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Critical Digital Methods Institute (CDMI), a collaborative research project of The Department of Arts, Culture and Media (ACM) at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC).