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Did you give permission? Datafication in the Mobile Ecosystem

Jennifer Pybus and Mark Coté will present their recent AHRC-funded cross-disciplinary research on the technical objects of datafication within mobile devices.

Event, Research Seminar

This session is organized in partnership with the Centre Internet et Société (CIS).


"We will present our recent AHRC-funded cross-disciplinary research on the technical objects of datafication within mobile devices. Our talk will be in two parts.

First, we will outline the philosophical foundations of the finely-granulated perspective that frames our research. We will discuss how our method which has been informed by the ancient atomists Epicurus and Lucretius and the re-articulation by Deleuze and Simondon of this model, in which all is ‘atoms, void, and clinamen. While this conceptual paradigm is often applied to control theory or cybernetics, we contend it offers more relevant insights when applied to contemporary datafication. 

Second, we will present our cross-disciplinary method, which enables non-expert engagement with the technical dimensions of mobile apps. We contend that the mobile is enabling a more mature phase of datafication, which necessitates examining the relationality between mobile permissions and embedded, third party services known as SDKs (software development kits). We created an interactive platform enabling humanities and social science researchers to access the data permissions and SDKs of more than 7,000 apps, and to analyse the increasingly dominant role of Google and Facebook. We see this cross-disciplinary focus provides a more rigorous material grounding for a critical analysis of the socio-cultural and political economic effects of mobile actors expanding and extending personal data economies."


Dr Jennifer Pybus is Lecturer in Digital Culture and Society at King’s College London with a growing international reputation around processes of datafication, privacy and data literacy. Her research investigates those critical points of tension that lie at the intersection of digital culture, AI and algorithmic processes, and emerging infrastructures that are set up to capture and action personal data. Part of this work focuses on the political economy of social media platforms, display ad economies, and the mobile ecosystem.

Mark Coté is a leading researcher in critical digital methods focusing on the social, cultural, and political economic dimensions of big data, algorithms and machine learning. He is a Senior Lecturer in Data Culture and Society in the Digital Humanities department of King’s College London. He has been funded by the AHRC, EPSRC and H2020, primarily in cross-disciplinary projects on a European scale, primarily with computer scientists, data scientists and app developers.

Practical information

This seminar will be broadcast online. Think about testing your system before the seminar.

Pre-registration required: register