I study the implications of digital platforms and algorithmic recommendation systems in cultural and political practices and discourse. I typically examine these issues by adopting cross-national and cross-platform approaches. Theoretically, my research interests are located at the intersection of communication and media research, science and technology studies (STS), and cultural studies.
My most recent book (Living with algorithms: Agency and user culture in Costa Rica, forthcoming with the MIT Press) examines how algorithms are enacted in everyday life. I look not only at how algorithms are shaping society but also at how users of digital platforms relate to and incorporate algorithms into their ordinary settings. I study how users develop their own set of imaginaires, affects, and practices to relate to the algorithms of Netflix, Spotify, and TikTok. In short, I am interested in how people live with algorithms, both domesticating them and being domesticated by them. Results of this project have been published in journals such as Big Data & Society, Communication, Culture and Critique, and Social Media + Society.
Recent book projects:
Political implications of news circulation on social media. Along with a team of colleagues at UCR’s CICOM, UNED’s Laboratorio de Investigación e Innovación Tecnológica, Programa Estado de la Nación, CeNAT’s Colaboratorio Nacional de Computación de Avanzada, and UCR’s Programa de Posgrado en Lingüística, we studied the political significance of Facebook in Costa Rica. Drawing on a mixed-methods research design that included social network analysis, content analysis, critical discourse analysis, interviews (with political actors, readers, and journalists), and experimental tests with eye-tracking sessions, we analyzed the political implications of the circulation of content on Facebook in the country. Different parts of this project won UCREA‘s fund for advanced research (2017-2019) and CONARE’s System Fund (2018-2019 / 2020-2022). The book “Democracia en digital: Facebook, comunicación y política en Costa Rica” (2020, CICOM) develops results from this project.
History of computer networks in Central America. I concluded an investigation of the origins and early development of computer networks (UUCP, BITNET, Internet…) in Central American countries (Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Panama). During the 1990s, the Internet became available in the Central American isthmus. Given the context that characterized the region in the 1980s and early 1990s, this was a political as much as a technological achievement. In this book project, I further our understanding of the historical development of computer networks in the global South. The project draws mainly on interviews with key actors and archival research. My book “A Transnational History of the Internet in Central America (1985-2000)” was published Palgrave Macmillan in 2020. Other publications derived from this project include an interview with a leading figure of the development of the Internet in Central America and a brief discussion of this historical process in countries of the region.
Technology research in Latin America. I finished a project on how Latin American scholars study communication technologies. An article in Palabra analyzed how research on media technologies in the region evolved from 2005-2015. I also edited a book that brings together various scholars in Costa Rica interested in understanding how the development of media technologies in this country matters in theory and in practice. The book analyzed pioneering and innovative projects that involved the design, development, implementation, and use of media technologies in Costa Rica. More broadly, we use these different projects to rethink key concepts, theories, methods, and practices in the study of communication. The book “Tecnología e innovación en Costa Rica” (2019, EUCR) summarizes findings from this project.
Networked Selves. I published a book that analyzes the emergence, development, and transformation of blogging in the United States and France from the mid-1990s to the present day, so as to examine how the Web has evolved as a technology of subjectivity. I focused on three particular processes in the trajectory of the Web: the emergence of the blog in the mid- to late 1990s; the rise of the blog as a means to intervene in the public sphere and as commodity in the early years of the new millennium; and the invention of microblogging technologies in the mid- to late 2010s decade. I built on this comparative analysis to further understanding of practices of subjectivity in the context of neoliberalization. My study drew on interviews with relevant actors (both software developers and users), content and artifact analyses of a sample of websites, Web archival techniques, and traditional archival research. This book was published in 2017 by Peter Lang and is a part of the Digital Formations series, edited by Steve Jones.