about me

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[note: not so up to date]
My name is Stefania Milan, and I am Associate Professor of New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam. I am also the Principal Investigator of the ERC-funded DATACTIVE project (Starting Grant no. 639379) and of the ALEX project (Proof of Concept Grant no. 825974), and the funding director of the DATACTIVE Ideas Lab, a consultancy agency. [italiano qui]

I am passionate about the interplay between technologies and society, and in particular I am interested in the possibilities of self organization, emancipation, and autonomy that digital technology opens up. A social scientist by formation, I value interdisciplinary research, and feel myself at home at the intersection of a variety of fields, including critical data studies, social movement studies, and science and technology studies.

Currently I am busy with four partially overlapping research projects, respectively on cloud protesting, the politics of code, data activism, and content regulation on and by platforms. Check out the Project section of this website.
My CV hides here (last update: March 2019). Here is the publications list (last update: March 2019).

academic explorations
I hold a PhD in Political and Social Sciences from the European University Institute (EUI), Italy (2009). Prior to joining the EUI, I studied Communication Sciences at the University of Padova, Italy.

Before joining the University of Amsterdam, I was an Assistant Prof. of Data Journalism at Tilburg University (2012-2014) where I funded and directed the Data J Lab dedicated to 'Big Data' analytics (currently dormant). I was also a postdoctoral fellow at the Citizen Lab, University of Toronto (2011-2012); a visiting professor at the Department of Political Science of the Central European University, in Budapest, Hungary (2011); a visiting scholar at Media@McGill, McGill University, Montreal, Canada (2010); a research fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute (2009-2010), and at the Political and Social Sciences Department, European University Institute (2011); a lecturer at the University of Lucerne, Switzerland (2008-2010); a junior specialist at the Center for the Study of Democracy at the University of California, Irvine (2008), and a research associate at the Stanhope Center for Communications Policy Research, in London (2005-2006).

I have worked in exciting projects like the European Union Democracy Observatory on Citizenship, and Caught in the act of protest: Contextualizing contestation. With many of these people and organizations, I keep alive fruitful connections and collaborations. I am particularly proud of being a research fellow at the Center for Media and Communication Studies, Central European University, Budapest.

what bubbles in my head these days
My work on cloud protesting explores the impact of digital media, and social media in particular, on contemporary collective action, with a focus on cultural aspects of collective identities and narratives, and on the evolution of organization forms. "Cloud protesting" indicates a type of social organizing for collective action which has individuals (and their needs, identities, and bodies) at its core. It is enabled by social media platforms and mobile devices. Case studies include the #Occupy mobilizations, Anonymous, but #yosoy132 in Mexico. My work on cloud protesting has appeared in the volume Beyond Wikileaks (2013), and is featured to pop up in other publications in the coming months. Check out the video of my presentation at the Unlike Us 2 conference in Amsterdam (2012).

By politics of code I intend to capture the cultural, political and ideological forces at play behind technology development. In particular, I explore how cultural and political values of socially-engaged technological developers ("radical techies") shape digital communication infrastructure and power in cyberspace. For radical techies, software development is a way of "express[ing] people's political aspirations in the form of code" (field interview). I look at code as both a cultural artifact and a form of policy intervention. Case studies include the crisis mapping community and alternatives to commercial social networking services.

My last newborn plays around with data epistemology and the notion of data activism. We live in a time of data abundance, one in which data is not merely a commodity or a tool for surveillance, but also a metaphor of power. The current hype that surrounds ‘data’ as a driving force of contemporary societies has affected not only governments and companies, but also the organized civil society. Data as a metaphor for transparency and a tool for mobilization inspire an array of citizen’s practices in the digital domain, including ‘civic hackers’ initiatives, and campaigns that take advantage of ‘freedom of Information’ legislation. The project, still in its infancy, explores how movements and citizens use data, and data journalism techniques (as the craft of getting stories out of numbers) to provoke social change.

I am a member of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR), and I was elected to the International Council of the organization in 2012. I serve as co-chair of the IAMCR Communication Policy Task Force. For the period 2008-2012, I co-chaired the IAMCR Emerging Scholars Network. I am currently serving in the Executive Committee of the Non-Commercial User Constituency of ICANN, which is part of the Generic Names Supporting Organization. I also sit in the Steering Committee of /1net. I am a member of a number of other academic associations, including the International Communication Association, GIGANet, the International Studies Association, the European Sociological Association, and counting. As a consultant, I have worked for the European Commission, the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research, and many international NGOs - go to the consultancy section of this website to find out more.

there is life beyond academia
I am a journalist (although I rarely practice these days), and a member of the UK National Union of Journalists. I am also a lifeguard and a swimming instructor. I love sports and the outdoors, possibly the two in combination: you can see what keeps me busy beyond academia in the "for fun" section of this website.