Institut für Medienwissenschaft

Digital Publics in the Age of Data Capitalism

Englischsprachiger Vortrag der Gastwissenschaftlerin Dr. Stefania Milan

Donnerstag, 7. Mai, 16.15 Uhr
Hörsaal 037 im Brechtbau, Wilhelmstraße 50

Data capitalism has dramatically changed the role of information and technology in the constitution of the social. Its business model—the transformation of human actions, interactions and emotions into data points which can be analyzed and monetized—has accelerated the crisis of liberal democracy. Its global reach has contributed to alter power relations and has introduced novel forms of colonialism and exploitation of resources.

This talks surveys three building blocks of data capitalism and their effects on digital publics, namely:

  1. personalization algorithms and the polarization of the public sphere they induce,
  2. AdTech, or the technological ecosystem supporting targeted advertising, and the lack of transparency and accountability surrounding this market, and
  3. facial recognition technology, as one of the most widespread yet most intrusive applications of Artificial Intelligence, and its implications for human rights including privacy.

It dissects the environmental costs of data capitalism, and explores potential responses and forms of resistance to intrusive technology from the bottom-up, focusing on data activism as the generator of novel imaginaries and innovative practices of civic engagement.

Stefania Milan

Stefania Milan is Associate Professor of New Media and Digital Culture at the Department of Media Studies, University of Amsterdam. Her work explores the interplay between digital technology, activism and governance. Stefania is the Principal Investigator of two projects financed by the European Research Council exploring data- and algorithmic-mediated forms of civic engagement (see and, and co-principal investigator in the Marie Curie Innovative Training Network “Early language development in the digital age” ( As of May 2020, she will be coordinating the project “Making the hidden visible: Co-designing for public values in standard-making and governance”, funded by the Dutch Research Council. Stefania is the author of Social Movements and Their Technologies: Wiring Social Change (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013/2016) and co-author of Media/Society (Sage, 2011). She enjoys experimenting with digital and action-oriented research methods and finding ways to bridge research with policy and action. Outside office hours, she loves mountaineering, boxing and cycling.

Stefanie Milan resides as Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Tübingen Institute of Media Studies from 15 April to 14 May.