Stefania Milan is Associate Professor of New Media and Digital Culture. Her research explores the interplay between digital technology and participation, and activism and social movements in particular, cyberspace governance, and data epistemologies. She is the Principal Investigator of the DATACTIVE project, funded through a Starting Grant of the European Research Council (Stg-2014-639379).
Stefania holds a PhD in Political and Social Sciences of the European University Institute, and a Master in Communication Sciences from the University of Padova, Italy. Prior to joining the University of Amsterdam, she worked at the Citizen Lab (University of Toronto), Tilburg University, Central European University, and the University of Lucerne, Switzerland, and the Robert Schuman Center for Advanced Studies (European University Institute). In 2012, she founded the Data J Lab (currently inactive). Stefania is also Associate Professor (II) of Media Innovation at the University of Oslo, and a research associate at the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology and Society (Tilburg University), the Internet Policy Observatory of Annenberg School of Communication (University of Pennsylvania), and the Center for Center for Media, Data and Society (Central European University).
Stefania is the author of Social Movements and Their Technologies: Wiring Social Change (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013; released in paperback in March 2016), and co-author of Media/Society (Sage, 2011). Her work has appeared in a variety of peer-reviewed journals, including Information, Communication & Society, the International Journal of Communication, Internet & Policy, the Internet Policy Review, Social Media + Society.
Stefania represents non-commercial users in the Council of the Generic Names Supporting Organization of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and serves in the Working Group ‘An Internet Free and Secure’ of the Freedom Online Coalition, where she contributes to develop guidelines for cybersecurity decision-making. As a consultant she worked for, amongst others, the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research, where she contributed to the implementation of the Digital Agenda for Europe, and the European Commission.
Social Movements and Their Technologies: Wiring Social Change, 2013, Palgrave Macmillan (in paperback in March 2016)
Media/Society: Industries, Images, and Audiences, 4th edition, co-authored with David Croteau and William Hoynes, 2011, Sage USA.
"Coding and encoding rights in internet infrastructure", co-authored with Niels ten Oever, Internet Policy Review, 6(1).
“When algorithms shape collective action: Social media and the dynamics of cloud protesting”, Social Media + Society, special issue ‘Perspectives on social media and the transformation of public space’, 2015.
“Medios ciudadanos y big data: La emergencia del activismo de datos”, co-authored with Miren Gutierrez, Mediaciones, 2015.
“Sand in the information society machine. How digital tactics change and challenge the paradigms of civil disobedience", co-authored with Theresa Züger and Leonie Tanczer, forthcoming in Fiberculture, special issue ‘Activism and technology’, 25, 2015.
“From Social Movements to Cloud Protesting: The Evolution of Collective Identity”, Information, Communication & Society, special issue ‘Social media and emerging protest identities’, 8 (18), pp. 887-900.
“Networked Collective Action and the Institutionalized Policy Debate: Bringing Cyberactivism to the Policy Arena?,” co-authored with Arne Hintz, Policy & Internet, 5(2013), pp. 7–26.
“Desperately seeking politics: Political attitudes of participants in three demonstrations for social justice in Italy”, co-authored with Donatella della Porta et al., Mobilization, 17(3), 2013, pp. 349–361.
“Government change and policy continuity. A case study of policy on civil society media in Japan”, co-authored with Gabriele Hadl, 関西学院大学先端社会研究所紀要 ( Annual Review of the Institute for Advanced Social Research), 7, 2012, pp. 17–32.
“‘Social science is police science’. Researching grassroots activism”, co-authored with Arne Hintz, International Journal of Communication, 4(2010), pp. 837–844.
“At the Margins of Internet Governance: Grassroots Tech Groups and Communication Policy”, co-authored with Arne Hintz, International Journal of Media and Culture Policy, 2009, 5 (1&2), pp. 23-38.
“We Wanted to Do It Ourselves. Dimensioni sociali e tecnologiche delle pratiche emancipatorie nel campo della comunicazione digitale”, Quaderni di Sociologia, 49(I/2009), pp. 43-60 ('We Wanted to Do It Ourselves. Social and technological dimensions of digital emancipatory communication practices').
“On the edge: AMARC Europe between 'movement entrepreneurs' and the grassroots. Notes from the Bucharest meeting”, Telematics and Informatics, 27(2), 2010, pp. 200-204.
“Communication for development in practice: a four-step path to implement community media needs in development projects”, Development in Practice, 19(4-5), 2009, pp. 598-609.
“Movimenti sociali e governance della comunicazione globale: la sfida della partecipazione nei processi decisionali transnazionali”, co-authored with Arne Hintz, Partecipazione e Conflitto (PACO), 2/2009, pp. 111-134 ('Social movements and governance of global communications: the challenge of participation in transnational decision-making processes').
“What makes you happy? Insights into feelings and muses of community radio practitioners”, Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture, 5(1), 2008, pp. 25-43.
“Towards a new vision for communication governance? Civil Society Media at the World Social Forum and the World Summit on the Information Society”, co-authored with Arne Hintz, Communication for Development and Social Change, 1/2007, pp. 1-23.
“Democrazia/e e democrazia/e della comunicazione: mediattivismo tra esperimenti di emancipazione e campagne di riforma”, Rassegna Italiana di Sociologia, 2006(4), pp.557-582 ('Democracy/ies and communication democracy/ies: media activism between reform and emancipation').
“Medios comunitarios y regulación. Una perspectiva de comunicación para el desarrollo”, in Investigacion y Desarrollo, 14(2), pp. 268-291 ('Community media and regulation. A communication for development perspective').
“Communication Civil Society: participation as the main benchmark of Civil Society Media. The case of the third World Social Forum,” Redes.Com. Revista de Estudio para el Desarrollo Social de la Comunicacion, 1/2005, pp. 241-264.
"”, in Emerging Methods in Media and Communication Studies, edited by Anne Kaun and Sebastian Kubitschko, Palgrave, 2016.
“Liberated Technology: Inside Emancipatory Communication Activism”, in Civic Media: Technology, Design, Practice, edited by Eric Gordon and Paul Mihailidis, MIT Press 2016.
“Stealing the Fire. Lessons in development communication from the margins of cyberspace“, in Voice & Matter – Contemporary Challenges in Communication for Development, edited by Thomas Tufte, 2015.
“”, forthcoming in Media Activism, edited by V. Pickard and G. Yang, Routledge series ‘Shaping Inquiry in Culture, Communications and Media Studies, 2015.
“Involving communities as skilled learners: The STRAP framework”, co-authored with Chiara Milan, in Methodological Reflections on Researching Communication and/for Social Change, edited by Norbert Wildermut and Teke Ngomba, Palgrave 2015.
“Social Movements and Collective Identity in Times of Social Media: From a politics of identity to a politics of visibility”, forthcoming in Regimes of Critical Approaches to Social Media Protest, edited by Lina Dencik and Oliver Leistert, London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.
“Hacktivism as a radical media practice”, forthcoming in the Routledge Companion to Alternative and Community Media, edited by Chris Atton, Routledge, 2015.
“Partizipation als Kontrollinstrument: Internet Governance in Zeiten Snowdens”, co-authored with Arne Hintz, in Jahrbuch Netzpolitik 2014, edited by M. Beckendahl, A. Biselli and A. Meister, 2014, Berlin: New Thinking/netzpolitik.org, pp. 233-237.
“The ethics of social movement research”, in Methodological Practices in Social Movement Research, edited by Donatella della Porta, Oxford University Press, 2014, pp. 446-464.
“Cloud Protesting”, in Encyclopedia of social media and politics (Vol. 3), edited by K. Harvey. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, pp. 289-291.
“Demonstrations, organizing”, co-authored with L. Zamponi, in Encyclopedia of social media and politics (Vol. 4), edited by K. Harvey. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, pp. 370-373.
“At the Margins of Internet Governance: Grassroots Tech Groups and Communication Policy”, co-authored with Arne Hintz (reprint), Critical Studies in Communication and Society, edited by J. Cao, V. Mosco and L. Reagan Shade, Shanghai, China: Shanghai Translation Publishing House, pp. 181-195.
“Communication rights between political opportunities and mobilization frames: A historical perspective”, co-authored with Claudia Padovani, in Communication Rights and Social Justice. Historical accounts of transnational mobilizations, edited by C. Padovani and A. Calabrese, Palgrave, 2014, pp. 29-54.
“The Guardians of the Internet? Politics and Ethics of Cyberactivists (and of their Observers)”, Methodological and Conceptual Issues in Cyber Activism Research, edited by Beng Haut Chua, Jonathan Benney, Peter Marolt and Sun Jung, National University of Singapore, 2013, pp. 167-191.
“Communication rights”, and “Indymedia (The Independent Media Center)”, T he Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social and Political Movements, edited by David A. Snow, Donatella della Porta, Bert Klandermans, and Doug McAdam, Sage, 2013, pp. 231-232 and pp. 603-605.
“WikiLeaks, Anonymous, and the Exercise of Individuality: Protesting in the Cloud”, Beyond Wikileaks. Implications for the Future of Communications, Journalism and Society, edited by Benedetta Brevini, Arne Hintz, and Patrick McCurdy, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 191-208.
“User rights for the internet age: online policy according to 'netizens'”, co-authored with Arne Hintz, The Handbook on Global Media and Communication Policy, edited by Robin Mansell and Marc Raboy, Blackwell, 2011, pp. 230-241.
“Grassroots Tech Activists and Media Policy”, co-authored with Arne Hintz, Encyclopedia of Social Movement Media, edited by John Downing, Sage, 2010, pp. 217-221.
“Media Activists and Communication Policy Processes”, co-authored with Arne Hintz, Encyclopedia of Social Movement Media, edited by John Downing, Sage, 2010, pp. 317-319.
“Community media activists in transnational policy arenas”, in Howley, Kevin, ed., Understanding Community Media. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2009, pp. 308-317.
“Community media and regulation. Re-writing media policy from a communication for development perspective,” in World Congress on Communication for Development: Lessons, Challenges, and the Way Forward, Washington DC, World Bank Publications, 2007 (e-book).
“In Multistakeholderism we Trust: On the Limits of the Multistakeholder Debate”, co-authored with A. Hintz, Internet Policy Observatory, 19 September 2014.
“The Fair of Competing Narratives. Civil Societ(ies) after NETmundial", Internet Policy Observatory, 10 September 2014.
“NETmundial: Is there a new guard of civil society coming to the internet governance fore?”, Internet Policy Observatory, 24 April 2014.
“Piattaforme di consultazione pubblica”, Quaderni del’Internet Italiano, S. Trumpy et al. ed., June 2014.
“Messages that Make an Impact: Civil Society Rethinking its Communication Strategies”, co-authored with Mario Lubetkin, CIVICUS State of the Civil Society Report 2013, pp. 278-283.
“In Search of Transparency: From ‘Using’ to ‘Shaping’ Technology”, co-authored with Arne Hintz, Global Information Society Watch, 2012, pp. 34–37.
“The Italian anomaly”, Index on Censorship, 42(1), pp. 12-15.
“Il governo come piattaforma: Verso un approccio critico e consapevole alla rete e alle sue applicazioni”, Annali della Pubblica Istruzione, 5/2012, pp. 1-12 (‘Government as platform: Towards a critical and self-aware approach to the web and its applications’).
“When politics and technology speak the same language. Stewardship in cyberspace according to cyberactivists”, Stewardship Paper Series, Canada Center for Global Security Studies (March 2012).
“Behind enemy lines: Snapshots from the 2011 Chaos Communication Congress”, Citizen Lab, January 2012.
“Cloud protesting: Dissent in times of social media”, Citizen Lab, October 18 2011.
“The OccupyWallStreet movement is a cloud”, Hauser Center for NonProfit Organizations at Harvard University, October 27, 2011.
“One year after Cablegate: WikiLeaks’ legacy on cyberactivism”, Citizen Lab, November 29, 2011.
“Toward an epistemology of engaged research”, introductory essay for the edited series of the IJoC/SSRC Forum on ‘Making Communication Research Matter’, International Journal of Communication, 4(2010), pp. 856-858.
“Digital emancipatory communication practices as ‘protest by doing’”, Lo Squaderno, 14, pp. 50-53.
“The way is the goal. Interview with Maqui, Indymedia London/IMC-UK Network Activist”, International Journal of Electronic Politics, 1(1), pp. 88-91.
The project website will soon be live at data-activism.net
With the diffusion of ‘big data’, citizens become increasingly aware of the critical role of information in modern societies. This awareness gives rise to new social practices rooted in technology and data, which I term ‘data activism’. While activists see massive data collection by governments and businesses as a challenge to civil rights, big data also offer new opportunities for collective action.
This research will investigate civil society’s engagement with massive data collection, addressing three research questions: How do citizens resist massive data collection by means of technical fixes (re-active data activism)? How do social movements use big data to foster social change (pro-active data activism)? How does data activism affect the dynamics of transnational civil society, and transnational advocacy networks in particular?
The project will develop a multidisciplinary conceptual framework integrating social movement studies, science and technology studies and international relations. It will analyze organizational forms, action repertoires and the enabling role of software in data activism, and will identify emerging structures and strategies of transnational advocacy networks. Data will be collected via qualitative (interviews with activists, field observations, infrastructure ethnography on software platforms) and computational methods (such as data mining in online repositories).
This research is groundbreaking in four ways: 1) by analyzing civil society’s engagement with massive data collection, it evaluates risks and promises of big data; 2) by addressing an uncharted but rapidly growing field of human action, it sets the basis for understanding future civic engagement; 3) by integrating adjacent disciplines that seldom interact, it magnifies their ability to understand the interplay between society, information, technology and power; 4) by developing dedicated data collection tools, it adds to methodological innovation in big-data analytics.