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A Communication Perspective on the Fabric of Thinking Infrastructure: the Case of Social Media Analytics

Thinking Infrastructures

ISBN: 978-1-78769-558-0, eISBN: 978-1-78769-557-3

Publication date: 7 August 2019


The digital and material traceability of our interactions in organizations are nowadays the subject of very advanced analyses through tools known as social media analytics (SMA). As thinking (infrastructure), SMA tools constitute objects to think of our digitally mediated interactions with. It produces a substratum (a new meaning) that would not exist otherwise, and enacts different types of reasoning that hypothetically influence community managers’ or members’ sensemaking of digitally mediated interactions. This chapter proposes to look behind the curtain of charts and graphs, in order to highlight the performativity of the interactions between the different machines and the traces of our digitally mediated interactions. Drawing on a detailed analysis of the fabric of SMA, this chapter highlights the explanatory power of a communication perspective on types of reasoning enacted by thinking infrastructures. First, considering the SMA tool as an editorial enunciation allows us to see it as a process implying several beings (e.g. machines, humans and logs) that are not without consequences. Second, we show that these beings have different modalities of interactions with each other, and that these modalities of interactions influence the materiality of the digital traces of past interactions. Third, throughout the process, we demonstrate the fragility and variability of their materiality. Finally, faced with the rise of a technological deterministic discourse, which tends to portray the exploitation of our digital traces as an objective way of representing the collaborative practices that make up the organization, our research aims, on the contrary, to demonstrate their relativity.




This research benefits from the financial support of the European Region Development Fund: “USER MEDIA / Media Factory UCL Mons.”


Lambotte, F. (2019), "A Communication Perspective on the Fabric of Thinking Infrastructure: the Case of Social Media Analytics", Kornberger, M., Bowker, G.C., Elyachar, J., Mennicken, A., Miller, P., Nucho, J.R. and Pollock, N. (Ed.) Thinking Infrastructures (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 62), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 307-319.



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