What or who will be on a platform? Reliance on platforms across education, government, media, sciences, health, civil society and almost any social field increases daily. Many social science, humanities, psychology and computer science research projects focus on platforms, implicitly or explicitly. New interdisciplinary fields such as data science derive from platforms. Higher education institutions make themselves on platforms. The study of platforms, however, encounters many difficulties, not least, knowing what a platform is. This paper will discuss some of the main propensities in recent analyses of platforms, and invite discussion of some of the potential problems and potentials of platform sociology. Drawing on work from social studies of science, recent critical accounts of platform capitalism and platformisation, and addressing some key issues in the ongoing development of digital sociology and media studies, it will attempt to frame a programme of relevance for platform sociology.
About the presenter:
Adrian Mackenzie (Professor in the School of Sociology, ANU) researches how people work and live with sciences, media, devices and infrastructures. He often focuses on software and platforms. He has done fieldwork with software developers in making sense of how platforms are made, managed and maintained (see *Cutting Code: Software and Sociality,* Peter Lang 2006). He has tracked infrastructural experience (_Wirelessness: Radical Empiricism in Network Cultures_, MIT Press 2010). His most recent book _Machine Learners: Archaeology of a Data Practice_ (MIT Press, 2017) describes changes in how science and commerce use data to make knowledge. He has a keen interest in the methodological challenges of media and data platforms for sociology and philosophy.