Professor Torin Monahan was recently awarded a National Science Foundation grant to study the mediation of large-scale digital platforms by U.S. cities.
Scholars and policymakers are rapidly coming to recognize the central importance of digital platforms in shaping all aspects of commercial interaction. The digital platforms of Amazon, Google, Facebook, and those of the so-called “sharing economy,” such as Uber and Airbnb, capitalize upon the production, collection, and analysis of big data to fundamentally restructure entire markets. This research project, titled “Grounding Digital Platforms: Socio-Spatial Mediation of Technological Change,” will mobilize qualitative methods to develop a “platform ethnography” that will include content analysis of industry, media, and government documents; semi-structured interviews with key informants; and spatial mapping of platform densities and flows across urban regions. By generating findings about the local mediation of platform capitalism, this study will be able to produce recommendations for regional governments and firms looking to navigate these market shifts intelligently.