jpybus


Jennifer Pybus

Photo of Jennifer Pybus

Department of Politics

Assistant Professor
Canada Research Chair in Data, Democracy and AI

Ext: 33608 Email: jpybus@yorku.ca

Media Requests Welcome
Accepting New Graduate Students


Jennifer Pybus is a globally recognized scholar whose interdisciplinary research intersects digital and algorithmic cultures and explores the capture and processing of personal data. Her work focuses on the political economy of social media platforms, display ad economies, and the rise of third parties embedded in the mobile ecosystem which are facilitating algorithmic profiling, monetisation, polarization and bias. Her research contributes to an emerging field, mapping out datafication, a process that is rendering our social, cultural and political lives into productive data for machine learning and algorithmic decision-making. Pybus has cultivated strong European links with public organizations and will use her chair to engage Canadians with innovative tools, resources and pedagogy for increasing critical data literacy and democratic debate about artificial intelligence.

More...

Dr. Jennifer Pybus completed her PhD at McMaster University in English and Cultural Studies 2013. She has gone on to become a globally recognised scholar with a reputation for doing interdisciplinary research, which focuses on digital and algorithmic cultures in relation to the capture and processing of personal data. Dr. Pybus began looking at these questions during her MA and Phd wherein her work examined the subjectivization of young people in relation social media platforms. Her earlier work examined the contradictions between engaging in networked sociality and the growing source of economic value this behaviour was coming to represent. Her research has been tracking how mediated and cultural practices get rendered into actionable value since 2006, culminating in influential and widely cited publications such as Learning to Immaterial Labour 2.0: MySpace and Social Networks, later updated to Facebook and Social Networks which she co-wrote with Mark Coté; Accumulating Affect: Social Networks and their Archives of Feelings; and Social Networks and cultural workers; Towards an Archive of the Prosumer.

Before joining York, Pybus worked at in the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London as a Lecturer in Digital Culture and Society. There she continued to focus on the political economy of social media platforms by extending her research on young people and those assemblages built around the capture of their data. This more recent work examined the rise of third-party infrastructures embedded in the mobile ecosystem, which are facilitating algorithmic profiling, monetisation, polarization and bias. Her research contributes to an emerging field, mapping out datafication, a process that is rendering our social, cultural and political lives into actionable data for machine learning and algorithmic decision-making.

Dr. Pybus made a notable contribution beginning with her work on the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) grant: Our Data Ourselves (2013-2015), an investigation into datafication flows within the mobile ecosystem and the possibilities that arise when young people are given back the data they are normally structurally precluded from accessing. This in part focused on the creation of digital tools to enable the more agentic and data literate citizens. A number of publications emerged from this project, including an article in Big Data and Society and Digital Culture and Society and special issue on the Politics of Big Data that she co-edited in 2015. In 2018, Dr. Pybus strengthened her academic standing by securing her own AHRC Impact Award: ‘Zones of Data Translation,’ by partnering with a Berlin-based non-profit organisation, Tactical Tech. The aim was to mobilise knowledge and build capacity outside the university with community stakeholder groups through a series of co-designed workshops and tools that opened up the mobile ecosystem so that non-expert users could gain a greater understanding of how apps gather personal data.

The work has been very well-received internationally at universities in the UK, Paris, Brussels, Italy, Germany, China and Canada. She has been asked to speak about her research before the European Parliament, participate with different UK based foundations; and collaborated with workshops around algorithmic accountability. Her research has also prominently featured at OrgCon, the largest global digital rights conference and at Tactical Tech’s Glass Room installation in San Francisco in 2019. Publications emerging from this project include two co-written articles: The Material Conditions of Platforms: Monopolization Through Decentralisation (2020) with Tobias Blanke and Did you give permission? Datafication in the Mobile Ecosystem with Mark Coté (2021).

Dr. Pybus is excited to continue on with her research at York University as a new Canada Research Chair in Data, Democracy and AI. She will continue to cultivate strong North American and European links by using her chair to engage Canadians with innovative tools, resources and participatory research for increasing critical data literacy and democratic debate about artificial intelligence.

Degrees

PhD, McMaster University
MA, McMaster University
BA, Simon Fraser University

Research Interests

Communications , Information Technologies, Social AI, Platform Politics, Datafication, Dataveillance and Privacy

Current Research Projects

Refugee Sensing SIMs

    Summary:

    A collaboration with UK based artist Liz Hingley, selected as an artist in residence at Somerset House at King's College London.

    Description:

    The project extends Hingley's work on the mobile phone SIM card, a key to unlocking local networks, by allowing refugees to create a sense of security, identity and home in a new place. Her work visualises the archive of photographic memories they embody, linking past and present (https://www.lizhingley.com/elalmadinah).

    See more
    Role: Collaborator

    Start Date:
      Month: Nov   Year: 2020

    End Date:
      Month: May   Year: 2022

    Collaborator: Liz Hingley
    Funders:
    King's College London
Zones of Data Translation

    Summary:

    This interdisciplinary collaboration brought together our research in mobile tool development and critical data literacies, alongside the Tactical Tech Collective. The aim was to empower data publics by asking the following questions:
    1. How is Tactical Tech mobilising the workshop as an interdisciplinary tool to study the material environment of social big data? How can this then be harnessed by humanities researchers for greater impact and engagement?
    2. How can we leverage the results of previous research to engage new audiences beyond the classroom and the academic workshop?
    3. How can the methodology inform the development of new collaborative spaces to facilitate innovative humanities research that can engage the general public, augmenting knowledge exchanges between experts and non-experts?

    See more
    Role: Primary Investigator

    Start Date:
      Month: Jun   Year: 2018

    End Date:
      Month: Nov   Year: 2019

    Collaborator: Mark Coté and Tobias Blanke
    Collaborator Institution: King's College London
    Collaborator Role: Co-Investigators

    Funders:
    Arts and Humanities Research Council
Our Data Ourselves

    Summary:

    The Our Data Ourselves project examined ways of understanding and reclaiming the data that young people produce on smartphone devices. More specifically, it explored the growing usage and centrality of mobiles in the lives of young people between the ages of 14 and 18 years old, questioning what data-making possibilities exist if users can either uncover and/or capture what data controllers such as Facebook monetize and share about themselves with third-parties. We therefore designed MobileMiner, an app we created to consider how gaining access to one’s own data not only augments the agency of the individual but of the collective user. Finally, we explored the data productions from everyday use of mobiles during two hackathons that we held.

    See more
    Role: Research Associate

    Start Date:
      Month: Oct   Year: 2013

    End Date:
      Month: Dec   Year: 2015

    Collaborator: Tobias Blanke
    Collaborator Institution: University of Amsterdam
    Collaborator Role: Primary Investigator

    Funders:
    Arts and Humanities Research Council
Book Chapters

Publication
Year

Pybus, J. (2019). Trump, the First Facebook President: Why Politicians Need Our Data Too. In Trump’s Media War (pp. 227–240). Springer International Publishing.

2019

Pybus, J. (2015). Social Networks and their Archives of Feelings. In Hillis, K., Paasonen, S., & Petit, M. Networked Affect. MIT Press, 235-249

2015

Coté, M. and Pybus, J. (2011). Learning to Immaterial Labour 2.0: Facebook and Social Networks, in Cognitive Capitalism, Education and Digital Labour, Peter Lang Press.

2011

Journal Articles

Publication
Year

Pybus, J., & Coté, M. (2021). Did you give permission? Datafication in the mobile ecosystem. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2021.1877771

2021

Blanke, T., & Pybus, J. (2020). The Material Conditions of Platforms - Monopolisation through Decentralisation. Social Media + Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305120971632

2020

Greenway, G., Blanke, T., Cote, M., & Pybus, J. (2017). Research on online digital cultures - community extraction and analysis by Markov and k-means clustering. In Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics): Vol. 10708 LNCS. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-71970-2_10

2017

Coté, M., Gerbaudo, P., & Pybus, J. (2016). Introduction. Politics of Big Data. Digital Culture & Society, 2(2), 5–16. https://doi.org/10.14361/dcs-2016-0202

2016

Coté, M., & Pybus, J. (2016). Simondon on Datafication. A Techno-Cultural Method. Digital Culture & Society, 2(2). https://doi.org/10.14361/dcs-2016-0206

2016

Pybus, J., Coté, M., & Blanke, T. (2015). Hacking the social life of Big Data. Big Data & Society, 2(2), 205395171561664.

2015

Blanke, T., Greenway, G., Pybus, J., & Cote, M. (2014). Mining mobile youth cultures. 2014 IEEE International Conference on Big Data (Big Data), 14–17.

2014

Pybus, J. (2013). Social Networks and Cultural Workers. Journal of Cultural Economy, 6(2), 137–152.

2013

Pybus, J. (2011). The subjective architects: When tweens learn to immaterial labor. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 35(4).

2011

Pybus, J. (2007). Affect and Subjectivity: A Case Study of Neopets.com, Politics and Culture, 7(2).

2007

Coté, M., & Pybus, J. (2007). Learning to Immaterial Labour 2.0: MySpace and Social Networks. Ephemera, 7, 88–106.

2007


Current Courses

Term Course Number Section Title Type
Fall 2021 GS/POLS6900 3.0 A Contemporary Research in Politics REMT
Fall 2021 AP/POLS4610 3.0 A States, Societies & Info. Tech. BLEN



Jennifer Pybus is a globally recognized scholar whose interdisciplinary research intersects digital and algorithmic cultures and explores the capture and processing of personal data. Her work focuses on the political economy of social media platforms, display ad economies, and the rise of third parties embedded in the mobile ecosystem which are facilitating algorithmic profiling, monetisation, polarization and bias. Her research contributes to an emerging field, mapping out datafication, a process that is rendering our social, cultural and political lives into productive data for machine learning and algorithmic decision-making. Pybus has cultivated strong European links with public organizations and will use her chair to engage Canadians with innovative tools, resources and pedagogy for increasing critical data literacy and democratic debate about artificial intelligence.

Dr. Jennifer Pybus completed her PhD at McMaster University in English and Cultural Studies 2013. She has gone on to become a globally recognised scholar with a reputation for doing interdisciplinary research, which focuses on digital and algorithmic cultures in relation to the capture and processing of personal data. Dr. Pybus began looking at these questions during her MA and Phd wherein her work examined the subjectivization of young people in relation social media platforms. Her earlier work examined the contradictions between engaging in networked sociality and the growing source of economic value this behaviour was coming to represent. Her research has been tracking how mediated and cultural practices get rendered into actionable value since 2006, culminating in influential and widely cited publications such as Learning to Immaterial Labour 2.0: MySpace and Social Networks, later updated to Facebook and Social Networks which she co-wrote with Mark Coté; Accumulating Affect: Social Networks and their Archives of Feelings; and Social Networks and cultural workers; Towards an Archive of the Prosumer.

Before joining York, Pybus worked at in the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London as a Lecturer in Digital Culture and Society. There she continued to focus on the political economy of social media platforms by extending her research on young people and those assemblages built around the capture of their data. This more recent work examined the rise of third-party infrastructures embedded in the mobile ecosystem, which are facilitating algorithmic profiling, monetisation, polarization and bias. Her research contributes to an emerging field, mapping out datafication, a process that is rendering our social, cultural and political lives into actionable data for machine learning and algorithmic decision-making.

Dr. Pybus made a notable contribution beginning with her work on the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) grant: Our Data Ourselves (2013-2015), an investigation into datafication flows within the mobile ecosystem and the possibilities that arise when young people are given back the data they are normally structurally precluded from accessing. This in part focused on the creation of digital tools to enable the more agentic and data literate citizens. A number of publications emerged from this project, including an article in Big Data and Society and Digital Culture and Society and special issue on the Politics of Big Data that she co-edited in 2015. In 2018, Dr. Pybus strengthened her academic standing by securing her own AHRC Impact Award: ‘Zones of Data Translation,’ by partnering with a Berlin-based non-profit organisation, Tactical Tech. The aim was to mobilise knowledge and build capacity outside the university with community stakeholder groups through a series of co-designed workshops and tools that opened up the mobile ecosystem so that non-expert users could gain a greater understanding of how apps gather personal data.

The work has been very well-received internationally at universities in the UK, Paris, Brussels, Italy, Germany, China and Canada. She has been asked to speak about her research before the European Parliament, participate with different UK based foundations; and collaborated with workshops around algorithmic accountability. Her research has also prominently featured at OrgCon, the largest global digital rights conference and at Tactical Tech’s Glass Room installation in San Francisco in 2019. Publications emerging from this project include two co-written articles: The Material Conditions of Platforms: Monopolization Through Decentralisation (2020) with Tobias Blanke and Did you give permission? Datafication in the Mobile Ecosystem with Mark Coté (2021).

Dr. Pybus is excited to continue on with her research at York University as a new Canada Research Chair in Data, Democracy and AI. She will continue to cultivate strong North American and European links by using her chair to engage Canadians with innovative tools, resources and participatory research for increasing critical data literacy and democratic debate about artificial intelligence.

Degrees

PhD, McMaster University
MA, McMaster University
BA, Simon Fraser University

Research Interests

Communications , Information Technologies, Social AI, Platform Politics, Datafication, Dataveillance and Privacy

Current Research Projects

Refugee Sensing SIMs

    Summary:

    A collaboration with UK based artist Liz Hingley, selected as an artist in residence at Somerset House at King's College London.

    Description:

    The project extends Hingley's work on the mobile phone SIM card, a key to unlocking local networks, by allowing refugees to create a sense of security, identity and home in a new place. Her work visualises the archive of photographic memories they embody, linking past and present (https://www.lizhingley.com/elalmadinah).

    Project Type: Funded
    Role: Collaborator

    Start Date:
      Month: Nov   Year: 2020

    End Date:
      Month: May   Year: 2022

    Collaborator: Liz Hingley
    Funders:
    King's College London
Zones of Data Translation

    Summary:

    This interdisciplinary collaboration brought together our research in mobile tool development and critical data literacies, alongside the Tactical Tech Collective. The aim was to empower data publics by asking the following questions:
    1. How is Tactical Tech mobilising the workshop as an interdisciplinary tool to study the material environment of social big data? How can this then be harnessed by humanities researchers for greater impact and engagement?
    2. How can we leverage the results of previous research to engage new audiences beyond the classroom and the academic workshop?
    3. How can the methodology inform the development of new collaborative spaces to facilitate innovative humanities research that can engage the general public, augmenting knowledge exchanges between experts and non-experts?

    Project Type: Funded
    Role: Primary Investigator

    Start Date:
      Month: Jun   Year: 2018

    End Date:
      Month: Nov   Year: 2019

    Collaborator: Mark Coté and Tobias Blanke
    Collaborator Institution: King's College London
    Collaborator Role: Co-Investigators

    Funders:
    Arts and Humanities Research Council
Our Data Ourselves

    Summary:

    The Our Data Ourselves project examined ways of understanding and reclaiming the data that young people produce on smartphone devices. More specifically, it explored the growing usage and centrality of mobiles in the lives of young people between the ages of 14 and 18 years old, questioning what data-making possibilities exist if users can either uncover and/or capture what data controllers such as Facebook monetize and share about themselves with third-parties. We therefore designed MobileMiner, an app we created to consider how gaining access to one’s own data not only augments the agency of the individual but of the collective user. Finally, we explored the data productions from everyday use of mobiles during two hackathons that we held.

    Project Type: Funded
    Role: Research Associate

    Start Date:
      Month: Oct   Year: 2013

    End Date:
      Month: Dec   Year: 2015

    Collaborator: Tobias Blanke
    Collaborator Institution: University of Amsterdam
    Collaborator Role: Primary Investigator

    Funders:
    Arts and Humanities Research Council

All Publications


Book Chapters

Publication
Year

Pybus, J. (2019). Trump, the First Facebook President: Why Politicians Need Our Data Too. In Trump’s Media War (pp. 227–240). Springer International Publishing.

2019

Pybus, J. (2015). Social Networks and their Archives of Feelings. In Hillis, K., Paasonen, S., & Petit, M. Networked Affect. MIT Press, 235-249

2015

Coté, M. and Pybus, J. (2011). Learning to Immaterial Labour 2.0: Facebook and Social Networks, in Cognitive Capitalism, Education and Digital Labour, Peter Lang Press.

2011

Journal Articles

Publication
Year

Pybus, J., & Coté, M. (2021). Did you give permission? Datafication in the mobile ecosystem. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2021.1877771

2021

Blanke, T., & Pybus, J. (2020). The Material Conditions of Platforms - Monopolisation through Decentralisation. Social Media + Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305120971632

2020

Greenway, G., Blanke, T., Cote, M., & Pybus, J. (2017). Research on online digital cultures - community extraction and analysis by Markov and k-means clustering. In Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics): Vol. 10708 LNCS. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-71970-2_10

2017

Coté, M., Gerbaudo, P., & Pybus, J. (2016). Introduction. Politics of Big Data. Digital Culture & Society, 2(2), 5–16. https://doi.org/10.14361/dcs-2016-0202

2016

Coté, M., & Pybus, J. (2016). Simondon on Datafication. A Techno-Cultural Method. Digital Culture & Society, 2(2). https://doi.org/10.14361/dcs-2016-0206

2016

Pybus, J., Coté, M., & Blanke, T. (2015). Hacking the social life of Big Data. Big Data & Society, 2(2), 205395171561664.

2015

Blanke, T., Greenway, G., Pybus, J., & Cote, M. (2014). Mining mobile youth cultures. 2014 IEEE International Conference on Big Data (Big Data), 14–17.

2014

Pybus, J. (2013). Social Networks and Cultural Workers. Journal of Cultural Economy, 6(2), 137–152.

2013

Pybus, J. (2011). The subjective architects: When tweens learn to immaterial labor. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 35(4).

2011

Pybus, J. (2007). Affect and Subjectivity: A Case Study of Neopets.com, Politics and Culture, 7(2).

2007

Coté, M., & Pybus, J. (2007). Learning to Immaterial Labour 2.0: MySpace and Social Networks. Ephemera, 7, 88–106.

2007


Current Courses

Term Course Number Section Title Type
Fall 2021 GS/POLS6900 3.0 A Contemporary Research in Politics REMT
Fall 2021 AP/POLS4610 3.0 A States, Societies & Info. Tech. BLEN