Mark is a Senior Lecturer in Digital Culture and Society, leading development there in the analysis of big social data via an AHRC-funded research project. He is a member of both the Department of Digital Humanities and the Department of Culture, Media and Creative Industries.
Mark pursued both his Master's and PhD in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. There he was steeped in media theory, critical theory and cultural studies. His dissertation, 'The Italian Foucault' explored the Italian post-operaismo/ autonomist movement and Foucault circa 1973-78 as a means for developing new conceptual approaches to networked new media. He continued that trajectory in his sustained analysis of social media, developing 'immaterial labour 2.0' to conceptually frame the increasingly frictionless conflation of social and economic relations therein. This widely cited work has subsequently been revised, republished and translated into German. This technologically-enmeshed immateriality—namely social, communicative and affective capacities—raise basic questions about our relation to technology. These have been examined via the prosthetic paradigm of media theory, and originary technicity as proposed by Leroi-Gourhan and developed by Stiegler.
Mark has pursued this ‘ontology of the digital human’ by considering the materiality of the digital. This new materialist turn can be characterised as a shift in focus from the discourses of technological mediation to the technological mediation of discourses. This is reflected in his current AHRC-funded research on 'big social data’ which engages the computational environment and new algorithmic practices of mobile platforms through which we generate digital traces.
This research regards technology not merely as an object of study but deploys it as a tool for conceptualising the condition of the digital human and critically understanding big data as an emerging nexus of power-knowledge relations. It addresses the democratic deficit we face in big data by exploring innovative means by which it can be turned into a community resource.
Research Interests and PhD Supervision
- Big Data
- Social Media
- Media theory
- Research and technology
Mark’s research entails the materiality of the digital, namely in critically unpacking the mediating environment of cultural practices and political economic relations. He is also interested in the ontology of the digital human, especially as it relates to big data.
Mark welcomes applications for research topics related to his interests.
Ongoing Research Project
Dr Mark Coté (along with Dr Tobias Blanke in Digital Humanities) is investigating the ‘big social data’ we generate on our smart phones in the research project ‘Our Data Ourselves.’ Funded at £330,000 through the AHRC’s Digital Transformations and Connecting Communities theme, the project also includes Dr Jennifer Pybus, Research Associate In Social Media and Big Data and Dr Giles Greenway, Research Associate in Big Social Data Technology. We are partnering with young coders (ages 14-18) in Young Rewired State. Together we will hold hackathons to access the metadata and symbolic content we generate on our smartphones. We will address questions of privacy and intellectual property law, and attitudes toward information sharing. We will develop processes and protocols for the ethical storage of that data and hold another hackathon to develop tools for its visualisation and analysis. This will culminate in a Proof of Concept for a ‘big social data commons’ turning what heretofore has been the primary purview of the NSA/GCHQ and Google/Facebook into a critical community resource.
For more details, please see his full research profile.
Mark teaches across issues in digital culture and society with a current focus on what his forthcoming postgraduate module calls 'The Social Life of Big Data.’ He has developed modules on social media, networked new media, digital culture, and the history and philosophy of the digital. Mark is interested in innovative pedagogical methods, particularly using digital methods as a means for invigorating our critical understanding of our historical moment.
Expertise and Public Engagement
- Big Data
- Social Media
- Digital Culture
- Data Privacy/Surveillance