HSSH’s Matti Pohjonen on tour in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia

University Researcher Matti Pohjonen from HSSH's Methodological Unit travelled in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia participating in several events, holding lectures and workshops.

Matti Pohjonen is a University Researcher at HSSH's methodological unit. He works at the intersection of digital anthropology, philosophy and digital methods, developing research approaches for understanding digital cultures and digital politics in a comparative global context.

In January, Matti has travelled in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia where he has been participating in several events, holding lectures and workshops. The events have covered topics such as electoral disinformation, datafication, content moderation, digital research methodologies and generative AI.

“I had a unique opportunity to go spend a few weeks in different institutions and universities in the region sharing ideas from HSSH with colleagues. There is a lot of interest in the type of work we have been developing over the past few years and I believe this type of mutual knowledge transfer and collaboration can benefit universities in the region but also researchers at the University of Helsinki”, Matti said.

For example, at the KISIP 2024 conference in Indonesia addressing the challenge of political disinformation in the upcoming 2024 Indonesian election, Matti talked about political disinformation & content moderation “folklore” in a comparative perspective. This concept moves focus of research away from what “platforms do” to also “what people think platforms do” to address how social media communities globally feel and create myths about often mysterious and opaque content moderation policies and the algorithms that drive them.

“The lively event in Jakarta with over 130 people in attendance showed the challenges countries face globally with political disinformation but also how these issues are often refracted in different ways in countries such as Indonesia. I was surprised, for instance, to find out the preliminary research suggests there might be much less disinformation in Indonesian elections in 2024 as compared to the 2019 elections. This would run contrary to what most colleagues have been discussing in Europe and the US,” Matti said.

Matti also visited the State University of Surabaya in Surabaya, Indonesia, to present a keynote lecture on “Digital Society: Europe experiences and its future in Indonesia” and discussed with colleagues about their new proposed MA degree in Digital Society and possible collaboration with Helsinki.

In Malang, Indonesia he visited the University of Brawijaya where he presented a keynote lecture on “Datafication as a Theory and Method: Present and Future Challenges for Global and Comparative Contexts” to around 40 staff members from the Faculty of Cultural Studies. He also met the Dean and the Vice-Rector to discuss possibilities for future collaboration as they hope to develop data-driven methods and approaches for cultural studies’ research in the region.

Matti also travelled to Singapore where he gave a discussion titled “Some Reflections on Latent or Synthetic Ethnography” to staff members of Quilt.ai, an AI company specializing in the use of AI, large-scale datasets sourced from the internet together with interpretive approaches from anthropology to gain culturally situated insights into global market trends.

His planned talk at the United Nations University International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) was postponed to a later date because of proposed airport strike in Finland, which forced Matti to return to snowy Finland a few days earlier.

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