Hector Postigo’s research focuses on new digital media and cultural production both large and small. His work has centered on two areas of inquiry in cultural production. The first interrogates notions of value, participation and “free” labor on the internet. I have looked at a number of sites as case studies to ask: what kinds of value does the work of fan communities, volunteers and others add to commercial enterprises? What are their (industry and user) norms, practices and values? And how do they engage with technologies, laws and policies that afford or frustrate participation? For example, Postigo was one of the first researchers to study video game fan communities that make valuable modifications to popular PC games (modders) and has written on the history of AOL volunteer communities and their labor disputes.
His second line of research focuses on technologically mediated activism. He interrogates this topic by asking how technological resistance structures activism in social movements. Postigo is concerned with how ICTs, hacks, workarounds and other circumvention and organization measures might impact the role of individuals and organizations bent on social change. His contributions in that vein have centered on the digital rights or free culture movement and their use of technological measures as a form of activism. His book on that topic was published by MIT Press.
Postigo is currently conducting research on Web 2.0 and social change organizations with Carla Ilten from the Technical University of Berlin, a graduate student of sociology at the University of Illinois Chicago. He’s also started thinking about privacy and participation in web platforms, and wrapped up research on the U.S. security and privacy industry and its branding and marketing practices. That project was funded by the European Commission 7th Programme Framework. Postigo also published a co-edited volume on that topic, available from Palgrave Macmillan Press. And with Tarleton Gillespie (from Cornell University), he received funding from the National Science Foundation for a new project on cultural production in the digital age. They’ve also founded a blog called Culture Digitally.