Archive for calls, March 2015

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[ecrea] Digital Methods Summer School 2015 - Call for Participation

Thu Mar 26 11:29:49 GMT 2015

    *Call for Participation: Digital Methods Summer School 2015*
    *Post-Snowden Media Empiricism and Secondary Social Media: Data
    Studies Beyond Facebook and Twitter*
    *University of Amsterdam
    29 June - 10 July 2015*

    *Deadline for applications: 23 April 2015*

    This year's Digital Methods Summer School is devoted to what we call
    ?post-Snowden media empiricism? and 'secondary social media?.
    Post-Snowden media empiricism refers to how to study online media
    since the revelations in June 2013 about the breadth and scope of
    NSA surveillance activities. Writing about the future of media
    theory, post-Snowden, scholars are closing the age of Internet
    innocence. For years one would study the extent to which cyberspace
    is an alternative space, a realm of new politics, corporealities and
    identity play, cleared of reputation, institutions and regulatory
    legal regimes. Such a point of departure is long dated, but the
    post-Snowden dates others too, with the likely exception of
    surveillance studies, once a branch or sub-field. Such is the
    context these days for calls for post-media as well as post-digital

    In considering how to rethink the study of online media,
    post-Snowden, there are a series of proposals for new theory, but
    there is not the concomitant attention to the empirical project.
    What may be the agenda for a post-Snowden media empiricism? Are
    there digital methods for a post-Snowden surveillance
    studies? Considering how to approach online media
    generally nowadays, we ask:

    1) What does it mean for media researchers to treat and study
    empirically the web as an intelligence medium? Do we hunt for
    confidential documents and study leaks? Would we inevitably slope
    towards intelligence work?

    2) In post-Snowden media empiricism, would one embrace the study of
    the dark web, anonymous web and onion routers? Should we throw a Tor
    install party?

    3) Ghostery and other software that track trackers (like our very
    own ?tracker tracker
    <>? tool) are
    means to study soft surveillance online (third party cookies,
    beacons, etc.). Does such surveillance study pale in the face of the
    sheer scale of post-Snowden media that is surveilled?

    4) With the cloud we have moved from a user logic of downloading to
    one of uploading. Should we replace our scrapers with sniffers?

    5) Do the older new media methods still apply? Could we map the
    cloud as linked server space?

    The NSA did not name all the social media platforms. 'Secondary
    social media' is a term we are using to compliment and place
    opposite to GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon), employed
    increasingly in French intellectual circles to denote U.S. digital
    cultural imperialism
    Should we turn our focus to the lesser platforms? What value do the
    other social media platforms have for social research? If Google can
    be shown to author new source epistemologies, Apple's iOS store
    (together with Amazon's lists) as sources for best-selling issues
    and Facebook for most engaged with content, what do secondary social
    media such as Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr have to offer? We are
    also interested in social media alternatives and new online spaces
    offering conviviality without necessarily resorting to the logic of
    the social graph.

    *Big Platforms, or GAFA*

    Among the big data critiques is the notion of ready-made data. This
    line of thought is part of the continuum which sees a wholesale
    switch from hermeneutics to pattern-recognition as well as a
    reputational swing favouring those with big analytical
    infrastructure. But there needs to be data for the machines that
    learn and the analysts who run them. Ready-made data as a big data
    critique refers to an over reliance on API streams for the study of
    virtually any societal matter, such as Twitter data to monitor
    disasters, revolutions and presidential transitions and predict flu
    trends, elections as well as celebrity awards.

    Which data are preferred? Whilst the term has deeper roots in the
    consideration of publishing old media online, the acronym, GAFA,
    standing for Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, has resonated
    particularly in the French press and scientific literature as the
    new term for U.S. digital cultural imperialism, expanded from
    allusions to Googlization nearly a decade ago, which also coincided
    with a call for a European search engine, Quaero. Whilst the term
    may fit well for media publishers and advertisers, for data analysts
    Twitter is an obvious addition for the study of influence and trend
    as would be Wikipedia, not only for monitoring attention to matters
    of concern and cross-cultural comparison but also for data
    groundwork such as keyword and source list-building (with the
    advantage or disadvantage of often being exhaustive such as the list
    of social networking websites

    As a counter-point to GAFA, and the study of big platforms, we would
    like to introduce the notion of secondary social media, with the
    question, where are the other signals (online) for the potential
    purposes of social research? And do they tend to be studied in a
    similar fashion as the big platforms (monitoring and prediction)?
    How else to study them?

    When one queries new trending social media networks, most popular
    social media sites for teens or other auto-suggested and completed
    key phrases in leading search engines, the lists may be concatenated
    (the exhaustive approach) or triangulated, serving up !LinkedIn,
    Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr, Vine, Meetup, and other
    platforms but also the ?after Facebook? messaging applications such
    as Snapchat. How to study the other social media?

    The first recognition is that secondary social media is meant as a
    term in a research sense rather than one pursued from a political
    economy point of view. We realise that Vine is owned by Twitter,
    Flickr by Yahoo, Instagram by Facebook, meaning that they are
    already GAFA-like, and rising on (potential) market capitalization
    lists. They are understudied, however, both generally but also in
    terms of how they may be repurposed for social research, which is
    the digital methods approach.

    Secondary social media have specificities as well as similiarities
    to Twitter and Facebook, which may makes methods of their study
    comparable. Instagram selfies (including their locations and
    characteristics) have seen scholarly attention as has (gendered)
    social curation on Pinterest. But one may make use of the content
    tagging and activity on the platformed social media so as to study
    issue engagement. Instagram has hashtags (and comments), and
    Pinterest likes, repins and comments, organising content and
    metrified attention to it in ways similar to Twitter and Facebook,
    where one routinely studies most engaged with content (through the
    likes, shares, comments, liked comments on Facebook pages and
    groups, and retweets and favorites on Twitter), often finding
    content with characteristics consistent with memes. With its
    reblogging feature, Tumblr is similar, as potentially are its modes
    of analysis.

    Indeed, there may be a temptation to reduce all social media
    analysis with digital methods to the study of network metrics,
    particuarly through inquiries into influence, be it of an individual
    (clout) or a subject matter (trend). The ease with which data can be
    collected from such platform APIs as Twitter, and poured into
    analytics buckets attests to the admonition. As an analytical
    strategy, however, one also may prefer the specificities of the
    platform over the typical metrics measures. On the list are mature
    platforms such as Flickr, where one typically studies tagging?s new
    taxonomies, or more specifically the social life tags, watching
    which pictures most significantly occupy the politics tag over time,
    for example. There is !LinkedIn, which one can study the (new) skill
    sets of professions, profiling the new job names and activities in
    the emerging creative industries. Snapchat to date has had little
    scholarship or attention paid to its analytics, apart from a
    security breach into its unauthorised API, thus far defying
    repurposing. When is a platform less suitable or even useless for
    repurposing for social research? Such could also fill in the notion
    of secondary social media.

    *About "Digital Methods" as Concept*

    Digital methods is a term coined as a counter-point to virtual
    methods, which typically digitize existing methods and port them
    onto the Web. Digital methods, contrariwise, seek to learn from the
    methods built into the dominant devices online, and repurpose them
    for social and cultural research. That is, the challenge is to study
    both the info-web as well as the social web with the tools that
    organize them. There is a general protocol to digital methods. At
    the outset stock is taken of the natively digital objects that are
    available (links, tags, threads, etc.) and how devices such as
    search engines make use of them. Can the device techniques be
    repurposed, for example by remixing the digital objects they take as
    inputs? Once findings are made with online data, where to ground
    them? Is the baseline still the offline, or are findings to be
    grounded in more online data? There is also a Digital Methods book
    <> (MIT Press, 2013) as
    well as a complementary Issue Mapping book

<> (Amsterdam
    University Press, 2015).

    *About the Summer School*

    The Digital Methods Summer School, founded in 2007 together with the
    Digital Methods Initiative, is directed by Professor Richard Rogers,
    Chair in New Media & Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam.
    The Summer School is one training opportunity provided by the
    Digital Methods Initiative (DMI). DMI also has a Winter School,
    which includes a mini-conference, where papers are presented and
    responded to. Winter School papers are often the result of Summer
    School projects. The Summer School is coordinated by two
    PhD candidates in New Media at the University of Amsterdam, or
    affiliates. This year the coordinators are are to be announced. The
    Summer School has a technical staff as well as a design staff, drawn
    from the ranks of Density Design in Milan. The Summer School also
    relies on a technical infrastructure of some nine servers hosting
    tools and storing data. In a culture of experimentation and
    skill-sharing, participants bring their laptops, learn method,
    undertake research projects, make reports, tools and graphics and
    write them up on the Digital Methods wiki. The Summer School
    concludes with final presentations. Often there are guests from
    non-governmental or other organizations who present their issues.
    For instance, Women on Waves <> came
    along during the 2010, Fair Phone <> to the
    2012 Summer School and Greenpeace and their Gezi Park project in
    2013. We worked on the issue of rewilding with NGOs in the 2014
    Summer School. Digital Methods people are currently interning at
    major NGOs and international organizations. Previous Digital Methods
    Summer Schools, 2007-2014, See also
    previous Digital Methods Winter Schools, 2009-2015,

    What's it like? Digital Methods Summer School flickr stream 2012
    <> and
    flickr stream 2013

    The Digital Methods Initiative was founded with a grant from the
    Mondriaan Foundation, and the Summer School has been supported by
    the Center for Creation, Content and Technology (CCCT
    <>), University of Amsterdam, organized by the
    Faculty of Science with sponsorship from Platform Beta. It also
    receives support from the Citizen Data Lab
    <>  University of Applied Sciences.
    The Digital Methods Summer School is self-sustaining.

    *Applications and fees*

    To apply for the Digital Methods Summer School 2015, please use the
    University of Amsterdam Summer School form <>.
    Or, please sendplease send a one-page letter explaining how digital
    methods training would benefit your current work, and also enclose a
    CV, a copy of your passport (details page only), a headshot photo as
    well as a 100-word bio. Mark your application "DMI Training
    Certificate Program," and send to info [at]
    <>. Please also mention in your
    application e-mail whether you'd like to make use of the
    accommodation service (for more information see below "Housing and

    The deadline for applications for the Summer School is 23 April
    2015. Notices will be sent on 24 April. Please address your
    application email to the Summer School coordinators, Saskia Kok and
    Liliana Bounegru, info [at]
    <>. Informal queries may be sent to the
    email address as well.

    The Summer School costs EUR 595 (non-credits) or EUR 895 with
    credits (6 ECTS). Accepted applicants will be informed of the bank
    transfer details upon notice of acceptance to the Summer School on
    24 April 2015. The fee must be paid by 24 May 2015.


    The Digital Methods Summer School is part of the University of
    Amsterdam Summer School
<> programme,
    which has a video giving a flavor of the Summer School experience.
    Students from universities in the LERU <> and
    U21 <> networks are eligible for a
    scholarship to help cover the cost for tuition and housing for the
    DMI Summer School. Please consult their websites in order to see
    whether you are eligible for a scholarship and to begin the
    application procedure.

    *Housing and Accommodations*

    The Summer School is self-catered, and there are abundant cafes and
    a university mensa nearby. The Digital Methods Summer School is
    located in the heart of Amsterdam. There are limited accommodations
    available to participants at The Student Hotel
    <> at reasonable rates. In your
    application please indicate whether you are interested in making use
    of this service. In your acceptance notification, you will be given
    information about the reservation as well as payment. For those who
    prefer other accommodations, we suggest airbnb or similar. For
    shorter stay, there is Hotel Le Coin
    <>, where you may request a
    university discount.

    *Summer School Credits (6 ECTS)*

    For those following the Digital Methods Summer School for credit, 6
    credits (ECTS) are granted to participants who follow the Summer
    School program, and complete a significant contribution to a Summer
    School project (evidenced by co-authorship of the project report as
    well as final (joint) presentation). Templates for the project
    report as well as for the presentation slides are supplied. For
    previous Summer School projects, see for example


    The Summer School meets every weekday. Please bring your laptop. We
    will provide abundant connectivity. We start generally at 9:30 in
    the morning, and end around 5:30. There are morning talks one to two
    days per week. On the last Friday we have a boat trip on the canals
    of Amsterdam.

    *Preparations: Reader and Online Tutorials and Lectures*

    For your Summer School to be especially successful we would
    recommend highly that you watch (or listen to) the Digital Methods
    Audio and Video Tutorials - Digital Methods researchers have given
    tutorials and talks which are useful and sometimes even entertaining.
    Summer School Reader and Homework - Compilation of relevant readings
    and other preparatory materials.
    Digital Methods Summer School 2014 Tool Medley slides on Slideshare

    *Social Media & User-Generated Content*

    Twitter hashtag #dmi15
    We shall have a list of summer school participants and make an
    old-fashioned Facebook with the headshots and bio's you send to us.

    We look forward to welcoming you to Amsterdam in the Summertime!

    Dr. Carolin Gerlitz
    Assistant Professor in New Media
    Program Director MA New Media & Digital Culture

    University of Amsterdam
    Turfdraagsterpad 9
    1012 XT Amsterdam

    (c.gerlitz /at/ <mailto:(c.gerlitz /at/>

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