Digital Methods Summer School 2010
"Foundations for Online Research with Digital Methods"
The Digital Methods Initiative, a collaboration of the New Media & Digital Culture program at the University of Amsterdam and the Govcom.org Foundation, welcomes you to its 4th annual Summer School for advanced B.A. and M.A. students, PhD candidates as well as designers, artists and programmers working in the area of online media research, broadly conceived. This year's edition of the annual Summer School is dedicated to "foundations" in digital methods. One set of foundations includes the question of the status of Web data. Often considered messy, dirty and incomplete, under which conditions may Web data be seen as robust? Another set of foundations concerns the idea of the Web as virtual, representational or otherwise having a special, ungrounded status. Can one only study online culture when one's site of research is the Web? Where does the study of online culture end, and social and cultural research begin? The third set of foundations strives to codify the otherwise tacit knowledge required for online research. On top of formulating research questions, the purpose of foundational research skills sessions is to present strategies for compiling URL lists, building source sets, making issue and key word lists, designing queries and undertaking other core prep tasks, prior to tool use. Further foundational sessions include training in reading and interpreting search engine results and other standard Web device outputs.
Digital Methods Training Certificate Program, 28 June - 9 July 2010
The Digital Methods Summer School has a certificate program. It is a two-week intensive training and skill acquisition program which runs, every other weekday, 28 June to 9 July 2010. The certificate program is recommended for those researchers with limited exposure to digital methods to date.
"Seemingly Intractable Issues with Digital Methods Research."
The Advanced Projects Program has weekly focuses; that is, each week is dedicated to a particular, thorny issue in digital methods, and is led by an advanced Digital Methods researcher (and PhD
candidate), who together with Richard Rogers (Summer program director), provides an introductory lecture, and a second talk (after a coffee break) that introduces a series of means by which that thorny issue may be tackled. The first session is dedicated to Issuecrawler 2.0: the mapping of social media platforms (and other websites, too). The Issuecrawler is placed side by side other crawlers, where the questions include not only the reach and thoroughness of the crawler, but also its specific handling of site types, and particularly social media. The week also explores whether 'to like' and 'to share' are forms of linking, or may be treated as such for the purposes of analysis. Are likes and shares to be treated as acts of affirmation and association, as in reputational and affiliative linking? Or are allusions to hyperlink analysis overdone?
The second advanced program week is dedicated to exploring comparative Web space temporalities (such as static, realtime, periodic and irregularly-paced). One problem in digital methods to date concerns the symmetrical treatment of spaces or spheres (for comparative analysis), when these spaces may have markedly different paces. Thus projects in device studies may well include comparative pace analysis. That is, how do Web devices methodologically handle the speeds of entities in Web spaces? We can start by examining how speeds are made visible in results pages (e.g., comparing Google.com, Google News, Google Updates, Google Blogosphere, Google Scholar), before moving to the question of how to study phenomena that take place across spheres, such as issues, controversies, framings, positions and more.
The third week takes up the welcome question of content analysis with digital methods. In coining the notion of the 'technicity of content', initially digital methods researchers were weighing the prospect of turning off the software bots at wikipedia for a day, and facing the ensuing mess the morning after (whilst welcoming the robot cleaning crew that would be required to tidy it all up). Thus the reliance of content on software became one approach to content analysis. As new hopeful content spaces emerge (e.g., the comment space), the focus remains on how software keeps content (and data) clean, as opposed to messy, fragmented, partial and other adjectives that describe why Web data have a reputation problem. We are in search of the cleanest content on the Web.
The Digital Methods Initiative, a collaboration of the New Media & Digital Culture program at the University of Amsterdam and the Govcom.org Foundation, welcomes you to its 4th annual Summer School. This year's edition of the Advanced Projects Program is dedicated to seemingly intractable issues in digital methods research. How does the Issuecrawler (and other crawlers, in comparative analysis) deal with social media? May 'to like' and 'to share' be treated as hyperlinks once were? The issue of time in Web spaces is another point often made. How can one compare spheres (in the sense of the cross-spherical analysis approach in digital methods), when each sphere treats timeliness differently? Digital Methods continue to face questions about content analysis, where the meticulousness required in reading website after website often gives way to the question, can't we automate that?
Digital Methods Advanced Projects Program, 9 August - 27 August 2010
The Digital Methods Summer School also has an advanced program. It is a three-week undertaking, meeting physically Mondays and Fridays, with an ongoing commitment, where researchers propose and carry out projects, from research question and query design to methodological operationalization, tool use and visual and written output, including narrative and presentation. Each week has a dedicated theme, and is facilitated by advanced Amsterdam-based Digital Methods researchers. Thematic projects may include explorations of the comment space, real-time results, activity in social media, comparative Web space temporalities (such as static, real-time, periodic and irregularly-paced), as well as the creation of Web collections for the purposes of historical research.
Participants must arrange their own travel and accommodation. There is no fee for participation in the Summer School.
The Digital Methods Initiative acknowledges the generous support of the Science Faculty, University of Amsterdam, and Platform Beta Techniek, http://www.platformbetatechniek.nl/
Previous Digital Methods Summer Schools, 2007-2009
The Digital Methods Summer School is in its fourth year. The third Summer School in 2009
treated media attention formats, Wikipedia as space of controversy, repurposing Google for social research and methods for Internet archive research, including "conjuring a past state of the Web." The second Summer School, which coincided with the 10-year jubilee
of the Govcom.org foundation, was dedicated to the turn away from user studies, and also produced the video, commenting on Google's 10-year anniversary, "Google and the politics of tabs
." The IP Browser
, recently shown at Arts Santa Monica in Barcelona, is also a product of the 2008 gatherings. The first Summer School, in 2007
, sought to establish the study of natively digital objects, how they are handled by dominant web devices, and whether the "methods in the media" may be repurposed for social and cultural research.
The Digital Methods Initiative (DMI), Amsterdam, participates in the EU project facilitated by Bruno Latour, Sciences Po, Paris, http://www.mappingcontroversies.net/
DMI researchers also participate in the ATACD network, the EU project facilitated by Celia Lury, Goldsmiths, London, http://www.atacd.net/
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Photos from the 2010 Summer School
Reworking method for Internet research, the Digital Methods Initiative (DMI) is a collaboration of the New Media & Digital Culture, University of Amsterdam and the Govcom.org Foundation, Amsterdam. Its director is Richard Rogers, Chair, New Media & Digital Culture, University of Amsterdam, and its coordinators are Esther Weltevrede and Sabine Niederer, PhD candidates in Media Studies, University of Amsterdam.
Summer School Location
New Media & Digital Culture
University of Amsterdam
1012 XT Amsterdam
Rooms 0.13 & 0.04
Call for Participants
The Call for Participants
is closed, though still worth reading.