Doing Digital Methods – Talk at Digital Methods Winter School 2017

Earlier this month I gave a talk at the Digital Methods Winter School at the University of Amsterdam on how it is like to do social and cultural research with digital methods in a data sprint format. The talk happened on the opening day of a data sprint dedicated to exploring different aspects of the 2016 US presidential elections on social media, from fake news to the alt-right to the drama of election night on Twitter (I’ll be writing about the outcomes of this work in a separate post).

The data sprint is a week-long collaborative event where researchers, graphic designers and programmers work together on research projects that repurpose data from digital platforms for social and cultural research. It is a great way to do research in a multidisciplinary environment, to learn from others as well as to test hypotheses and to pilot studies.

I spoke about some of the most interesting projects from last year’s winter and summer schools in order to give participants a sense of what a good digital methods project looks like and what can be achieved in this collaborative format in one week. Highlighted projects included a study of how Tumblr is used for recovery from illness, an analysis of digitised records of collective action against human rights abuses coordinated by Amnesty International, a study of the feminist politics of stock photography, as well as a critical cartography of the Mediterranean refugee crisis in 2015 as seen through the maps embedded in media coverage of this issue.

The slides from the talk are below.

Amazon as a Research Engine: Best Selling Issues in the Climate Change Debate

My colleagues at the Digital Methods Initiative (Erik Borra, Natalia Sanchez-Querubin and Sophie Waterloo) and I just submitted an abstract for a social media theory and methods conference featuring great names in this space: Jean Burgess (Queensland University of Technology), Axel Bruns (Queensland University of Technology), Greg Elmer (Ryerson University) and Ganaele Langlois (U. of Ontario Institute of Technology).

The paper is called “Amazon as a Research Engine: Best Selling Issues in the Climate Change Debate” and proposes a protocol for repuposing Amazon.com as tool for debate mapping. Below is our abstract:

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