Category: Digital Methods Initiative

“App support ecologies” conference poster

App support ecologies. An empirical investigation of app-platform relations. Prof. Dr. Carolin Gerlitz [1,2], Fernando N. van der Vlist [1,2], Dr. Anne Helmond [2], Dr. Esther Weltevrede [2]. [1] (DFG Collaborative Research Centre 1187 ‘Media of Cooperation’,) University of Siegen, Germany [2] (Digital Methods Initiative,) University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands In: Infrastructures of Publics – Publics of Infrastructures, First Annual Conference 2016 of the DFG Collaborative Research Centre 1187 ‘Media of Cooperation,’ Artur-Woll-Haus, University of Siegen, Germany, December 8–10. Design by: Fernando van der Vlist Link to hi-res PDF: (14 Mb).  

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The Data Sprint Approach: Exploring the field of Digital Humanities through Amazon’s Application Programming Interface

My co-authored article with David M. Berry, Erik Borra, Jean-Christophe Plantin and Jill Walker Rettberg on “The Data Sprint Approach: Exploring the field of Digital Humanities through Amazon’s Application Programming Interface” has been published in Digital Humanities Quarterly, Volume 9 Number 4. Abstract This paper documents the results of an intensive “data sprint” method for undertaking data and algorithmic work using application programming interfaces (APIs), which took place during the Digital Method Initiative 2013 Winter School at the University of Amsterdam. During this data sprint, we developed a method to map the fields of Digital Humanities and Electronic Literature based on title recommendations from the largest online bookseller, Amazon, by retrieving similar purchased items from the Amazon API. A first step shows the overall Amazon recommendation network for Digital Humanities and allows us to detect clusters, aligned fields and bridging books. In a second step we looked into four country-specific Amazon stores (,, and to investigate the specificities of the Digital Humanities in these four countries. The third step is a network of all books suggested for the Electronic Literature field in the four Amazon stores we searched, which offers a comparison to the field of Digital Humanities. The full article is available online at […]

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Dataflows en de politieke economie van sociale media platformen

Transcript van mijn lezing tijdens de studiemiddag voor alumni van de Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen over sociale media. Universiteit van Amsterdam, 5 april 2013. 1. Introductie Dank voor de uitnodiging. Mijn naam is Anne Helmond en ik ben docent-promovendus bij Mediastudies bij Nieuwe Media en Digitale Cultuur. Hier doe ik onderzoek binnen de onderzoeksgroep het Digital Methods Initiative naar het web als platform en hoe we onze onderzoeksmethoden moeten aanpassen om het web als een ecologie te bestuderen. 2. Mediatie van processen door software Vandaag zal ik het hebben over de onderliggende infrastructuren van het sociale web en hoe hiermee de economische relaties van het huidige sociale media landschap worden georganiseerd. Deze korte lezing gaat in op hoe sociale media platformen relaties en activiteiten structureren aan zowel de voorkant als de achterkant van hun platformen. Om te begrijpen hoe de relaties tussen platformen en gebruikers worden georganiseerd, moeten we kijken naar de rol van zowel menselijke actoren als niet-menselijke actoren die processen mediëren, zoals de technische infrastructuur. Het uitgangspunt hierbij is het platform-specifieke karakter van sociale media platformen waar we een assemblage zien van software, databases, interfaces, content, activiteiten, gebruikers en externe webmasters die samen het platform vormen. Dit zal worden geïllustreerd […]

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On Retweet Analysis and a Short History of Retweets

On November 05, 2009 Twitter started a limited rollout of the ‘retweet’ feature to its users. The practice of retweeting has been invented two years earlier by Twitter community and the first ReTweet is often attributed to user Eric Rice. He is said to have coined the term ‘ReTweet’ on 18 April 2007: Rice’s ReTweet would soon be shortened to RT due to Twitter’s 140-character limit and the practice of retweeting was quickly adopted by other users, third-party application developers and eventually by Twitter itself. Users and third-party apps developed their own retweet practices. Most commonly the whole tweet would be copy pasted and prefixed with RT @username (of the original poster) but some users would modify the retweet slightly by editing it so it would fit the 140-character limit. This also gave rise to the ‘fake retweet’ by pretending to retweet an existing tweet, but instead, this tweet would be newly created. Such fake retweets often concern celebrities, where users will impersonate celebrities by creating (humorous) fake retweets. In addition, these fake retweets were used by spammers by including spammy links in the tweets to trick users into thinking a reliable account had sent out that link, and therewith posed a security problem for Twitter. In […]

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Meme images as personalized action formats and user-generated tactics

At the first Issue Mapping workshop at Goldsmiths (see workshop report), University of London in May 2012 we focussed within our visual tactics group on the fairly recent phenomenon of adjusted photos and how do they deal with the concepts of issues and action formats. There are several things you can do to an issue: Personification (turn it into a person, for example a celebrity). Montage images or text (mashing the issue up, recomposing it into different formats). Recomposing a text, a spooftext, using the elements. Sloganification. Root it in geographical space (to attribute it somewhere) or to groups of people. The camp is the prototypical way to do it. Issuefication and memeification In our group we focused on a specific type of formatting an issue, what we initially called the montage image. These adjusted photos are often formatted in the very recognizable visual style of the meme-image with captions on top of and below the image. Think, for example, of the Pepper Spray Cop or Kony 2012. While sometimes referred to as ‘photoshop memes’ (KnowYourMeme) they do not even require an expensive graphic design suite such as Adobe Photoshop as they can be easily created online with so-called meme-generators. While […]

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Visualizing bipartite Facebook Like networks

My colleague Bernhard Rieder added a new feature to his netvizz application which now allows you to create a network graph of your friends and their Likes. Instead of a network visualization that shows the connections between your friends, this bipartite graph includes two different Facebook objects in one graph: your friends and their Likes and the connections between them. My graph contains 308 users (all anonymized in the images), 21240 different liked objects and 31189 likes (click to enlarge images). To reduce the map to a readable format I’ve eliminated users who like less than three objects and objects that have been liked by less than three people. As expected we can find clusters around television shows, bands, albums, musea, technology blogs but also more local things such as venues in Amsterdam. An interesting similarity with my Austrian colleague his network is political satire. His graph shows Kann dieser seelenlose Ziegelstein mehr Freunde haben als H.C. Strache? (Can this soulless brick have more friends than HC Strache?) as one of the most liked objects and within my Dutch network Kan deze baby uil meer fans krijgen dan Geert Wilders? (Can this baby owl have more friends than Geert Wilders?) and LINKSE HOBBIES (Left-Wing Hobbies) […]

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