Announcing the 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, is organizing 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 online cultural studies 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.

Under-explored Spaces by Digital Methods

Special attention will be paid to under-explored spaces and subspaces online. Explored spaces by digital methods include hyperlink networks, IP numbers, archived website collections and previous states of the Web, top-level and second-level domains, search engine returns, social bookmarks and related tags, the spheres, national Webs and filtered content, social networking profiles, wikipedia article edit histories and tweets related by hashtag. Of the under-explored spaces, there are the classic ones, as well as those which may resist current tools and methods. In the former category of course there have been portions of the Web thought to be unreachable by crawlers (the ‘dark web’), another relatively untouched by humans (the crawled-only web), a third not to be captured (the ‘ephemeral web’) and the fourth one that no longer exists, the dead web. (Placing the robots.txt exclusion on a website now flushes the site’s stored history in the Internet archive.) However, the focus in the Summer School is on spaces currently garnering attention for their democratic potential, such as the comment space as well as the overlay or annotated map space, and exploring their potential for social and cultural research.

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.

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.

Applications

To apply for the Digital Methods Training Certificate Program, 28 June – 9 July 2010, please send a one-page letter explaining how digital methods training would benefit your current work, and also enclose a CV. Mark your application “DMI Training Certificate Program.”

To apply for the Digital Methods Advanced Projects Program, 9 August – 27 August 2010, please send a one-page letter explaining how digital methods have benefited your work, and also enclose a CV. Mark your application “DMI Summer Advanced Program.”

To apply for both programs, please write a letter explaining your overall affinity with digital methods work, and include your CV. Mark your application “DMI Summer Full Program.”

Selection of participants is based on the fit between candidate interests and available skills and expertise. Selection is also based on commitment to full attendance as well as your work in digital methods. Please be advised that we may contact you for additional information and request a conversation in person, by phone or by Skype (whichever is most suitable).

Please send applications to Esther Weltevrede, Digital Methods Initiative, Media Studies, University of Amsterdam, info {at} digitalmethods.net. Informal queries should be sent to Richard Rogers, University of Amsterdam, rogers {at} uva.nl.

Deadline for applications is 3 May 2010. Responses to be sent on 7 May 2010. Conversations in person, by phone or by Skype will be held on 10 and 11 May. Circulation of finalized participants’ list on 12 May.

Logistics

Participants must arrange their own travel and accommodation. There is no fee for participation in the Summer School. Space is limited.

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.

Related project URLs

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/.

About

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.

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