Digital Methods Summer School 2011

Media Studies, University of Amsterdam, 27 June - 8 July 2011

After Cyberspace: Data-rich Media

The Digital Methods Summer School, now in its fifth edition, trains post-graduates, PhD candidates and motivated students and scholars in how to undertake Web research after cyberspace. The idea of "after cyberspace" is an invitation to think through and study the web without resort to the traditions informing "virtual" and "cyber" corporality, politics and identity. Rather the web, first with locative technology, later with language and national webs, and more recently with college and corporate networking software (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) continues to be grounded.

In the 2011 Digital Methods Summer School we will pay homage to cyberspace, in the opening, by presenting thought on a particular strand of media coverage about WikiLeaks, where cybergurus and cyberwar experts reappear on the scene. Just as importantly, we will ask, how to make use of the leaks, and their containers, for research purposes? From data-driven journalism to bespoke cablegate engines, does WikiLeaks spawn an online ecology of tools, visualizations and other substantive practices and outputs? Is such an ecology typical for data platforms? For comparative purposes, we will introduce and study the tool and visualization universes of Twitter as well as Wikipedia, both of which are examples of data-rich media. We would like to learn from platform media analytics and apply it to other data-rich media, so as to further develop tools for cultural diagnostics. One challenge is the question of device effects. For example, when comparing the Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian Wikipedia entries for the Srebrenica Massacre, does Wikipedia's "neutral point of view" policies overdetermine the content, perhaps neutralize it, or can one read culturally distinctive views on the events?

Another strand of study is networked content, which is thought of as online content held together, maintained or even co-authored by software and bots. The interplay of search engines and content interests us this year, not just because Wikipedia articles are routinely at the top of Google results. (The relationship between Google and Wikipedia remains understudied.) But there is also content seemingly authored for engines first and readers only second, as in the case of "demand media." We would like to study efforts that seek to fill in engine results with content, reopening the question of engine epistemology. Presentations will include work on engine log analysis. Apart from (Google) flu trends, are log analyses able to identify and geo-locate cultural and political preference?

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 the info-web and 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?

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, also known as the 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 Anne Helmond (University of Amsterdam) and Carolin Gerlitz (Goldsmiths, University of London). The Summer School has a technical staff as well as a design staff. The Summer School also relies on a technical infrastructure of some five servers hosting tools and storing data. 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. Women on Waves came along during the 2010 Summer School. Greenpeace International, based in Amsterdam, will be invited in 2011.

Previous Digital Methods Summer Schools, 2007-2010,

The Digital Methods Initiative was founded with a grant from the Mondriaan Foundation, and the Summer School is supported by the Center for Creation, Content and Technology (CCCT), University of Amsterdam, organized by the Faculty of Science with sponsorship from Platform Beta.

Summer School Training Certificate
The Digital Methods Summer School issues completion certificates to participants who follow the Summer School program, and complete a significant contribution to a Summer School project. For previous Summer School projects, see for example

Summer School Location

New Media & Digital Culture, University of Amsterdam, Turfdraagsterpad 9, 1012 XT Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Rooms 0.13 & 0.04

We look forward to welcoming you!

Call for Participants

The application deadline was 8 April 2011. The Call for Participants 2011 is closed, though still worth reading.

Welcome Package

The welcome package (pdf) includes the FAQ.


Please visit the 2011 schedule.

Project Pages

Links to the individual projects can be found on DmiSummer2011Projects

Suggested (hash)tags

Twitter: #dmi2011

Flickr/delicious/etc: dmi2011

DMI Summer School 2011 Twitter list:!/cgrltz/dmi-2011

Gephi workshop

Summer School Reader

We have compiled a reader with background literature on this year’s topic of Big Data, which can be downloaded here:

We recommend the following two articles as an introduction to digital methods:

R. Rogers, " Internet Research: The Question of Method," Journal of Information Technology and Politics, 7, 2/3, 2010, 241-260.

R. Rogers, The End of the Virtual: Digital Methods, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2009. (38p) [ pdf]

Studying: The Amsterdam central public library ( OBA: Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam) is a new and beautiful building which has free wifi, good coffee and sandwiches and beautiful views over Amsterdam. How to reach the central library.


How to get to/from Schiphol Airport, a guide. We recommend taking the train.

How to get to the University of Amsterdam, Media Studies, Turfdraagsterpad 9, 1012 XT, Amsterdam. Room: 0.13? Take tram 4, 9, 14, 16, 24, 25 and get of at Spui/Rokin then walk to Oude Turfmarkt, enter the passage and it's the first building on your left.


University of Amsterdam Locations


A) Media Studies. Turfdraagsterpad 9, 1012 XT, Amsterdam. Rooms: 0.13 and 0.04

B) Amsterdam University Library, Singel 425, 1012 WP, Amsterdam. Room: Doelenzaal

C) University of Amsterdam, building BG5, Oudezijds Achterburgwal 233-237, Rooms 2.03, 2.04, 2.22, 2.29

D) Universiteitstheater/University Theatre, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, 1012 CP, Amsterdam. Room 3.01

Google Maps with all locations of the University of Amsterdam.

Sharing content

We have an open Skype channel for all participants called "DMI Summer 2011 - Big Data". Add Anne or Carolin to your Skype contacts and you will be added to the channel.

Advanced Digital Methods Workshop

project page
Topic revision: r21 - 29 Oct 2012, ErikBorra
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