[Air-L] Call for Participation: Digital Methods Summer School 2014

Anne Helmond anne at digitalmethods.net
Fri Feb 14 02:34:19 PST 2014

Call for Participation: Digital Methods Summer School 2014

23 June - 4 July 2014

Digital Methods Initiative

New Media & Digital Culture

University of Amsterdam

Turfdraagsterpad 9

1012 XT Amsterdam

the Netherlands

On Geolocation: Remote Event Analysis (Mapping Conflicts, Disasters,

Elections and other Events with Online and Social Media Data)

This year's Digital Methods Summer School is devoted to the remote

analysis of events. When Twitter changed its byline in 2009 from "What

are you doing?" to "What's happening?" it acknowledged a transition in

its use and value from an ego-tweeting and ambient friend-following

medium to a news and event-following one. Indeed there is a growing

literature (in the Summer School's reader) on the relationship between

social media and events, often focusing on conflicts, disasters as well

as political elections. But what do events look like online, and how

does one follow them analytically? What is the value of the event's

second screening, as it is sometimes termed? Also, is the event's

comment culture worth keeping as records of what has transpired? How to

capture as well as re-render, or playback, the event?

Claude Levi-Strauss famously wrote, "I hate travelling and explorers,"

and indeed the great anthropologist spent scant time in the field,

preferring remote analysis, a research practice that relied less on

sensing instruments than on objects and description. Social media

contributes sensing measures in the form of activity metrics and other

data. They also raise the question as to what the Internet and social

media add to events as well as subtract from them (so to speak). Evgeni

Morozov relates the story that after the network was brought down in

Iran during the Election crisis of 2009, there were perhaps 6 Twitter

users on the ground in Teheran

(http://www.evgenymorozov.com/morozov_twitter_dissent.pdf). Indeed the

picture provided by Twitter may be demographically skewed. As the Pew

Research Center found in 2013, reactions to events on Twitter differ

dramatically from public opinion about them


We are also interested in the events as they unfold in and through

mobile devices, and the data supplied with them. 'On geolocation', as

opposed to 'on location', refers to the location data sent along with

the posts and other content such as the camera data embedded in digital

images. At the Summer School we analyse event data as supplied by social

media and devices (broadly conceived), and also seek baselines against

which to assess and compare its contributions.

Example of remote event analysis using Twitter data, Digital Methods

Summer School project 2013


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 both the info-web as well

as 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? Once findings are made with online data, where to

ground them? Is the baseline still the offline, or are findings to be

grounded in more online data? There is also a Digital Methods book


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 NewSummer School is one training opportunity provided by the

Methods Initiative (DMI). DMI also has a Winter School, which includes a

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 Ph.D candidates in New Media at the

University of Amsterdam, or affiliates. This year the coordinators are

Catherine Somzé and Sabine Niederer, both affiliated with the Digital

Methods Initiative, University of Amsterdam. The Summer School has a

technical staff as well as a design staff. The Summer School also relies

on a technical infrastructure of some nine 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. For instance, Women on Waves

came along during the 2010, Fair Phone to the 2012 Summer School and

Greenpeace and their Gezi Park project in 2013. Digital Methods people

are currently interning at major NGOs and international organizations

(the UN).

The Digital Methods Initiative was founded with a grant from the

Mondriaan Foundation, and the Summer School has been supported by the

Center for Creation, Content and Technology (CCCT), University of

Amsterdam, organized by the Faculty of Science with sponsorship from

Platform Beta. Previous Digital Methods Summer Schools, 2007-2013


Applications and fees

To apply for the Digital Methods Summer School 2014, 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," and send to info [at] digitalmethods.net.

The deadline for applications for the Summer School is 23 April. Notices

will be sent on 25 April. Please address your application email to the

Summer School coordinators, Catherine Somzé and Sabine Niederer, info

[at] digitalmethods.net. Informal queries may be sent to Catherine [at]


The Summer School costs EUR 345 per person. Accepted applicants will be

informed of the bank transfer details upon notice of acceptance to the

Summer School. The fee must be paid by 24 May 2013.


The Digital Methods Summer School is part of the University of Amsterdam

Summer School program me

(http://www.uva.nl/en/education/other-programmes/summer-winter). This

means that students attending the partnering universities in the LERU

(http://www.leru.org/index.php/public/home/) and U21 networks

(http://www.universitas21.com/) are eligible for a scholarship to help

cover the cost for tuition and housing for the DMI Summer School. Please

consult their sites to see whether you are eligible for a scholarship

and for the application procedure.

Housing and Accommodations

The Summer School is self-catered, and there are abundant cafes and a

university mensa nearby. The Digital Methods Summer School is located in

the heart of Amsterdam. There are limited accommodations available to

participants at The Student Hotel at reasonable rates

(http://www.thestudenthotel.com/). In your application please indicate

whether you are interested in making use of this service. Reservations

will be made by us on the basis of your request included in your

application. In your acceptance notification, you will be given further

information about booking and payment. Please contact the local

organizers if you need information about prices. For those who prefer

non-University accommodations, we suggest airbnb or similar. For shorter

stay, there is Hotel Le Coin (http://www.lecoin.nl/), where we have a

university discount.

Summer School Training Certificate

The Digital Methods Summer School issues completion certificates to

particisignificant contribution to a Summer School project. For previous

School projects, see for example



The Summer School meets every day. Please bring your laptop. We will

provide abundant connectivity. We start generally at 9:30 in the

morning, and end around 5:30. There are morning talks two-three days per

week. On the last Friday we have a boat trip on the canals of Amsterdam.

Social Media & User-Generated Content

Twitter hashtag #dmi14

We shall have a list of summer school participants and make an

old-fashioned Facebook.

We look forward to welcoming you to Amsterdam in the Summertime!

More information about the Air-L mailing list