Contemporary art institutions, much like cultural heritage museums around the world, face a process of deep transformation through digitalisation, except that for contemporary art institutions such a process ventures into the material foundations of the artworks themselves: digital technology has become a creative medium for artists, while most recently, Artificial Intelligence, especially machine learning (ML), has started featuring in the production of new artworks.
As a creative medium, ML deeply challenges the limits of knowledge and expertise traditionally held by curators and cultural institutions working with contemporary culture. Although ML has had a transformational impact on the corporate world, the cultural sector is still in need of acquiring adequate media literacy to engage with this technology. Curators and cultural institutions often struggle to understand the technology’s functioning and its creative capacity, holding cultural actors back from much needed engagement.
Recently, I took part in an Economist Intelligence Unit podcast on ‘global digital cultures’ with Kathy Sheehan, SVP of Cassandra market research, and Ravi Govada, head of global market research at hospitality start-up Selina. We discussed how trends are shaped and shared in the digital age, and the possibility that a shared transnational youth culture is emerging across different platforms. Being a researcher focused on the impact of the internet and social media on politics, culture, conflict and development the Horn of Africa, it was an unusual experience for me to be in conversation with US-based market research professionals like Kathy or hospitality entrepreneurs like Ravi. For the latter, it quickly became clear that we might end up talking about very different types of ‘digital nomad’: Ravi focusing on young, western, affluent, professionals looking for opportunities for flexible work and leisure; and me considering people like nomadic pastoralists in the Horn of Africa and the different ways they use and innovate with digital technologies.
Dr Btihaj Ajana, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Digital Humanities, is involved in an upcoming workshop on “”€uro-Vision: Monstrification between Extraction and Border”. The workshop is free and open to all, supported by Arts Catalyst, a nonprofit contemporary arts organisation that commissions and produces trans-disciplinary art and research. Their goal is to “activate new ideas, conversations and transformative experiences across science and culture, engaging people in a dynamic response to our changing world.”
Further details on the workshop and registration can be found below.
Described as the “missing link between spreadsheets and data visualization”, RAWGraphs was initiated at the award-winning DensityDesign Lab in Milan, and is widely used by a wide variety of researcher and practitioner communities – from digital humanities, digital methods, internet studies and platform studies scholars to data journalists, data activists and civil society groups around the world.
I’m currently a 2019/2020 Chevening scholar reading for a Masters in Digital Culture and Society at King’s College London. I’ve been learning interesting methodologies, especially on visual inquiry, in a module I’m following on Digital Methods for Internet Studies. Given the increased use of Instagram during the recently concludedPresidential election of Sri Lanka, I thought it’ll be interesting to apply a visual inquiry to Instagram posts containing the main hashtag #PresPollSL (as well as the misspelt but frequently used #PressPollSL) to better understand some of the visual language of the campaigns. A disclaimer that I’m new to this method and am sharing some surface level observations but would be happy to share the dataset with others who want to dive deeper.
The approach I used is closest to ‘Color similarity image grid’. This was shared with us by Gabriele Colombo during a guest lecture. Check him out. His work is fascinating, particularly this inquiry into images of riot pornography.
This approach helps identify patterns of repetition in one image set. By using a tool to organize the folder of images in a grid that sorts them by color, name, size or date of publication, you can identify similar images or themes, variations of the same image, notice similar objects, etc. While I might zoom in on a few individual images in the analysis below, I’m more interested in viewing and understanding the images as a group. Gabriele explains this further in ‘Studying digital images in groups: the folder of images‘.
We’re pleased to announce the release of DDH’s Dr Michael Duggan and the University of Catania’s Davide Arcidiacono’s new book Sharing Mobilities: Questioning Our Right to the City in the Collaborative Economy (Routledge, 2019).
Sharing Mobilities can be acquired from Routledge.
Shared forms of mobility mediated by digital technologies, which include carsharing, ridesharing, bikesharing and scootersharing, are increasingly common in urban centres around the world. In many places they are rapidly reshaping urban mobilities in ways that present a serious challenge to well established mobility patterns, working practices, transit systems and transportation regulations. This book provides an introduction to, and a historical and contemporary mapping of, the kinds of services available and the contexts in which they have emerged and operate. Grounded in a sociological analysis of sharing mobilities, the book provides an up to date evaluation and critique of the impact that these services are having with regard to everyday urban mobilities, working practices and transportation policy. Framed by the notion that urban citizens should have a right to shared forms of mobility in order to address the pressing issues of mobility (in)justice, the book brings together primary and secondary data from around the world to argue that sharing mobility has the potential to reshape shared urban mobility as a sustainable and socially just practice through the development of socially driven platforms that prioritise reciprocity and community development. Nonetheless, the book argues that this potential is unlikely to be realised if we do not move away from the pervasive models of technologically determined disruption that prioritise rapid growth and individualised forms of consumption that currently dominate the sector. Ultimately, Sharing Mobilities outlines and critiques the current state of shared mobilities around the world and offers recommendations as to how it’s potential could be realised. As such it will provide a useful introduction to the topic for academics, policy makers and technologists working in fields ranging from urban planning and transportation policy to urban sociology, mobility studies and digital geography.
To commemorate the Internet’s 50th birthday, the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London recently hosted an event on “Happy Packet Switching: 50 Years of Internet” with a series of short talks from researchers in the department.
This book explores the interrelations between food, technology and knowledge-sharing practices in producing digital food cultures.
Digital Food Cultures adopts an innovative approach to examine representations and practices related to food across a variety of digital media: blogs and vlogs (video blogs), Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, technology developers’ promotional media, online discussion forums, and self-tracking apps and devices. The book emphasises the diversity of food cultures available on the internet and other digital media, from those celebrating unrestrained indulgence in food to those advocating very specialised diets requiring intense commitment and focus. While most of the digital media and devices discussed in the book are available and used by people across the world, the authors offer valuable insights into how these global technologies are incorporated into everyday lives in very specific geographical contexts.
This book offers a novel contribution to the rapidly emerging area of digital food studies and provides a framework for understanding contemporary practices related to food production and consumption internationally.
African cultural heritage in the digital age: an open archives event (November 12, 2-5pm: KCL Archives, Strand Building, 3rd Floor)
As part of King’s Africa Week, the Department of Digital Humanities and the King’s Archives are hosting an afternoon of interactive activities and discussions around African cultural heritage and historical collections.
Laura Gibson (2pm) will unpack the ‘Museum in a Box’ she has been working on with South African partners, while staff from the King’s Archives will present and discuss a range of significant material from all over the continent (3.15pm). Finally, Pete Chonka (4pm) will lead an interactive session based on his research on Somali books fairs and digital literary activism in that region.
To register (for free) for any of these three events, please follow the links below: