#PresPollSL: A brief visual inquiry into 2019 Sri Lankan presidential elections on Instagram

The following is a blog post from MA Digital Culture & Society student and Chevening scholar Sachini Perera (bio below), drawing on work that she has been doing as part of the “Digital Methods for Internet Studies” module.

Bit of background

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 concluded Presidential 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‘.

Continue reading “#PresPollSL: A brief visual inquiry into 2019 Sri Lankan presidential elections on Instagram”

Publication | Michael Duggan & Davide Arcidiacono, Sharing Mobilities

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.

Slides from “Happy Packet Switching: 50 Years of Internet”, 6th November 2019

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.

You can now find all of the slides here: https://kingsddh.gitlab.io/happy-packet-switching/

Video montages by Dr Marta Musso.

New book: Digital Food Cultures, edited by Deborah Lupton and Zeena Feldman (London: Routledge)

A new book on Digital Food Cultures, edited by Deborah Lupton (Professor at UNSW Sydney) and Zeena Feldman (Lecturer in Digital Culture at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London) is now available for pre-order. It also contains a chapter from Rachael Kent, who is a teaching fellow at the department. Here’s the blurb:

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.

EVENT FOR KING’S AFRICA WEEK – African cultural heritage in the digital age: an open archives event

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:

2pm, Laura Gibson showcasing Museum in a Box – REGISTER HERE

3.15pm, Presentation/discussion of King’s Archives African material – REGISTER HERE

4pm, Pete Chonka discussing research on Somali Book Fairs – REGISTER HERE

All of the sessions are being held in the King’s Archives which is on the 3rd floor of the KCL Strand Building (from the stairs or lifts, turn right and go down the short corridor!)

EVENT | Happy Packet Switching! 06.11.19

Reflections on 50 years of Internet

On October 29, 1969 the first packets of the Internet were sent.

To commemorate the Internet’s 50th birthday, the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London presents a series of reflections on the occasion, held in PechaKucha style, followed by a drinks reception – please join us!

Date: Wednesday November 6, 2019.
Time: 18:00 – 21:30 GMT
Register: Reservation essential

Talks by

Dr Sophie Bishop

Dr Mercedes Bunz, ‘Thank you internet, or how I got away from Kittler’

Dr Stuart Dunn, ‘Growing up tall and proud: Arpanet and the Cold War’

Dr Kate Devlin

Dr Ashwin Mathew, ‘Whose internet?’

Dr Conor McKeown, ‘Logic; Cryptography; The Internet: How Cracking Codes Led to Shaking Hands’

Dr Daniel Nemenyi, ‘Cybernetic Guerrilla Warfare’

Dr Claire Reddleman, ‘The Power of Abstraction: mapping the internet’

Dr Kristen Schuster, ‘The Internet Was Invented for Sharing Cat Photos…’

Dr Phottini Vrikki, ‘At the Internet’s Margins? After the Mainstreaming of Online Practices’

Films edited by Dr Marta Musso.

19:30-21:00: Reception

Anatomy Lecture Theatre (King’s Building K6.29), Strand Campus.

Welcome to Nathaniel Tkacz, visiting researcher at the Department of Digital Humanities

We are delighted to announce that Nathaniel Tkacz will be joining us as a visiting researcher at the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London. During his stay he will be focusing on writing his book about dashboard interfaces, including discussing and workshopping different chapters with colleagues in the department. More about his research interests can be found in his bio (below) and he can be found on Twitter at @__nate__. Welcome Nate!

Dr Nathaniel Tkacz is a Reader in Digital Media and Culture at The University of Warwick. His work investigates the political, cultural and methodological dimensions of digital media. This has led to studies of political openness in online communities, practices of ‘mass collaboration’, experimental economic platforms, software forking, trolling, apps, banking and payment services, interfaces, user experience design, digital public services, and environmental situation rooms, among other things. With Geert Lovink, he co-founded the Critical Point of View network for Wikipedia research as well as the MoneyLab research network, and he recently joined the App Studies Initiative. Tkacz is author or editor of a number of books, including Wikipedia and the Politics of Openness (University of Chicago Press, 2015). He is currently working on a book on dashboard interfaces.

INTERNSHIP | A project in King’s Digital Lab

By Natasha Romanova, MA in Digital Humanities 2019


Coming to the Master’s in Digital Humanities in 2017 as a mature student with some previous experience of working in academia, I was attracted by the reputation of Digital Humanities at King’s. I was particularly interested in King’s Digital Lab (KDL) and was hoping to find a project that I could contribute to.

When an opportunity presented itself to do some work on Distant Reading across Languages (DRaL) in the second year of my part-time degree, I enrolled on the Internships module in the autumn of 2018.

The project, funded by the Department of Digital Humanities (DDH), is a collaboration between DDH and KDL, and it gave me a chance to combine my interest in modern languages and translation with a focus on the productive interplay between close and distant reading.

Working closely with Principal Investigator Dr Salciute Civiliene (DDH) and the team at KDL which comprised an analyst (Dr Arianna Ciula), a software engineer (Geoffroy Noël) and a designer (Ginestra Ferraro), I could gain an insight into the workflows and processes of a state-of-the-art digital humanities laboratory and the lifecycle of a complex digital project.

In the course of my internship, I contributed to data cleaning, input of new data, testing of the web environment and features at various stages of development and writing project documentation. Last but not least, I participated in project meetings where requirements for every new stage of development were analyzed and established.

This experience gave me a chance to learn but also demanded a substantial amount of  personal responsibility for the future of the project – an ideal combination when it comes to internships, and a great addition to the taught courses of the MA.

Building on mine and other past ad hoc internship experiences (see e.g. https://www.kdl.kcl.ac.uk/blog/once-lab-person-always-lab-person/ and https://www.kdl.kcl.ac.uk/blog/using-archetype/), KDL is working with Dr Elisa Oreglia, DDH Internships coordinator, to offer internships opportunities to DDH students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels that will focus on website accessibility testing but will also provide an opportunity to learn more about project development at the Lab and contribute to skills development, talent pipeline and project tasks.

INTERNSHIP | My Social Media Internship

By Chalisa Chintrakarn, MA Digital Culture and Society http://linkedin.com/in/chalisa-chintrakarn-475911112

Learning outside lectures through an internship is such a great opportunity to explore oneself, to meet professionals in the field and to put knowledge and skills into practice.

I am Chalisa Chintrakarn (Jerry), a MA Digital Culture and Society student from Thailand. As part of the KCL Accredited Internships Program, I undertook an 8-week part-time social media internship in the first semester at ChapmanBlack, a recruitment consultancy based in London. Focusing on European and North American markets, the company recruits talents across various sectors, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics and automotive. The company’s vision is to provide fast and excellent services to clients; its aim is to retain its dynamic working environment and avid staff.

In relation to application process, I first sent my CV to ChapmanBlack via LinkedIn. The company later asked me to create a promotional photo and several videos for Instagram posting. After that, I had a phone interview and a trial at the headquarters. The trial was basically for testing social media skills, especially Instagram and LinkedIn, as well as interpersonal communication and computing skills.

In the course of internship, I liaised with the Chief of Staff, some other interns and professionals specialising in engineering and automotive. They come from different parts of the world: the UK, Germany, Sweden, Turkey and Vietnam; I could therefore immerse myself into culturally mixed environment and simultaneously developed my cross-cultural communication and shared Thai culture to them. All colleagues were welcoming and willing to assist one another no matter what issue emerged.

My internship projects were closely connected with my MA education. For example, I took up the Instagram and LinkedIn projects. What I did was creating photos and short videos for promoting the company and its events in Germany, using hashtags to find a large number of individuals who expressed their interest in the recruitment industry, as well as drawing the company’s attention to those people by sending messages regarding job openings. These were tied into the so-called attention economy, platform capitalism and the optimisation of hashtags that I had learned in depth from Introduction to Digital Culture and Society module and Mobility, Culture and Digital Media module.

Undertaking a social media internship is not reducible to social media works. I conducted several projects outside social media, particularly a project of posting job advertisements of engineering sectors. I worked alongside the Engineering Practice Manager and another intern, and the manager gave me his insight into AI including self-driving cars that I had studied in Introduction to Digital Culture and Society module. In essence, while employing and expanding my photography/video-making and interpersonal skills throughout the internship, I could apply and reflect with a wealth of knowledge attained from my MA studies, which consequently heightened my confidence to engage with digital technologies and to discuss them with classmates in the second semester.

This professional opportunity has transitioned my future path towards academic career focusing on gender and sexuality, while it motivated me to academically research social media. In fact, the reason why I chose to carry out the internship is that I had not been completely sure which direction I actually wanted to go, either the social media industry or the academia. That is, I had intended to work at an international social media company owing to my regular engagement with Instagram and LinkedIn. At the same time, I have been keenly interested in conducting academic research centred upon gender and sexuality in Asia since my Bachelors education in Japan. I heavily engaged in social media during the internship and was concurrently in touch with academic staff in the KCL Digital Humanities department who research female sexuality. Ever since, I have become even far more passionate about both gender studies and social media. For this reason, I decided to write the MA dissertation on the phenomenon of a Southeast Asian feminist campaign on Instagram. This dissertation is to pave the way to become an academic contributing to gender and social media scholarships. Altogether, this hands-on experience directed me to a suitable future trajectory.

On the whole, taking part in the KCL Accredited Internships Program has been such a fruitful experience that hugely complemented my MA studies and allowed me to explore myself further. Being proactive in both finding internships and working with colleagues is the most important. Instead of taking all lecture-based modules, it would be highly beneficial to take the internship module so as to boost a variety of transferable skills and knowledge useful in the digital culture sector. This way you would also be able to come to grasp more about what you really aspire to do in the future. Seize this worthwhile opportunity that can make changes to your life!

[Caption for image] me, the Chief of Staff and other interns: we all strive to grow!’.

CAREER | Come work with us!

We are recruiting early career researchers for lecturer positions (education), full-time, 12 months to contribute to teaching across our degrees including the MA Digital Culture and Society, MA Digital Asset and Media Management and the MA Big Data in Culture and Society as well as to our BA Digital Culture. The post starts in September, and is comparable to a teaching fellow position.

King’s is one of the few places in the world where students at all levels can pursue a wide range of inter-disciplinary study of the digital – more about us here: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/ddh/about/about.

We are seeking to recruit candidates who can enthuse and inspire our students and contribute to the life of the Department through academic leadership and engagement.

We are hiring for

  • Lecturer in Digital Media & Communication Education – job ad here.
  • Lecturer in Digital Media & Culture Education – job ad here.
  • Lecturer in Big Data Methodologies & Technologies Education – job ad here.

You can also access the posts via the KCL’s job opportunities website / ‘External Vacancies’/Digital Humanities.

Closing date: 18 August 2019