EVENT | Social media and state reconstruction in Somalia 13.03.19

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As the fifth talk in the Early Career Research Talks series, Peter Chonka will give a presentation entitled ‘Social media and state reconstruction in Somalia’.

If social media is affecting the ways in which ‘strong’ states communicate with citizens, what are the implications of such popular connectivity for states at the other end of the institutional capacity spectrum? This talk explores this question in relation to Somalia and an internationally-backed Federal Government that continues to struggle to exert its authority beyond the capital city of Mogadishu. Although some commentators point to tangible recent reconstructions of state institutions, the Federal Government lacks empirical sovereignty over the country, and is engaged in an ongoing conflict against a resilient militant Islamist state-project and insurgency (Al Shabaab). In this talk I will analyse the ways in which nascent state authorities have communicated with citizens through increasingly ubiquitous social media platforms. I examine particular state communication trends, as well as controversies and critiques related to these approaches expressed in Somali popular culture and through social media itself. I argue that the social media environment can be engaged with by state actors to harness popular optimism around state reconstruction, and by citizens to challenge external portrayals of developments in Somalia. However, the characteristics of this discursive space (combined with prior prolonged conditions of statelessness) facilitate the challenging of state legitimacy, and, at times, can undermine the communicative coherence of re-emerging structures of governance.

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Date and time

Wed 13th March 2019 17:00-18:30 GMT

Location

Bush House S 2.01 Strand Campus, King’s College London Strand London WC2R 2LS [/one_fourth_last]

 

EVENT | Digital geo-visualisations and the cultural politics of urban (re)development 06.03.19

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As the fourth talk in the Early Career Research Talks series, Mike Duggan will give a presentation entitled ‘Digital geo-visualisations and the cultural politics of urban (re)development’.

Urban (re)development in the UK and elsewhere is increasingly aided by various geo-visualisations including digital maps, 3D models, simulations and smart city dashboards. Though geographers and others have begun to examine the impact that these visual technologies are having, much of this work has approached the topic from a top-down and decidedly technical perspective. Few have explored how geo-visualisations might affect the social and cultural geographies of the city using qualitative approaches that engage with the various people, groups and organisations using them. This talk will examine what geo-visualisations are currently being used for, what their potential is and what varying impacts they have on the everyday lives of planners, policy makers, and citizens engaged in urban (re)development. Ultimately, the talk aims to outline a research project for exploring how digital geo-visualisations are encountered and experienced by everyday practitioners in order to guide the impact(s) they might have on future planning and governance.

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Date and time

Wed 6th March 2019 13:00-14:00 GMT

Location

Bush House NE 2.02 Strand Campus, King’s College London Strand London WC2R 2LS [/one_fourth_last]

EVENT | Depicting the bagne – re-imagining penal colony sites through photography and mapping 6.03.19

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As the third talk in the Early Career Research Talks series, Claire Reddleman will give a presentation entitled ‘Depicting the bagne – re-imagining penal colony sites through photography and mapping’.

I will be talking about work in progress, resulting from recent postdoctoral research. ‘Postcards from the Bagne’, is hosted at Nottingham Trent University and led by Dr Sophie Fuggle. The ‘bagne’ refers to the French penal colonies that existed from the mid-nineteenth century into the mid-twentieth century, at a number of locations but most famously French Guiana in South America. One of the aims of the project is to create a digital photographic archive of sites as they appeared in 2018, which I’ve been working on, as well as creating less documentary and more artistic cartographic and photographic collages. The purpose is to frame the complex material and social legacies of the penal colony as moments of decarceration, closure and ruination, with a view to reimagining prisons as ‘ruins of the future’.

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Date and time

Wed 6th March 2019
12:00-13:00 GMT

Location

Bush House NE 2.02
Strand Campus, King’s College London
Strand
London
WC2R 2LS

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EVENT | Early Career Research Talks 2019

Join us for a series of Early Career Research Talks given by colleagues from the Department of Digital Humanities. There are seven in total, running between January 2019 and May 2019. For more details, please see the poster below.

If you tweet about the event you can use the #kingsdhhashtag or mention @kingsdh.

Project | Technologically Fabricated Intimacy

Blending research-­focused and performance-­driven critique, the project addresses the implications of hyper-­connectivity in intimate relations by looking at the mechanics of blockchain technologies applied to dating cultures.

Dr Alessandro Gandini  – academic lead

Marija Bozinovska Jones  – artistic lead

Technologically Fabricated Intimacy – dating apps, gamification and blockchain technologies is a collaboration between King’s College London’s Department of Digital Humanities and artist Marjia Bozinovska Jones, brokered and supported by the Cultural Institute at King’s in partnership with Somerset House Studios.

Technologically Fabricated Intimacy – dating apps, gamification and blockchain technologies addresses how dating apps influence the forming of technologically-mediated intimate relationships. The project will explore what decentralised organisational models bring into online dating cultures. As social relations are mostly reduced to gamified versions of romantic exchanges, a grammar of aesthetical evaluation is applied onto representations of the self and put into play with digital technologies. Investigating new modes of sociality, the project will involve the sensory beyond visual, through movement, haptics, the olfactory and the audible. Staged as a Live Action Role Play connected via digital wallets, a group of gamers will delve into exploration of the issue of trust as a formalised concept, echoing the value system of the fintech industry.

Project team

Dr Alessandro Gandini  – academic lead

Dr Alessandro Gandini is a sociologist and a senior researcher working in the Department of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Milan. Prior to that, he was a lecturer in the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s. His research focuses on the transformations of work and social relations in the digital society. He is the author of The Reputation Economy (Palgrave, 2016), a co-author of Qualitative Research in Digital Environments (with A. Caliandro, Routledge, 2017) and a co-editor of Unboxing The Sharing Economy, part of The Sociological Review Monograph Series (with I. Pais and D. Arcidiacono, Sage, 2018). His research has been published on journals such as Human Relations, Convergence, Marketing Theory and Ephemera. His current research work includes the study of the ‘gig economy’ and the social implications of the blockchain technology.

Marija Bozinovska Jones  – artistic lead

Marija Bozinovska Jones explores links between social, computational and neural architectures. Her work revolves around formation of identity in an era of technocapitalist amplification and perpetual online presence; she probes the self as a datafied and distributed identity through MBJ Wetware manifesting as a virtual voice assistant. Unpacking cryptic ways of forging subjectivity, MBJ contemplates intelligence within artificial, auto-regulation and coping mechanisms: from trends in self improvement to decentralized technologies.

Marija’s recent activities activities include Transmediale in Berlin DE (upcoming), Sonic Acts Academy in Amsterdam NL, Furtherfield/ Serpentine Marathon in London UK, screening at D’EST online and Moscow Museum Of Modern Art in Moscow RU and panel presentations for Moneylab: Tokenizing Culture with the Blockchain and Self Optimization/ Hyper Functional Ultra Healthy at Somerset House in London UK.

Marija graduated MA in Computational Arts at Goldsmiths and is a current studio resident artist at Somerset House Studios in London.

EVENT | DIGITAL MODERN LANGUAGES TUTORIAL SPRINT 2019

Colleagues working on the Language Acts & Worldmaking project have released a call for proposals for a ‘Digital Modern Languages tutorial writing sprint’, which aims to bring together language teachers, modern languages researchers and digital practitioners to create a collaborative Open Educational Resource. The event takes place over two days in July 2019 and will demonstrate the critical use of digital tools and methods for learners and researchers interested in modern languages and cultures. It will consist of a dual physical and virtual event.

This initiative will lead to the production of a series of self-learning online tutorials on how to use digital tools & methods critically in researching or learning about modern languages and cultures. The outcome will be an edited collection of tutorials, providing a snapshot of digital methods for modern languages.

The organisers anticipate a wide range of proposals, and have given the following examples of the kinds of tutorials they hope to create:

  • Using a digital storytelling tool to facilitate secondary school language learning
  • Mapping colonial history in Brazil digitally
  • Exploring geospatial representations of a French novel
  • Game-based approaches to language learning at school
  • Applying network analysis to golden age Spanish texts
  • Digital publishing approaches to Chinese texts
  • Exploring linguistic and geographic markers for digital identity creation in social media
  • Exploring translation pedagogy in Open Translation platforms

The deadline for proposals is March 10th 2019. For more information see

https://languageacts.org/digital-mediations/event/writing-sprint/

Other information

This initiative is led by the ‘Digital Mediations’ strand on the Language Acts & Worldmaking project https://languageacts.org/digital-mediations/, which explores interactions and tensions between digital culture and Modern Languages (ML) research. The project is funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) under its Open World Research Initiative (OWRI).

EVENT | A Family Affair: Family, Love, and Emotioned Fannish Literacy 26.02.19

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As the second talk in the Early Career Research Talks series, Brittany Kelley will give a presentation entitled ‘A Family Affair: Family, Love, and Emotioned Fannish Literacy’.

In the 25 years since the publication of Jenkins’ and Bacon-Smith’s foundational studies on media fandoms and fanfiction, fandom has achieved a much more mainstream status. Fan conventions such as Comic Con hold global popular appeal, with the Comic Con website boasting recent yearly attendance of over 130,000. Even some popular TV shows such as Supernatural have come to acknowledge (if not fully embrace) fan activities including fanwriting (Larsen & Zubernis, 2013; Booth, 2015; Williams, 2015, 2018). In large part, this more widespread positive representation of fandom is thanks to its growing visibility via memes and fanart in social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, as well as the huge popularity of the personal blogging website, Tumblr. In addition, fan practices are now surrounded by a larger cultural practice of making and sharing. Within such a context, fan practices are uniquely positioned to help us to better understand the intersections of the digital, embodied-emotional experience, and literacies.

Early fan studies focused both on how fan groups were formed and how fans learned to be fans (Jenkins, 1992; Bacon-Smith, 1992, 2000; Penley, 1997). Only more recent studies have begun to theorise the roles emotions play in the development of fan identities (Larsen & Zubernis 2013; Williams 2015, 2018). However, as Shirley Brice Heath (1983; 2012) and Deborah Brandt (2001; 2009) have shown, family plays a crucial role in the development of literacy practices. Unfortunately, while there are frequent references to family in fan studies, these references are typically limited to the tensions between the family obligations of married women and mothers and their fannish desires (see especially Larsen & Zubernis 2013). Family has been critically under-theorised in fan studies. Furthermore, while literacy scholarship has often looked at the importance of family in developing literacy skills, much of this research has focused on the implications for school (Street, 1984, 2006, 2009; Williams, 2009; Williams & Zenger, 2012). And while James Paul Gee (2003; 2004) has looked extensively at the relationships between literacy, learning, and video games, which certainly brings together emotion, embodiment, learning and digital technologies, it does not address the longer-term relationships among family, learning, and identity. While Heath’s and Brandt’s key studies do not deal with the roles of the digital or of entertainment in the development of literacy practices, they do provide key guiding theories that can bring together the various fields of fan studies, literacy studies, and digital humanities.

In this talk, I bring together the fields of fan studies, literacy studies, and affect theory to better theorise the role of family within fan practices. In this talk, I will focus on how ‘family’ plays a role in the complex digital literacy practices we see in online fanfiction communities. In the course of the talk, I will address the following questions:

  1. First, what are the different ways that fans might view a concept like “family”?
  2. Second, what are the different experiences fans might have of family in relation to their development of fannish interests, particularly fanwriting?
  3. Third, how do fans write about ‘family’ in their stories?
  4. And, finally, how can these fans’ experiences help us to better understand the complex kinds of meaning-making and identity-formation that happen in fanwriting practices online, and perhaps online practices more generally?

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/popculturegeek/4940418003

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Date and time

Tue 26th February 2019
17:00-18:30 GMT

Location

Bush House SE 2.09
Strand Campus, King’s College London
Strand
London
WC2R 2LS

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EVENT | The Platform Society 06.03.19

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How are online platforms involved in reshaping social, cultural, political and economic relations? How might they be governed and enlisted in the service of public values and the public good? Join us for a public talk with Thomas Poell (University of Amsterdam) about The Platform Society.

The Platform Society

Individuals all over the world can use Airbnb to rent an apartment in a foreign city, check Coursera to find a course on statistics, join PatientsLikeMe to exchange information about one’s disease, hail a cab using Uber, or read the news through Facebook’s Instant Articles. The promise of connective platforms is that they offer personalized services and contribute to innovation and economic growth, while bypassing cumbersome institutional or industrial overhead.

Reflecting on The Platform Society (Van Dijck, Poell and De Waal, 2018), Thomas Poell offers a comprehensive analysis of a connective world where platforms have penetrated the heart of societies – disrupting markets and labor relations, circumventing institutions, transforming social and civic practices and affecting democratic processes. The lecture questions what role online platforms play in the organization of Western societies. How do platform mechanisms work and to what effect are they deployed? How do these mechanisms lead to the reorganization of specific economic sectors, such as news, urban transport, and education? And, how can platforms be governed in correspondence with key public values and benefit the public good?

The lecture analyzes the struggles between competing ideological systems and contesting societal actors – market, government and civil society – raising the issue of who is or should be responsible for anchoring public values and the common good in a platform society. Each struggle highlights local dimensions, for instance fights over regulation between platforms and city governments, but also addresses the level of the platform ecosystem where power clashes between global markets and (supra-)national governments take place.

Bio: Thomas Poell is Senior Lecturer in New Media & Digital Culture, Program Director of the Research Master Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam, and vice-director of the Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies. His research is focused on digital platforms and the transformation of public communication around the globe. He has published widely on social media and popular protest in Canada, Egypt, Tunisia, India, and China, as well as on the role of these media in the development of new forms of journalism. He co-edited The Sage Handbook of Social Media (Sage, 2018) and co-authored The Platform Society (OUP, 2018).

This event is part of an ongoing seminar series on “critical inquiry with and about the digital” hosted by the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London. If you tweet about the event you can use the #kingsdhhashtag or mention @kingsdh. If you’d like to get notifications of future events you can sign up to this mailing list.

 

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Date and time

Wed 6th March 2019
16:00-17:30 GMT

Location

The Old Anatomy Lecture Theatre, K6.29
Strand Campus, King’s College London
Strand
London
WC2R 2LS

 

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EVENT | Data Collaboratives: The Emergence of Public-Private Partnerships around Data for Social Good 26.02.19

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What kinds of collaborations and partnerships are emerging around data? Join us for a public talk with Stefaan Verhulst (NYU GovLab), hosted by the Department for Digital Humanities, King’s College London.

Data Collaboratives: The Emergence of Public-Private Partnerships around Data for Social Good – Stefaan Verhulst (NYU GovLab)

Over the past few years, The GovLab has sought to understand pathways to make policymaking and problem solving more evidence-based and data-driven. Its work is driven by a recognition of the potential of use of privately processed data through Data Collaboratives — a new form of public-private partnership in which government, private industry, and civil society work together to release previously siloed data, making it available to address the challenges of our era. GovLab’s research explores the potential of Data Collaboratives when implemented with appropriate policy and ethical frameworks. This remains a nascent field, and several barriers limit the systemic use of Data Collaboratives. This presentation will take stock of lessons learned with an eye toward developing solutions to make Data Collaboratives more effective, scalable, sustainable, and, above all, responsible.

Bio: Stefaan G. Verhulst is Co-Founder and Chief Research and Development Officer of the Governance Laboratory @NYU (GovLab) where he is responsible for building a research foundation on how to transform governance using advances in science and technology. Verhulst’s latest scholarship centers on how technology can improve people’s lives and the creation of more effective and collaborative forms of governance. Specifically, he is interested in the perils and promise of collaborative technologies and how to harness the unprecedented volume of information to advance the public good. Before joining NYU full time, Verhulst spent more than a decade as Chief of Research for the Markle Foundation, where he continues to serve as Senior Advisor. In addition, he is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Culture and Communications at NYU, Senior Research Fellow for the Center for Media and Communications Studies at Central European University in Budapest; an Affiliated Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Global Communications Studies at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication; and Affiliated Senior Fellow at PCMLP – Oxford University which he co-founded in 1996. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Orbicom, the network of UNESCO Chairs.

This event is part of an ongoing seminar series on “critical inquiry with and about the digital” hosted by the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London. If you tweet about the event you can use the #kingsdhhashtag or mention @kingsdh. If you’d like to get notifications of future events you can sign up to this mailing list.

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Date and time

Thur 26th February 2019
16:00-17:30 GMT

Location

King’s Building, K-1.14
Strand Campus, King’s College London
London
WC2R 2LS

 

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EVENT | Broken Data and Unexpected Research Questions 13.02.19

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What can be learned when data work does not go as planned? Join us for a public talk with Minna Ruckenstein (University of Helsinki).

Broken Data and Unexpected Research Questions – Minna Ruckenstein (University of Helsinki)

The concept-metaphor of ‘broken data’ suggests that digital data can be broken, fail to perform, or be in need of repair. Concept-metaphors work as partial and perspectival framing devices; they become defined in practice. In this presentation, broken data metaphor frames findings of the Citizen Mindscapes, an interdisciplinary project that explores a Finnish-language discussion forum dataset (‘Suomi24’, or Finland24 in English), consisting of tens of millions posts over a time span of 15 years. The data work alerted us to breakages of data, raising more general questions about the origins of data and data generating mechanisms. Acknowledging the incomplete nature of digital data in itself is of course nothing new, but with growing uses of secondary data, ways in which data is broken and incomplete might not be known beforehand, underlining the need to explore brokenness and the consequent work of repair. The gaps, errors and anomalies speak of human and technological forces: infrastructure failures, trolling, and automated spam bots. They call for the exploration of how the discussion forum, and the data that it generates, is kept clean by filtering and sorting it manually and automatically. The goal of the presentation is to demonstrate that a focus on data breakages is an opportunity to stumble into unexpected research questions and to account for how data breakages and related uncertainties challenge linear and too confident stories about data work.

Bio: Minna Ruckenstein works as an associate professor at the Consumer Society Research Centre and the Helsinki Center for Digital Humanities, University of Helsinki. The disciplinary underpinnings of her work range from anthropology, science and technology studies to digital humanities and consumer economics. She has published widely in top-quality international journals. Prior to academic work, Ruckenstein worked as a journalist and an independent consultant, and the professional experience has shaped the way she works, in a participatory mode, in interdisciplinary groups and with stakeholders involved.

This event is part of an ongoing seminar series on “critical inquiry with and about the digital” hosted by the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London. If you tweet about the event you can use the #kingsdhhashtag or mention @kingsdh. If you’d like to get notifications of future events you can sign up to this mailing list.

 

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Date and time

Wed 13th February 2019
16:00-17:30 GMT

Location

The Old Anatomy Lecture Theatre, K6.29
Strand Campus, King’s College London
Strand
London
WC2R 2LS

 

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