Tag Archives: Digital Media

Best of Material World: Digital Media

Since the Material World Blog began, the digital media landscape changed dramatically. In social media terms, we have moved from Friendster, MySpace and Orkut to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp, with a range of other digital, mobile and social media becoming embedded within many people’s everyday lives around the world. These transformations resulted in an increasing number of posts that explored the changing relationships with digital media and made visible the materiality of the digital worlds. In my review of the best of digital media on Material World Blog, five key themes emerged.

(1) The first theme clusters around questions of place and materiality with the growth in digital media. These include Jean-François Blanchette’s wonderful post analysing bits and the software history  as well as Toby Wilkenson’s examination of the consequences of google earth for our relationship to place in a time of google earth. Graham H. Roberts’ discussion of the transition from alcohol branding on bottles to branding on websites and social media in Russia and Lane DeNicola’s post on online shopping and retail also inspire readers to consider the ways in which the online retail experience may be changing our relationships to objects, including objects of consumption.

(2) Research on relationships form a second wave of blog posts. We see this through Mihrini Sirisena’s discussion of dating and missed calls (ring-cut), Elad Ben Elul’s post examining the creation of photo archives among Ghanaian transnational families (including a follow up post on the design process used to connect transnational families),  Sandra Rubia Silva’s analysis of the relationships people have with their mobile phones and the discussion of these relationships on Orkut and last (but not least), Mirca Madianou and Daniel Miller’s introduction to the concept of polymedia and the relationship between the desire to control the nature or content of communication via different platforms.

(3) We also had a fair number of publications focused upon young people and digital media which collectively worked to complicate a series of assumptions about the relationship between young people and technology. This comes out quite explicitly in Tylor Bickford’s analysis of earbud sharing children using mp3 players, Christo Sims discussion of young people’s media practices and identity work, as well as Matt Voight’s post on the trend towards technology deprivation strategies in US summer camps.

(4) A fourth strand of research emerged around the nature and form of online communities. This includes Patricia Lange’s work on video bloggers relationship to place, Larissa Hjorth’s discussion of social media gamers and online communities based on research in Shanghai (with some fantastic photos to illustrate her post!), and Dan Perkel’s analysis of theft among artists who post their creations on Deviant Art.

(5) The fifth and final strand of research explored protest and digital activism. For example, David Thompson’s post examines the Occupy Rio movement and the relationship between the physical space of protests and the online arenas in which photos and videos were constantly uploaded and discussed, not only from Rio but also from Occupy protests around the world. Finally, Gabriella Coleman’s shared her work on humour and hacking in anonymous and a link to an audio recording of Coleman’s public talk at UCL earlier this year. Finally, Chief Editor Haidy Geismar’s thoughtful posts on Open Access highlighted the ways in which forms of digital activism have also impacted our own scholarship through the rise of alternative models of journals, books and other forms of scholarship.

Special Issue of MAR on digital repatriation

The most recent issue of the open-source journal Museum Anthropology Review is focussed on digital media and the return of cultural knowledge and patrimony from museums to source communities, with an emphasis on current collaborative projects (including some by your friendly neighborhood Material World editors and contributors). Check it out!

Museum Anthropology Review Vol 7, No 1-2 (2013): After the Return: Digital Repatriation and the Circulation of Indigenous Knowledge.


CODE – A Media, Games and Art Conference

Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia, 21-23 November 2012

Jussi Parikka – Reader, Winchester School of Art
Christian McCrea – Program Director for Games, RMIT University
Anna Munster – Associate Professor at the College of Fine Arts, UNSW


Code can be defined in two distinct but related ways: as an underlying technological process, a set of rules and instructions governing, for instance, the permutations of all those 0s and 1s obscured behind user interfaces, but also as a cultural framework navigated and understood socially and performatively, as is the case with legal, social and behavioural codes. As an operative principle, code’s significance thus extends far deeper than its current digital manifestation. For this conference, we invite submissions of papers and creative works that consider the role of code as a simultaneously material and semiotic force that operates across the wider cultural, social and political field, with particular emphasis on media, games and art.

Code is the invisible force at the heart of contemporary media and games, routinely obscured by the gadget fetish of breathless tech marketing and scholarly focus on more visible social and technical interfaces. With the recent material turn in media studies and the refinement of new approaches including software studies and platform politics, which emphasise interrogating the formal characteristics and underlying technical architecture of contemporary media, the time has come to bring code out into the open.

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CFP: Social Media, Digital Network and Globalization

China New Media Communication Association Annual Conference, Macao International Conference Macao SAR, China, Dec 6 – 8, 2012

Conference Website: www.umac.mo/fsh/comm/newmediaconference/en/en.htm2012

Abstracts & final papers should be submitted via e-mail to the following address: 2012newmediacon@gmail.com; the abstract submission deadline is  July 15, 2012

The 2012 China New Media Communication Association Annual Conference, Macao International Conference, co-organized by the Department of Communication, University of Macao and China New Media Communication Association (CNMCA) will be held in Macao, a charming enclave of Eastern and Western cultures. We sincerely invite colleagues from all parts of the world to come to Macao, and share with us your ideas about communication and social media.

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Call for essays: The “Newness” of New Media

Special themed issue of
Culture Theory and Critique
Editors Ilana Gershon, Indiana University (igershon@indiana.edu) and Joshua A. Bell, NMNH, Smithsonian Institution (bellja@si.edu)
Outside of the West, communities have traditionally innovated and engaged different forms of media, whether using textiles, dog’s teeth, valuables or abacus. These myriad forms remain integral to the networks of communications and relations. Today the new media technologies of the Internet, mobile phones and social networking sites provide another venue for innovation and continuity. Within the Western context, historians of media have demonstrated how new media sparks exaggerated fears that intimate connections will be harmed when a technology is introduced. Thus part of the “newness” of new media is an often-repeated expectation that new forms of representation will disrupt established social organization.
In this special issue, we hope to explore how the “newness” of new media is experienced outside of Euro-America, ranging from how communities have and are responding to the introduction of writing to the introduction of mobile phones and social networking sites. This has a strong historical component; many of our questions arise from the aftermath of colonial encounters. Two themes guide these ethnographic explorations: the “newness” of new media for dialogue and the “newness” of new media for representation.

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