Tag Archives: internet

Internet Ethics Guidelines

aoir_logo3

The Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) has just published their second Ethics Guide. The latest guide, written by Annette Markham and Elizabeth Buchanan, with contributions from the AOIR Ethics Working committee, provides useful updates,  questions and strategies for managing “data” and other material for those of us carrying out research in and through the internet; the last guide, published in 2002, was written before the era of social media. The guide also usefully integrates perspectives from a range of countries around the world. As documents, they capture some of the rapid changes in internet practices and concerns over the last decade.

CFA: Berkman Center for Internet & Society Summer Internship Program 2013

*Berkman Center for Internet & Society Summer Internship Program 2013*

*The application deadline for all students for Summer 2013 is Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. ET.**

Each summer the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University swings open the doors of our vibrant yellow house to welcome a group of talented and curious students as full-time interns – Berkterns! - who are passionate about the promise of the Internet. Finding connected and complementary research inquiries among their diverse backgrounds, students represent all levels of study, are being trained in disciplines across the board, and come from universities all over the world to tackle issues related to the core of Berkman’s research agenda, including law, technology, innovation, and knowledge; the relationships between Internet and civic activity; and the intersection of technology, learning, and development. Summer interns jump head first into the swirl of the Berkman universe, where they are deeply and substantively involved in our research projects and efforts.

Continue reading

CFP: Internet Memes and Visual Culture, Journal of Visual Culture

A themed Special Issue of Journal of Visual Culture

Issue Guest Editors: Laine Nooney (Stony Brook University) and Laura Portwood-Stacer (New York University)

Deadline for Proposals: 15 January 2013

The Editors are currently seeking proposed contributions for a Special Issue of the *Journal of Visual Culture* on Internet Memes and Visual Culture, to be published December 2014. The term *meme*, a portmanteau of * mimesis* and *gene*, was minted in 1976 by British ethologist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Dawkins proposed the meme as a “unit of cultural transmission,” a self-perpetuating cultural phenomenon analogous to the gene as a replicator of biological data. Almost 40 years later, the term “meme” has become the coin of the realm within Internet subcultures, particularly on microblogging and social network platforms. In these contexts the designation “meme” identifies digital objects that riff on a given visual, textual or auditory form. For a digital object to become a meme, it must be appropriated, re-coded, and slotted back into the Internet infrastructures it came from—memes require continued user adaptation. Thus, memes are co-constitutive with the user practices of creative (re)production that are default modes of communicative interaction on major social media platforms such as Facebook, Tumblr, Reddit, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. Memes are frequent objects of analysis among scholars of contemporary digital culture, socio-linguistics, fan culture, and social networking, wherein they are assessed as forms of generative vernacular communication and art-making that defy traditional models of top-down capitalist consumer control of mass media forms. Yet the speed, volume and insularity of meme-making often frustrates aesthetic, formal and techno-infrastructural scholarship on memes and meme distribution.

Continue reading

Diasporas on the Web: e-Diasporas Atlas Project

Date: Thursday 13th December

Time: 6-8 p.m.

Place: British Academy, Reading Room, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y5AH

What kinds of diasporas are formed by connected migrants? Do the online networks woven by migrants scattered throughout the world, and the traces they leave on the Web, reveal traditional or novel functions of diasporas? Do these ’e-diasporas’ merely mirror physical diasporas, are they an extension to these diasporas, or do they generate new forms of communities? From a more general perspective, can they be considered as an echo-chamber of globalization – of a society which is itself a diaspora in the making? And how do digital methods help us to adopt a more reflexive stance on this phenomenon?

On this occasion, an event will be held at the British Academy in London, involving contributors as well as invited speakers, from 6 to 8 p.m on Thursday 13th December 2012. A cocktail reception will follow at 8 p.m. Researchers working on migrations and/or web studies and digital humanities will be welcome.

Continue reading

Materiality Matters at the Association of Internet Researchers Conference

In October I attended the 13th annual Association of Internet Researchers conference (AoIR or IR13) which was held in Salford, England at the University of Salford in the heart of the new home of the BBC, Media City UK. As a conference, AoIR has always been at the cutting edge scholarship on internet research and digital cultures. This year, the presence of Conference Chair Lori Kendall – author of Hanging Out in a Virtual Pub, one of the very first ethnographies of online communities — significantly shaped conversation by productively highlighting issues of gender and the changing relationship between various dichotomies (real/virtual, online/offline) emerging in everyday practice.

While I was not able to attend all of the sessions (there were up to seven simultaneous tracks on October 19th and 20th!! See the programme), a few key themes emerged that are worth sharing with the Material World community. The first was the centrality of ‘materiality’ as a concept for understanding digital media and technology. From Mary L. Gray’s discussion gay youth in rural America and the politics of visibility to Larissa Hjorth’s metaphor of the caravan as a way to rethink and move away from domestication theory to Susanna Paasonen’s analytical paper focused upon defining the ‘object’ of study in internet studies in an age of networked technologies, there was a concerted effort to understand the relationship between the qualities, properties and affordances of new media as they emerge through use. Subsequent talks by Daniel Miller, Zizi Papacharissi and an impassioned talk by Theresa M. Senft further highlighted how materiality matters in current debates in Internet studies.

Throughout the conference it became evident that part of the reason why materiality is so consequential to researchers at AoIR  revolves around the fact that what we previously understood as ‘internet research’ is changing. The dilemma of the object of inquiry in Internet research is no longer only about whether to study “online” or “offline” (although there are still important arguments for taking these perspectives and positions – see the recently released book Ethnography and Virtual Worlds). Rather, the various sessions and papers focusing upon mobile phones, mobile media, locative media (e.g. Jason Farman’s Mobile Interface Theory: Embodied Space and Locative Media won the annual book prize), mobile internet, mobile markets, mobile apps and so on (over 200 mentions of “mobiles” in the conference program) highlighted how ‘the Internet’ and digital media generally have become intertwined in everyday practice. How we understand, move between and relate to the various apps on our phones, what significance the places that are created through mobile phones, webcams, social network sites or virtual worlds mean for our varied relationships and sense of being human, and how the platforms, apps, data plans, regulatory environments and so on we use to access our friends, colleagues and acquaintances mediate our publics and politics – these all demand attention to the materiality of the various objects, tools and relationships we develop and maintain.

As someone who sees their work embedded within material culture studies, the focus upon materiality was an unexpected but welcome addition to the study of internet and digital media at AoIR this year. Indeed, there is a growing sense of revitalisation and excitement around our understanding of materiality, immateriality and material culture across a range of disciplines. These include the emergence of Platform and Software Studies, conversations around infrastructure in Ubiquitous Computing by scholars such as Paul Dourish and Genevieve Bell, media and digital anthropology (e.g. the AAS Conference entitled “Culture and Contest in a Material World”), Cultural Studies (CSAA’s forthcoming conference “Materialities: Economies, Empiricism and Things”), to name but a few recent events, books and conversations. What was quite clear at an interdisciplinary conference like AoIR, however,  was that the concept of ‘materiality’ in play embodied a diverse set of debates and histories from Actor Network Theory, Critical Studies, Material Culture Studies and elsewhere. These debates and histories, of course, define how we approach the study of materiality, what the relationship between materiality and immateriality might be for digital media and the internet (and whether this dichotomy, as Tom Boellstorff suggested in the plenary discussion at AoIR, should persist at all) and the consequences of focusing upon ‘materiality’ for our practice. One hopes such a conversation might begin here.

Note: Next year’s conference, chaired by Lynn Schofield Clark (who has done fabulous work on media, religion and families), will be held in Denver in October 2012.