November 16, 2016

Civic Media Speakers

Civic Media Speakers


Please join us for our inaugural line-up of Civic Media Speakers featuring researchers from around the UK. Unless otherwise noted, all events will take place at 15:00 in F309, Fusion Building, Talbot Campus, Bournemouth University, BH12 5BB
Civic Media Speakers are part of the Faculty of Media and Communication Faculty Research Seminar Series 2016-17

Autumn 2017 line-up coming soon!

Past Speakers

1st March 2017 / Large Scale Analysis of Media Content (Twitter, News and Historical Newspapers) / Nello Cristianini

I will present recent work in the area of media content analysis, its big-data origins, and its applications to social science and humanities. In particular I will present three projects: an analysis of twitter content; an analysis of gender bias in modern news; and an analysis of historical trends in 150 years of British and American newspapers. This is joint work performed as part of the ERC Advanced grant ThinkBIG.

Bio: Nello Cristianini is a Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Bristol since March 2006, and a recipient of both a ERC Advanced Grant, and of a Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award. He has wide research interests in the areas of data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and applications to computational social sciences, digital humanities, news content analysis.



15th March 2017 / “Digital methods and the algorithmic perception of the public” / Christopher Birchall (University of Leeds)

Digital tools enable us to experience the world in new ways by harnessing the growing mass of data that surrounds us. Through augmented experiences of place, detailed tracking of our own bodies, or insight into mass communication between citizens, the ability of digital objects to provide increased knowledge, understanding and control is often celebrated. Digital objects can therefore act to influence, shape, or create human experiences, opinions and actions, and also to report, describe and illustrate these phenomena. Because of this dual role the methods utilised to investigate these digital objects need to question the effect of the objects as actors, as well as any meaning apparent within their content.

Commercial digital tools and methods, such as social media analytics, can create pictures of specific online practices which are often political in nature and which can be used as evidence in the analysis of the actions of citizens in contemporary, digitally saturated societies. But what role do these tools and methods play in shaping the picture that they present, either by constructing a picture according to their internal rules, or by performing an active role in the informational and communicative sphere in which they, and citizens, operate? This paper examines the potential political agency of these digital methods themselves when they are used to shape communication practices based on insight from digital publics that is constructed in similar ways to data that they analyse – the market-driven, targeted messaging of digital media.

Bio: Chris Birchall is BA New Media programme leader and a member of the Political Communication and Centre for Digital Citizenship research groups. His background is that of a professional software and web developer, having worked in a variety of positions in IT companies, as a freelancer, in the voluntary sector, the NHS and within Higher Education. Chris holds a masters degree in Geographical Information Systems  that sparked his interest in public participation in local planning and policy debates and has since moved on to study the role of technology in the public sphere and the effects of technological mediation of the social world.

15th February 2017 / “When I Hacked my Smartphone: A Techno Cultural Workshop as
Method” / Jennifer Pybus
London College of Communication, University of the Arts London)

As smartphones have proliferated over the last decade, the app economy has enabled the flow and transformation of our social lives into data. And yet, so little is known about how these platforms capture, circulate and monetize our engagement. Part of the problem is that while many of us are adept at using the myriad apps on our devices, we lack the knowledge and skill to understand what lies behind these opaque blackboxes.The talk will focus on an interdisciplinary workshop that Mark Coté, Tobias Blanke, Giles Greenway and I did in May 2016. The aim of this workshop was to consider the ways in which the everyday user can become more data literate by investigating the code that lies behind our apps. We therefore brought humanities researchers, social scientists, undergraduate students, coders, and hackers together and created what we have called a ‘techno cultural workshop.’ This talk will explore how this practice-led methodology can empower participants to gain a clearer understanding of the technological objects embedded in the mobile ecosystem we inhabit.

Bio: Jennifer’s research focuses on digital culture, with a specific interest in the area of big data, data literacy, privacy and digital pedagogies. Some of Jennifer’s recent published work comes out of an AHRC-funded project that examined the big social data that young people generate on their smartphone devices. Her current research focuses on the political economy and architecture of third party applications, and the role they play in intensifying new sites wherein data can be exchanged for value, particularly within the mobile ecosystem.

7th December 2016 / “Data Justice: Examining Datafication and Social Justice” / Lina Dencik (Cardiff University)

This presentation explores the meaning of social justice in an age of datafication. It is premised on two significant developments: 1) the shift to a focus on the collection and processing of massive amounts of data across social life and 2) the increasing concern with the societal implications of such processes. The technical ability to turn vast amounts  of activity and human behaviour into data points that can be tracked and profiled has led to significant changes across government, business and civil society. Whilst the documents revealed by Edward Snowden led to important questions being asked about what this means for individual rights to privacy and the protection of personal data, concerns with datafication are now increasingly shifting towards a more explicit engagement with power (Dow 2016, Sylvia IV 2016). These concerns emphasise that data processes are not ‘flat’ and do not implicate everyone in the same way, but, rather, are part of a system of ‘social sorting’ (Lyon 2003) creating new categories of citizens (Ansorge 2016) that are premised on a new order of ‘have’ and ‘have nots’ between data profilers and data subjects (Citron and Pasquale 2014). In such a context, questions of social justice come to the fore in discussions of datafication and require detailed study. I frame this research agenda around the notion of ‘data justice’. The term ‘data justice’ is intended to connote the intricate relationship between datafication and social justice by foregrounding and highlighting the politics of data-driven processes. In this presentation I will introduce some initial ideas as to what such an agenda might look like.


Bio: Dr Lina Dencik is Senior Lecturer and Director of the MA in Journalism, Media and Communication in the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University, UK. Her research is concerned with the interplay between media developments and social and political change, with a particular focus on globalization and resistance. She has recently been working on issues relating to surveillance, visibility, and the politics of data. Her most recent book is Critical Perspectives on Social Media and Protest: Between Control and Emancipation (co-edited with Oliver Leistert, Rowman & Littlefied International, 2015).