The Digital Culture and Communication section of ECREA
The location of our last workshop early in October at the Department of Media Studies in Bonn provided a very suitable metaphor of the state of research in digital culture and communication. Taking place in a former observatory, the perspectives outlined by this year’s participants and their presentations all tried to capture distinct views of something as omnipresent as the digital. The stars, likewise, had puzzled generations of researchers and prompted the founder of the observatory Friedrich Wilhelm August Argelander (1799 – 1875) to map the stars from his exclusive vantage point. The many contributions at the workshop all negotiated the central theme of “Promises and Discomforts” of digital culture and communication.
Many presentations looked at the intersections of digital communications with other social practices like social movements, activism, and politics of identity. Historical contributions outlined the legacies of digital media in science fiction and virtual worlds. Others looked at how users interacted and reappropriated technologies – at home, at the workplace and on the run. The connection of the digital with physical production both of artefacts and of commercial products was outlined as an interactive process of users becoming producers.
The keynote by Annette Markham approached a methodological and ethical problem in digital communications research: “resisting the [Big] datafication of everything”. Collecting increasing amounts of data also in research promised to solve problems of adequately representing elusive connections in digital environments, but were does this ‘datafication’ leave qualitative research. Annette asked: “What would [Bronislaw] Malinowski do?” today.
The second keynote by Jakob Svensson presented insights on the adoption of new media in developing nations, although Svensson cautioned that ‘development’ had strong Western connotations of progress. Instead, he wanted to point out that especially mobile communications technologies tied in with local routines of communication in very unforeseen ways. Many examples showed how mobile technologies were used for activism, education, for business and ehealth applications in regions were often the bare necessities of life were wanting. Svensson urged media and communications scholars to join the field of research on new media and developement where assumptions about the role of media in everday life often remained based on simplistic adoption schemes.
During our business meeting of the section we discussed the preparations for the next ECREA conference to be held in Lisbon (Portugal) in 2014. The discussion showed that we can distinguish our apporach to digital culture and communication through the critical perspectives that we offer. Another important interest of our section is to further the development of methodologies of researching digital culture. Our dedication to helping young researchers, as in the YECREA workshop this time, will remain an important subject to work on for us. If you would like to contribute to the section’s activities, please feel free to contact any of the management team members. We also gladly publish about your activities here, if you drop us a line.
In preparation of the ECREA conference we would like to know what your primary interests are. Maybe you have time to fill out this poll below or suggest other subjects.
And please see this gallery of images from the event. If you don’t want certain images in this collection, please let us know. We will delete them. All images are licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND and should be attributed to “DCC ECREA” with a link to this site.