Pablo Abend (University of Siegen) and I wrote a call for abstracts on “Inequalities and Divides in Digital Cultures”. For a Digital Culture & Society journal issue, we are looking for contributions that approach related topics from various, (inter-)disciplinary perspectives. Paper proposals (abstracts) may be related to the three themes described below. But we likewise welcome contributions moving beyond these. Do you conduct research on relevant issues and do you have an idea for a paper? We’d love to hear from you! Initial abstracts are due on Friday, 17th August.
Earlier this year, I promised that I would write a post on the feedback which I received on my Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship proposal. I just completed the piece below and am happy to share my experience with this EU research grant scheme.
In September 2016, I applied for a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship (MCIF). If you do not know what an MCIF is, you can find further information here. I submitted my proposal to the evaluation panel “Social Sciences and Humanities” (SOC). Alas, I did not make it at the first try. Since my proposal received a high score though, 91.40/100, my supervisor and I decided to submit the proposal once more in 2017: with success – the proposal was granted a few months later, with a score of 97/100. I am writing this post, since I learned a lot from the application process and the feedback which I received. And I think that particularly the reviewers’ feedback could also be useful for others who are currently preparing an MCIF application. Also, I hope that this post will inspire those whose project was rejected once and are still in doubt whether it makes sense to revise their proposal. I know how frustrating receiving the rejection letter is and I hope you will consider resubmitting after reading this post. : )
When I saw that the long-awaited notification email from the European Commission started with “Congratulations…”, I almost couldn’t believe it: I was awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship for my project “Hacking your way to IT literacy”. I will investigate what digital societies can – and need to – learn from digital learning in UK hackerspaces. By now, the grant agreement has been signed and I am thrilled to start the fellowship at University of Sussex, Brighton.
This would have been impossible without the fantastic supervision of Tim Jordan (Sussex). Special thanks go to him – and I would also like to thank those people from Sussex and Maastricht University who commented on earlier versions of the proposal, helped me navigate the application process and encouraged me to resubmit the proposal when my first application was not successful. I am immensely grateful for all the support I received. Also, the reviewers’ detailed feedback was extremely helpful for revising my proposal. If you are preparing an MCIF proposal this year – stay posted: I will write another post on the reviewers’ feedback soon, since it helped me a lot to understand what reviewers are looking for and how they evaluate proposals.
While I could not be happier about this chance to focus on my research and to acquire new skills, I regret having to leave Maastricht for two years: it is an amazing place to work and live. I will really miss working with my colleagues from the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences and other UM faculties, and I look forward to returning in 2021!
Very happy to find this in the post today: Geographies of Digital Culture, edited by Tilo Felgenhauer und Karsten Gäbler from Friedrich Schiller University Jena. The volume includes a great, critical introduction by the editors, reflecting among other things on matters of “spatial justice” (Soja 2010). The book emphasizes geographic aspects of digital culture: it sheds light on how digital technology becomes part of everyday practices – across various geographical but also historical contexts. I contributed a chapter on “Digital Health Mapping” (which I mentioned earlier on this blog). I am particularly glad to be part of this publication, as it pays attention to subjectivities and identities as well as politics and inequalities of digital culture. Feel free to get in touch if you’d like a pre-print or a scan of my chapter.
On Saturday, 4th November 2017, I will give a talk on Wikipedia as educational tool in university courses. My presentation will be part of the 2017 Wikimedia conference in Utrecht. I was delighted to be invited as speaker and look forward to the conference! Here’s a summary of my talk:
At Maastricht University, Vivian van Saaze and I organised a skills training on Wikipedia. It was part of the course “Sharing cultures” in the M.A. programme “Media Culture”. The skills training was offered twice so far, in autumn 2015 and 2016. In her lecture, Annika Richterich will present some insights into using Wikipedia as educational tool for university courses. The course “Sharing cultures” introduces students to practices of sharing facilitated by digital platforms and social media. The Wikipedia skills training had three main objectives: 1) to allow students to explore a form of digital knowledge sharing; 2) to familiarise them with principles of encyclopaedic writing; 3) to acquaint them with the use of MediaWiki and Wiki markup. Students wrote (or contributed to) a Wikipedia article on a concept relevant to the course theme, such as “sharing economy” or “collaborative consumption”. A main idea for the skills training was that students would not only encounter Wikipedia as online environment, but would gain insights into the knowledge sharing practices and communal dynamics underpinning this environment. In this form, the skills training would not have been possible without the support of dedicated Wikipedia volunteers, among them the users Romaine, Dick Bos, Taketa and WeeJeeWee. They joined the skills tutorials and shared their technical as well as practical knowledge. The Wikimedians helped students understand the work of the Wikimedia foundation and Wikipedia as community.
We made it: thanks to all the authors and reviewers who contributed to the Digital Culture & Society journal issue on Making and Hacking! It’s been great editing this issue together with my colleague Karin Wenz.
So in case you were ever wondering: Is making the new hacking? Are we indeed all makers or is this just part of a larger (techno)myth? How do members of hacker- and makerspaces deal with issues such as sustainability and what does the prevailing “just do it” philosophy in hacker cultures mean for ethnographic research? The authors who contributed to this issue address these (and many other) questions: among the contributors are Kat Braybrooke and Tim Jordan, Jeremy Hunsinger, Sabine Hielscher, and Sebastian Kubitschko. The introduction is available online for free; the issue and individual articles can be purchased here and here. All articles will be made available as open access on the journal website after 12 months.
Looking forward to AoIR2017 in Tartu! I will present a part of my research on hacker cultures which is particularly important to me – and is likewise giving me a headache sometimes: ethical decisions and moral issues concerning participants’ interests and privacy. The hackers and makers I met so far were often very generous with the information they share – online as well as in interviews. But when sharing online, how aware are they of the contexts in which their statements can be published? And how do you deal with statements that address third persons? In my talk “Tracing Controversies in Hacker Networks”, I will therefore address the ethics of research on hacker communities. Here’s a preview of some of the issues that I will touch upon in my presentation.
For this year’s Association of Internet Researchers Conference 2016 in Berlin, I hosted a roundtable on “Hacking Cultures: Hack all the things?” together with Tim Jordan, Sebastian Kubitschko, and Karin Wenz. Starting at 9am on the first day, the panel was not overly busy yet… But: we had a great, small round of participants and hence a fascinating discussion. Thanks to everyone who joined in, and a special thanks to Angela Krewani for moderating the session! If you missed the roundtable and are curious what it was about, read more about the session and the ‘lightning talk’ which I contributed.
Earlier this month, I started working on a paper which will be published in an edited volume on Geographies of Digital Culture. My article will explore how developments in ‘neogeography’ and big data-mapping have influenced the field of public health surveillance. It will deal with questions such as: How can social media content be used in order to monitor and map infectious disease developments? What kind of challenges do public health services face which are based on users’ self-diagnoses and rely on citizens’ willingness to participate? How can researchers encourage users’ involvement in “participatory epidemiology” (Freifeld et al. 2010) and how can these crowdsourced data be combined with other sources from e.g. news websites or social networks? The following draft is an excerpt from my introduction.