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Digital Methods Summer School 2020

Social media manipulation: from artificial amplification and inauthentic behaviour to deplatforming and counter-speech

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29 June - 3 July 2020

Online via Zoom

For those in Amsterdam
, we hope to provide workshop facilities (following the physical distancing university protocols) at:
New Media & Digital Culture
University of Amsterdam
Turfdraagsterpad 9
1012 XT Amsterdam

Summer School Theme

Social media manipulation: from artificial amplification to inauthentic behaviour

Social media platform rationales for demonetising and deplatforming — terms for removing and downgrading an individual account or content — are evolving, as are the cultural debates, across North America and Europe, concerning their desirability and efficacy compared, for example, to ‘counter-speech’ or responding rather than banning. This year’s Summer School reflects upon what counts as artificial amplification, inauthentic behaviour, organised hate, a dangerous individual and other categories of accounts and content that have been put into play to justify take downs. It seeks to develop research protocols to study removals and the politics of deletion and delisting. Specifically, it strives to organise projects that critically assess content review and moderation across platform types that result in removal or down listing. It also examines alternatives to removal, such as Wikipedia's flame retardation strategy for dealing with trolls, and introduces means to study them, too.

Projects

  1. Mapping the Global Digital Cultures of COVID Conspiracy Theories
    1. COVID Conspiracy Tribes on Instagram, TikTok, Telegram and YouTube

  2. Demoting, deplatforming and replatforming COVID-19 conspiracies

  3. Is the infodemic thriving in the COVID-19 vaccination space online?

  4. Repurposing recommendation algorithms for data sampling: A study of TikTok ’s “not recommend” videos using the digital snowball method

  5. Mapping COVID-19 pandemic response apps

    1. How are mobile apps part of the COVID-19 pandemic response and how do app stores organize this response?

    2. What is the nature of their response?

  6. Machine Vision Creepypasta: Surveillance Devices in Digital Horror

  7. Curating Data: Care, Commons and Networks - speculative methods for curating data.

  8. COVID-19 Testing on Twitter: Visualising testing situations beyond the laboratory

  1. Black squares as (in)authentic behavior? Displays of solidarity and their responses on Twitter and Facebook

  1. How do politicians talk related to BLM on Twitter?

  2. How does this talk (both visual and textual) compare to the hashtag space on Twitter?

  3. How does this talk (both visual and textual) compare to Instagram and Facebook grassroots spaces? (Instagram comparing GeorgeFloyd, BLM and All lives matter/ Facebook is Blue Lives matter and button dynamics)

  1. Good Enough Publics

  1. Mapping follower growth

  2. Profiling good enough followers

Welcome package

  1. Call for participation and general information: http://bit.ly/dmi20-ss-call
  2. Welcome Package: http://bit.ly/dmi20-ss-welcomepack. Contents: Welcome note, day-to-day schedule and other materials.
  3. The welcome package folder: http://bit.ly/dmi20-ss-wpfolder. Contents: the reader, face book, and other linked documents.
  4. Project descriptions to be pitched on the opening day: https://bit.ly/dmi20-ss-projects
  5. The reader: http://bit.ly/dmi20-ss-reader. And the reader folder: http://bit.ly/dmi20-ss-reader-folder
  6. Tutorials: http://bit.ly/dmi20-ss-tutorial-schedule
  7. G-doc template for project reports: http://bit.ly/dmi20-ss-gdoc-template. And Wiki template: http://bit.ly/dmi20-ss-template-wiki
  8. Collaborative note taking for Keynotes: https://bit.ly/dmi20-ss-QandA
  9. The Face Book of international participants: http://bit.ly/dmi20-ss-facebook
  10. Official hashtag: #dmi20
  11. Slack Channel: https://bit.ly/dmi20-ss-slack. Link to join: http://bit.ly/dmi20-ss-slackinvite.
  12. Folder with slides: https://bit.ly/dmi20-ss-slidesfolder.
  13. Opening day unedited recording:  https://bit.ly/dmi20-ss-OpeningDayRec

Summer School Philosophy

The Digital Methods Summer School is exploratory and experimental. It is not a setting for ‘just’ tool training or for principally tool-driven research. Substantive research projects are conceived and carried out. Participants are encouraged to ‘span time with their issue’ and the materials. In other words, we heed Alexander Galloway’s admonition about data and tool-driven work: “Those who were formerly scholars or experts in a certain area are now recast as mere tool users beholden to the affordances of the tool — while students spend ever more time mastering menus and buttons, becoming literate in a digital device rather than a literary corpus.”[1] We encourage device and corpus literacy! The device training we ask you to do prior to the Summer School through online tutorials, and at the Summer School itself, in a kind of flipped learning environment (if you'll excuse the overused phrase), we would like to believe that you have familiarised yourself already with the tools (and are driven, to complete the thought). During the Summer School we will discuss and tinker with the nitty-gritty, aim to invent new methods, techniques and heuristics and create the first iterations of compelling work to be shared.

[1] Alexander Galloway (2014)." The Cybernetic Hypothesis," Differences. 25(1):107-131. See page 127.

About "Digital Methods" as Concept

Digital methods is a term coined as a counter-point to virtual methods, which typically digitize existing methods and port them onto the Web. Digital methods, contrariwise, seek to learn from the methods built into the dominant devices online, and repurpose them for social and cultural research. That is, the challenge is to study both the info-web as well as the social web with the tools that organize them. There is a general protocol to digital methods. At the outset stock is taken of the natively digital objects that are available (links, tags, threads, etc.) and how devices such as search engines make use of them. Can the device techniques be repurposed, for example by remixing the digital objects they take as inputs? Once findings are made with online data, where to ground them? Is the baseline still the offline, or are findings to be grounded in more online data? Taking up these questions more theoretically (but also practically) there is also a Digital Methods book (MIT Press, 2013) as well as a complementary Issue Mapping book (Amsterdam University Press, 2015). Doing Digital Methods (Sage, 2019) contains teaching materials.

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About the Summer School

The Digital Methods Summer School, founded in 2007 together with the Digital Methods Initiative, is directed by Professor Richard Rogers, Chair in New Media & Digital Culture and Department Chair at Media Studies, University of Amsterdam. The Summer School is one training opportunity provided by the Digital Methods Initiative (DMI). DMI also has a Winter School, held the first week of January. Both Schools have a technical staff as well as a design staff, drawn from the ranks of Density Design in Milan. The Schools also rely on a technical infrastructure of servers hosting tools and storing data.

In a culture of experimentation and skill-sharing, participants bring or log on with their laptops, learn method, undertake research projects, make reports, tools and graphics and write them up on the Digital Methods wiki. The Summer School concludes with final presentations. Often there are subject matter experts from non-governmental or other organizations who present their analytical needs and issues at the outset and the projects seek to meet those needs, however indirectly.

Please see previous Digital Methods Summer Schools, 2007-2019, https://wiki.digitalmethods.net/Dmi/DmiSummerSchool. See also previous Digital Methods Winter Schools, 2009-2020, https://wiki.digitalmethods.net/Dmi/WinterSchool.

The Digital Methods Initiative was founded with a grant from the Piet Mondriaan Foundation, the public cultural funding organization. The Digital Methods Summer and Winter Schools are self-sustaining.

Applications

To apply for the Digital Methods Summer School 2020, please send a one-page letter explaining how digital methods training would benefit your current work, and also enclose a CV (with full postal address), a copy of your passport (details page only), a headshot photo as well as a 100-word bio. Mark your application "DMI Training Certificate Program," and send to summerschool [at] digitalmethods.net.

The deadline for applications for the Summer School is 10 June 2020. Notifications will be sent on 11 June. Any questions may be addressed to the Summer School coordinators, summerschool [at] digitalmethods.net. Informal queries may be sent to the email address as well. The Summer School costs EUR 395. Accepted applicants will be informed of the bank transfer details upon notice of acceptance to the Summer School on 11 June. The fee must be paid by 29 June. University of Amsterdam students are exempt from tuition and should state on the application form that they wish to apply for a fee waiver and provide their student number.

Successful Completion and Completion Certificates (including 6 ECTS)

To successfully complete the Summer School and receive a Completion Certificate (and 6 ECTS), you must complete a significant contribution to the Summer School project, evidenced by co-authorship of the project report as well as final (joint) presentation. Templates for the project report as well as for the presentation slides are supplied.

Schedule

The Summer School meets every weekday. We start generally at 9:15 in the morning, and end around 5:30. There are morning talks at the beginning of each week, followed by hands-on tutorials. All other time is devoted to project work with occasional collective and individual feedback sessions. On the last Friday we have a festive closing.

Preparations: Online Tutorials

For your Summer School to be especially successful we would recommend highly that you watch (or listen to) the Digital Methods tutorials. The DMI YouTube channel has copious materials, and we would very much like for you to watch the social media tool tutorials.

Social Media & Participant Face Book

Twitter hashtag #dmi20

We shall have a list of summer school participants and make an old-fashioned Face Book with the headshots and bio's you send to us.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Digital Methods Summer School!
Topic revision: r10 - 09 Jul 2020, HSuárezVal
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