Keynote Speakers

Prof. Tim Jordan | University of Sussex, UK

“Digital Culture Research: What stays the same when everything changes?”

Proponents of the internet and the digital’s transformative effects on society and culture have a trope repeated too often to count in which it is stated that ‘there is no point trying to understand a particular information technology because it will be changed by the time you understand it’. The idea of time being different on the internet—internet time—reflects this idea of constant fast change, positing a culture of speedier change ‘on the internet’; sometimes through the provocation ‘can you remember what you did last week on the internet?’ As the internet as a place you ‘go to’ fades with its spread into apps, smart phones, watches, tablets and more, so that we never leave the internet, this culture of refusing to understand something that moves too fast to be understood poses what I wish to argue is a central task of digital culture research: finding the cultures that stay the same across changing information technological conjunctures.

This talk will offer as examples three areas in which digital culture research can posit ongoing cultures that permeate even rapidly changing information technology contexts: communication, power, economy. The ways communication in digital contexts organises the ability to convey meaning will be understood as a context in which you have to be heard before you can speak. In power, information will be understood as being driven by recurring intersections of recursion and devices as instantiations of particular hardware/software forms organised through networks and protocols. The example of clouds will be offered. In economy, a particular digital economic practice will be argued to be constituted by the monetisation through (usually) free products of social and emotional life, requiring cultural analysis to understand economic practice.

It will be argued that one of the most important roles of digital culture research is to identify such specific cultures which permeate conjunctures of information, power and economy.

Tim Jordan is a Professor of Digital Cultures and Head of School of Media, Film and Music at the University of Sussex. His research broadly examines the cultures and politics of digital and internet socio-technologies. He is currently researching the digital economy. He has publishedInformation Politics: liberation and exploitation in digital society (Pluto 2015) which proposes a theory of the politics of information by examining information dynamics in the abstract, platforms as plans for information power and specific materially messy case studies. In this book he examines clouds, social media, theory of information, the securitisation of the internet and case studies of the iPad, death in online gaming and hacktivism. His prior book about communication and the internet, Internet, Society, Culture; communicative practices before and after the internet (Bloomsbury 2013) and he has previously published: Hacking: digital media and technological determinism (Polity 2008), Cyberpower (Routledge 1999) and, with Paul Taylor, Hacktivism and Cyberwars (Routledge 2004). Tim has also worked with others on the idea of ‘being in the zone’ in music, sport and cultural work through an AHRC funded research network. This research project resulted in the collected edition Culture, Identity and Intense Performativity: Being In The Zone, co-edited with B.McClure and K.Woodward (Routledge 2017). Tim has also played a role in analysing social movements and popular protest and was a founding editor of the journal Social Movement Studies. In addition to his books on social movements and internet cultures, Tim has published on Pokemon, surfing and technology and cultural theory. Prior to the University of Sussex Tim worked at King’s College London, the Open University and the University of East London. Tim has been Head of the Department of Culture, Media and Creative Industries at King’s College London and of the Department of Sociology at the Open University.

Dr. Kat Tiidenberg | Aarhus University, Denmark

“Social functions of networked visuals or what does the selfie do?”

Visual practices have always had multiple functions – they help make memories, create and maintain relationships, and tell stories. We have been using visuals of all kinds to stake claims, make points, contemplate god or our own place in the world for at least 39 000 years (this is how old the oldest remaining example of self representational art is). We know that images shared on social media have scaled up their functions as social currency, impression management and interaction. This talk is about how we participate in our networked lives by using images, whether a picture is truly worth a thousand words, and what kinds of words exactly. What are the functions and implications of selfies, snaps, emoji, memes and gifs? What do we do with them?

Based on a case study of selfies, in particular, I explore the multiple functions and meanings of social media images. I suggest that social media visuals are (a) a form of self-narration, (b) a simplified expression of complicated topics, (c) a nuanced yet fairly effortless form of expression, and (d) a way to add emotion to mediated interaction.​

Kat Tiidenberg, PhD is an Associate Professor of Social Media and Visual Culture at the Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communication School of Tallinn University, Estonia and a post-doctoral researcher at Aarhus University, Denmark. She is the author of the forthcoming “Selfies, why we love (and hate) them”, as well as “Body and Soul on the Internet – making sense of social media” (in Estonian). Tiidenberg is a a long time member of the Association of Internet Researcher’s Ethics Committee, a founding member of the Estonian Young Academy of Sciences, second time board member of the Estonian Sociology Association. She is currently writing and publishing on selfie culture, digital research ethics and visual research methods. Her research interests include visual self-presentation, sexuality, and normative ideologies as mediated through social media practices. More info at: kkatot.tumblr.com.

 

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