Digital Methods Summer School 2012

Call for participants

Digital Methods Summer School 2012
New Media and Digital Culture
Dept. of Media Studies, University of Amsterdam
25 June – 6 July 2012

Reality mining, and the limits of digital methods

When it becomes simple to trace your friend’s network, your movements online and even the provenance of the can of Coke next to your computer screen, reality becomes subject to prediction and to speculation — in both the financial and the philosophical sense. This transparency discourse is limited by access to data. Indeed, our actions often generate effect far in excess of our own awareness — how “open” is the open graph really? The concept of “ethical traceability” has been developed for instance as a regulatory discourse to ensure the security of supply chains, yet in spite of the proliferation of digital traces, consumers have only very limited access to these logistical data. How then do we use digital methods to become more “aware”? Can we adapt our methods to work in recommended or relatively closed environments? How do we use devices to test their claims, but also to reveal and circumvent their blind alleys?

After developing a semiotics and structuralism of the link and the network, we explore how digital methods deal with notions of absence. Building on past work in post-demographics and networked content, these workshops will unpack the paradox of online awareness, from social recommendation devices to product and service review sites. Building tools and working with leaked data, our approach this time will be to go beyond merely tracing things in order to make mute objects speak.

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? With more online data?

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 at the University of Amsterdam. The Summer School is one training opportunity provided by the Digital Methods Initiative (DMI). DMI also has a Winter School, which includes a mini-conference, where papers are presented and responded to. Winter School papers are often the result of Summer School projects. The Summer School is coordinated by two PhD candidates in New Media at the University of Amsterdam, or DMI affiliates. This year the coordinators are Lonneke van der Velden and Marc Tuters both of the University of Amsterdam. The Summer School has a technical staff as well as a design staff. The Summer School also relies on a technical infrastructure of some five servers hosting tools and storing data. Participants bring 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 guests from non-governmental or other organizations who present their issues. For instance, Women on Waves came along during the 2010 Summer School. Digital Methods people are currently interning at Greenpeace International and the Global Reporting Initiative.

Previous Digital Methods Summer Schools, 2007-2011:

2011 Summer School flickr stream:

The Digital Methods Initiative was founded with a grant from the Mondriaan Foundation, and the Summer School is supported by the Center for Creation, Content and Technology (CCCT), University of Amsterdam, hosted by the Faculty of Science with support from Platform Beta.

Summer School Training Certificate

The Digital Methods Summer School issues completion certificates to participants who follow the Summer School program, and complete a significant contribution to a Summer School project. For previous Summer School projects, see for example

Applications & Fees

To apply for the Digital Methods Summer School, 25 June – 6 July 2012, please send a one-page letter explaining how digital methods training would benefit your current work, and also enclose a CV. Mark your application subject header, “DMI Training Certificate Program 2012.” The deadline for applications for the Summer School is Friday 4 May 2012. Notices will be sent on Tuesday 8 May 2012. Please address your application email to the Summer School coordinators, Lonneke van der Velden and Marc Tuters, and send to info [at] Informal queries may be sent to Lonneke or Marc, lonneke[at] or marc[at]

The Summer School costs EUR 295 per person. Accepted applicants will be informed of the bank transfer details upon notice of acceptance to the Summer School. The fee must be paid by 11 June 2012.

Logistics: Travel & Accommodation

Generally, participants must arrange their own travel and accommodation. The Digital Methods Summer School offers a limited number of Amsterdam apartments for reasonable rates, checking in on Saturday, 23 June and checking out on Saturday, 7 July. These are single apartments with cooking facilities. Doubles also may be available. For housing requests, please write to the Summer School organizers, who will inform you about availability. Once an apartment is reserved, the rent (and cleaning fee) should be paid together with the Summer School fee by 11 June.

Summer School Schedule

The Summer School meets Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and all participants also work on the Tuesdays and Thursdays. Please bring your laptop. We will provide abundant connectivity. We start generally at 9:30 in the morning, and end around 5:30. On the last Friday we have a boat trip through the canals of Amsterdam.

Summer School Location

New Media & Digital Culture, Media Studies, University of Amsterdam, Turfdraagsterpad 9, 1012 XT Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Rooms 0.13 & 0.04. Morning lectures

Digital Methods Winter School 2012 Revisited

We have a bonus session that draws upon the Digital Methods Winter School 2012, “Interfaces for the Cloud” and API critique. We have invited Metahaven, the critical Dutch design group, to present their work that actually renders the politics of the cloud.

We look forward to welcoming you to Amsterdam in the Summertime!