…and then the world

the 2016 that was

Jan
06

2016 was a weird old year, to put it mildly – and that’s without considering Brexit, Trump, the ongoing rise of extremism, unrest and turmoil and crises, political inactivity on major issues, and all the celebrity deaths (not just Bowie)… Personally, 2016 didn’t feel like the most productive year, and there was a lot going on behind the scenes that contributed to that — but, looking at the round-up for the year, it doesn’t seem that bad overall. Obviously the book finally coming out was a major achievement for 2016, but there was also a lot of progress with the visual social media research I’ve been doing, especially on GIFs:

 

Published in 2016

 

Books

Social Media and Everyday Politics

 

Chapters

Tim Highfield and Axel Bruns: ‘Compulsory Voting, Encouraged Tweeting? Australian Elections and Social Media’; Axel Bruns and Tim Highfield: ‘Is Habermas on Twitter? Social Media and the Public Sphere’ – both in The Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics

Axel Bruns and Tim Highfield: ‘May the best Tweeter win: The Twitter strategies of key campaign accounts in the 2012 US election’ – in Die US-Präsidentschaftswahl 2012: Analysen der Politik- und Kommunikationswissenschaft

 

Articles

Tim Highfield and Tama Leaver: Instagrammatics and digital methods: studying visual social media, from selfies and GIFs to memes and emoji (Communication Research and Practice)

Tama Leaver and Tim Highfield: Visualising the ends of identity: pre-birth and post-death on Instagram (Information, Communication & Society)

+ 2015 publication as online-first but now out with 2016 page numbers: ‘News via Voldemort: Parody accounts in topical discussions on Twitter’ (New Media & Society)

 

Other writing

‘Covering the election beyond our memes: what role for visual politics and social media?’ (The Conversation)

‘Waiving (hash)flags: Some thoughts on Twitter hashtag emoji’ (Medium)

 

 

Talks + presentations

‘On (the) loop: The animated GIF and cultural logics of repetition’ (Theorizing the Web, New York City, April 2016) [view this talk on YouTube]
‘Social Media and Everyday Politics’ (Oxford Internet Institute Summer Doctoral Programme, Oxford, July 2016)
Tim Highfield and Kate M. Miltner, ‘Interrogating the reaction GIF: Making meaning by repurposing repetition’ (Social Media and Society, London, July 2016)
‘The politics of info-GIF-ics: Animated maps and graphs on everyday social media’ (Culture and Politics of Data Visualisation, Sheffield, October 2016)
Tim Highfield and Peta Mitchell, ‘Ambient geodata and algorithmic surveillance’ (Automating the Everyday symposium, Brisbane, December 2016)
Tim Highfield and Kate M. Miltner, ‘The Trumping of the political GIF: Visual social media for political commentary in the 2016 US election’ (Crossroads, Sydney, December 2016)
‘Smashed mouths: Internet cultures and the embrace and subversion of nostalgia’ (Crossroads, Sydney, December 2016)

+

The conceptual challenges of perpetual motion: Challenges of studying looping visual social media‘ – poster presentation (ICA Visual Communication pre-conference, Fukuoka, June 2016)

+

Tim Highfield, Kate M. Miltner, Amy Johnson, and R. Stuart Geiger, ‘Playing with the rules’ fishbowl (AoIR2016, Berlin, October 2016)

 

 

Media

July 2016: ABC Radio National – Drive with Patricia Karvelas, ‘Social Campaign: poll selfies, Greens on Grindr and Twitter investigates Kelly O’Dwyer’ (live interview)
June 2016: Washington Post, ‘The mesmerizing lost art of the 10-hour YouTube loop, 2011’s weirdest video trend’ by Abby Ohlheiser (interview)
May 2016: ABC Gold Coast – Breakfast, ‘How do political memes affect the polls?’ (live interview)

 

 

Workshops

Tim Highfield and Tama Leaver: Instagrammatics for 2016 CCI Digital Methods Summer School
Bots for QUT DMRC workshop series

 

 

1 prize-winning GIF

 

Get elected!
‘Don’t get mad, get elected’ for GIF IT UP! 2016

 

 

around the world


37 flights (213298 km, or, >5x around the world; 11 days 19:13 flight time) + long-distance trains
six countries (Australia, USA, Germany, UK, France, Japan)

presentation: Oh! You Pretty GIFs (Melbourne, July 2015)

Sep
23

In mid-July, in my final stop in the mid-year conference tour, I had the honour of presenting at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in Melbourne at a symposium marking the opening of the David Bowie is exhibition in Australia at the same venue. Needless to say, it was an amazing experience, and huge thanks go to the organizers for their hard work in putting this together; I fell sick after the first day, unfortunately, and missed out on a whole bunch of fascinating work if the first day was anything to go by! Plus it’s not many conferences where the day starts with musical performances (including a ukulele trio dubbed the ‘Thin White Ukes’), features keynotes from a scholar living as Bowie, the David Bowie is V&A curator, and one of Australia’s pre-eminent musicians and music writers, *and* offers workshops and such that include make-up and photoshoots:

bowiefest

I presented a paper about David Bowie GIFs, fandom, and related themes; unlike many of my previous presentations, my slides were mostly images, projected onto a ridiculously huge cinema screen – so putting up the slides without comment seems a little confusing; however, also unusually, I wrote out a script for my presentation so that I had something to work from without the slides to give written prompts. So, if you are interested, you can find the full selection of GIFs and accompanying ‘script’ (which I talked around and occasionally went on short tangents from, but as a guide to what I was probably planning to say) after the cut:

bowie_titleslide

 

(more…)

collected slides: ICA and ANZCA 2015

Sep
23

A quick round-up of the slides for my various presentations from May and July at ICA in Puerto Rico and ANZCA in New Zealand: if you wanted to know what was on the slides (no audio) for presentations about, variously, birth and death as depicted on Instagram, Eurovision, Democracy Sausage, the Australian spatial imaginary and social media, visual social media and methodological challenges, and news and Twitter, then read on! These papers were variously prepared with Tama Leaver, Axel Bruns, Peta Mitchell, and Elizabeth Ellison.

 

ICA Mobile Preconference (San Juan, Puerto Rico: May 2015)

Tama Leaver and Tim Highfield: ‘Instagramming the ends of identity’

(ed: obviously, with 15 minutes to present not all 45 slides were talked about in the presentation itself!)

 

ICA (San Juan, Puerto Rico: May 2015)

Tim Highfield: ‘Depicting social television on Instagram’

 

Axel Bruns and Tim Highfield: ‘Social media news audiences and the quantified journalist’

 

ANZCA (Queenstown, New Zealand: July 2015)

Tim Highfield: ‘Bangers and mash-ups’

 

Peta Mitchell, Tim Highfield, and Elizabeth Ellison: ‘Mapping the Australian spatial imaginary via social media’

 

Tim Highfield and Tama Leaver: ‘Visual social media and digital methods’ (an updated version of the paper presented at ‘Digging the Data’ in Sydney in April 2015).

 

presentation schedule 2015 [#mmdiwts tour]

Apr
14

My conference schedule for the year is starting to come together, and over the next six months I’ll be involved in presentations on different sides of the planet, covering a pretty interesting range of topics with some brilliant collaborators – from Bowie to birth, #democracysausage to death, GIFs and loops to Eurovision and elections, and a generous dash of methods. This year’s tour (for no reason given the moniker the ‘Make Me Dance, I Want To Surrender‘ World Tour 2015) has several legs, and more dates may follow – especially in September and October. Check the upcoming page for the latest details!

 

Part one: April – May 2015

First up, at the end of this week I’m presenting at ‘Digging the Data’, an ANZCA pre-conference at the University of Sydney, on ‘Visual social media: Instagrammatics and beyond’ (17 April 2015). This is an updated version of both the Instagrammatics Tama Leaver and I have been working on, and some preliminary work for my VCRF project.

Then, at the start of May, in Brisbane (for once!), I’m the support act for Lee Humphreys at that month’s Digital Media seminar series at QUT – the topic for my talk is still TBA, but will probably be around ‘Visual Cultures of Social Media’ (8 May 2015).

A few weeks later, I’m off to Puerto Rico for the International Communication Association (ICA) conference in San Juan:

– at the ICA Mobile Preconference, Tama and I have a paper on ‘Instagramming the ends of identity‘, an overview of the Instagram elements we’ve been working on for Tama’s Ends of Identity project. (20 May 2015).

– in the full conference, Axel Bruns and I have a paper on ‘Social media news audiences and the quantified journalist’ as part of a panel on  ‘the audience turn in journalism (studies)’. (22 May 2015).

– and also at the full conference, I’m presenting on ‘Depicting social television on Instagram: Visual social media, participation, and audience experiences of #sbseurovision’ – my paper about Australian Eurovision fandom on Instagram, to be presented a matter of hours before Australia competes at Eurovision for the very first time. (23 May 2015).

 

Part two: July 2015

In July, I’m off to New Zealand (for the first time!) to present at the Australia New Zealand Communication Association conference in Queenstown:

– first, I’m finally getting #democracysausage out of my system (8-10 July 2015)

Peta Mitchell, Elizabeth Ellison, and I have a paper on ‘Social media and the Australian spatial imaginary‘, bringing together Peta’s work on cultural geography and social media mapping, Liz’s research into representations of place, and my digital media research, especially Instagram (8-10 July 2015).

– and Tama and I have the expanded version of  ‘Visual social media: Instagrammatics and beyond’ as part of a Digital Methods panel (8-10 July 2015).

The following week, I’m off to Melbourne to give a talk at a symposium attached to the David Bowie Is… exhibition which is finally coming to Australia. My presentation is about fandom and visual culture on social media: it’s ‘Oh! You Pretty GIFs: Visualising David Bowie fandom on Tumblr’, to be given at The Stardom and Celebrity of David Bowie symposium, (17-18 July 2015).

 

Part three: September – October 2015

The early parts of this leg are still to be determined, but the tour will end up in Phoenix, Arizona, for the Association of Internet Researchers annual conference (IR16), where the following will happen:

Stefanie Duguay and I will present on looping visual media, focusing on GIFs and Vines, in ‘“Like a monkey with a miniature cymbal”: Cultural practices of repetition in visual social media’ (21-24 October 2015).

– Tama and I will delve deeper into the visual representations of birth and death on Instagram in ‘Imagining the ends of identity: Birth and death on Instagram’ (21-24 October 2015)

– and Axel and I sum up six years of research into social media and Australian politics as part of a panel on elections in ‘Social Media in Selected Australian Federal and State Election Campaigns, 2010-15‘ (21-24 October 2015)

There is more to be announced, too – including more methods workshops, so keep an eye out for that! So, a pretty quiet year planned…

2014, the kind-of-lost year

Nov
20

A year has gone by, somehow, and I completely neglected to update this space with what’s been happening. It’s been an odd twelve months, rather transitional (which is to be expected), sometimes absolutely brilliant, other times not-so-fantastic – there have been some personal issues over the last year, which has made 2014 feel like a not-particularly successful time, but you know what? It’s actually been quite productive, bizarrely, and I’ve really appreciated how amazing my friends and colleagues are, during some tough times of my own creation.

Anyway, since I never actually announced it on here: 2014 started with accepting an offer of a post-doctoral position working with Axel Bruns on his Future Fellowship project around intermedia news flows and social media, and so in April I moved back to Brisbane to work on campus at QUT once more and be more of a part of the Social Media Research Group. I’ve been working on that project and a few others (as noted below) throughout 2014 – but brace yourselves, a twist is coming.

There has also been a lot of travel (I write this from Munich, where Axel and I are participating in the latest round of workshops with our colleagues at LMU), and conferencing (including some truly awesome conferences with wonderful people in Amsterdam and Daegu especially), so even though it feels like I haven’t done much this year (and I’ve presented fewer papers than I might normally) it’s been a very busy time. So, here we go, the collected outputs for 2014 across projects and themes:

 

Mapping Movements

Mapping Movements has had a quiet year in terms of new case studies, but Sky Croeser and I have been working on writing up and presenting our research so far. Our first article from the project, covering our first case study on Occupy Oakland, came out in March: ‘Occupy Oakland and #oo: Uses of Twitter within the Occupy movement’, published in First Monday.

Meanwhile, our second case study, on the Greek antifascist movement and its activities in March and April 2013 (based on fieldwork by Sky and digital data capture during this period), formed the basis of a presentation by Sky at the Citizen Lab summer school, and a paper Sky presented at the Social Media and Society conference in Toronto in September:

 

We also have a couple of additional papers currently under review from Mapping Movements, with more updates to follow hopefully! Sky’s book also came out this year, and you should totally check it out!

 

The Ends of Identity

This year also saw the first outputs from the work Tama Leaver and I have been doing around identity – particularly pre-birth and post-death – on social media, focusing initially on Instagram. We’ve been developing new methods and dealing with methodological and ethical questions with this research, which were the subjects of our first presentations.

In March, we presented our preliminary methodological work at the Digital Humanities Australasia conference in Perth:

 

Then, in July, Tama presented the conceptual and methodological outline for the project at ANZCA in Melbourne (while I was still en route to the conference, having been delayed by flight problems):

 

As with Mapping Movements, this project has papers under review and currently being drafted, so there will be more happening in 2015 – especially given what else is coming next year!

 

Social media and politics

The big news in this aspect of my research has been the book: Social Media and Everyday Politics. This is under contract to Polity, with the manuscript due to the publishers in early 2015. Tying together a lot of my research over the past five years, it’s wrapping up several threads – more details will come in the new year.

Meanwhile, my article on Twitter and Australian politics, focusing on #auspol, #wapol, and the online commentariat, was published in the International Journal of e-governance (6(4), pp. 342-360. doi:10.1504/IJEG.2013.060648). Technically a 2013 publication but it appeared early in 2014, this paper is the final version of my presentation at the Réseau DEL symposium in Paris in June 2013, and forms part of a DEL special issue arising from the symposium. For a bonus feature, this journal and another French-language special issue featuring other papers from the symposium were launched at an event in Paris late in 2014, and which you can view here.

In June, I presented at the Social Media and the Transformation of Public Space conference in Amsterdam; this paper returned to the topic of social media and elections, but rather than just looking at politicians and associated activity, I was more interested for this study in examining how Australians tweet on election day, what practices and patterns are apparent:

 

Social media and popular culture

From the popular culture side of things, it’s been a quiet year; at ANZCA (when I finally got there) I presented a paper drawing together the various datasets around SBS, Twitter audiences, Eurovision, and the Tour de France:

 

At the AoIR conference in Daegu, South Korea, in October, Axel Bruns presented work also by Darryl Woodford, Katie Prowd, and myself, examining who is discussing which television shows within the Australian Twittersphere by mapping programme-specific discussions onto the brand new Australian Twittersphere map (you should also be checking out the amazing work Darryl and Katie are doing around new social media metrics, both around television with their telemetrics but also in other contexts, such as their collaboration with Peta Mitchell around the recent G20 in Brisbane):

 

Big data, social media

The map itself was then unveiled at ECREA in Lisbon in November, in a paper again presented by Axel with contributions from Darryl, Troy Sadkowsky, and myself:

 

And finally, next month Axel will be presenting a paper by the pair of us at ACSPRI in Sydney on big data and social media:

 

 

So, that was 2014; as I said, it’s been a weird, disjointed year, but everything seems to be looking positive and heading in the right direction for 2015. Which is nice…

(actually it’s ridiculously exciting, but that’s for another post – coming soon!)