…and then the world

the 2017 that was


2017… 2017… to be honest, so much has happened in 2018, as I finally put this list together, that 2017 seems a distant memory: I’ve moved to the other side of the world to start a new job, and so much has been going on I barely remember last month let alone last year.

In addition to the publications, which I have already mentioned on here and are listed below (although only one is called ‘Never gonna GIF you up‘), a few major things stand out; first, our ARC Discovery proposal ‘Digital media, location awareness, and the politics of geodata’ was successful and funded for three years (2018-2020, AUD $324,720); the project features as CIs Peta Mitchell and myself from QUT and Larissa Hjorth from RMIT, and as PIs Agnieszka Leszczynski (Auckland) and Paul Dourish (UC-Irvine).

Second, I spent a month in Bremen, Germany, as a visiting research fellow at the ZeMKI, where I got to work on my ‘digital time’ project and participate in the Mediatization of Time conference — and in general just enjoy the research culture of the ZeMKI and being in northern Germany in winter!

Third, I coordinated the 2017 DMRC Summer School, with 37 PhD and early-career researchers coming to Brisbane for digital methods, research training, and plenty more (the 2018 event has already happened, so this feels especially weird to talk about now).

Fourth, I made my Sydney Opera House debut as a panelist at the Antidote Festival (the successor to the Festival of Dangerous Ideas); I was part of the ‘Creating online chaos‘ session with an amazing line-up of Celeste Liddle, Reni Eddo-Lodge, and Van Badham, with Steph Harmon chairing.

(plus, the 2016 article I co-authored with Tama Leaver on Instagrammatics, digital methods, and visual social media won ‘best research article’ at Curtin University’s 2016 Humanities Research Awards).

And finally, I was invited to keynote for the first time, speaking about visual social media for the University of Amsterdam’s Digital Methods Initiative (DMI) Summer School and also running a masterclass and workshops… and, half a year later, I’m back in Amsterdam in my new role as Assistant Professor in New Media at UvA… but that’s another topic…


Published in 2017



Jean Burgess, Peta Mitchell, and Tim Highfield: ‘Automating the digital everyday: an introduction’. Media International Australia (‘Automating the Everyday’ special issue; online first)

Peta Mitchell and Tim Highfield: ‘Mediated geographies of everyday life—navigating the ambient, augmented and algorithmic geographies of geomedia’. Ctrl-Z: New Media Philosophy, 7.

Kate M. Miltner and Tim Highfield: ‘Never gonna GIF you up: Analyzing the cultural significance of the animated GIF’. Social Media + Society, 3(3). doi:10.1177/2056305117725223



Tim Highfield: ‘Histories of blogging’. In G. Goggin & M. McLelland (Eds.), Routledge Companion to Global Internet Histories. Routledge, pp. 331-342.
Tim Highfield: ‘Social TV and depictions of community on social media: Instagram and Eurovision fandom’. In P. Messaris & L. Humphreys (Eds.), Digital Media: Transformations in human communication (second edition). Peter Lang, pp. 156-165.


Other writing

‘Social media and everyday politics, re-examined’ (cross-posted on Medium / Culture Digitally)



Talks + presentations

‘Socially mediated moments and memories: Now, then, and the tangled temporality of digital media’, Mediatization of Time conference, Bremen, Germany, 7-8 December 2017.

‘ICYMI, while you were away: Temporal platformed interventions in the digital everyday’. ZeMKI, University of Bremen, 6 December 2017.

‘ICYMI, while you were away: The digital intimacy of temporal platformed interventions’, Digital Intimacies symposium, Melbourne 13-15 November 2017.

Ariadna Matamoros-Fernández, Felix Münch, and Tim Highfield. ‘More than meets the eye: Understanding networks of images in controversies around racism on social media’. AoIR 2017, Tartu, 18-21 October 2017.

‘#BlackLivesMatter to #dogsatpollingstations (but not #CrookedHillary): Platform privilege and the affective politics of hashflags’, Affective Politics symposium, Turku, Finland, 12-13 October 2017.

Kate M. Miltner and Tim Highfield. ‘Never Gonna GIF You Up: Analyzing the cultural significance of the animated GIF’. Columbia University. 14 September 2017.

‘Visual cultures and politics of social media’, Oxford University: Oxford Internet Institute Summer Doctoral Programme. July 2017.

Stephen Harrington, Axel Bruns, and Tim Highfield. ‘#infotainment and the impact of “connective action”: The case of #milkeddry’. ANZCA 2017, Sydney, July 2017.

‘Instagrammatics, visual social media, and digital methods’, keynote for University of Amsterdam Digital Methods Initiative Summer School. 26 June 2017.

‘Social media and everyday politics, re-examined: The impact of fake news, the alt-right, and the clickbait president’. ICA ‘Populism, Post-Truth Politics and Participatory Culture’ pre-conference, San Diego, 25-26 May 2017.

Tim Highfield and Peta Mitchell. ‘Algorithmic Surveillance and Urban Ambient Geodata’. AAG, Boston, 5-9 April 2017.

‘The GIF and News Coverage: Remediated, Remixed, and Reimagined’. SCMS, Chicago, 22-26 March 2017.



Media and public events

Panelist, ‘Creating online chaos’. Antidote Festival, Sydney Opera House, 3 September 2017.

Panelist, ‘Democracy, politics, and the popular’. Brisbane Powerhouse, 31 August 2017.

April 2017: Wired, ‘Don’t Look Now, But Extremists’ Meme Armies Are Turning Into Militias’ by Emma Grey Ellis (interview)

Chair, ‘Digital Media Unplugged: Have social media ruined everything?’ Brisbane Powerhouse, February 2017.




Digital Methods (University of Melbourne, February 2017)
Instagrammatics (developed with Tama Leaver) (University of Amsterdam DMI Summer School, June 2017)
‘Instagrammatics and beyond’ masterclass (University of Amsterdam DMI Summer School, June 2017).
Digital Methods pre-conference (with Axel Bruns, Stefanie Duguay, Ariadna Matamoros-Fernández, Brenda Moon, and Felix Münch) (AoIR2017, Tartu, October 2017).
Digital Methods (University of Bremen, December 2017)


Coordinator, DMRC Summer School 2017 (QUT, February 2017).



around the world

38 flights (195072 km, or, ~4.87x around the world; 10 days 21:07 flight time) + long-distance trains
eight countries (Australia, USA, Netherlands, UK, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Germany)

the 2016 that was


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



Social Media and Everyday Politics



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



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)




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)




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)

new book chapters: tweeting le Tour, sharing the news


One of the highlights of last month’s conference adventures was the IR14 roundtable ‘Twitter and Society and Beyond’, for which I was one participant among a cast of thousands a dozen or so. Not only did this roundtable gather together some really big names in Internet Research, discussing trends and future directions in Twitter and social media research, and the key questions and challenges we need to address, but it also served as the launch for the new volume Twitter and Society. The book, published by Peter Lang, is a 31 chapter extravaganza edited by Katrin Weller, Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, Merja Mahrt, and Cornelius Puschmann, and includes a great range of pieces covering different Twitter concepts, methods, perspectives, and practices; there are chapters on privacy, crisis communication, memes, quantitative and qualitative approaches to studying Twitter, politics, automated accounts, brand communication, fan practices, scholarly tweeting, journalism, and many more! The full list of chapters and contributors can be seen over at the Social Media Research Group site, while the book also has its own Twitter account: @twitsocbook (and here’s a photo, via Axel Bruns, of the panel (representing nearly a third of the total contributors!) with the new book):

Following the Yellow Jersey
I have a chapter in this volume: ‘Following the Yellow Jersey: Tweeting the Tour de France’, which expands upon some of the ideas I presented in our ECREA paper last year. It’s an exploration of the Twitter coverage of the Tour de France as both a sporting event and a media event, looking at fan-athlete connections but also examining how fans watching the television broadcast interact with the race as a text as well – in particular, I focus on the case of the Australian SBS broadcast and the tropes of tweeting along with this coverage. You can order the book as paperback and hardback through Peter Lang, Amazon, or the Book Depository, and the ebook version is coming soon!

Following the Yellow Jersey (inside the chapter)

Tim Highfield (2013). ‘Following the Yellow Jersey: Tweeting the Tour de France’. In K. Weller, A. Bruns, J. Burgess, M. Mahrt, & C. Puschmann (Eds.), Twitter and Society. Peter Lang: New York, NY. pp. 249-261.

This week, I also received another book in the post, Br(e)aking the News: Journalism, Politics and New Media; this volume, edited by Janey Gordon, Paul Rowinski, and Gavin Stewart, has some intriguing chapters and global perspectives on current journalistic practices and how news is being broken and reported – there are chapters here on the Leveson inquiry and phone-hacking, on Wikipedia, on mobile use in Nigeria, on framing of the Human Rights Act in the UK by politicians and journalists, and plenty more.

Sharing the News In this volume, Axel Bruns, Stephen Harrington, and I have a chapter entitled ‘Sharing the News: Dissemination of Links to Australian News Sites on Twitter’ – this piece again builds on work we presented last year, this time at IR13, and is an extended examination of the Australian Twitter News Index (ATNIX) work covered over at Mapping Online Publics, tracking patterns of linking to articles from different Australian news and opinion sites on Twitter. The new book is also published by Peter Lang, and can be ordered through the publisher website, Amazon, or the Book Depository.

Sharing the News (inside the chapter)

Axel Bruns, Tim Highfield, and Stephen Harrington (2013). ‘Sharing the News: Dissemination of Links to Australian News Sites on Twitter’. In J. Gordon, P. Rowinski, & G. Stewart (Eds.), Br(e)aking the News: Journalism, politics and new media. Peter Lang: New York, NY. pp. 181-209.

Twitter and Society; Br(e)aking the News