CfP Workshop: Researching Civic Media: Empowering Citizens or Progressive Fallacy?

With Eric Gordon; Founding director of Engagement Lab at Emerson College & faculty associate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University

Amsterdam, April 19th  2017 13:30-17:00

Goal of the workshop
Through the discussion of a number of texts and accounts of their own experiences, researchers will
discuss the concept of civic media as well as appropriate research frameworks for civic media,
including ‘research by design’ approaches. How can we build a research agenda that is both critical
and productive?

Description of workshop theme
Digital media has significantly impacted how we participate in civic life, including how we gather
together in groups, interface with public institutions, seek out information, and advocate and
agitate towards social change. Institutions of all sorts are struggling to adapt  to emerging
digital practices, as they invent, adopt or adapt new tools, and rethink structures of
participation. Community activists, civil society practitioners, policy makers and technologists
are searching for viable solutions. Communities of practice have emerged around discourses such as
the Smart City and Civic Tech, building tools and sourcing data to solve civic problems.

But it is necessary to question the nature of these problems, whose problems they are, and if they
are, in fact, problems at all. While the shiny new app solves some problems, it surely creates
others. While big data addresses some gaps in knowledge, it opens others. In this context, there is
need to harness an intellectual discourse that is both critical and applied, that can create
knowledge about a digitally enhanced civics, while guiding design for the creation of new

The notion of ‘civic media’ was introduced first as a design objective meant to foreground the
affordances of digital technologies for citizen empowerment and community engagement, as a
counterweight to claims about the negative impact of digital media on social and civic life
prolific in the late 1990s and early 2000s. At the same time the term ‘civic media’ is also used
analytically to emphasize the complex relationships between people, technologies, practices and the
common good, moving away from a more simplistic functionalist paradigm in which civic technologies
are presented as tech solutions that can be applied to various societal domains. In a civic media
approach, researchers try to understand the complex ways in which communities use media and
technology to achieve or strive for a common good.

Research on civic media often combines analysis of media practices with design and action research.
For instance, research through design projects can be aimed at empowering local communities, or
contribute to imaginations of a future society that provides civic alternatives for the neoliberal
commodification and ‘smart consumer orientated services’ approach that dominates current discourse
on smart cities, disruptive innovation and creative  economies.

However while this approach can be promising, it also has it criticisms. Civic tech approaches have
been reproached of ‘solutionism’, as well as harbouring a  ‘progressive fallacy’. The latter refers
to the implicit assumption that affordances of digital media for communities to self-organize will
contribute to progressive goals and more democratic societies. Yet, these same affordances have
also aided all kinds of exclusionary, populist and even terrorist collectives.

In this workshop, researchers on civic media will discuss their research strategies on civic media.
Many working in this field see an urgency to contribute to the design of alternative media
practices that work towards a common good and reinforce public values. How can we build a research
agenda that is both critical and productive? What approaches of research   by design have proven to
be productive, and what issues are in need of further address?

In the workshop a group of about 15-25 researchers will discuss research strategies and
methodologies for civic media. Eric Gordon will present a brief introduction to some of the main
themes and issues, based on his current book Civic Media. Technology | Design | Practice. In
addition, participants are invited to bring in and briefly present (5-10 minutes) one or more
examples of civic media studies (from their own research projects or otherwise) that they would
like to discuss / analyze. A number of texts from the book will be provided as a background for the

Participants can apply by sending a brief motivational email, and (if applicable) short description
and problematization of 1 or 2 cases they would like to bring in / present. Applications can be
sent to and will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Readings from Eric Gordon and Paul Mihailidis eds. Civic Media. Technology | Design | Practice
(Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2016).

Eric Gordon and Paul Mihailidis Introduction Peter Levine Democracy in the Digital Age Ethan
Zuckerman, Effective Civics
Eric Gordon and Stephen Walter Meaningful Inefficiencies: Resisting the Logic of Technological
Efficiency in the Design of Civic Systems
Marcus Foth and Martin Brynskov Participatory Action Research for Civic Engagement

The workshop is organized by the Lectorate of Play & Civic Media at the Amsterdam University of
Applied Sciences and the department of Media and Culture Studies at Utrecht University.

For questions or to participate, please email Martijn de Waal at[at]

CfP: International Conference “Reinvestigating the Notion of Humanity in Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences”

June 1-3, 2017
Skopje, Republic of Macedonia

The deadline for submission of proposals has been extended to April, 15, 2017.

The Centre for Culture and Cultural Studies, Skopje, Macedonia and Faculty of Media and Communications, Belgrade, Serbia organize The Second International Conference “Reinvestigating the Notion of Humanity in Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences”.

The Second International Conference “(Re)investigating the Notion of Humanity in Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences” is an engaging platform for the presentations of new advances and research results in the wide variety of scientific areas. The human condition and the totality of the human experience have been challenged by the necessity to rethink its very existence or to imagine the new forms of its shared future. We live in a time of constant threat of a global war, environmental pollution and destruction, persistent violation of the basic human rights, and diverse practices of exclusion, marginalization of the human other which led to a re-evaluation of the notions such as humanism and humanity, and paved way for new hopes and anxieties relating to the subhuman and the post-human. Moreover, the shifting concept of humanity in contemporary times addresses the need to reconsider the binary opposition between humanity and inhumanity, dialectic of ‘human’ and ‘animal’ as a shape our identities, culture and morality and draw attention to show how nonhuman entities act and shape our world. The approaches to the nonhuman have included such diverse fields as actor-network theory, affect theory, animal studies, assemblage theory, new media theory, new materialism, speculative and object-oriented realism and systems theory. Additionally, we invite contributors to critically reevaluate the cultural, political, ethical, linguistic systems of present day societies and communities to come. In order to understand the world from multiple, heterogeneous perspectives, one must probe the existing representations and offer the possible reinterpretations of nonhuman agencies, aesthetics, and assemblages. Contemporary (re)definitions of the human and humanity enforce the dynamic interplay of humanity and technology and challenge their limitations.

You are welcome to submit paper abstracts and panel proposals by filling online form:

For papers:
For panels:

The Centre for Culture and Cultural Studies web site:

Online Call for Papers:

Please feel free to contact with any question.


Call for participation: Games for Cities Conference & Doctoral Consortium

Games for Cities International Conference & Doctoral Consortium
20-21 April, Het Nieuwe Instituut_Rotterdam

How can games improve the process of urban planning? That’s the central question at the upcoming Games for Cities International Conference, taking place in Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, April 20-21 2017.

At the conference, game designers, researchers, architects, planners and policymakers explore how games can be used as a method for generating more engaged citizens and more inclusive cities. Gaming offers a real alternative to standard forms of civic engagement in the 21st century, bringing a range of stakeholders together and enabling collaborative decision-making and conflict resolution to emerge from this.

Keynotes include: Paolo Pedercini of Molleindustria, Eric Gordon from Emerson’s Engagement Lab, Urban Think Tank’s Alfredo Brillembourg, Felix Madrazo from Inter.National.Design, and Play the City’s Ekim Tan. 10 leading city-games will also be available for play at the conference.

Tickets & Information

The full programme for the conference can be found here;
Tickets are available here;
And you can follow our social media updates via our Facebook event page here.

Call: participate in our doctoral consortium

There will be a doctoral consortium scheduled prior to the conference. PhD students and other early stage researchers working at the crossroads between game design, city-making practices, bottom-up participation, and civic media are invited to present their studies in a 20-minute conference presentation.

Presentations should address the use of games in the process of urban planning or city-making. Topcis could include (but need not be limited to):

  • design aspects of city-games;
  • aesthetics of city-games;
  • the role of city games in democratic processes of city-making
  • city-games as a ‘civic medium’
  • city-games & urban policy
  • city-games & democratic urban governance
  • critical evaluations of city-games

To take part to the Doctoral Consortium candidates should:

  • Be currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program, or involved as early stage researcher in an academic research programme.
  • Submit before March 31:
  • a short “position paper” (PDF, 6000-characters, references excluded) that explains synthetically how your current research is related to the themes of playfulness and cities,
  • a brief CV (PDF, maximum 2 pages and 2 Mb, select only the most relevant information)

Accepted participants will attend the Doctoral Consortium, giving a 20-minute presentation of their current research and provide friendly feedback to their peers. They will also receive an invitation letter to attend the Games for Cities conference, as well as a special discount on the admission ticket.

Please submit applications to info[at] before March 31.

The Games for Cities conference is organised by Play the City in partnership with the Amsterdam University of Applied Science’s Play and Civic Media Lab, TU Delft’s The Why Factory, The Mobile City, and Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam where the conference will be held on April 20th and 21st 2017.


The Radboud Excellence Initiative is looking for postdocs and visiting professors

Radboud University has a special programme for excellent researchers wishing to visit this university: the Radboud Excellence Initiative. It aims to bring postdocs and well established professors to Radboud University to do research for maximally 18 months or 6 months, respectively. Twenty Fellowships and six Professorships are made available annually for the whole university. Only non-Dutch researchers who are based outside of the Netherlands can be nominated.

The Centre for Language Studies (CLS) and the Institute for Historical, Literary and Cultural Studies (HLCS) are now looking for candidates who would like to be nominated. These candidates would work with the researchers listed here, who can act as nominators.

Are you interested in a Fellowship or Professorship with one of our nominators? Please send an e-mail before April 1st to Lisenka Fox containing:

  • your CV;
  • the name of the nominator you would like to join as a Fellow or Professor;
  • a short description of the type of research you would like to do (maximally one page).

If selected, you will be asked to provide a more extended description of your research plans, to fill out the nomination form, and to provide two reference letter before May 1st.

General information about the Radboud Excellence Initiative is available here.

For more specific information about a Fellowship or Professorship with CLS or HLCS, please contact Lisenka Fox:

Call for participation: Digital Methods Summer School 2017

Get the Picture. Digital Methods for Visual Research

26 June – 7 July 2017

The 2017 Digital Methods Summer School is held in cooperation with RMeS, the Netherlands Research School for Media Studies.

Get the Picture. Digital Methods for Visual Research 

Gillian Rose employs the term visual methodologies for “researching with visual materials” (2016). Iconography, semiotics, framing analysis and multimodal analysis are among the approaches that may be applied to digital materials. One may also ask, does the online make a difference to the study of the visual? That is, with which approaches is the image considered primarily, or secondarily, as a digital object embedded in online media? Apart from the change in the setting of the object, there may also be methods that emerge from the new media, engines and platforms. What kinds of so-called ‘natively’ digital methods can be repurposed productively for visual analysis? How to make use of the Google’s reverse image search?

More broadly, with the increasing focus on selfies and memes but also on Instagram stories, animated gifs, filters, stickers and emoticons, social media and digital communications are pushing for a visual turn in the study of digital culture. Such a push invites visual analysis into the realm of digital studies, too. One may begin to open the discussion of interplay by examining the new outputs such as journalists’ data visualisations as well as policy-makers’ dashboards like the open data city platforms. One may similarly compare visual literacies. Are there new ways of interpreting images through data, both substantively (which are the related materials?) and temporally (how do they develop over time? do they resonate? are they memes?). In digital methods, the image is not only a research object but also a research device. Making images “that can be seen and manipulated” (Venturini, Jacomy & Pereira 2015) enables scholars to access and actively explore datasets. How to make them and read them? At the same time, the technical properties of digital images both in terms of their color, resolution, and timestamp, as well as their ‘networkedness’, traceability and resonance, become available for research, allowing one to think with images (as visual guides and narratives) as well as through them (as data objects).

Novel visual methodologies then emerge. There is the ‘active’ data visualisation, which includes research protocol diagrams, data dashboards, visual network analysis, and issue mapping. Protocol diagrams (Figure 1) guide analysts, programmers and designers through their collaborative research project. Data dashboards offer a visual aid for data metrics and analytics, in side-by-side graphs and tables; or become critical tools (as in the People’s Dashboard . Visual network analysis offers a way into data that can be engaged with and requires an active research attitude (Venturini, Jacomy & Pereira 2015). Issue mapping renders legible the actors and substance of a (possibly controversial) issue (Rogers, Sánchez-Querubín & Kil 2015). In a second group of approaches, the image is treated as a digitised or natively digital object of study. This includes visual and cultural analytics, which provide distant visual reading techniques to explore and plot visual objects such as selfies and websites based on their formal properties (Manovich 2014; Ben-David, Amram & Bekkerman 2016). Networked visual content analysis, in which images may be queried ‘in reverse’ to study their circulation, can be used to critically assess questions of representation and cultural standing (Figure 2). Another group of approaches repurpose visual formats, where more playful explorations appropriate (and tweak) the templates and visual aesthetics of the web, creating research GIFs and critical social media profiles (Figure 3). In this 10th Digital Methods Summer School we will explore and expand such digital methods for visual research, and critically inquire into their proposed epistemologies.

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

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” (Galloway 2014:127). 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 completed the tutorials available online. 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.

About Digital Methods as a Concept

Digital methods is a term coined as a counterpoint 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), and other digital methods publications.

About the Digital Methods Summer School

The Digital Methods Summer School, founded ten years ago, in 2007, together with the Digital Methods Initiative, is directed by Prof. 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  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 PhD candidates in New Media at the University of Amsterdam, or affiliates. This year the coordinators are Sabine Niederer, Natalia Sánchez-Quérubin and Fernando van der Vlist. The Summer School has a technical staff as well as a design staff, drawn from the ranks of Density Design in Milan. The Summer School also relies on a technical infrastructure of some nine servers hosting tools and storing data, which recently (and intrepidly) moved to the cloud. In a culture of experimentation and skill-sharing, 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 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. For instance, Women on Waves came along during the 2010, Fair Phone to the 2012 Summer School and Greenpeace International and their Gezi Park project in 2013 as well as the COP21 Lima project in 2015. We have worked on the issue of rewilding eco-spaces with NGOs in the 2014 Summer School. More recently we have sought to repopulate city dashboards (Summer School 2015 and Winter School 2017).

What’s it like?
About the Digital Methods Initiative

The Digital Methods Summer School is part of the Digital Methods Initiative (DMI), Amsterdam, dedicated to developing methods for Internet-related research. DMI was founded a decade ago with a grant from the Mondriaan Foundation, and the Summer School has been supported by the Center for Creation, Content and Technology (CCCT), University of Amsterdam, organized by the Faculty of Science with sponsorship from Platform Betatechniek. It also has received support from the Citizen Data Lab, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences as well as “Media of Cooperation,” University of Siegen. The 2017 Summer School will be held in collaboration with the Netherlands Research school for Media Studies (RMeS).

Applications & Key Dates

To apply for the Digital Methods Summer School 2017, please use the University of Amsterdam Summer School form  Or, 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 (to be included in the Summer School welcome package). Mark your application “DMI Training Certificate Program,” and send to summerschool [at]

  • The deadline for applications for the Summer School is 5 May 2017.
  • Notifications will be sent on 8 May. Accepted participants will receive a welcome package, which includes a reader, a schedule, and a face book of all participants.
  • The cost of the Summer School is eur 895 and is open to PhD candidates and motivated scholars as well as to research master’s students and advanced master’s students. Data journalists, artists, and research professionals are also welcome to apply. Accepted applicants will be informed of the bank transfer details upon notice of acceptance to the Summer School on 8 May.
  • The fee must be paid by 16 June.
  • University of Amsterdam students are exempt from tuition and should state on the application form (under tuition fee remarks) that they wish to apply for a fee waiver. Please also provide your student number.
  • RMeS members participate in the first two days of the Summer School. To participate in the full Summer School the regular fee applies.

Any questions may be addressed to the Summer School coordinators Sabine Niederer, Natalia Sánchez-Querubín, and Fernando van der Vlist: summerschool [at] Informal queries may be sent to this email address as well.


The Digital Methods Summer School is part of the University of Amsterdam Summer School programme  which has a video giving a flavor of the Summer School experience. Students from universities (outside of the Netherlands) in the LERU and U21 networks are eligible for a scholarship to help cover the cost of tuition for the DMI Summer School. Please state LERU or U21 university affiliation under tuition remarks when applying to the Summer School. Dutch universities are not eligible.

Accommodations & Catering

The Summer School is self-catered, and there are abundant cafes and a university mensa nearby. For a map we made of nearby lunch (and coffee) places, see

Apply as early as possible to the reasonably priced Student Hotel. For those who prefer other accommodations, we suggest Airbnb or similar. For shorter stay, there is Hotel Le Coin, where you may request a university discount.

Successful Completion & Completion Certificates (incl. 6 ECTS when necessary)

To successfully complete the Summer School and receive a completion certificate (and 6 ECTS when necessary), you must complete a significant contribution to two Summer School projects (one in week one and the other in week two), evidenced by co-authorship of the project reports as well as final (joint) presentations. Templates for the project report as well as for the presentation slides are supplied.


The Summer School meets every weekday. Please bring your laptop. (An iPad is not enough.) We will provide abundant connectivity. We start generally at 9:30 in the morning, and end around 17:30. There are morning talks one to two days per week. All other time is devoted to project work with occasional collective and individual feedback sessions. On the second Friday we have a a festive closing with a boat trip on the canals of Amsterdam.

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 preparatory materials, and we would very much like for you to watch the social media tool tutorials.

Social Media & Participant Face Book
  • Twitter: #dmi17.
  • Facebook:
  • We will have a list of Summer School participants and make an old-fashioned face book with the headshots and bios you send to us.
  • Ben-David, A., Amram, A. & Bekkerman, R. (2016). The colors of the national Web: visual data analysis of the historical Yugoslav Web domain. International Journal on Digital Libraries. doi:10.1007/s00799-016-0202-6
  • Galloway, A. (2014). The Cybernetic Hypothesis. Differences. 25(1), 107-131.
  • Manovich, L., Stefaner, M., Mehrdad, Y., Baur, D., & et al. (2014). Selfiecity. Investigating the style of self-portraits (selfies) in five cities across the world. URL:
  • Rogers, R. Sánchez-Querubín, N. & Kil, A. (2015). Issue Mapping for an Ageing Europe. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. Open access book download
  • Rose, G. (2016). Visual Methodologies. An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials. London: Sage.
  • Venturini, T., Jacomy, M, De Carvalho Pereira, D. (2015). Visual Network Analysis, (working paper). URL:

Digital Methods Initiative
Media Studies
University of Amsterdam
Turfdraagsterpad 9
1012 XT Amsterdam