RMeS Summer School 2019: Algorithmic Culture and Digital Literacy

RMeS Summer School 2019: Algorithmic Culture and Digital Literacy

When? 17, 18 & 19 June 2019
Where? University of Groningen
For? PhD Candidates and RMa Students
Organizers? Dr Rik Smit, Prof. Dr Marcel Broersma
Confirmed Speakers? Prof. Jeremy Morris and Prof. John Cheney-Lippold
Register here

THE SUMMER SCHOOL IS FULLY BOOKED, please send an e-mail to rmes-fgw@uva.nl with your name, university and research school. We will put you on our waiting list.

Whether we watch films and TV series on Netflix, listen to music on Spotify, track our jogs on Runkeeper, or search for the best place to spend a weekend on Tripadvisor, our daily practices and experiences are mediated by algorithmic processes and interfaces. Moreover, we inhabit Smart Cities, carry around Smartphones, and live in Smart Homes. These technologies might make our lives more efficient and convenient, but they are also devices that gather data about ourselves and our relations to others, to be analyzed by (often) obscure procedures and parties. They bring about new digital divides between those who can access, read and use this data and those who cannot. Moreover, people require an extensive skill set and the literacy to navigate, interpret, resist, and appropriate this algorithmic culture.

Focusing on emerging dynamics between algorithmic power, knowledge, imaginaries, and access, this Summer School offers a variety of methods and theories on how to study such an Algorithmic Culture and the Digital Literary to live in it.

RMeS Summer School 2019 – Preliminary Programme

RMeS Network Event: How do You… Collaborate with External Partners?

How do You… Collaborate with External Partners?

A workshop on working with non-academic partners

Date and Time: March 22nd 2019, 13.15 – 16.00 (followed by drinks)
Location: Drift 13, Utrecht – Room 003
Register here

RMeS is happy to invite you to the 2019 edition of our annual RMA and PhD network event. This year’s event will focus on collaborating with external partners to fund and execute your research. How do you invite partners outside of the university to collaborate on a research idea? How can you secure funding for such collaborations? What are the ethical dilemmas in collaborating with external partners?

For all RMA students and PhD-candidates eager to look beyond university walls for doing your research: this is the event to attend!

The 2019 RMeS network event will have a workshop setup that consists of three parts:

  1. Why and how to collaborate with external partners? (Prof. Dr. Tamara Witschge, Prof. Dr. Wall, Dr. Amanda Paz Alencar)
  2. What to keep in mind when setting up or managing external collaborations? (Serena Oosterloo)
  3. What are the dangers or conflicts of interest that you can come across when collaborating with external partners? (Prof. Dr. Tamara Witschge, Prof. Dr. Wall, Dr. Amanda Paz Alencar)

We will have the following speakers:

  • Prof Dr Tamara Witschge is Rosalind Franklin Fellow at the University of Groningen, Faculty of Arts, holds a chair in Media and Cultural Industries. She runs the five-year, NWO-funded research programme “Entrepreneurship at Work” and the NWO-funded action research project “Exploring Journalism’s Limits”. Her research explores the ways in which technological, economic and social change is reconfiguring media and journalism, with a particular focus on cross-disciplinary collaboration, innovation and cultural entrepreneurship.
  • Amanda Paz Alencar is Assistant Professor in the Department of Media & Communication at Erasmus University Rotterdam, where she specializes in media and migration and intercultural communication. After completion of her degree she was awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship, a prestigious grant from the European Commission, to conduct her research project entitled ‘TV News for Promoting Interculturalism: A Novel Step towards Immigrant Integration’ at the Department of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam.
  • Professor Melissa Wall (California State University, Northridge) studies citizen/participatory journalism and is the editor of the book, Citizen Journalism: Valuable, Useless or Dangerous. Within this line of inquiry, she created the Pop-Up Newsroom, a temporary, virtual newsroom for citizen and student journalists. Her other research stream focuses on refugees and their information practices, particularly Syrian refugees and their cell phone usage.
  • Serena Oosterloo is a Research Assistant at the Utrecht Data School, where she manages external collaborations.

Registration: Please register by March 15th, 2019.

For questions of any kind, please contact us by email at phdcouncil.rmes@gmail.com

We are looking forward to meeting you there!

The RMeS PhD Council (Tim Groot Kormelink, Sofie Willemsen, Sanne Rotmeijer, Wouter Oomen, Rashid Gabdulhakov)





RMeS Seminar: Exploring Death… and Ways to Live

Exploring Death… and Ways to Live
A RMeS Seminar On Contemporary Theory, Creativity, The Earth And Us.

Organized by Dr. Rick Dolphijn UU/HKU
featuring Rosi Braidotti, Susanne Winterling and others

When? February 2019, Exact dates see below
Utrecht University / University of Amsterdam
PhD Candidates and RMa Students

THE SEMINAR IS FULLY BOOKED, please send an e-mail to rmes-fgw@uva.nl with your name, university and research school. We will put you on our waiting list.

Platform for Posthuman Ecologies and the Contemporary (post)-Humanities (Utrecht University) /Sonic Acts Festival
With the Research School or Media Studies (RMeS)

“I meant to write about death, only life came breaking in as usual.”

Virginia Woolf

At the interstices of contemporary philosophy and contemporary art, psychoanalysis and ecology, we get together for a triptych of events that explore the concepts of death and life differently. Leaving modernist and anthropocentric oppositions behind us, our aim is to explore how different ideas of death give rise to different forms of life, to how these concepts relate to the organic and the inorganic, to space and time. Doing these explorations, we keep asking ourselves how thinking death and life otherwise allows us to practice an affirmative politics worthy of the earth today. How is a necropolitics through art and theory offering us new tools to think our earth in pain and to be a valuable part of it? With a close reading session, a workshop with prominent guests and a festival visit and intervention, this RMeS seminar aims to map some key thoughts that relate to life and death from a posthuman perspective

February 14, 2019 | Utrecht University
Dr. Rick Dolphijn
Close Reading Session: Still Alive and Already Dead


  • Gilles Deleuze 2004 Painting Forces (from 56 to 64) in: Francis Bacon; the Logic of Sensation.
  • Continuum.
  • Michel Serres 1995 Dream (from 123 to 139) in: Genesis. University of Michigan Press.

February 21, 2019 | University of Amsterdam
Rosi Braidotti, Rick Dolphijn and Susanne Winterling
Workshop: a Necropolitics of Life


  • Braidotti, Rosi (2019) excerpts from Posthuman Knowledge
  • Dolphijn, Rick (2018) The world, the mat(t)er of thought. In Michel Serres and the Crises of the Contemporary. Bloomsbury
  • Serres, Michel, Janina Pigaht and Rick Dolphijn (2018) A new culture to suit the world. In Michel Serres and the Crises of the Contemporary. Bloomsbury
  • Yazdani, Sara Elina Rundgren; Winterling, Susanne M. (2015) New Forms of Life: The Physicality and Poetics of Pictures. Objektiv. Tidskrift for kamerabasert kunst.

February 22, 2019
Sonic Acts Festival
Rethinking Death… and Ways to Live


The [urban interfaces] graduate seminar 2018-2019

The Right to the City & Urban Commons

Outline for the 2019 [urban interfaces] graduate seminar series at Utrecht University

Dates: 12 & 26 February 2019, 12 March (seminars); 19-20 March 2019 (workshop)
Location: MCW Lab, Kromme Nieuwegracht 20, Utrecht
Organized by: Nanna Verhoeff, Michiel de Lange, Sigrid Merx, and Lotte van der Molen from the [urban interfaces] research group at Utrecht University.
More information: See http://urbaninterfaces.sites.uu.nl/
Fee: € 10,00 (partly covering coffee/lunch during workshop), please bring exact change on the first day of the workshop (March 19)
Registration via: RMeS-fgw@uva.nl
Please be sure to specify your master programme, national research school and university

THIS SEMINAR IS FULLY BOOKED. It’s no longer possible to register for this course.

New technologies and datafication in so-called smart cities affect how we interface with the city. Social, economic and technological changes also lead to new urban frictions, and increasingly put strain on collectively shared urban commons and the right to the city. This shifting landscape of urban politics and power dynamics and the role of media, arts, and performance, provides the framework for this seminar series.

In the graduate seminar series The Right to the City & Urban Commons , students participate in three seminar sessions and a 2-day ‘pressure cooker’ workshop. The first seminar will focus on conceptualizing the notions of ‘the right to the city’ and the ‘urban commons’. What are today’s urban commons and how can people claim their right to the city in contemporary shifting urban conditions? The second session is dedicated to current urban common practices, and the imagining of new ones, from the perspective of media, art and performance projects. Several case studies will be discussed and analyzed. The third seminar prepares participants for the two-day pressure cooker workshop, where students will learn how to put their theoretical knowledge into practice through the use of a ‘critical making’ approach.

Students prepare readings for every seminar and write short blog posts to be put on the website of [urban interfaces]. The pressure cooker workshop – organized in collaboration with partners HKU and Creative Coding Utrecht – consists of two days in which hands-on making is combined with in-depth theoretical analyses and inspirational keynote speakers. During these two days, students work in small groups on the design of urban public interventions that depart from Elinor Ostrom’s commons design principles. This critical making workshop trains students to put their theoretical knowledge into practice and to position themselves within the current debates on urban commons and the right to the city.



RMeS Workshop Appnography: Researching the apps of life and the life of apps

Workshop organized by Dr Rik Smit (RUG), within the context of the RMeS PhD Workshop Grant

When? 1 April 2019
Where? University of Groningen, Academiegebouw – A2, Broerstraat 5, Groningen
Time? 10.00 – 17.30
Coordinator? Dr Rik Smit (RUG)
Open to? PhD’s and research master students, max 20 participants

This workshop explores how we can study mobile application software, popularly known as ‘apps’, discussing and applying methods from digital ethnography and user interface analysis. For most people who own a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet, apps are part and parcel of everyday life. Whether people cook, play, jog, or date, they increasingly use apps to aid them in these activities and practices. At the same time, apps – or at least their developers – use us to gather user data, often for commercial purposes, or to refine their proprietary algorithms.

During this workshop we will explore possible ways to study these “apps of life” and the “life of apps.” Like any medium or technology, apps live a life of their own: they are conceived of, presented to the world, implemented and used, and they may stop being used (they die). As a specific form of digital ethnography (Pink, et al. 2016), “appnography” will be proposed as a way to analyze the various stages of development (production) of an app, the discourses surrounding the app (how the app is marketed and presented to the world), and how it is used and made sense of by app users. Moreover, we will discuss various ways in which to analyze app interfaces, features, and affordances, which enable, shape, and restrict practices.

The workshop is organized by Dr Rik Smit and is connected to a new research project following his recently completed PhD project Platforms of Memory: Social Media and Digital Memory Work (defended March 2018, cum laude). In this new project, he investigates the plethora of personal memory apps available in app stores. Apps such as The Memory App, Lifecake, Relive, Facebook’s On This Day, and Moment Garden help organize mediated memories by categorizing, sorting, and filtering them. These apps, he argues, signal a broader shift toward systems and services that structure and automatically re-present our pasts for us, so-called “mnemotechnologies” (Stiegler, 2010). As such, they are part of an emerging “algorithmic culture” (Striphas, 2014), in which our daily practices have come to involve algorithmic procedures such as automatic recommendation and personalization. Thus, in a nutshell, this research scrutinizes how the logic of computational systems and databases intertwine with personal digital memory work.

Guest speakers

Anne Helmond (UvA)

Anne Helmond is assistant professor of New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam. She is a member of the Digital Methods Initiative and the App Studies Initiative where she focuses her research on social media platforms, apps, and web history. She holds a Veni grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) for the project ‘App ecosystems: A critical history of apps’.

Fernando van der Vlist (UvA)

Fernando van der Vlist is a research associate with the Collaborative Research Centre ‘Media of Cooperation’ at the University of Siegen. He is a member of the Digital Methods Initiative (University of Amsterdam) and the App Studies Initiative. He has lectured in new media, digital culture, and digital methods (University of Amsterdam, Utrecht University, Utrecht Data School) and has a background in media arts and design.

Nathaniel Tkacz (U of Warwick)

Nathaniel Tkacz is Reader at the University of Warwick. His work investigates the political, economic and organizational dimensions of technology, with a specific focus on networked and digital forms. This has led him to analyze notions of political openness in web-based communities, the practice of ‘mass collaboration’, experimental economic platforms, software forking, trolling, and emerging forms of governance in network cultures, among other things. His current work is on 1) the rise of ‘dashboard interfaces’ and 2) the relationship between media and economy.

Preliminary programme
10.00-10.30Doors open. Coffee
10.30-10.45Welcome (Prof. Marcel Broersma)
10.45-11.15Introductory lecture: Swipe, tap, Open, Remember (STORe): Personal Digital Memory in the App Ecology (Rik Smit)
11.15-11.30 Coffee
11.30-12.30Workshop I: Researching App Ecologies: Methodological affordances and challenges of studying apps and app stores (Anne Helmond & Fernando van der Vlist)
Discussion and debate
13.00-14.00Lunch break
14.00-15.00Workshop II: User Interface Analysis and the Walkthrough Method (Nate Tkacz)
15.00-15.30 Coffee
15.30-16.30Workshop III: Studying App Discourses, Rhetoric and Logics (Rik Smit)
16.30-17.00 Design Fiction: Introduction to the assignment
17.00-17.15Closing remarks
Assignment for participants

The assignment for this workshop is rather unconventional. Instead of writing a paper, participants will have to come up with a “design fiction”—speculative, critical design that aims to explore and critique possible futures. This can take many forms: a story revolving around an imagined technology, an extended prototype description, a piece of journalistic reporting about this future technology, a conversation between two philosophers discussing the technology, an extended manual for the technology, a review of a future technology, or a visual representation of a possible future technology, accompanied by a rationale. Some well-known design fictions are the “Memex” by Vanavar Bush (1945) and technologies featured in films and books such as Black Mirror, 1984, and Minority Report.

The design fiction will need to engage with one of the workshop themes:

  • Apps and datafication
  • App ecologies
  • Dashboards and interfaces
  • Memory (both personal and collective)
  • Algorithmic culture

The themes are broad on purpose, in order to stimulate creative/critical thinking. All design fictions are to be accompanied by a 1,000 word rationale which reflects on the design fiction, using the workshop material (lectures, workshops, readings).

  • Striphas, T. (2015). Algorithmic culture. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 18(4-5), 395-412.
  • Levine, D. (2016). Design Fiction. Medium.
  • Dieter, M., et al. (2018). Store, interface, package, connection: Methods and propositions for multi-situated app studies. Medien der Kooperation – working paper series, 4. 1-16.
  • Bush, V. (1945). As we may think. Atlantic.
  • Bell, F. et al. (2013). Science fiction prototypes: Visionary technology narratives between futures. Futures 50. 5-14.
  • Bartlet, J. & Tkacz, N. (2017). Governance by Dashboard: A policy paper. Demos.