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New Media and Digital Culture

The study of new media is continually refreshed with objects, spaces, platforms and apps each seeking new users and niches: Snapchat, Medium, Tumblr, Instagram and Reddit operate alongside formerly ‘new’ media giants such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple. Google and other engines and social media platforms are critiqued because their economic models of cheap aggregation and ‘free’ services in exchange for personal data have disrupted existing media industries such as music, publishing and news but also the taxi business through Uber and Lyft. Personal data not only feeds Spotify and other systems that recommend taste and cultural preference, but also Nike fitness regimes and Apple health checks. Map apps and device-driven location-awareness also affect our relationships with place and our understandings of space; we are able to track, trace and follow, leading to everyday cultures of surveillance as well as practices of stealth.

New Media and Digital Culture is dedicated to the critical study of the impact of digital media on culture and society. Its emphasis lies with the new web, app and data cultures, with a strong focus on research techniques and methods for the critical study of digitally born objects and contemporary media cultures.

The program consists of three closely connected areas:

• Critical new media theory focuses on digital culture theories and histories and on the disruptions and transformations in culture and society brought about by social media, digital objects and devices, web and mobile cultures, locative and geo-media, ubiquitous computing, and digital aesthetics. Some of the topics are new artistic and cultural forms such as the digital book, smart cities, media genealogies, etc.

• Digital methods explore the possibilities for research into online-data cultures and in particular the potential of platforms and search engines for cultural, artistic, and empirical research interventions. Digital methods focus on ‘digitally born’ objects like hyperlinks, tags, ‘like’ buttons and tweets, as well as on specifically digital methods, techniques and strategies such as folksonomies and crowdsourcing.

• The program also comprises a strong Digital skills component, because knowledgeable experience with web culture and the ability to study and use web based applications like blogs, wikis, and software tools are considered critical skills for academic digital media experts and researchers.