Personalization algorithms—filtering content on the basis of someone's profile—increasingly mediate the web experience of users. By forging a specific reality for each individual, they silently shape customized 'information diets': in other words, they determine which news, opinions and rumors users are exposed to. Restricting users’ possibilities, they ultimately infringe on their agency. As exposed by the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, they are supported by questionable data sharing practices at the core of the business models of the social media industry.
The aim of this project is to write the first critical history of the app ecosystem. People spend much of their time online using apps to communicate with people and to share content. Yet, despite their popularity we know little about the development of individual apps, their emergence as a new media form, and their native environment, the app stores.
Apps have become an important part of our everyday life. However, how they operate is still largely unknown. This project develops novel digital methods to study how apps recombine, valorize and distribute data from various sources.
Political parties send citizens tailored, microtargeted messages, hoping to get more votes. This approach comes with potential upsides (more political engagement) and potential downsides (deceit of citizens). This project studies the chances and threats of microtargeting to society and how to limit these threats and embrace the chances. Partners: AlgorithmWatch, DATACTIVE Ideas Lab, ProDemos, WhoTargetsMe
Bernard Rieder – Platform Digitale Infrastructuur
Capture and Analysis Tools for Social Media Research (CAT4SMR)
The project seeks to stabilize and further develop a set of existing and heavily used tools for the collection and analysis of social media data (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, 4chan). Developed within the framework of the UvA’s Digital Methods Initiative, our tools – Netvizz, DMI-TCAT, YouTube Data Tools, and 4CAT – have been mainstays of the Dutch and international research landscape for years, allowing researchers to make sense of these increasingly dominant online platforms and the cultural practices they host. Due to continuous changes in data access (e.g. APIs), legal context (e.g. GDPR), data formats, and terms of service (TOS), researchers’ access to social media platforms has been rendered more difficult and the mission our tools strive to fulfill – easy but robust access to platform data and analysis for researchers in the humanities and social sciences – has become more challenging. Providing research infrastructures, in this context, is much more than building tools. We therefore seek funding not only for sustainable technical development, support, and maintenance, but for the increasingly difficult work of negotiating access conditions with platform owners, for documentation and teaching resources, for testing the reliability and reproducibility of results, and for the continuous furthering of methodological innovation.
Boris Noordenbos – ERC Starting (2021-2026)
CONSPIRATORIAL MEMORY: Cultures of Suspicion in Post-Socialist Europe
Many classic conspiracy theories concern the withholding of information from the public. In Central and Eastern Europe, however, suspicion is more commonly aimed at outside influences. Thanks to an ERC Starting Grant – a personal grant comprising about €1.5 million – Boris Noordenbos (Slavic Studies, Literary and Cultural Analysis) will spend the next few years researching how conspiracy theories circulate through Eastern Europe and how they derive their rhetorical force from references to the socialist past.
Esther Weltevrede – UKRI Open Call, Ideas to address Covid-19
Covid-19 App Store and Data Flow Ecologies (lead: University of Warwick)
Mobile phone applications (apps) have emerged as a key part of the response to COVID-19 around the world and are a feature of UK government plans to manage the 'phase two' transition out of lockdown. While raising concerns from privacy and security to the adoption rates required for their effectiveness, initial research on COVID-19 apps has either remained abstract, been conducted in an ad hoc manner or has targeted individual apps.
This project will make a significant contribution to public and policy debates through digital methods research that will deliver a systematic empirical analysis of: 1) emerging ecologies of COVID-19 apps and their governance through app stores, and; 2) the data flows of prevalent apps within this domain.
The CLEOPATRA EU research project aims to make sense of the massive digital coverage generated by the events of global importance in Europe over the past decade. CLEOPATRA offers a unique interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral research and training programme, which explores how we can begin to analyse and understand the major events that influence and shape our lives and our societies. It facilitates advanced cross-lingual processing of textual and visual information related to key contemporary events at scale, and develops innovative methods for efficient and intuitive user access to and interaction with multilingual information.
The project asks how citizenship in the islands is practiced and culturally articulated by subjects facing multiple forms of systemic inequalities. It consists of two multi-disciplinary doctoral projects on cultural citizenship, one of which will be based at the University of Amsterdam.
We take a critical look at massive data collection, privacy and surveillance | social movements, activism and internet activism | internet infrastructure, cybersecurity and their governance | open data and civic tech networks.
Elize Mazadiego’s project aims to problematise conceptual art’s ‘internationalism’ and the persistent binary between Euro-American conceptual art and global conceptualism with a re-examination of the interregional flows and networks of production between the two. Mazadiego will comprehensively study transnational artists who fled from Latin American repressive political regimes to Western Europe between 1968-1979, yet conceivably moving in and out of Conceptualism’s centres. The aim of this research is to develop our understanding of Latin American conceptualist art practices as they developed and adapted in a diasporic context, with the objective to demonstrate the fundamental importance of these artists to the development of Conceptual art in Europe and its international context beyond the U.S.
Barbara Titus – A Joint Programming Initiative on Cultural Heritage and Global Change (JPICH-CHIP)
Decolonizing Southeast Asian Sound Archives (DeCoSEAS)
A Dutch-French-British research consortium, led by Barbara Titus and meLê yamomo (University of Amsterdam), has received a grant for a three-year project (2021-2024) entitled Decolonizing Southeast Asian Sound Archives (DeCoSEAS). The project renegotiates established understandings of heritage curation by disclosing three unique sound collections, located in Europe, with extremely rare music and sound from Southeast Asia (SEA). These collections have worldwide fame in terms of their quality, quantity and diversity, but are barely accessible.
Performances and digital art (PDA) have been notoriously difficult for museums to handle. Despite the ‘easy’ presentation, the non-materiality of the artform challenges a museum’s conventional practice. This project will focus on solving the professional challenge of how documentation is created and consequently its integration in collection archives can be achieved.
Johana Kotišová (Mark Deuze) – Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action, European Fellowship
Fixers, Stringers and Foreign Crews: The distribution of risks and emotions in crisis reporting
The proposed research project seeks to understand links among the least visible actors and aspects of conflict reporting. It explores forms of precarity experienced and emotional labour performed by local newsworkers who work for foreign news crews or foreign media on the spot (fixers and stringers) and the multidirectional power relationships of the journalism ecosystem in two conflict zones, Israel and Ukraine. Based on thirty in-depth interviews with fixers, stringers, and foreign correspondents, and on their autoethnographies, the research addresses the following questions: What emotional labour do fixers and stringers in Israel and Ukraine perform? What forms of precarity do fixers and stringers in Israel and Ukraine experience? How does power circulate among fixers, stringers, and various other actors within the particular conflict newsmaking ecologies? The research interweaves three flourishing research streams and trends in journalism studies: it adds to knowledge on the diverse precarity of newswork, deepens understanding of newsworkers’ emotional labour, and helps to further de-Westernize journalism studies. The research findings will be communicated not only through academic publications, but also using a variety of creative methods that will help to reach the community of media professionals in the European Union and beyond. By raising awareness of fixers’ and stringers’ emotional labour and forms of precarity, the research project seeks to contribute to more ethical global journalism.
Vidi Chiara de Cesari 2020-2024
Following the “social turn” in contemporary art, a number of political and cultural theorists have argued that art’s primary function is to “imagine things otherwise” and incite social change. Still, despite this theoretical interest in art’s capacity to reconfigure society and politics, there is a dearth of empirical studies showing how this happens in the everyday practices of artists and political movements. Accordingly, this multi-researcher project undertakes a series of ethnographic studies exploring the role of artistic practices in reimagining and transforming societies from below. In particular, IMAGINART explores how artists are reinventing crumbling public institutions. Against the backdrop of state failure, transformation or withdrawal under (post)colonial, postsocialist, and neoliberal conditions, artists are creating “micro-utopias”: alternative spaces of collaboration and cohabitation in which to prefigure new forms of organized collective life. To explore these institutional experiments, IMAGINART focuses on the three case studies of Lebanon/the West Bank, Hungary, and Italy. In these contexts, artistic practice has figured prominently in recent protest movements against state repression, corruption, or neoliberal restructuring.
With globalization primarily considered an urban phenomenon, its impact on rural areas tends to be neglected. Tackling this blind spot is urgent as rural-urban divides persist and rural communities, notably in the 2016 Brexit vote and US election, claim their concerns about globalization’s effects are being ignored.
Marc Tuters – UKRI Open Call, Ideas to address Covid-19
Infodemic: Combatting COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories (lead: University of Manchester)
Responding to the World Health Organisation’s warning that misinformation related to COVID-19 constitutes an “infodemic,” this project studies conspiracy theories as a particularly seductive kind of misinformation.
Infodemic: Combatting COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories is using methods from digital humanities and cultural studies to understand how and why conspiracy narratives circulate in different platforms and online spaces during the crisis.
Mikki will develop a multi-era and interdisciplinary approach to the study of maritime worlds, imaginations and entanglements of Dutch empire and colonialism and their contemporary articulations and repercussions.
Current theories of language learning emphasize the role of language input and the child’s interaction with the environment as crucial to language development. Modern digital technologies are transforming rapidly the environment in which children are growing up and developing skills. This new digital reality has changed both the nature of the linguistic input provided to young children and affords new ways of interaction with communication agents (tablets, robots). Thus, we need to establish whether new digital technologies also change the way in which language is learned. If so, do digital technologies provide useful tools to enhance/optimize language learning in increasingly multi-cultural educational and therapeutic contexts? Despite the rapid and unprecedented advance of technology and the rapid change in the child’s ecology, research on the impact of digital technologies on children’s communication and language development is still scarce and highly fragmented with no unitary approach across disciplines. The central scientific goal of e-LADDA is to establish whether the new and quite intuitive interactions afforded by digital tools impact on young children’s language development and language outcomes in a positive or adverse way. We further aim to identify exactly what factors in both the technology itself and the communication channel advance language learning and growth or may impede it. This goal will be pursued in e-LADDA from a highly interdisciplinary and cross-sectorial perspective, bridging between research disciplines and methodologies and in collaboration with industry and the non-academic public sector.
Giovanna Fossati – Sinergia
Narratives from the long tail: transforming access to large-scale audiovisual archives (main applicant: Sarah Kenderdine, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, Zwitserland)
Bridging academia, archives, museums and society, Narratives from the long tail takes up the contemporary challenges of public access to the principal mnemonic records of the 20th and 21st centuries: large-scale audiovisual archives. Through computational processes, Narratives sets out to address and resolve the gap between digital archives and the embodied, participatory world of museological experience. This interdisciplinary innovation will be led by four exemplary academics in machine learning, visual analytics, digital museology, and archival science. Taking a systems thinking approach to incorporate all aspects of its dynamic structure, together we will pioneer ‘computational museology’ through interlocking methods that will allow audiences to meaningfully explore the semantically rich ‘long tail’ of audiovisual memory. This project is a collaboration between the Laboratory for Experimental Museology (eM+), EPFL; Visual intelligence for Transportation Laboratory (VITA) EPFL, Visualization and MultiMedia Laboratory (VMML) University of Zürich and; Faculty of Humanities. University of Amsterdam (UvA).
Social media, online news and the comment space are having far-reaching effects on the manner in which individuals and communities communicate, organize and express themselves. Can the information circulating on these platforms be tapped to better understand and analyze the enormous problems facing our contemporary society?
Niels van Doorn’s research project aims to determine how digital platforms are reconfiguring the gendered, classed and racialised organisation of labour and social reproduction in post-welfare societies.
Chiara de Cesari – NWA-ORC (co-applicant) 2021-2025
Pressing Matter: Ownership, Value and the Question of Colonial Heritage in Museums (main applicant: Susan Legêne, VU Amsterdam)
The Work Package “Reconciliation: New Relationships” will be co-led by Dr. Chiara De Cesari at the UvA and Prof. Katja Kwastek at the VU and implemented in collaboration with the Rijksakademie and Framer Framed. It will centre on the Repair Lab (TRL), run by UvA’s Chiara De Cesari. The TRL is an ongoing series of virtual and actual meetings and workshops based on the model of Creative Co-Productions developed by artist Tal Adler to promote change within cultural institutions by way of artistic and collaborative practice-based research produced by multidisciplinary teams.
SoBigData++ strives to deliver a distributed, Pan-European, multi-disciplinary research infrastructure for big social data analytics, coupled with the consolidation of a cross-disciplinary European research community, aimed at using social mining and big data to understand the complexity of our contemporary, globally-interconnected society. SoBigData++ is set to advance on such ambitious tasks thanks to SoBigData, the predecessor project that started this construction in 2015. Becoming an advanced community, SoBigData++ will strengthen its tools and services to empower researchers and innovators through a platform for the design and execution of large-scale social mining experiments. It will be open to users with diverse background, accessible on project cloud (aligned with EOSC) and also exploiting supercomputing facilities. Pushing the FAIR principles further, SoBigData++ will render social mining experiments more easily designed, adjusted and repeatable by domain experts that are not data scientists. SoBigData++ will move forward from a starting community of pioneers to a wide and diverse scientific movement, capable of empowering the next generation of responsible social data scientists, engaged in the grand societal challenges laid out in its exploratories: Societal Debates and Online Misinformation, Sustainable Cities for Citizens, Demography, Economics & Finance 2.0, Migration Studies, Sport Data Science, Social Impact of Artificial Intelligence and Explainable Machine Learning. SoBigData++ will advance from the awareness of ethical and legal challenges to concrete tools that operationalise ethics with value-sensitive design, incorporating values and norms for privacy protection, fairness, transparency and pluralism. SoBigData++ will deliver an accelerator of data-driven innovation that facilitates the collaboration with industry to develop joint pilot projects, and will consolidate an RI ready for the ESFRI Roadmap and sustained by a SoBigData Association.
»Sonic Entanglements« will identify, organize, and analyze extant early sound (musical and non-musical) media in and about Southeast Asia during the emergence and development of early recording technologies in the region (1890-1950). The research endeavors to expand the historiographical archival corpus to include the early sound media and technologies as primary sources for the theoretical reflection of the Southeast Asian cultural history of modernities and the region’s entanglement with modern globalization.
Ours is an age of digital spellcheckers; of refined street mapping technologies; and of advanced visual editing tools. Word’s spellchecker, Google Maps, Photoshop: myriad digital technologies aim at lightening our everyday lives. Against this growing mediatised and digitised perfection, the late twentieth and early twenty-first century boast a strong preoccupation with imperfection.
This project studies the spectacular rise of webcam sex platforms, such as Chaturbate, Cams.com or Myfreecams. What is the impact of platformization on competition within this industry? Which risks and opportunities does webcamming create for sex workers? Are there reasons for better regulation of these platforms?
Eva Meijer – NWO Veni 2021-2025
The politics of (not) eating animals
In this research project I examine deliberative practices surrounding the eating of animals. I examine three case studies in order analyse the relation between language and power and to investigate possibilities for making democratic debate more inclusive.
The project’s objective is to establish a set of tools that is needed for the sensory exploration of moving images and it aims to provide a boost to the practice of users who seek to creatively repurpose collections.
Shola Adenekan – ERC Starting Grant (2021-2025)
YORUBAPRINT - The Yoruba Print Culture: Networks and Modernities, 1852- Present
The print culture that Europe introduced to the world allowed other cultures to showcase their own modernity. Yoruba people use the words “olaju” (opening of the eye) and “ilosiwaju” (progress) to describe ideas around modernity. Both words have been in use before the arrival of the printing press in Africa, so therefore the idea of modernity for the Yoruba people did not emanate from the project of colonial modernity. There is no study yet that examined how networks of people with shared and sometimes diverged interests in journalism and literature managed to change the course of Yoruba and Nigerian history through the printing press. This project fills this research gap by looking at over 150 years of print culture in the Yoruba-speaking region of Nigeria, and its cross-cultural connections. It is important because of its articulation of the relationship between transcontinental print networks (between Lagos and London, for instance) and local contexts of production. It aims to uncover a robust history of West African engagements with modernity and the project can be a starting point for articulating Nigerian literary history.
Simon Ferdinand – NWO Veni 2021-2025
Untimely World Pictures: Confronting the Anthropocene Through Historical Representations of the Global Environment.
Although Earth is now predominantly represented as a geometrical globe, historically it has been depicted in much more diverse ways. This project uses an innovative GeoHumanities approach to show how past representations of Earth from different cultures provide alternative ways of tackling global environmental change today.
Worlding Public Cultures: Art and Social Innovation is a research project and transnational platform designed to strengthen the resilience of public culture in the context of populist nationalisms and global challenges. This project’s ultimate goal is to contribute to the creation of a more open and resilient society with more complex cultural narratives about nation, identity, and migration through changes in public discourse through the arts and curation. It does so by using arts-based methodologies to provide new perspectives on social innovation, by proposing new ways of imagining the cultural consequences of globalization as social innovation, and by applying those research insights for social innovation in the higher education and museums/galleries sectors.