The Digital Ethnography Research Centre (DERC) fosters cross-cultural, interdisciplinary and multi-sited research, especially in relation to the Asia-Pacific region. Through research and critical engagement, we collectively seek to push the boundaries and possibilities of ethnographic practice in, through and around digital media. DERC is a research centre in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University, affiliated with the Design Research Institute. Read more about digital ethnography. Sign up for our mailing list.

Blog Index
The journal that this archive was targeting has been deleted. Please update your configuration.


View our most recent newsletter


What's On

Speculative Ethnographic Documentary: A screening of Nightfall on Gaia

Date: Thursday 3 March 2:00-4pm

Venue: RMIT Swanston Academic Building, Building 80, Level 3, Room 1, Melbourne

In April 2043, Dr. Xue Noon finds herself stranded in the GAiA International Antarctic Station. As the polar night closes in she connects herself to the Ai-system to scavenge digital memories and archives. Nightfall on Gaia is a speculative ethnographic film that depicts the lives and visions of human communities living in the Antarctic Peninsula. Grounded in ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Antarctica, the film is an experimental meditation on the future of the Antarctic as a new extreme frontier for human inhabitation, the complexities of a fragile planet at the verge of ecological collapse, and the vicissitudes of an uncertain geopolitical future for the region.

Juan Francisco Salazar is an anthropologist and media practitioner. He is an Associate Professor in communication and media studies at Western Sydney University where he is also fellow of the Institute for Culture and Society. His film Nightfall on Gaia (2015) is his second feature length documentary and has been exhibited at international festivals in Bristol, Denver, Toronto, Copenhagen, Bogotá, Santiago and Sydney.

Register for this event


Eszter Hargittai Seminar: The Online Participation Divide

Date: Wednesday 24 February 3:30-5pm

Venue: RMIT Council Chamber, Building 1, Level 1, Bowen Street, Melbourne

While digital media have certainly lowered the barriers to sharing one's perspectives and creative content with others, research on online engagement has found considerable differences by user background. The first part of the talk will discuss differentiated rates of online participation including photo and video sharing, writing reviews, and editing Wikipedia. Findings suggest that gender, socioeconomic status and Internet skills are all related to who shares content online. Drawing on some of the challenges of existing work in this domain, the second part of the talk will discuss the various dimensions of online participation that are worth keeping in mind when studying such activities.

Eszter Hargittai (PhD Sociology, Princeton University) is Delaney Family Professor in the Communication Studies Department at Northwestern University where she heads the Web Use Project. Starting in Fall 2016, she will hold the Chair in Media Use at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. Her research looks at how people may benefit from their digital media uses with a particular focus on how differences in people's Web-use skills influence what they do online. Her work has received awards from several professional associations including the International Communication Association's Outstanding Young Scholar Award. She has published over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and 19 book chapters. She is co-editor, with Christian Sandvig of Digital Research Confidential recently out with MIT Press. She has given invited talks in 21 US states and 15 countries on four continents. She tweets @eszter.

Register for this event


Paul Dourish Seminar: The Cultural Narratives of Design Practice

Date: Monday 8 February 3:30-5pm

Venue: RMIT School of Business, Building 80, Level 6, Room 9, Swanston Street, Melbourne

Design is widely touted not just as a source of product innovation but of civic engagement. From Richard Florida’s writings on the creative class to President Obama’s National Day of Civic Hacking, we are surrounded by stories that entwine design thinking and design practice with broader political projects. In this talk, I want to examine current topics in design, and especially the emergence of the DIY/maker movement, in terms of their connection to broader narratives of civic participation, commercial innovation, and political resistance. I will draw in particular on ongoing studies of hackerspaces and maker practices in multiple sites around the world but particularly in China

Paul Dourish is a Professor of Informatics in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at UC Irvine, with courtesy appointments in Computer Science and Anthropology, and co-directs the Intel Science and Technology Center for Social Computing. His research focuses primarily on understanding information technology as a site of social and cultural production; his work combines topics in human-computer interaction, ubiquitous computing, and science and technology studies. He is the author of two books: Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction (MIT Press, 2001) and, with Genevieve Bell, Divining a Digital Future: Mess and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing (MIT Press, 2011). He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from University College, London, and a B.Sc. (Hons) in Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science from the University of Edinburgh.


Angie Hart Seminar: Resilience Based Approaches Supporting Young People and Families

Date: January 28th, 2:00 -3:30pm

Venue: Pavilion 1, Level 10, Building 100 Design Hub

Presenting visiting guest speaker Angie Hart, Professor of Child, Family and Community Health at the University of Brighton and co-founder of BoingBoing, a not-for-profit developing resilience amongst disadvantaged young people in the UK. Angie will give a talk about how visual arts-based approaches have formed a crucial part of the work BoingBoing have been doing. This session will offer an overview of this work and demonstrate some of the training tools, books, films and exhibitions that young people and adults have designed and developed together as part of the Research Council funded Imagine Project. Following the seminar there will be a panel discussion and audience Q & A session.

Angie Hart is Professor of Child, Family and Community Health at the University of Brighton. Together with students, practitioners and community members, Angie has published widely on resilience based approaches to supporting children and families in schools and beyond, and her work is funded through many sources including research councils and local authorities. She co-founded Boingboing, a not for profit organisation which supports resilience based practice ( Her resilience research profile is underpinned by professional and personal experience – Angie is a Child and Adolescent Mental Health practitioner and the adoptive parent of three young people with complex needs.







Download a PDF flyer for this event

David Romero Martin Seminar: The Role of the Body as Interface for Experience. Contributions from Art and the Agoraphobic Paradigm

Date: November 18th, 1:30pm -3:00pm

Venue: Room 12, Level 3, Building 13

The body can be considered as a complex interface that mediates the experience between the subject and the world. It constitutes a trans-disciplinary challenge, posed by the very nature of bodily-mediated experience. The role of the body is particularly felt by agoraphobic people, as agoraphobia problematizes the nature of the bodily experience between the subject and the world, with threatening sensations of the body as dissolving into the environment, which challenges its boundaries and sense of unity. This talk is based around themain research question: which is the role of the body as a mediator-interface between the subject and the world? The hypothesis is that by analyzing the queries and challenges from the point of view of agoraphobia new light is brought to the role of the body in the relationship between subject, world and perception. Art, in connection with other fields, can be a method to externalize this perspective and share the experience of the world by agoraphobic subjects, and to offer this explorations to the transdisciplinary debate about the body. In this sense, it can be useful to any field in which the body is crucial such as neurology, psychiatry, anthropology, design, technology, geography and philosophy, among others. Based on the case study of agoraphobia as open to different queries, this talk has 3 objectives: (1) to deepen the role of the body in the mediation subject world; and (2) to review subjective art experiences that mirror, access and provoke shifts in bodily perceptions and body schema that can open new horizons to perceive, grasp and understand the experience between subject and world (3) offer an analysis of the particularities of the role of body in this mediation of experience. This analysis of different applied methods and means that have been developed to access, grasp and share these experiences in art, especially in recent trandisciplinary practices, can show the potential of the case of agoraphobia as a paradigm for further research..







Download a PDF flyer for this event

Featured Project: Transmedia Literacy: Exploiting transmedia skills and informal learning strategies to improve formal education

CI: Professor Carlos A Scholari, RMIT: A/Prof. Heather Horst & Professor Sarah Pink

Horizon 2020 – Research and Innovation actions, 2015-2017

The aim of the Transmedia Literacy project is to understand how young boys and girls are learning skills outside the school. The construction of those cultural competencies and social skills will be at the centre of the research. Once the informal learning strategies and practices applied by young people outside the formal institutions are identified, the team will ‘translate’ them into a series of activities and proposals to be implemented inside school settings. The Transmedia Literacy Project will also produce a Teacher’s Kit that will be designed to facilitate the integration of transliteracies in the classroom.

In short, the Transmedia Literacy project will:

  • Contribute to a better understanding of how teens are consuming, producing, sharing, creating and learning in digital environments
  • Create a map of transmedia skills and informal learning strategies used by young boys and girls that identify how these may correspond with the formal education system.
  • Go beyond the identification of skills/strategies and propose a Teacher’s Kit that any teacher could download, adapt and apply in the classroom.
  • Conduct research and develop these toolkits in 9 countries across three continents.
  • Integrate an international and interdisciplinary team of researchers.

The Transmedia Literacy project involves an interdisciplinary group of 25 researchers with sound experience in fields such as: media literacy, transmedia storytelling, user-generated content and participatory culture, traditional and virtual ethnography, and pedagogy and innovation in education. The research will focus on specific skills (i.e. transmedia content production and sharing, problem solving in videogames, etc.) in 9 countries across three continents (Australia, Colombia, Finland, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, and Uruguay).

The research will focus on teens (12-18 years old), an age characterized by a short but intensive use of media and digital technologies. Most of the teenagers who will participate in the study have been using digital technologies for a few years, and see new media as part of their ‘natural environment’. Many teens would be considered advanced users. The aim of this study is to map transmedia practices and informal learning strategies teens use through an ethnographic approach which integrates survey responses, interviews, focus groups, and participant observation.

See more at:

Featured Publication: The Routledge Companion to Mobile Media

Edited by Gerard Goggin and Larissa Hjorth

The last decade has witnessed the rise of the cell phone from a mode of communication to an indispensable multimedia device, and this phenomenon has led to the burgeoning of mobile communication studies in media, cultural studies, and communication departments across the academy.

The Routledge Companion to Mobile Media seeks to be the definitive publication for scholars and students interested in the best loans and comprehending all the various aspects of mobile media. This collection, which gathers together original articles by a global roster of contributors from a variety of disciplines, sets out to contextualize the increasingly convergent areas surrounding social, geosocial, and mobile media discourses.

Features include:

  • comprehensive and interdisciplinary models and approaches for analyzing mobile media;
  • wide-ranging case studies that draw from this truly global field, including China, Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, as well as Europe, the UK, and the US;
  • a consideration of mobile media as part of broader media ecologies and histories;
  • chapters setting out the economic and policy underpinnings of mobile media;
  • explorations of the artistic and creative dimensions of mobile media;
  • studies of emerging issues such as ecological sustainability;
  • up-to-date overviews on social and locative media by pioneers in the field.

Drawn from a range of theoretical, artistic, and cultural approaches, The Routledge Companion to Mobile Media will serve as a crucial reference text to inform and orient those interested in this quickly expanding and far-reaching field.



Sign up for notifications of forthcoming events and opportunities.