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.

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What's On

December 17 & 18

From “the player” to “the crowd”: Locating the subjects of a digital ethnography

This workshop - run across two days - explores how we might approach our digital ethnographic work in ways that upend easy notions of the individualized subject. Mary Gray (Microsoft) and TL Taylor (MIT) will explore methodologies for analyzing distributed systems, doing ethnography up close and at scale, probing how we might weave in considerations of institutions, organizations, and technologies as key nodes of inquiry critical for our work.

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December 17

Lino Lizards & Carpet Dwellers: lessons learnt in/out of Silicon Valley

For the last 15 years, Genevieve Bell has made her way up through the ranks of one of America’s largest technology companies. She is one of a small number of women who have succeeded in Silicon Valley, and one of an even smaller number of social scientists. In this talk, Bell reflects on her time working beyond the academy, and on lessons learnt.

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December 16

Everyday Adventures in the Land of the Living

In this presentation, Andrew Irving will draw on recent classic and experimental works that have been produced under the rubiric of the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology, including film and sensory ethnography, experimental and multi-media works, photo essays and graphic art, sound and voice research, performative methods and ethnofiction, exploring ethnography as both fieldwork science and documentary art.

December 15 & 16

Issues in Critical Internet Studies

Geert Lovink will facilitate a Critical Internet Cultures Masterclass in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University. Divided into six sessions, the masterclass will engage with the state of arts net criticism, critical social media research, cultures of searching, Wikileaks-Anonymous-Snowdon and other net activist strategies, revenue models for the arts (from crowdfunding to bitcoin), book 2.0 and digital publishing strategies, Wikipedia research and the politics and aesthetics of online video. The masterclass includes a 20 minute, one-on-one conversation in which research proposals can be discussed.

December 9

Collective design, utopias lost and futures made by Pelle Ehn

In this lecture, Pelle Ehn will discuss the field of Participatory Design (PD), which was born out of movements towards democratization at work in Scandinavia, and the belief that those affected by the introduction of new technology should have a say in the design process and joint decision-making. His work spans over four decades and he still continues to be a leading light in related fields like User Experience, Interaction design and more recently in Service Design.

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Featured Project: Locating the Mobile - Intergenerational Locative Media Practices in Tokyo, Melbourne and Shanghai

Larissa Hjorth, Heather Horst, Sarah Pink, Genevieve Bell, Baohua Zhao and Fumitoshi Kato

Intel and RMIT University

Funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant, LP130100848

Mobile devices play an increasingly important role in the economic, cultural and social lives of Australians, as they do the lives of what are now billions of users worldwide. The locative capacities of these devices are now widely exploited in applications (i.e. Facebook Places) that can provide users information about their surrounds and provide others information about where the user is located. These practices have implications for privacy and surveillance across public and private, local and regional contexts. 'Locating the Mobile' provides the first cross-cultural and intergenerational study of this phenomenon in three key sites (Tokyo, Shanghai and Melbourne). This project is a partnership between Larissa Hjorth (RMIT), Heather Horst (RMIT), Sarah Pink (RMIT), Genevieve Bell (Intel), Baohua Zhao (Fudan University) and Fumitoshi Kato (Keio University).


Featured Publication: Gaming in Social, Locative and Mobile Media


The convergence of online social media, location-based services, mobile apps and games is transforming the way we communicate with each other and participate in media spaces. Gaming in Social, Locative and Mobile Media explores this complex dynamic of platforms and interfaces, reflecting on some of the social, personal and political dimensions of the 'playful turn' in contemporary culture. Drawing on ethnographic case studies across the Asia-Pacific region, Larissa Hjorth and Ingrid Richardson consider how mobile social media are changing our experience of place, mobility, intimacy and sociality, both in the context of quotidian life and across geographic regions. Through the lens of everyday practices, and adapting a range of concepts and theoretical perspectives from media, communication and game studies, the authors think critically about how locative, mobile, social and 'playful' media are reshaping our experience of the world and ourselves as cultural beings.



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