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

Date: December 17th (1pm-4pm) & 18th (10am-4pm)

Venue: Pavilion 4, Level 10, Building 100, Design Hub, RMIT City Campus


This workshop will explore how we might approach our digital ethnographic work in ways that upend easy notions of the individualized subject. It will explore methodologies for analyzing distributed systems, doing ethnography up close and at scale, and probe how we might weave in considerations of institutions, organizations, and technologies as key nodes of inquiry critical for our work. The workshop will be structured around shared readings and discussion, the presentation of works in progress by the participants, and two lecturers – one by T.L. Taylor (MIT) on ethnography and play and one by Mary L. Gray (Microsoft Research) on ethnography and work.

Mary L. Gray is a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research, New England. She maintains an appointment as an Associate Professor in the Media School, with adjunct appointments in American Studies, Anthropology, and Gender Studies, at Indiana University. Mary studied Anthropology before receiving her Ph.D. in Communication from the University of California, San Diego in 2004. Her research looks at how media access and everyday uses of technologies transform people’s lives. Her last book, Out in the Country: Youth, Media, and Queer Visibility in Rural America (New York University Press, 2009), which won awards from scholarly societies in anthropology, media studies, and sociology, looked at how young people in the rural United States use media to negotiate their sexual and gender identities, local belonging, and connections to broader, imagined communities. Mary’s current book project, co-authored with Computer Scientist Siddharth Suri, examines digital workforces and the future of employment through case studies of present day crowdwork on four different crowdsourcing platforms, comparing workers’ experiences in the United States and India. More information about the project can be found at: Mary served on the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association from 2008 through 2010 and is the Executive Program Chair for the Association’s 113th Annual Meeting.

T.L. Taylor is Associate Professor in Comparative Media Studies at MIT. She is a qualitative sociologist working in the fields of internet and game studies. Her work focuses on the interrelations between culture, social practice, and technology in online leisure environments. Her book Raising the Stakes:E-Sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming (MIT Press, 2012) chronicles the rise of e-sports and professional computer gaming. She is also the author of Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture (MIT Press, 2006) which used her multi-year ethnography of EverQuest to explore issues related to massively multiplayer online games. Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: A Handbook of Method, her co-authored book on doing ethnographic research in online multi-user worlds, was published by Princeton University Press. She is currently at work on a book about game live-streaming.

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

Date: December 17, 11:30am - 12:30pm

Venue: Pavilion 1, Building 100 (Design Hub), RMIT, City Campus


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.

Genevieve Bell is an accomplished anthropologist and researcher who has spent the better part of the last 15 years working in Silicon Valley. A senior leader at Intel Corporation, she is a Vice President and director of Corporate Sensing and Insights in the company’s newly formed Corporate Strategy Group. She is also Intel Fellow, the company’s highest technical rank. In addition to her position at Intel, Bell is a highly regarded industry expert and frequent commentator on the intersection of culture and technology. Bell’s first book, “Divining a Digital Future: Mess and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing,” written in collaboration with Paul Dourish, was published by MIT Press in 2011; she is currently working on a project around fear, magic and technology. Bell holds a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree in anthropology from Bryn Mawr College and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Stanford University, where she was also a lecturer.

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Everyday Adventures in the Land of the Living

Date: December 16th, 10am

Venue: Level 3, Room 12, Emily McPherson Building (Corner of Russell and Elizabeth Streets)


Ethnography can be understood as simultaneously a fieldwork science::documentary art in the way it attempts to address fundamental questions about human existence but grounds these in the everyday lives of persons in different societies across the world. It employs practical research methods in the field to generate new knowledge about human beings and is largely a text based discipline that relies upon written accounts and arguments—and to a lesser extent film, photography, sound recordings, drawings and material artifacts—to document and communicate its theories and findings to academic and non academic audiences. Consequently, this presentation 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.

Andrew Irving is Director of the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology at the University of Manchester. His research areas include sensory perception, time, illness, death, urban anthropology and experimental methods, film and multi-media. Recent publications from 2014 include “Whose Cosmopolitanism?” (2014: Berghahn Books), "Beyond Text: Critical Practices and Sensory Anthropology” (2014: Manchester University Press). Other works in 2014 include “The Man Who Almost Killed Himself” a play in collaboration with Theatre Director Josh Azouz that was shown on BBC Arts, at the Odeon Cinemas and the Edinburgh Fesitval, and which can be seen here:

Brought to you on behalf of Screen Cultures and the Digital Ethnography Research Centre.

Geert Lovink Masterclass: Issues in Critical Internet Studies

Date: December 15 & 16, 10am-6pm

Venue: RMIT City Campus (Room TBC)

Applications now closed.

Geert Lovink returns to RMIT to facilitate a two-day Critical Internet Cultures Masterclass in the School of Media and Communication. Divided into six sessions, the masterclass will engage a myriad of topics including: 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 individual research proposals can be discussed. Participant places are strictly limited.

Geert Lovink is a Dutch media theorist and net critic. He received his PhD from the University of Melbourne and worked at the University of Queensland as a postdoc. In 2004 he became a researcher at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, where he is founding director of the Institute of Network Cultures. Lovink is author of Dark Fiber (2002), My First Recession (2003), Zero Comments (2007) and Networks without a Cause (2012). Since 2004 his institute has organized (online) publications, conferences and research networks on emerging topics in critical internet culture such as search, social media, Wikipedia, online video and the critique of the creative industries (recent conference: November 20/21 2014 in Amsterdam. URL: He is also Professor at the European Graduate School where he supervises PhD students and an Advisory Board member of the Digital Ethnography Research Centre.

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Collective design, utopias lost and futures made by Pelle Ehn

Date: December 9th, 6-8pm. Please arrive at 5.45pm for a prompt 6pm start.

Venue: RMIT Design Hub, Lecture Theatre (Level 3), corner of Swanston and Victoria St, Melbourne.

RSVP: All welcome.

Pelle Ehn has been instrumental in establishing 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.

The lecture will be followed by a panel discussion with Pelle, joined by Ann Light (Northumbria University, UK), Paul Dourish (University of California, Irvine, US) and Anne Galloway (Victoria University of Wellington, NZ).

Pelle Ehn is a professor at the School of Arts and Communication, Malmö University, Sweden. He has committed four decades in the field of research on participatory planning and design. His research projects include: DEMOS from the seventies on information technology and work, UTOPIA eighties on user participation, and during the last years MALMÖ LIVING LABS, design workshops for social innovation. His publications include Computers and Democracy (1987), Work-Oriented Design of Computer Artifacts (1988), Manifesto for a Digital Bauhaus (1998), co-author of Design Things – an Innovative View of Design Thinking and Design Practice (2011) and Making futures – marginal notes on innovation design and democracy (2014).

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Master of Arts Scholarship: Communication and Social Change

Applications close 31st October 2014

The successful candidate will be part of a media research project on the moral and cultural economy of mobile phones in PNG. This Masters program will research and produce video and visual materials designed to document the social, economic and cultural aspects of mobile phone use. Projects will include ethnographic studies of: the informal economy of mobile phones (repair services and top-up sales); the development of mobile money and mobile banking; the use and impact of social media; and role of mobile phones in shaping and changing everyday interpersonal communication and social relations.

To read more about the project see

For more details on applying please follow this link

Lynn Schofield Clark on Radio National

Lynn Schofield Clark, our Visiting Fellow to DERC, appeared on Radio National's Life Matters program on Thursday 6 March, talking new media and families. Listen to the audio on demand.

PhD Scholarship available

EOI closing date: 30 March 2014

This three-year scholarship is for a PhD candidate who will conduct ethnographic field research for a study of the moral and cultural economy of the mobile phone in Fiji. S/he will spend at least 12 months over the three years of candidature in Fiji documenting and analysing the relationships between consumers, companies, and state agents that take shape around mobile phones, digital media and infrastructures. The candidate will carry out research based on his or her specific expertise and research interests while also contributing a key component to a broader comparative study with Papua New Guinea funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant The Moral and Cultural Economy of the Mobile Phone in the Pacific. The candidate will also become a Postgraduate Member of the Digital Ethnography Research Centre.

Eligible candidates will have a BA with Honours or MA/MsC (Research) in Anthropology, Sociology, Media, Communication, Science and Technology Studies, Informatics/Information or other related discipline. Candidates must be willing to undertake ethnographic fieldwork in Fiji and be willing to learn the language of their fieldwork site. Pending final approval, the Scholarship will include a tax-free stipend of $24,653 per year for three years (July 2014 to June 2016) and project-related research expenses. Please note that all applicants will need to apply for and be accepted to the PhD program in Media and Communication at RMIT University to be eligible for the scholarship. Application details, including details and deadlines for RTS placement for Australian and New Zealand citizens and possible tuition fees for International candidates, can be found here.

Initial expressions of interest, including a CV and 500-word initial project proposal should be sent before 30 March 2014 to Dr. Heather Horst with the subject line PHD Scholarship EOI.

Website for ethical consumption project launched

The website for the ARC Discovery Project ‘The rise of ethical consumption in Australia: from the margins to the mainstream’, which is led by DERC's own Tania Lewis along with Kim Humphery, is now live at This project will be the first of its kind to examine the rise and impact of ethical consumption in Australia.

Most excellent ARC Discovery Grant outcomes!

The two directors of DERC have both been awarded ARC Discovery Grants for two separate innovative and exciting research projects. Along with Professor Robert Foster, Heather is undertaking research that will historically and ethnographically document the broad social consequences of new digital technologies in the Pacific region. You can find out more about this project here. Along with Associate Professor Ingrid Richardson, Larissa is studying how mobile game consumption is reflecting, and being shaped by, complex social and technological practices integral to contemporary life. You can find out more about this project here.

That's DOCTOR Patrick Kelly to you

DERC is very pleased to announce that we have perhaps our first DERC PhD. Patrick Kelly's practice-led project "Detour Off the Superhighway" explored media, aura and filmic practice, and saw him giving up media and communication technology in stages over 80 days.

DERC at EPIC2013

The Digital Ethnography Research Centre had a strong presence at EPIC2013, the leading conference for ethnographic praxis in industry (see, which was held in London 16-18 September. DERC Research Fellow Erin Taylor presented her paper with DERC Director Heather Horst entitled "From Street to Satellite: Mixing Methods To Understand Mobile Money Users" during the opening conference panel. Adjunct Professor and DERC member Daniel Miller gave a keynote entitled "Attaining Humanity" and DERC member Jo Tacchi represented the centre during a workshop entitled "Skills and relationships: defining the training of future practitioners" with participants from Microsoft, Swisscom and Canonical.

Geelab interview with Tom Boellstorff

ARC Linkage Grant success!

We are very pleased to announce that members of the Digital Ethnography Research Centre were the recipients of two Australian Research Council Linkage Grants.

The first project, 'Evaluating communication for development: supporting adaptive and accountable development', is led by DERC Member Prof. Jo Tacchi and is a partnership with United Nations Children’s Fund and Eidos Institute Ltd. (CIs/PIs: Tacchi, Prof Jo A; Rogers, Prof Patricia J; Obregon Galvez, A/Prof Rafael A; Pavarala, Prof Vinod; Muirhead, Prof Bruce D. $606,462.00)

The second funded project, 'Locating the mobile: intergenerational locative media practices in Tokyo, Melbourne and Shanghai', is led by DERC Co-Director A/Prof. Larissa Hjorth and is a partnership with Keio University, Tokyo, Fudan University and Intel Australia Pty Ltd. DERC Co-Director Dr. Heather Horst and DERC member Prof. Sarah Pink are also CIs on the project. (CIs/PIs: Hjorth, A/Prof Larissa; Horst, Dr Heather A; Pink, Prof Sarah; Bell, Dr Genevieve; Zhou, A/Prof Baohua; Kato, Dr Fumitoshi, $232,160.00)

We look forward to supporting DERC applications in future rounds!

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Research centre to push digital boundaries.