Digital methods training workshops

The DMRC offers a regular series of research training workshops to our own PhD students and the broader Brisbane research community. Below is the schedule for our 2018 Monthly Methods series, indicating the range of workshops that we currently offer.

DMRC Monthly Methods workshop series for 2018

In 2018, the DMRC Monthly Methods workshops will run on the first Tuesday of the month at QUT’s Kelvin Grove campus. Participation in each workshop will be free but strictly limited, and registration via Eventbrite is essential. An Eventbrite link for each workshop will be posted a month in advance of the workshop.

Methods workshop #1: The app walkthrough method
Date: 1–3 pm, Tuesday 3 April 2018
Facilitator: Prof. Jean Burgess
Workshop overview: Software applications (apps) are the site of significant sociocultural and economic transformations across many domains, from health and relationships to entertainment and finance. As relatively closed systems, apps pose methodological challenges for digital media research. In this session, we will discuss a new approach, the walkthrough method, which combines cultural studies and science and technology studies (STS) as a lens for critical app analysis. Participants will learn how to establish an app’s environment of expected use by assessing its vision, operating model, and modes of governance. They will also gain hands-on experience using the walkthrough technique to systematically step through the stages of registration, everyday use, and discontinuation to identify the app’s embedded cultural meanings and implied ideal users.
Registration: via Eventbrite

Methods workshop #2: Social media analytics 1: Accessing and analysing Twitter data
Date: 1–4 pm, Tuesday 1 May 2018
Facilitator: Prof. Axel Bruns
Workshop overview: Particularly when working with large social media datasets, quantitative and mixed-methods approaches that draw especially on visual representations of ‘big data’ are now an indispensable part of the scholarly research and publication process. This data analytics and visualisation module focuses on a number of emerging standard tools and methods for large-scale data analytics, using Twitter data to illustrate these approaches. The module introduces participants to the open-source Twitter Capture and Analysis Toolkit (TCAT) as a capable and reliable tool for data gathering from the Twitter API, and to the high-end data analytics software Tableau as a powerful means of processing and visualising large datasets. The skills gained in the module are also transferrable to working with other large datasets from social media and other sources.
Registration: via Eventbrite

Methods workshop #3: Social media analytics 2: Network visualisation using Gephi
Date: 1–4 pm, Tuesday 5 June 2018
Facilitator: Prof. Axel Bruns
Workshop overview: In addition to volumetric and temporal patterns, social media datasets often also describe networks: for instance, of relationships between different terms or issues; or of interactions between different communicative partners. These require a different approach for analysis, involving network visualisation and the calculation of various metrics that highlight key nodes in the network. Using sample data from TrISMA’s Australian Twitter Collection, this workshop utilises the open-source software Gephi to provide an introduction to network mapping. It follows on from the workshop “Social Media Analytics 1: Accessing and Analysing Twitter Data” (held on 1 May 2018), but you do not have to have attended that workshop to participate.
Registration: via Eventbrite.

Methods workshop #4: Multiplatform issue mapping 
Date: 1–3 pm, Tuesday 3 July 2018
Facilitator: Ariadna Matamoros Fernández
Workshop overview:Issue Mapping is an advanced method for making sense of the social media conversation around topics where there is a lot of uncertainty or disagreement—from science and the environment to popular culture and gender. In this module, you will use a variety of tools for tracking hashtags and media objects across platforms in order to build an inventory and map of key media objects (including hashtags, URLs and audiovisual texts) and to map the issue networks associated with digital media controversies.
Registration: via Eventbrite

Methods workshop #5: Digital methods, digital ethics
Date: 1–3 pm, Tuesday 31 July 2018
Facilitators: Assoc. Prof. Peta Mitchell and Dr Elija Cassidy
Workshop overview: The expanding horizon of research in digital media has thrown up a broad array of ethical issues and dilemmas that researchers need to grapple with and that institutional ethics review boards may see as particularly challenging. In this workshop, we review existing ethical frameworks for doing digital media research and examine a range of ethical issues that emerge at the levels of method, platform, data, tool, and visualisation. We will focus in on a couple of case studies—including ethical considerations in studying dating apps—and ask workshop participants to discuss the ethical dilemmas their own projects have raised, how they have resolved these dilemmas, and what, if any, challenges they encountered in receiving institutional ethics approval to conduct their research.
Registration: An Eventbrite link will be posted here a month in advance of the workshop.

Methods workshop #6:  Social media analytics 3: Accessing and analysing Facebook public pages
Date: 1–4 pm, Tuesday 4 September 2018
Facilitator: Prof. Axel Bruns
Workshop overview: TBA
Registration: An Eventbrite link will be posted here a month in advance of the workshop.

Methods workshop #7: Ethnographic methods 1: Designing semi-structured interviews and focus groups for digital media research
Date: 1–3 pm, Tuesday 6 November 2018
Facilitator: Assoc. Prof. Michael Dezuanni
Workshop overview: Digital ethnography uses a range of digital and non-digital methods to investigate the use of digital media in everyday life. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups provide well established qualitative methods for generating data, particularly when it is difficult to generate data through observation, participation or other ethnographic methods. In this session, I will discuss using interviews and focus groups, particularly with children and young people about their use of digital platforms including Minecraft and YouTube. I will also conduct a mock focus group interview with a small group of participants about YouTube, followed by a whole group debrief. Participants will also have an opportunity to pair up to conduct a brief semi-structured interview with each other.
Registration: An Eventbrite link will be posted here a month in advance of the workshop.

Methods workshop #8: Ethnographic methods 2: In-situ, observational, and go-along methods
Date: 1–3 pm, Tuesday 4 December 2018
Facilitator: Assoc. Prof. Peta Mitchell
Workshop overview: TBA
Registration: An Eventbrite link will be posted here a month in advance of the workshop.

Additional and bespoke workshop modules

We are also able to develop bespoke training modules for a range of organisations, and please contact us via dmrc@qut.edu.au to discuss your training needs. Workshops we have previously developed and offered include the following:

Advanced Social Media Analytics

Particularly when working with large social media datasets, quantitative and mixed-methods approaches that draw especially on visual representations of ‘big data’ are now an indispensable part of the scholarly research and publication process. This data analytics and visualisation module focuses on a number of emerging standard tools and methods for large-scale data analytics, using Twitter data to illustrate these approaches. The module introduces participants to the open-source Twitter Capture and Analysis Toolkit (TCAT) as a capable and reliable tool for data gathering from the Twitter API, and to the high-end data analytics software Tableau as a powerful means of processing and visualising large datasets. The skills gained in the module are also transferrable to working with other large datasets from social media and other sources.

Social Media Issue Mapping

Issue Mapping is an advanced method for making sense of the social media conversation around topics where there is a lot of uncertainty or disagreement—from science and the environment to popular culture and gender. In this module, you will use a variety of tools for tracking hashtags and media objects across platforms in order to build an inventory and map of key media objects (including hashtags, URLs and audiovisual texts) and to map the issue networks associated with digital media controversies.

Instagrammatics – analysing visual social media

This module’s exploration of visual social media uses Instagram as a focus but with applications beyond this specific platform. The module provides a hands-on means for approaching visual social media, giving participants the opportunity to interrogate what they might do with such data and what visual media and methods might contribute to research.

Webscraping

In digital media research it is often necessary to collect large amounts of data (text, images) from one or a set of web sites that do not offer a structured Web API. During this module you will learn how to build simple tools that allow you to efficiently collect and store such data for subsequent analysis. We will use two different approaches to build these tools based on off-the-shelf online services and we will look at how it is possible to build a bespoke webscraper for your project using a programming language called “Python”. This module does not require any previous knowledge of computer programming, but you will find it easier to follow the exercises if you have some knowledge of basic web technology, such as HTML.

Software and app studies

In order to study the social media platforms and software applications that populate the digital media environment, we need to take into account not only content and user practices, but also socio-technical features, interface design elements, and business models ¬but doing this empirically is a challenge. In this module, you will be introduced to a novel approach to critical and qualitative digital methods: the App Walkthrough, which borrows from vernacular digital media culture, User Experience research and STS to undertake an “ethnography of affordances”, as part of a broader software and app studies approach to mobile dating and hook-up applications.

Using agent-based simulation methods to analyse complex dynamic systems

Many phenomena in our field are inherently complex and dynamic: They change over time; everything is connected to everything else; they have “tipping points” or “virtuous” (or “vicious”) circles; and so on. Our traditional methods are often lacking in the analysis of such systems. This module you will be introduced to agent-based modelling (ABM), which is a method that has proven to be a useful alternative for unpacking complex and dynamic phenomena. During the module you learn how to build a model and run simulations with NetLogo. Prerequisites: Basic coding experience is not a requirement, but might be useful.

Analysing and visualising geospatial data

Spatial information, or geodata, is a rapidly growing subset of big data. Social media platforms that rely on location-based services, as many do, are increasingly geosocial, generating large, real-time geodata sets. This workshop will focus on the particular challenges facing socio-cultural researchers in relation to accessing, analysing, and visualising spatial information, particularly in regard to geosocial media data. The workshop will provide a practical introduction to using the web-based mapping platform Carto to visualise and spatially analyse geodata. The ethics and limitations of dealing with geosocial data will also be explored.

Build a bot: Browser automation with Selenium and Python

In this module you learn how to build a computer program that controls a web browser and mimics the behaviour of a human online user. This is a very useful technique that can be used in a range of studies, such as the examination of how gender bias is implemented by an online platform’s algorithms, or perhaps just as a straight-forward way to automate access to a search engine. You will build the bot in Python and use a browser automation package called Selenium. In addition to building a bot that can do some basic work for us, we will also discuss legal and ethical issues related to this technique and what it adds to other techniques for online data collection (such as API access and HTTP programming).