DMRC Monthly Methods workshop series for 2019

In addition to its internationally recognised annual DMRC Summer School, its online Social Media Analytics course, and its development of bespoke training modules for a range of organisations, the DMRC offers a locally focused Monthly Methods series of digital methods workshops aimed at our own HDR students and the broader Brisbane research community.

In 2019, the DMRC Monthly Methods workshops will run on the first Tuesday of the month (in most cases) 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 within two weeks of the workshop.

DMRC Monthly Methods schedule – 2019

Date & time Workshop details Registration
2 April
1–3 pm
Introduction to Computational Discourse Analytics: Discursis, PauseCode, LIWC and more

Facilitator: Assoc. Prof. Dan Angus

Human communication is a dynamic, complex and reciprocal process that relies on interlocutors encoding and decoding communicative acts via multiple modalities. Advances in computational processing in the previous decades have motivated interest in the development of computational techniques and tools for aiding the analysis of conversational exchanges, many belonging to a family of techniques called Computer Assisted Qualitative Data AnalysiS (CAQDAS) (Fielding & Warnes, 2009; Seale, 2010). Most CAQDAS techniques do not seek to replace the need for human judgement or interpretation, rather instead to augment human judgements (Angus, Fitzgerald, Atay, & Wiles, 2015).

In this workshop A/Prof Dan Angus will overview a number of conversation analytic frameworks, using practical examples and public data to reveal their utility for social scientific research. The talk will primarily focus on Discursis (Angus, Smith & Wiles, 2012), a software designed to assist in the analysis of inter-speaker conceptual exchange, but will also include examples from recent work on a new software framework, CalPy, designed to extract qualities from audio data (pitch, pause, intensity) for analysis and interpretation (Angus, Yu, Vrbik, Back & Wiles, 2018). This talk will be of interest to anyone interested in the study of discourse, be it social media, legacy media, interpersonal, or intergroup communication. The workshop will include live demos of these various software and also offer participants the chance to install software and run their own analyses.

Registration has closed
8 May (Wed)
1–3 pm
Methodological challenges in studying end-to-end encrypted apps: The case of WhatsApp

Facilitators: Dr Ariadna Matamoros Fernández and Dr Carlos Estrada Grajales

In recent years WhatsApp has emerged as one of the world’s fastest growing platforms. Founded in 2009 by two Yahoo former employees, WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014, and is now the preferred app in more than 100 countries around the world (Sevitt, 2017). Exploration of WhatsApp as an instrumental tool for ordinary citizens, activists, government agencies, businesses, and “bad actors” meets with considerable methodological challenges too. Much current work on WhatsApp employs traditional social science methods to understand its use, for the app cannot be studied using digital methods relying on, for example, the extraction of large-scale data sets via accessing platforms Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). In this workshop we will look at and reflect on new methods to know more about what kind of information circulates on this platform, who is responsible of mobilizing its spread, and user practices on the app.

Registration has closed
4 June
1–3 pm
Analysing Network Dynamics with Agent Based Models

Facilitator: Prof. Patrik Wikström

Information diffusion and other time-based processes in social media networks are examples of inherently complex phenomena characterized by nonlinear properties such as “tipping points” or “virtuous” (or “vicious”) circles. These properties make them very difficult to capture with our traditional approaches for theory development and we often run the risk of making superficial analyses that are able to explain the observed patterns. This workshop introduces 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 workshop we will explore agent-based models and you learn how to build a simple model and run simulations with NetLogo.

Registration has closed
2 July
1–3 pm
Introducing Instagrab – A tool for collecting and presenting Instagram posts

Facilitator: Prof. Patrik Wikström

Instagrab is a research tool developed at the DMRC for collecting and processing Instagram posts and media files without access to the Instagram Web API. In this workshop you will experiment with the Instagrab software, and collect data from Instagram (and generate output) that is useful for your own research projects, and we will also have a (brief) critical discussion about issues and risks related to using a research tool such as Instagrab, primarily from an ethical and legal perspective.

Registration has closed
13 August
1–4 pm
Accessing and analysing Twitter data

Facilitator: Prof. Axel Bruns

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 has closed.
3 September
1–3 pm
Doing Platform Histories

Facilitators: Dr Benjamin Nicoll and Prof. Jean Burgess

Much of the existing research on digital media platforms focuses either on the use of ‘big data’, political economy, or ethnographic approaches to the experiences of platform users in the present. When historical work is undertaken, it meets with significant obstacles with regard to accessing materials, and can too easily privilege dominant voices and narratives. In this workshop, we highlight the value and methodological challenges of exploring the histories of both mainstream and ‘minor’ platforms, including especially the need to draw on diverse perspectives and materials in platform historiography.

We begin with the ‘platform biography’ approach, which draws on archival material and user experience to study the emergence, embedding, and contestation of key platform-specific features and the social norms associated with them. Using Twitter as a case study, we use the @, #hashtag, and Retweet to tell the larger story of how Twitter has evolved amid ongoing uncertainty and contestation about its purpose and meaning. We then look at historiographical approaches to ‘minor platforms’ as a means of questioning how grassroots, oppositional, and even ‘failed’ platforms can help orient us toward alternative ways of ‘knowing’ and ‘feeling’ the media historical present. This involves exploring the discursive and affective archives of platforms by utilizing resources such as archive.org. In a structured group activity, participants will then apply these ideas to different platform case studies with relevance to their own research.

Registration has closed.
October Come and join us at AoIR2019, hosted by QUT
5 November
1–4 pm
Network visualisation using Gephi

Facilitator: Prof. Axel Bruns

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. This workshop follows on from the workshop “Accessing and Analysing Twitter Data” (held on 13 August), but you do not have to have attended that workshop to participate.

Register here: 
3 December
1–3 pm
Introduction to Social Network Analysis in Gephi

Facilitator: Dr Tim Graham

The increased availability of online digital data has coincided with a surge of interest in social network analysis (SNA). SNA offers a powerful range of tools, methods and theory that enables researchers to map, visualise, and analyse sociocultural phenomena as complex networks. In particular, SNA has a natural alignment with the analysis of social media data. For example, ‘nodes’ can represent user accounts and the links or ‘edges’ between nodes represent relationships between users, such as retweeting on Twitter or replying on Reddit. This workshop introduces participants to analysing digital data using the Gephi network visualisation/analysis software. Participants will learn how to import and construct networks from social media data (datasets will be provided), perform node-level and network-level analysis. There will be a strong focus on network visualisation and producing publication-ready graphics.

TBC

 

 

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