New Media Monitoring: Data Analytics as Critical Practice


Winter School, Data Sprint and Mini-Conference

12-16 January 2015 | Digital Methods Winter SchoolDigital Methods Initiative | Studies | University of AmsterdamThe Digital Methods Initiative (DMI), Amsterdam, is pleased to announce its 7th annual Winter School, on New Media Monitoring: Data Analytics as Critical Practice. The format is that of a data sprint, with hands-on work on media monitoring with data analytics, and a mini-conference, where ! Ph D candidates, motivated scholars and advanced graduate students present short papers on digital methods and new media related topics, and receive feedback from the Amsterdam group of DMI researchers and international participants. Participants need not give a paper to attend the Winter School.The focus of this year’s Winter School is on how online media monitoring is currently done by non-governmental (NGOs) such as, and seeks to identify practices that could help fill in the notion of critical data analytics. For the occasion we have invited academics to present on the state of the art of media monitoring (online) by focusing on three areas where there is both innovation as well as repurposing of techniques normally associated with marketing, business intelligence and the work of digital agencies: issue discovery and language placement (who’s carrying the conversation), engagement and public fund-raising (when do images and other engagement formats ‘work’?) and crisis communication (who is making the calls when there is a breakdown?). Social media analysts and communications specialists from organizations such as UNICEF, Care International, International Red Cross, Climate Action Network, Oxfam, Sum of Us, andTckTckTck will present on the state of the art of media monitoring and their current analytical needs. The program includes a talk by Soenke Lorenzen, media analyst for Greenpeace International. We will also ask each of the organizations to show us their dashboards.During the data sprint the attendees, including analysts, designers and programmers, will undertake empirical projects that address the start of the art in NGO online media data analysis and work on projects that seek to meet the current analytical needs. The week closes with presentations of the outcomes as well as a festive celebration.The theme of the Winter School 2015 continues the analytical collaboration between the Digital Methods Initiative and NGOs, including (previously) Human Rights Watch, Ruckus Society, Association for Progressive Communications, Women on Waves, Carbon Trade Watch and Fair Phone. In preparation for the sprint we have developed how-to worksheets on New Media Monitoring and Tooling that take as their case studies NGO issue mappings with digital methods. Upon conclusion we aim to compile the Sprint projects from the Winter School, and combine them with the how-to sheets to produce an open access publication on NGO media monitoring.

Digital Methods Winter School Data Sprint

Data sprints are formats for intensive and hands-on empirical project work, where analysts, programers, designers and subject matter experts collaborate to output research. This year’s data sprint is devoted to new media monitoring with data analytics, and particularly its critical practice. Broadly speaking, media monitoring is understood as the process of reading, watching or listening to the editorial content of media sources on a continuing basis, and then identifying, analyzing and saving materials that contain specific themes, topics, keywords, names, forms or formats.Monitoring the editorial content of news sources including newspapers, magazines, trade journals, TV shows, radio programs and specific websites is by far the most common form of media monitoring, but most organizations increasingly monitor social media online, and its impact on the diffusion of news in all media or in online conversation (including the comment space) more generally. Most companies, government agencies, not-for-profit organizations utilize media monitoring as a tool to study the “meaning of mentions” of their organization, its campaigns and slogas, and gain some sense of the composition of their audiences, and what animates them.During the first day of the data sprint academics studying online media monitoring will present the state of the art of the field, focusing on three areas: issue discovery and issue language placement (who is the carrying the conversation, and which voices are continually elided?), engagement and fundraising communication (how are audiences and funders reacting to so-called ‘faces of need’ and other formats and calls for engagement?) and crisis communication (when there is a breakdown, who makes the calls?). Representatives from leading NGOs will present to the attendees how they practice media monitoring online, the look of their dashboards and the analytical needs that drive them. What are these experts able to accomplish with the techniques available to them and which questions remain unanswered? What are online media monitoring practices and questions that are specific to NGOs? How to conceptualize and operationalize issue discovery, engagement for fundraising and crisis monitoring? We will ask the NGO communications experts to address these questions. We also will ask them what they think digital methods and issue mapping may add to the outputs of media monitoring.The conversations with the experts will serve as starting points for winter school attendees – including analysts, designers and programmers – to develop into empirical projects that aim to answer research questions, and develop further techniques for media monitoring online.

Digital Methods Winter School Mini-Conference

The annual Digital Methods Winter School Mini-Conference provides the opportunity for digital methods and allied researchers to present short yet complete papers (5,000-7,500 words) and serve as respondents, providing feedback. Often the work presented follows from previous Digital Methods Summer Schools. The mini-conference accepts papers in the general digital methods and allied areas: the hyperlink and other natively digital objects, the website as archived object, web historiographies, search engine critique, Google as globalizing machine, cross-spherical analysis and other approaches to comparative media studies, device cultures, national web studies, Wikipedia as cultural reference, the technicity of (networked) content, post-demographics, platform studies, crawling and scraping, graphing and clouding, and similar.

Key dates

The deadline for application is 8 December. To apply please send along a letter of motivation as well as your CV to info [at] Notifications will be sent on 9 December. If you are participating in the Mini-conference the deadline for submission of paper titles, abstracts and bios is also 8 December. Please send your materials to winterschool[at]
. To attend the Winter School, you need not participate in the mini-conference. Deadline for submission of complete papers (5,000-7,500 words)
 is 6 January 2015. The program and schedule are available on 7 January.

Fees & Logistics

The fee for the Digital Methods Winter School 2015 is EUR 295. Bank transfer information will be sent along with the notification on 9 December 2014. The Winter School is self-catered. The venue is in the center of Amsterdam with abundant coffee houses and lunch places. The Winter School closes with a festive event, after the final presentations. Participants are expected to find their own housing (airbnb and other short-stay sites are helpful). The DMI organisers are happy to provide tips. Here is a guide to the Amsterdam new media scene.

About DMI

The Digital Methods Winter School is part of the Digital Methods Initiative, Amsterdam, dedicated to reworking method for Internet-related research. The Digital Methods Initiative holds the annual Digital Methods Summer Schools (eight to date), which are intensive and full time 2-week undertakings in the Summertime. The 2015 Summer School will take place 29 June – 10 July 2015. The coordinators of the Digital Methods Initiative are Sabine Niederer and Esther Weltevrede (PhD candidates in New Media & Digital Culture, University of Amsterdam), and the director is Richard Rogers, Professor of New Media & Digital Culture, University of Amsterdam. Liliana Bounegru is the managing director. Digital methods are online at The DMI about page includes a substantive introduction, and also a list of Digital Methods people, with bios. DMI holds occasional Autumn and Spring workshops, such as recent ones on mapping climate change and vulnerability indexes as well as on studying right-wing extremism and populism online. There is also a Digital Methods book (MIT Press, 2013).

Images credit: Online resonance of the international climate change issue agenda, EMAPS data sprint, Amsterdam, April 2014.


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