New article: ‘Perceptions and attitudes towards Covid-19 vaccines: Narratives from the UK public’

A new article on public perceptions of Covid-19 vaccines co-authored by DDH professor, Btihaj Ajana, and Elena Engstler, Anas Ismail & Marina Kousta.

The article can be accessed on: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10389-022-01728-w

Abstract:

Aim

The aim of the paper is to enhance understanding of how members of the public make sense of the Covid-19 vaccines and to understand the factors influencing their attitudes towards such artefacts of pandemic governance.

Methods

The paper draws on 23 online in-depth interviews with members of the UK public and builds on relevant literature to examine participants’ perceptions of the benefits and risks of Covid-19 vaccines, the sources that have shaped their attitudes, and the level of trust they have towards the government’s handling of the pandemic through vaccines.

Results

The findings indicate that participants generally felt that the benefits of having the vaccine outweigh the risks and that Covid-19 vaccines are a crucial mechanism for enabling society to return to normal. Vaccine acceptance was, for some, strongly linked to a sense of social responsibility and the duty to protect others. However, some participants expressed concerns with regard to the side-effects of Covid-19 vaccines and their perceived potential impact on fertility and DNA makeup. Participants used various sources of information to learn about Covid-19 vaccines and understand their function, benefits, and risks. The majority of participants criticised the government’s response during the early stages of the pandemic yet felt positive about the vaccine rollout.

Conclusion

Just as with any other vaccination programme, the success of the Covid-19 immunisation campaigns does not only depend on the efficacy of the vaccines themselves or the ability to secure access to them, but also on a myriad of other factors which include public compliance and trust in governments and health authorities. To support an effective immunisation campaign that is capable of bringing the pandemic to an end, governments need to understand public concerns, garner trust, and devise adequate strategies for engaging the public and building more resilient societies.

Barbara McGillivray wins Inter Circle U. Prize

Congratulations to Barbara McGillivray, Lecturer at the Department of Digital Humanities who was a winner of the Inter Circle U. Prize, which aims to “showcase and highlight some of our best examples of inter- and transdisciplinary research”.

More details here and brief summary and video about her project may be found below.

Dr. Barbara McGillivray, lecturer in digital humanities and cultural computation at King’s College London, for the team project “The Language of mechanisation”. 

Her research focusses on computational models of meaning and conceptual change in historical and contemporary texts and she is Co-Investigator of the Living with Machines project.

Her ICUP-winning project, “The Language of Mechanisation” realises an experiment in radically interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaboration at the intersection between history, computational linguistics, data science, library science and research software engineering. The project aims to leverage the potential of historical digitised records at scale, particularly the British Newspapers Archive, to analyse the impact of mechanisation on the lives of ordinary people during Britain’s rapid transformation into an industrial society.

Representing and (re)Imagining Digital Crowds Beyond Data Reduction

The following post is from Nicola Bozzi, Lecturer in Digital Innovation Management at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London.

I am happy to finally share the recording of the online workshop I organised as part of the Online Crowds series, which was supported and funded by the Centre for Digital Culture at King’s College. The event happened on Teams on 20 June 2022 and it featured four invited speakers: Midgray (Kris Blackmore and Simon Boas), Valentina Tanni, Ksenia Fedorova and Max Dovey. The meeting started with four 15-minute presentations and ended after a final moderated discussion on new media/social media aesthetics and collective identities.

Scroll for a brief description of the event and presentations, and further for the recording.

In the age of social media and big data, collective identities are often discussed in terms of networks, publics, or “neighborhoods of likeness” (Chun, 2018), while theories on “digital subjects” (Goriunova, 2019), “algorithmic imagination” (Finn, 2017) or “phantasmal media” (Harrell, 2013) help us think about the ways these techno-social infrastructures also shape new imaginaries and formats for collective subjectivation.
With the widespread everyday adoption of more and more visually sophisticated technologies based on AI, VR and AR, what critical approaches can help us conceptualise the convergence of the social – with its categories, figures, and movements – and the aesthetic – intended both in terms of increasingly haptic and immersive modes of identification, but also in terms of the poietic modes of political subjectivation called for by theorists like Franco “Bifo” Berardi? How do emerging cultural formats like Instagram face filters, GAN imagery, or blockchain-enabled communities contribute to spread out our increasingly distributed, digitally augmented identities?
With this premise, this online event featured presentations by both critics and artists who work on new media, art, and identity in critical ways.

Identity Layers. On the Creative Use of AR Filters
Taking her Instagram filters exhibition project “Art Layers” (2021) as a starting point, Valentina Tanni analyzed the different roles that AR filters can play in the context of today’s social media – from light, playful approaches to complex artistic experimentations on the topic of self-identity and reality perception.

A Yes is Sometimes a No in Disguise
Midgray (Kris Blackmore and Simon Boas) discussed their layered work on internet dating platforms, privacy, and masculinity. Involving algorithmically identifying misogyny in dating app user profiles on OkCupid, the projects result in thoughtful and nuanced conversations about consent and masculinity that aren’t typically seen in mainstream media.

Imaginaries of the Fluid Identities in the Data Worlds
Ksenia Fedorova addressed the ways the social imaginary is affected by the capabilities of digital technologies and the creative response to this state of affairs, registered in practices ranging from political activism to interactive art and mixed reality performance.

Playing the Other: Confronting More-Than-Human Intelligence Through Performance
Max Dovey discussed projects that involve performance, improvisation and live action role play to confront emergent techno-social configurations within live, embodied and situated contexts.

You can find the video recording below:

New article: “Engaged research-led teaching: composing collective inquiry with digital methods and data”

A new article on “Engaged research-led teaching: composing collective inquiry with digital methods and data” co-authored by our department’s Jonathan Gray and Liliana Bounegru, together with Richard RogersTommaso VenturiniDonato RicciAxel MeunierMichele MauriSabine NiedererNatalia Sánchez-QuerubínMarc TutersLucy Kimbell and Anders Kristian Munk has just been published in Digital Culture & Education.

It builds on work that Jonathan and Liliana have been doing on “engaged research-led teaching” at King’s, supported by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

The article is available here, and the abstract is as follows:

This article examines the organisation of collaborative digital methods and data projects in the context of engaged research-led teaching in the humanities. Drawing on interviews, field notes, projects and practices from across eight research groups associated with the Public Data Lab (publicdatalab.org), it provides considerations for those interested in undertaking such projects, organised around four areas: composing (1) problems and questions; (2) collectives of inquiry; (3) learning devices and infrastructures; and (4) vernacular, boundary and experimental outputs. Informed by constructivist approaches to learning and pragmatist approaches to collective inquiry, these considerations aim to support teaching and learning through digital projects which surface and reflect on the questions, problems, formats, data, methods, materials and means through which they are produced.

King’s College London supports Programming Historian

We are delighted to announce that King’s College London’s Departments of Digital Humanities and History have joined forces to become the newest member of Programming Historian’s Institutional Partnership Programme.  

This cross-departmental sponsorship represents the increasingly close links between these two fields of scholarship, and signals an emerging need for digital skills that bridge humanities and social research.  

Institutional Partnerships are essential to sustain Programming Historian’s core work of publishing rigorously peer-reviewed, multilingual tutorials, and to ensuring that they remain Diamond Open Access for its global readership.

With the support of its sponsors in 2022, Programming Historian will be developing an enriched programme of community-facing activities to support educators, learners, and project partners in their use of Programming Historian and as such, this collaboration with King’s College London comes at a key moment.  

Digital Humanities, in one form or another, has been researched, studied and taught at King’s College London since the 1970s. With over 600 postgraduate and undergraduate students currently enrolled in courses in the Department, many seek the skills to acquire, analyse, interpret and present computational data. One of the Department of Digital Humanities’ most popular new initiatives at King’s has been a “coding lab” for our students which supports their computational learning.  The History Department has more than 1000 postgraduate and undergraduate students currently enrolled. Several of its academic staff members have used advanced digital methods in their research projects, and many others are keen to explore these methods for their research and teaching as well as making available opportunities for students to acquire these skills. 

Programming Historian offers lessons on a range of digital tools, techniques, and workflows facilitating research involving mapping, network analysis, and web scraping among other topics, which have great potential to enrich our pedagogy and teaching offering in the classroom.

Symposium on “Ecologies and Infrastructures: Cultural Techniques of Environmental Management” with Arizona State University, 22nd April 2022

Bernard Geoghegan from the Department of Digital Humanities and  Lisa Han from Arizona State University are co-organising a symposium on “Ecologies and Infrastructures: Cultural Techniques of Environmental Management”, which will take place on 22nd April 2022, which is Earth Day 2022.

The event is open to the public and free of charge. Further details and the registration link are available here and copied below.

What if the era of environmental preservation has already passed us by, and we have entered a new era of environmental invention, genesis, production, and fabulation? What future contributions can the human (or posthuman) sciences make to sustainability work? These are the questions motivating the first King’s College London / Arizona State University symposium on “Ecologies and Infrastructures.” Faced with unprecedented uncertainty about environmental futures, this symposium considers the speculative environments born out in demos and datasets, that deploy the lived world as a planetary testbed. Central to this is a consideration of the multispecies communities that come together around these environmental infrastructures. Join our lineup of experts for two panels of thought-provoking discussion about the cultural techniques of environmental management.

ASU participants include: Lisa Han, Jacob Greene, and Ed Finn. KCL participants are: Joanna Zylinska, Güneş Tavmen, Jonathan Gray, and Gabriele Colombo.

Part of the ASU Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory Earth Week programming, this event was organized and moderated by Bernard Geoghegan (KCL) and Lisa Yin Han (ASU), with an introduction by Joni Adamson (Focal Lead, Human Sciences, Global Futures Laboratory, ASU). It was co-organized by ASU’s Environmental Humanities Initiative and Department of English and by King’s College London.

New colleagues contributing to teaching in Digital Humanities this semester 

Our Department is delighted to welcome colleagues who are currently contributing to the teaching of a range of our modules this semester. These new teaching staff include: 

Dr Giota Alevizou, who is a digital media and communications scholar and holds fellowship positions at the Open University’s Knowledge Media Institute (KMi) at the LSE’s Media and Communication Department. Giota has expertise on the historical and political economic aspects of digital transformation in areas of knowledge and collective intelligence. She has developed numerous modules in those fields, and has published widely about the ways in which data literacies, ethics and digital citizenship intersect with information politics and rights, knowledge and education cultures. Her publications include the monograph, The Web of Knowledge: Encyclopaedias in the Digital Age (forthcoming, Cambridge Polity).  

Dr Raquel Campos is a digital ethnomusicologist. Her postdoctoral research focuses on digital cultures and popular music. She is the 2019 winner of the Andrew Goodwin Memorial Prize awarded by the UK and Ireland chapter of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. 

With a PhD in Design from Politecnico di Milano, Dr Gabriele Colombo is a researcher at the Department of Architecture and Arts of the Università IUAV di Venezia and collaborates with DensityDesign, a research lab at the Design Department of Politecnico di Milano. He is affiliated with the Visual Methodologies collective of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. He is a lecturer in the Final Synthesis Studio of the Master Degree in Communication Design at Politecnico di Milano, where he teaches ‘Digital Methods and Communication Design’. His research and teaching activities focus on the design of visual tools in support of digital social research, and on the design of novel strategies for the communication, exploration, analysis and valorisation of collections of images and videos. 

Dr Taner Dogan is a Lecturer in Digital Media and Communication at Queen Margaret University, Guest Teacher at LSE, and the author of Communication Strategies in Turkey: Erdogan, the AKP and Political Messaging (2021 I.B.Tauris/Bloomsbury). He holds a PhD in Journalism from City, University of London and his research focuses on communications, politics, religion, art and culture in the Middle East.  

Dr. Bianca Fox is a Senior Lecturer and Course leader at Nottingham Trent University. She holds a PhD in Communication Studies and has more than 15 years of teaching experience in HE. Prior to starting at NTU, Bianca was the Deputy Director of the Film, Media, Discourse and Culture Research Centre and Acting Head of Department at the University of Wolverhampton and a Lecturer at the University of Huddersfield. Bianca was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Westminster in 2011 and the University of Paris III: Sorbonne Nouvelle in 2015 and has been part of the research team of various European and worldwide projects. Her research interests lie primarily in youth studies, with a focus on media consumption and technology use and mental health, digital literacy, and digital inclusion.  

Francisco Gallardo is an artist, an architect and a geographer. As Somerset House Studios alumni and as part of the duo FRAUD, Francisco has been awarded the State of Lower Saxony – HBK Braunschweig Fellowship (2019-20) for ‘Jable Pardo’, the King’s College Cultural Institute Grant (2018), and has been commissioned by the Contemporary Art Archipelago (2020, 2021, 2022), the Istanbul Design Biennial (2021), and the Cockayne Foundation (2018). Francisco’s recent work includes: ‘EURO—VISION‘ which has been presented at Arts Catalyst (2021), the 5th Istanbul Design Biennial (2020-1) and Radar (2020); ‘Carbon Derivatives’, shown at the Salon Suisse (the 57th Venice Biennale), the Whitechapel Gallery (2018), and the Somerset House (2018); ‘Terra Analytica’, exhibited at the Illingworth Kerr Gallery (2021) and the EIB’s Cultural Institute (2018); ‘Shrimping Under Working Conditions’, shown at Kunsthall Trondheim (2017) and the Empire Remains Shop in London (2016); and ‘The Right to Happiness’, exhibited at the Asia Culture Center in Gwangju (2019), and has been featured in ‘Behind the Smart World’, Radio Canada, and Asia Art Pacific. 

Dr Ana Gross is a sociologist working at the intersection of multiple disciplines and collaborative projects researching the social aspects of science and technology. She has more than 20 years’ experience working as a social and cultural researcher and consultant in the arts, business, and academic fields. 

Dr Maribel Hidalgo Urbaneja is the Post-doctoral Research Fellow for Worlding Public Cultures: The Arts and Social Innovation research project at the University of the Arts London. She obtained a PhD in Information Studies from the University of Glasgow and has held positions at The Getty, the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., and The Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh. Her research interests span museum studies, digital art history, digital publishing, and decolonial digital humanities. 

Dr Camilo Sol Inti Soler Caicedo is an anthropologist, dancer and PhD in creative industries interested in generating communication between different ways of knowing and understanding the world (local-global, verbal-embodied, digital-physical), generally using Arts-based methodologies. He has worked with communities as diverse as campesinos in the High Andean Moorlands POR EL Paramo, e-curating artists in West Africa and Latin America with the Goethe Institut Berlin-Saõ Paulo, culturally threatened indigenous groups in the Amazon, gang members in Latin American marginal urban areas, and dancers of Colombian salsa. 

Thais Lobo is a journalist and new media researcher. She holds an MA in Digital Humanities from King’s College London. Her research interests are on the use of digital methods in the context of journalistic investigations around online platforms and digital cultures. Projects to which she contributed data collection and analysis have been published by the European Forest Institute, Politico, BuzzFeed News and First Draft. She has years of professional experience in mainstream news outlets in Brazil and leading international think tanks. 

Dr Adam Walker is an artist and academic with a research-based practice focused on critiques of structures of inequality, and speculative profferings of other ways of being. His work takes textual, performative, collaborative and digital forms. Recent projects, performances and exhibitions have taken place at and with the Serpentine Gallery and Tyneside Cinema (UK), Izolyatsia and Yermilov Centre (Ukraine), and online at skelf.org.uk and hoaxpublication.org. 

Dr James Williamson is a film and media studies scholar with a PhD in media and communications from Goldsmiths. His thesis focused on an intersection of genre and film history with contemporaneous intellectual developments in American science fiction cinema of the 1950s. His article ‘Cybernetic soundscapes: Resynthesizing the “electronic tonalities” of Forbidden Planet (1956)’ is due for publication in an upcoming issue of the Science Fiction Film and Television journal. 

 

New book: Quantification of Bodies in Health

Btihaj Ajana, Professor of Ethics and Digital Culture at the Department of Digital Humanities, published a new book with Simone Guidi (Italian National Research Council) and Joaquim Braga (University of Coimbra) under the title, Quantification of Bodies in Health: Multidisciplinary Perspectives. This book aims to deepen understanding of the growing phenomenon of quantification in the context of health and the role of self-tracking practices in everyday life. It brings together established and emerging authors working at the intersection of philosophy, sociology, history, psychology, and digital culture, while bridging between philosophical and empirical approaches.

 

Table of Content

INTRODUCTION 

Btihaj Ajana, Joaquim Braga and Simone Guidi 

PART I: Body Quantification and Subjectivity: Philosophical Perspectives  

1 Body, Media and Quantification  

Joaquim Braga 

2 I Quantify, Therefore I Am: Quantified Self Between Hermeneutics of Self and Transparency 

Lorenzo De Stefano  

3 Quantified Care: Self-Tracking as a Technology of the Subject  

Alessandro De Cesaris  

PART II: Body Quantification: Historical and Empirical Perspectives  

4 Historical Context of Tracking Public Health and Quantifying Bodies:   From the UK Welfare State to Digital Self-Care  

Rachael Kent   

5 Metrics of the Self: A Users’ Perspective 

Btihaj Ajana 

6 Whose Bodies? Approaching the Quantified Menstruating Body Through a Feminist Ethnography  

Amanda Karlsson  

PART III: Body Quantification and Mental Health  

7 #Wellness or #Hellness: The Politics of Anxiety and the Riddle of Affect in Contemporary Psy-care  

Ana Carolina Minozzo  

8 Me Apps: Mental Health and the Smartphone  

Zeena Feldman   

PART IV: Body Quantification and Smart Machines 

9 The ‘Smart’ AI Trainer & her Quantified Body at Work  

Phoebe V. Moore  

10 Towards a Quanto-Qualitative Biological Engineering: The Case of the Neuroprosthetic Hand 

Laura Corti   

Looking for academics to help with marking and teaching

The Department of Digital Humanities (DDH) has opportunities for academics and is looking for hourly paid lecturers to assist with marking and teaching. The lecturer needs a PhD (or equivalent expertise) and the right to work in the UK. The hourly pay is £21.27 (tbc) per hour, and most work can start right away.

The expertise we are looking for is:

Marking Essays in Gender and in Technology & Society
We are looking for markers in the areas of the gender (in particular the roles of gender and technology in films) and an undergraduate course on Investigating Science, Technology, and Society. The essays are 2,000 and 3,000 words long. We pay an hour for the marking of 4,000 words. The deadline for finishing this is in early or mid-February.

Marking MA Dissertations in Digital Culture and Digital Economy
We are looking for help with the marking of dissertations that cover the fields of digital culture, digital marketing, critique of platforms, and digital economy. The dissertations are 15,000 words long. Payment will be calculated as follows: we pay between 4 and 2.5 hours per dissertation. The deadline for finishing this is in early or mid-February.

Teaching Essay Writing
We are looking for weekly teaching help with hosting the Writing Lab’s informal and optional group writing support sessions (on-campus). The lab provides general guidance on ‘how to structure an academic essay/report’, ‘how to critically frame an argument’, ‘how to cite using Harvard referencing’, and ‘how to make sense and incorporate the feedback from your assessment’ etc. The teaching would start now and runs until 1 April 2022.

Please get in touch with the Deputy Head of the Department, Mercedes Bunz, sending your CV if you are interested: mercedes DOT bunz AT kcl.ac.uk

New project: SUPERB to promote forest restoration and adaptation across Europe

I’ll be part of a new research project on forest restoration and adaptation, led by the European Forest Institute and funded under the European Union’s H2020 programme.

Together with Jonathan Gray, I’ll co-lead a team at the Department of Digital HumanitiesKing’s College London exploring how humanities-based digital methods can be used to understand forest issues and to explore engagement around reforestation. Our contributions will draw on and be developed in conversation with work in science and technology studies and internet studies.

You can find more about the project here and an excerpt from the press release is copied below.

Continue reading “New project: SUPERB to promote forest restoration and adaptation across Europe”