A blog about the Master Programme in Digital Humanities at Uppsala University

Tag: Information Mediation and User Perspectives

In-Depth: Information Mediation and User Perspectives in the Digital Era

Last week I got the opportunity to sit down with Ina-Maria Jansson over Zoom, Phd-student and course coordinator for the course Information Mediation and User Perspectives in the Digital Era, that ended a few weeks ago.

Ina-Maria before preparing a lecture during the course

What is your research background and how did you find Digital Humanities as an educational and research subject?

With a background in archival science and collection management I did find the actual step over to digital humanities less of a step and more of a gradual fade of shifting focus from analogue materials and collections to digital ones.  To be honest, I am not sure myself if I actually am a Digital Humanist; more like a humanist interested in the digital conditions of information.

How do you use digital tools or digital methods in your own research?

My main use of digital methods is to find different clever ways to collect and organize my source material. Some examples are different user generated content and metadata from online platforms, like digital photographs, user comments and online forum posts. I harvest material from digital platforms and have used Python to collect textual content. A future goal, besides finishing my thesis, is to level up my Python skills, but also to become more successful in implementing digital analysis methods.

What was for you the most successful or meaningful part of the course?

It is hard to single out a specific part. For me, the most valuable have been to follow the students’ progress throughout the course and learn how their understanding of digital information environments have developed, but also how they have learnt more about what Information Science is and why this field is interesting from a digital humanities perspective. I am still disappointed that the whole course had to take place online so that I never had the chance to meet the students in real life, but I also realize I am not the only university teacher with that feeling this weird spring semester.

From a seminar during the course Photo: Ina-Maria Jansson

What would you say is the core of the course?

I believe that knowledge of the impact of information infrastructures on information accessibility as well as creation, presentation, dissemination and use of information are necessary for a digital humanist. Therefore, I hope the students will take with them a developed understanding of the importance of studying information within the frames of information science. In other words, I want them to gain insight of how putting information in the center of studies can help reveal interesting truths about contemporary society and understand why it looks like it does and why things work as they do.

Read this blog post to learn about a seminar and presentation about critical evaluation of interactive digital platforms that the students had during the course.

Laboratory: Critical evaluation of interactive digital platforms

Two weeks ago the students had a laboratory exercise that was presented over Zoom and was part of the course Information Mediation and User Perspectives in the Digital Era. The Laboratory was headed by Ina-Maria Jansson.

Photo: Ina-Maria Jansson

The aim of this laboratory was to develop skills to describe, critically analyze and understand digital information platforms from a perspective of information science. The students chose a plattform that they then studied based on five categories of aspects:

  • Infrastructure
  • Datafication
  • Algorithms
  • Interface and user behavior

The laboratory resulted in a lab rapport and a presentation over Zoom

One group focused on the image sharing application Instagram and the other one on the music sharing application Soundcloud

Both groups for example talked about how these platforms are part of a bigger ecosystem through their connection to Facebook and other sharing platforms.

To learn about the course, you can read more about it in this post.

Information Mediation and User Perspectives in the Digital Era

Like all countries in Europe and the World, Sweden has been deeply affected by the outbreak of Covid-19. This has of course also affected higher edudation in Sweden, that has now been recommended by the Swedish government to switch over to online education tools.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

For the students at the Master program in Digital Humanities this means seminars and lectures through the Video-conference tool Zoom. So even thought the world is changing and adapting around the students, their courses keep on going. This brings us to the topic of this blog post: this week a new course starts called Information Mediation and User Perspectives in the Digital Era . The courses is headed by Phd-student Ina-Maria Jansson as some of our long-time readers might recognize as the first editor of this blog.

Image by ElasticComputeFarm from Pixabay 

The purpose of the course is to provide a better understanding of information-mediating digital platforms and infrastructure that contain material of relevance to the digital humanities. It provides a historical perspective on the central role occupied by users in modern digital environments.

The course also discusses the importance of network ecology in connection to functionality and algorithms as well as provide relevant knowledge about participatory culture and practices.