Calendar of Events

Fall 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Richard Rogers

Digital Future logo

The End of the Virtual: Digital Methods
Co-sponsored by UWM School of Information Studies (SOIS) and
Digital Future initiative

1:30 pm, 4th Floor Conference Center
Golda Meir Library, 2311 E Hartford Ave
(PDF flyer)

There is an ontological distinction between the natively digital and the digitized, that is, the objects, content, devices and environments that are “born” in the new medium, as opposed to those that have “migrated” to it. Should the current methods of study change, however slightly or wholesale, given the focus on objects and content of the medium?

The research program that Rogers puts forward thereby engages with “virtual methods” that import standard methods from the social sciences and the humanities. That is, the distinction between the natively digital and the digitized also could apply to current research methods. What kind of Internet research may be performed with methods that have been digitized (such as online surveys and directories) vis-à-vis those that are natively digital (such as recommendation systems and folksonomy)?

Second, Rogers proposes that Internet research may be put to new uses, given an emphasis on natively digital methods as opposed to the digitized. He will strive to shift the attention from the opportunities afforded by transforming ink into bits, and instead inquire into how research with the Internet may move beyond the study of online culture only. How to capture and analyze hyperlinks, tags, search engine results, archived websites, and other digital objects? How may one learn from how online devices (e.g., engines and recommendation systems) make use of the objects, and how may such uses be repurposed for social and cultural research?

Ultimately, Rogers proposes a research practice that grounds claims about cultural change and societal conditions in online dynamics, introducing the term “online groundedness.” His overall aim is to rework method for Internet research, developing a novel strand of study, digital methods.

Background readings for the lecture:

Richard Rogers, "Internet Research: The Question of Method," Journal of Information Technology and Politics 7 (2010): 241-260.

Richard Rogers, The End of the Virtual: Digital Methods (Amsterdam University Press, 2009).

Mapping & Clouding: Employing Digital Methods

Thursday, November 3
By invitation only. If you are interested in attending Richard Rogers' workshop, please e-mail

The workshop in Digital Methods concentrates on using and interpreting the Lippmannian Device, the tool developed by Rogers and colleagues in the context of the Mapping Controversies project, led by Bruno Latour ( It is named after Walter Lippmann (1889-1974), the American writer and columnist, and author of Public Opinion (1922) and The Phantom Public (1927). In particular, the software takes up Lippmann’s call for equipment to "test" in a coarse means an actor’s partisanship.

At the workshop, Rogers will present (at least) four ways to use the Lippmannian Device, and also facilitate use by the workshop participants. Rogers also will introduce additional devices and tools (some 30), developed to date by the Digital Methods Initiative and the Foundation (see The workshop also facilitates projects by participants. Participants should consider bringing along a research question that concerns using online data for social research. For project examples, please see

Lippmannian Device Worksheet

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