Media experts analyse the political implications of Facebook and Twitter

Published: 7 July 2009 at 14:15

University wins funding for two year research project to find out how social media is changing the way we live

Anglia Research Centre in Digital Culture (ARC Digital) - a part of Anglia Ruskin University - has won a bid for research funds from Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to complete a project to look at the way global digital communications is changing politics.

The two year project ‘Exploring New Configurations in Network Politics’, beginning in October, has been awarded backing of £36,542 to help facilitate the research and generate a permanent on-line resource in network politics and culture.

Leading the research will be Dr Joss Hands, Senior Lecturer in Communication and Media and Dr Jussi Parikka, Reader in Media Theory and History and Pathway Leader for Media Studies. Both are Co-Directors of ARC Digital. Speaking about the research, Dr Hands said:

“The traditional process of voting for a candidate every four years and letting the elected get on with it is changing, the fast flow of communication and the capacity of ordinary people to become their own source of information is creating many interesting and profound shifts in power and expectations of politics, and we want to explore how and with what consequences.”

The project focuses on current network culture and politics, looking at the use of social media, including such mainstream applications as Twitter and Facebook; as well as keeping an eye out for new upcoming applications and experimental media as they emerge and facilitate new kinds of politics and activism. One example of social media changing the very nature of politics is seen in Iran where Twitter is being used to coordinate demonstrations and outfox those in power.

Explaining their approach to the project, Dr Parikka adds:

“We needed a network to understand networks, to pull in as much knowledge and understanding as possible together so we have a core advisory panel of leading experts in this area. Eugene Thacker (Georgia Tech), Alex Galloway (NYU), Douglas Kellner (UCLA), Greg Elmer (Ryerson) and Tiziana Terranova (Naples), who will help us draw in more people to the network which will hopefully take on a life of its own.”

“We will build a website to help coordinate discussions, build connections to act as a repository of the ideas and knowledge as it develops over the duration of the project. We will also run two networking events in Cambridge and one in the USA to explore these ideas, including talks and roundtables to explore questions and challenges. The advisory board will participate and we will encourage the participation of a wide range of relevant persons, academics, activists, artists and programmers.”

Dr Hands teaches in the Communication and Media programme, leading the modules: communication and the public sphere, communication and political economy and communication and globalization. His research focuses on network politics and activism, digital culture and the critical theory of technology. Dr Parikka leads the modules technoculture and media, culture and identity. His research interests include continental philosophy, media theory, the politics and history of new media, media archaeology, new materialist cultural analysis and various other topics relating to anomalies, media and the body.  Both are a part of Anglia Ruskin’s Department of English, Communication, Film and Media.

To follow news of the project on Twitter sign on to @ARC_digital.