In Digital Methods, Richard Rogers proposes a methodological outlook for social and cultural scholarly research on the Web that seeks to move Internet research beyond the study of online culture. It is not a toolkit for Internet research, or operating instructions for a software package; it deals with broader questions. How can we study social media to learn something about society rather than about social media use? How can hyperlinks reveal not just the value of a Web site but the politics of association? Rogers proposes repurposing Web-native techniques for research into cultural change and societal conditions. We can learn to reapply such “methods of the medium” as crawling and crowd sourcing, PageRank and similar algorithms, tag clouds and other visualizations; we can learn how they handle hits, likes, tags, date stamps, and other Web-native objects. By “thinking along” with devices and the objects they handle, digital research methods can follow the evolving methods of the medium.
Rogers uses this new methodological outlook to examine the findings of inquiries into 9/11 search results, the recognition of climate change skeptics by climate-change-related Web sites, the events surrounding the Srebrenica massacre according to Dutch, Serbian, Bosnian, and Croatian Wikipedias, presidential candidates’ social media “friends,” and the censorship of the Iranian Web. With Digital Methods, Rogers introduces a new vision and method for Internet research and at the same time applies them to the Web’s objects of study, from tiny particles (hyperlinks) to large masses (social media).
About the Author
Richard Rogers is University Professor of New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam, and the author of Information Politics on the Web (MIT Press). He is Director of the Govcom.org Foundation (Amsterdam) and the Digital Methods Initiative.
“Digital Methods is not a methods book in the traditional sense of the genre, though one will learn a great deal about ‘virtual methods’ from reading it. It’s an historical, epistemological, and ontological treatise on the nature of the Internet and the purpose of Internet research. Rogers argues that the ‘natively digital’ can serve as a (complicated) window into the broader social, cultural, and political worlds we all inhabit. His argument is a compelling one that will change the way we think about the ‘virtual,’ the ‘real,’ and what each can tell us about the other.”
—Michael X. Delli Carpini, Dean, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania
“This is a remarkable book that fills a gaping hole on questions of method. Over the years, Richard Rogers has contributed to questions of method and research in digital domains. This is his best yet.”
—Saskia Sassen, Columbia University; author of Digital Formations