DRS co-founder Mariëlle Wijermars has been awarded a University of Helsinki three-year project grant for ‘Strategies of Persuasion: Russian Propaganda in the Algorithmic Age’ (2019-2021). The project will be launched in January at the Digital Russia Studies seminar. For more information on the project, see the projects page.
DRS co-founder Daria Gritsenko has been awarded a grant to lead an international workshop series “Algorithms in Context”. The project idea has been developed together with DRS researcher Mariëlle Wijermars and aims at gathering together scholars of algorithmic governance from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Russia and the UK to discuss the notion of context in relation to the study of algorithms. While Daria and Mariëlle are behind the overall workshop design, Nordic project partners Patrick Vonderau and Holger Pötzsch bring their experience and networks into the implementation of individual workshops. Our goal is to develop methodologies for comparative study of algorithmic governance.
Project funding has been granted by the Joint Committee for Nordic research councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOS-HS), an organization set up to facilitate strategic cooperation between the research councils in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden in the research fields of Humanities and Social Sciences.
The first seminar will take place in Stockholm in May 2019. For more information and updates on the project, see the projects page.
On November 2d, the Digital Russia Studies autumn seminars continued with presentations on the use of machine learning and discourse analysis as a part of mixed methodology. How to conduct qualitative research in the digital era? Which digital tools are available for assisting discourse analysis? Why should we care about machine learning if our goal is ‘close reading’? Our guest MPhil Kristian Lundby Gjerde, a research fellow from the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, gave a talk on a text analysis app he had created. His aim was to maintain the close reading aspect and apply digital tools at the same time. In our seminar, he presented an app prototype with collection of 10k free license documents from kremlin.ru. The app has a regular expression search engine and calendar view. It automatically adds new published documents to the collection. In addition, it is also possible to integrate PDF files with OCR and merge different text sources. We had a chance to test the app by using an example of Russian memory politics discourse that Kristian has studied. While the app is under development, we cannot wait to see it in the published open-source version!
Another presenter was BA Julia Nikolaenko, our trainee from HSE (Moscow), who is now doing her Master’s thesis on the Ukraine’s political images in the Russian media space. In her research, Julia aims at studying how discourses around the Ukrainian conflict differ between news and lifestyle media using computational text mining methods, such as topic modelling and sentiment analysis. In our seminar, she presented some preliminary results of her on-going research focusing on the lifestyle media Wonderzine, publishing within a feminist framework including fashion and beauty. She found out that articles mentioning Ukraine that were published in this media had positive tone in all topics. A wordcloud that was built on word frequencies is mainly about fashion, but human rights and social issues are also visible in the texts. The preliminary analysis suggests that Wonderzine’s framing and conceptual frameworks are not particularly affected by the interstate conflict. The seminar participants discussed the definitions of ideology and choice of media. Julia received fruitful comments and will continue her study based on them.