In the April edition of DRS seminar, Pihla Toivanen introduced her Master’s thesis “Computational Frame Analysis of Populist Counter Media”. Her research is a part of the project “Information chaos and trust in traditional journalism” project carried out at Tampere University’s COMET Research Center in collaboration with Aalto University.
Helsingin Sanomat Foundation has awarded a €130,000 grant to DRS co-founder Mariëlle Wijermars for the project ‘Sustainable Journalism for the Algorithmic Future’ (2020-2022).
The project, that in addition to Mariëlle involves Russian Media Lab researcher Olga Dovbysh, will be launched next January and run for three years (short summary below). If you are interested in getting involved or would like to know more, get in touch!
‘Sustainable Journalism for the Algorithmic Future’ (2020-2022)
The project investigates how data-driven media practices and the increased influence of IT industries on media business affect journalism and its role in the public sphere. Integrating new evidence from a hybrid media system (Russia) into a comparative study, it helps understand the context-specificity of this impact and will formulate a vision on making journalism societally, economically and ethically sustainable for the algorithmic future.
Providing open data about public administration has become a trend all over the world among government bodies and local authorities. The idea is to increase transparency and to invite individuals and organisations to collaborate with the public services, and build new solutions on that data. In Russia, the executive organs have since 2012 been obliged to make their data public. What does this mean in practice? How has the order been implemented?
read the full interview with Ilona Repponen from DRS.
The monthly seminar on February 1 featured two presentations by Aleksanteri Institute researchers. Both presentations focused on issues related to the new technologies and economic development in Russia.
Anna Lowry, Postdoctoral Researcher, presented her analysis of Russian state program “The Digital Economy of the Russian Federation”. The program is an important element of the Russian Government policy aiming the country’s technological and economic development. Anna showed that the program’s focus on the provision of new ICT services is potentially detrimental to its performance, given that the country has a limited capacity to manufacture electronic components and high-technology products. At the same time, the program is an important milestone in shaping the policies that seek to promote Russia economic development, argues Anna Lowry.
The second presenter, Sari Autio-Sarasamo, University Lecturer, Aleksanteri Institute’s vice-director, presented a research project Innovative Economy in Russia, where she is the Principal Investigator. The research project ambition is to study the influence of new technology on the country’s political economy through the analysis on multiple levels. The project methodological challenge is to collect firm-level data and to build on that empirical ground the understanding of the dynamics of modern Russia’s economic development.
We are looking to hire a postdoctoral researcher for the new Digital Russia Studies project Strategies of Persuasion: Russian Propaganda in the Algorithmic Age.
To apply, please visit https://www.helsinki.fi/
The first DRS seminar of the year on the 11th of January started with the presentations by two speakers from Digital Russia Studies core. Postdoctoral Researchers, Andrey Indukaev and Mariëlle Wijermars gave talks about their current projects connected with digitalzation in Russia.
Andrey Indukaev the primary results of his project named “Mapping the political discourse on ‘innovation’ and ‘digitalization’ in Russia”. In his work Andrey focuses on two concepts – innovation and digitalization – taking prominent place in the political discourse in Ruissa. The projects aims to analyse the shifting political role those had during and after Medvedevs term. The study aims to combining the methods of distributional semantics with other methods of text analysis. The results presented at the seminar consisted mainly of the word2vec model trained on a corpus thematically focused on the innovation and digitalization.
Mariëlle Wijermars launched her project “Strategies of Persuasion: Russian Propaganda in the Algorithmic Age” which in November was has been awarded a University of Helsinki three-year project grant. The detailed description of the project can be found here: https://blogs.helsinki.fi/digital-russia-studies/projects/strategies-of-persuasion/. At the seminar were vividly discussed the questions about what is propaganda: fake news or something else? The main discussion revolved around the issue of the project expected outcomes and the necessity for new knowledge about propaganda strategies in the age of information and media digitalization.
*Text on the picture: Putin in a bearskin. How the President became enamored with the digital economy
On December 14th, Digital Russia Studies autumn seminars series were concluded by two presentations that exposed – in their own way – how the abundance of data influences modern societies.
Our Guest PhD Ekaterina Kalinina, Senior Lecturer at the School of Culture and Education of Södertörn University gave a talk about a project she is about to launch. How our way of remembering is influenced by the fact that nowadays artificial intelligence quite often takes care of preserving and organizing the traces our memory relies on. Are we about to lose our capacity – or privilege – of forgetting because of the apparently unlimited capacity to record and save all data?
PhD Julia Velkova, a post-doctoral researcher at the Consumer Society Research Centre at the University of Helsinki, discussed the material infrastructure required to store and process data. In a talk “Geopolitics of Data: Yandex Digital Data Infrastructure in Finland from a Critical Media Infrastructure Perspective” she offered an in-depth analysis of political, economic and environmental dimensions of a project carried out by Yandex, Russian information technology giant, in Mäntsälä, Finland. The project attracted media attention since the heat produced by data center is used by the city and this infrastructure looks like a win-win solution for both city, local energy providers and Yandex. However, the current setting is influenced by the shared belief that the volume of data to be stored and processed will exponentially grow with no interruption. Julia Velkova insists that this belief should be questioned to assess the viability of the Yandex data center project, and of other projects of this kind.
Last week, DRS researcher Mariëlle Wijermars attended the 50th Annual Convention of the Association of Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) in Boston. In addition to presenting her own research at the conference, Mariëlle was invited to join the business meeting of the ASEEES group Digital Humanities in the Slavic Field (Slavic DH) and introduce Digital Russia Studies there. ASEEES Slavic DH aims to support the teaching, scholarship, curation, and preservation of digitally-rendered work in Slavic (as well as East European and Eurasian) Studies – objectives that we at DRS fully endorse. Our activities and aims, as well as the exciting projects we have coming up in 2019, were greeted with a lot of enthusiasm by the group and we hope to see some of them at next year’s Aleksanteri Conference in Helsinki, where an entire track will be dedicated to Digital Humanities.
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.