Digital Culture 2018

Credits: MA level, 10 ECTS

Time: Normally every Thur 0800-1100, 5361 -144 (unless otherwise stated, pls refer to the weekly schedule)

Weekly Schedule | Synopsis | Exam | Grouping (username: web, pwd: strate) | Presentation format


What is Digital Culture? This seems almost too general a question to ask but one that is crucially important when culture has become so thoroughly digitalized that it transforms itself even as we try to define it. How can we begin to analyse these cultural dynamics? The course takes cultural studies, internet studies, software studies and practice-based research perspectives on digital culture, unfolding a range of topics to try to grasp the complexity of our times and exploring how digital technologies profoundly affect our understanding of consumption, production, identity, cultural participation and political agency. Under current conditions, and in the light of digitisation, how can we analyze, consume, design and produce cultural artifacts? We will discuss key texts and look at cultural artifacts, digital art and design examples and explore different design and artistic methods and practices to develop our cultural awareness and critical reflection on digital technologies and platforms. The outcome of the course is to conceptualize, contextualize and sketch a creative work (such as video, documentary, data visualization, software, installation, design prototype, etc), in the form of 5-8 pages synopsis in both written and visual formats, that examines any self-defined digital cultural issues that are related to the themes of the course. This synopsis is to prepare thoughts towards the assessed task in which students are asked to take an oral exam to analyse and reflect upon contemporary digital culture.


  • Group work (including class presentation and activities)
  • Readings and participate in-class discussion
  • Mini assignments
  • Final synopsis, including both the written form and a creative work
  • Oral Exam

Learning Outcomes:

  • Discuss and articulate cultural and theoretical issues related to digital technologies
  • Conceptualize, contextualize and design a creative project regarding any self-defined digital culture issue.
  • Select and analyse digital cultural phenomena with a practice-based approach and on the basis of theoretical considerations
  • Demonstrates and articulates insight into key aspects of the topics and concepts of the course.

Weekly Schedule:

class01 | week 36, 6 Sep | Introduction: Selfie Culture – People as Data

[Assigned readings]

[Suggested readings]

[In-class activities]

  • From photomontage to digital montage and selfies (examples: Mother series (1982) by David Hockney and Advertising Positions (2017) by Daniel Howe)
  • Course introduction and forming groups
  • Creative practice
  • Next week + mini assignment walk-through

class02 | week 37, 13 Sep | Reflecting metaphors: What is the cloud?

[Mini assignment 1 – individual: Keywords]

Select 3 keywords from the Williams’ book and try to relate them to digital technologies and culture through independent research. Sketch the keywords, relations and ideas through sketch drawings and/or mind mapping. We will discuss your findings in the class.

[Assigned readings]

  • Raymond Williams, Keywords: A vocabulary of culture and society by Raymond Williams, 1983. (pls refer to the mini assignment 1 for this reading)
  • Annette Markham, “Metaphors Reflecting and Shaping the Reality of the Internet: Tool, Place, Way of Being,” 2003. (Draft version, a short one)
  • Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, “Computers that Roar”, in Programmed Visions: Software and Memory, MIT Press, 2013, pp. 55-58. (a short one)
  • [Group 1 presentation] Søren Bro Pold and Christian Ulrik Andersen, “The Cloud Interface: Experiences of a Metainterface World”, In The Metainterface, MIT Press, 2018, pp. 121-155

[Suggested reading]

[In-class activities]

  • keywords discussion
  • Discussion of text
  • Group 1 presentation
  • Art practice (via the examples from the Cloud Interface)
  • Next week + mini assignment walk-through (next class on Mon instead)

class03 | week 38, 17 Sep (Mon) @5361-135 | Computerization of everyday life

[Mini assignment 2 – group: Visualizing Timeline]

After reading the assigned chapter by Annette Vee, try to design and develop a graphical timeline that charts the milestones in which you think they constitute the computerization of everyday life in a chronological manner. What are the key checkpoints that facilitate computerization? Are there any other items that you could think of but they are not included in the reading?

[Assigned readings]

  • [Group 2 presentation] Annette Vee, “Material Infrastructures of Writing and Programming”, in Coding Literacy, MIT Press, 2017
  • [Creative practice: information design and data visualization] Joanna Boehert, “Data visualization Does Political Things”, 2016 Design Research Society 50th Anniversary Conference, 2016.

[Suggested reading]

  • Helen, Pritchard, Eric Snodgrass and Magdalena Tyzlik-Carver, “Introduction”, in Executing Practices, Autonomedia, 2017, pp. 9-22.
  • [Create practice: information design and data visualization] Giorgia Lupi and Stephanie Posavec, Dear Data, 2016.

[In class activities]

  • Discuss mini assignment 2- timelines
  • Introduce and discuss the artistic and community project: Technopolitics 
  • Co-create a timeline
  • Presentation by Group 2
  • Next week + mini assignment walk-through

class04 | week 39, 27 Sep | Image Politics and visual culture

[Assigned readings]

  • Ingrid Hoelzl and Rémi Marie, “The Operative Image (Google Street View: The World as Database)”, in SoftImage, 2015.
  • [Group 3 presentation] Thylstrup, Nanna Bonde, and Stina Teilmann. “Thumbnail Images: Uncertainties, Infrastructures and Search Engines.” Digital Creativity 28, no. 4 (October 2, 2017): 279–96.
  • [Creative Practice: Story telling, documentary and moving image] Donna Hancox, “From subject to collaborator: Transmedia storytelling and social research“, Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies (23)1, 2017.

[In class activities]

class05 | week 40, 5 Oct (FRI) 14.00-16.00 @ the small Auditorium, Building 5510, INCUBA Science Park | Guest lecture by Lia Carreira

  • No class on 4 Oct
  • Abstract and Bio to be provided

class06 | week 41, 11 Oct | Memory and Archives in Datafied Culture

[Mini assignment 3 – individual: Artifact Analysis]

1. Select one of the examples in Samson’s article on “Erasure” in Executing Practices Autonomedia, 2017

2. Research the original concept, statement and materials of the artifact

3. Interpret and Explain how the practice of ‘erasure’ has been applied to the chosen artifact. You may need to read the journal articles about the aesthetics of erasure to gain more inspiration.

4. We will discuss this in the class.

[Assigned readings]

[Suggested reading]

  • The journal issue about The aesthetics of Erasure
  • Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, “Always Already There, or Software as Memory”, in Programmed Visions, MIT Press, 2013, pp. 137-173.

[In class activities]

No class on week 42

class07 | week 43, 25 Oct | Search Culture and its politics

[Mini assignment 4 – individual: Preparing for the fishbowl activity]

This week requires a bit time to do the close reading as the three readings introduce how a Search Engine works in different ways and the authors try to address the matter of search. Keep this core question in mind: How could we discuss technology and values together through the example of search engines?

Besides, you really need to drop notes of what you have read. You will use the materials to participate the in-class fishbowl activity, where each of you need to participate and join the discussion intensively. You are required to read closely the assigned readings.

[Assigned readings]

* Group 5, 6 and 7 >> I suggest you read super closely with the selected article and then discuss within the group about the text. Based on your responsible text, you are required to prepare two questions for the coming fishbowl activity, while one should be more based on the text closely and the other one could be more open-ended. Please write your questions here.

[Suggested readings]

[In class activities]

  • Why search engine matters? (video here.)
  • fishbowl (introduce the flow, techniques and rules; preparation time; actual activity; debrief and discussion)
  • How could we imagine alternative search engines?
  • Creative practice examples: Unerasable Images by Winnie Soon, Re: Search by Renée Ridgway, threads/ (web version here) by Audrey Samson
  • Walk-through the final synopsis brief

class08 | week 44, 1 Nov | Workshop by Shelly Knotts

  • Details to be provided
  • assigned readings to be provided
  • Next week + mini assignment walk-through

class09 | week 44, 2 Nov (FRI) 15.00-17.00 @Kunsthal AarhusGuest lecture by Shelly Knotts

  • Abstract and Bio to be provided

class10 | week 45, 8 Nov | Algorithmic Culture and Machine Learning

[Mini assignment 5 – group: What is Machine Learning?]

Based on the 3 assigned readings, present the topic ‘what is machine learning’ in a graphical format (it could be a sketch, mind map, info design or poster design, etc.)

[Assigned readings]

[Suggested readings]

[In class activities]

class11 | week 46, 15 Nov | “staying with the trouble” of future technologies

[Mini assignment 6 – individual: Preparing for your draft synopsis]

Come up with a draft idea for your final synopsis

  1. 1 sketch/screenshot
  2. a short description of your creative practice within 250 words
  3. 250 words to summarize your research question and the theme that you want to explore
  4. Reference list

[Assigned readings]

  • [Creative Practice: Design fiction] Søndergaard, Marie Louise Juul, and Lone Koefoed Hansen. “Intimate Futures: Staying with the Trouble of Digital Personal Assistants through Design Fiction,” 869–80. ACM Press, 2018.

[In class activities]

  • AYA by Marie Louise Juul Søndergaard, see video here
  • Discussion on creative practice: speculative design and design fiction
  • Peer-review of the draft synopsis
  • next mini assignment 8 walk-through [Revising your final synopsis]
    • Submit your draft by Tue 27-Nov (max 4 pages)

class12 | week 47, 23 Nov (FRI) 14.00-16.00 @ the small Auditorium, Building 5510, INCUBA Science ParkGuest lecture by Allision Parrish

  • Title, Abstract and Bio to be provided

class 13 | week 48, 29 Nov | Final

[In class activities]

  • Discussion/supervision of synopsis
  • Continue to work on your revised synopsis
  • Final evaluation of the course
  • Final remarks on the oral exam

No class on 6 Dec week 49

Synopsis due (10-Dec-2018) :

With the weekly themes of the course that touch on a variety of cultural issues, techno-politics and digital phenomena, the final synopsis requires students to identify a research question that somehow addresses or responds to digital culture. It consists of two parts, a creative work and its contextualization. You are encouraged to team up with others (max 4) and work on a practical creative work that helps you to explore or express your central concern (such as video, documentary, data visualization, software, installation, design prototype, etc). Additionally, It is required to conceptualize and contextualize your creative work individually through written format. This synopsis is to prepare thoughts towards the assessed task in which students are asked to take an oral exam to analyse and reflect upon contemporary digital culture. See below for the detailed format and requirement for the submission:


  • Length of synopsis: 5-8 pages (exclude references)
  • A title of your overall submission
  • Submit to Digital Exam in the form of one single pdf file

1/  Creative work (can be a group work):

  • A video link: Upload a 1-2 mins video documentation of your creative work (such as what is it, how does it work?) on any web platform.
  • An image of your creative work
  • A title of your creative work
  • At least 2 work-in-progress images/sketches
  • Reference projects (if any)

2/ Contextualization (Individual)

The synopsis should at least cover the following:

  • A description of the central topic and how it relates to one of the themes
  • Your research question?
  • What is your creative work about (may be a short description within 200 words would help) and what do you want to explore with it and why this is a good medium to response to the topic?
  • How the chosen theories can be applied/expanded (you can also explore and include other academic texts, which is out of the course syllabus – pls check with me, but it is essential to incorporate references from this course)
  • Main points of your discussion or analysis
  • Reflection on how the work, the practice element, helps you to explore your self-defined research topic
  • Bibliography


  • Consider the balance of the contextualization/research problems, creative work, theories, and reflection.
  • Think about the structure and organize your thoughts clearly
  • This synopsis is considered as an academic short essay, proper citation and references are required.

Dec 2018 – Oral exam (? Dec 2018, Precise time later) :


  • Subject to active, regular and satisfactory class participation
  • Complete all the mini assignments
  • Synopsis submission

Evaluation of exam performance:

Demonstrates insight into key aspects of the topics and theories of the course.

  • Discuss and articulate cultural and theoretical issues related to digital technologies
  • Conceptualize, contextualize and design a creative project regarding any self-defined digital culture issue.
  • Select and analyse digital cultural phenomena with a practice-based approach and on the basis of theoretical considerations
  • Demonstrates and articulates insight into key aspects of the topics and concepts of the course.

Presentation format:

  • Within 20 mins presentation and 10 mins Q and A
  • Read the text closely
  • What’s the text about? What’s the key argument? What’s key take a way? what surprise you?
  • Your disagreement/agreement to the supporting points (why) or how the text inform your understanding of any specific contemporary cultural phenomena?
  • Apply with examples
  • Raise at least one open question for in-class discussion