Preconference Workshops

AoIR routinely hosts several preconference workshops before the main conference. Attendees must register for the full conference to attend a preconference workshop. All workshops have a US$10 fee applied charged during registration. This does not apply to the Doctoral Colloquium. If you are accepted into the Doctoral Colloquium do not register for any preconference workshops. The Doctoral Colloquium and the preconference workshops occur simultaneously on 2 October 2019.

In order to attend a workshop you do have to register for the full conference. Conference registration is available here.


The Academy and Gendered Harassment: Individual, peer and institutional support and coping in harsh online environments

Organizers: Jaigris Hodson and George Veletsianos, Royal Roads University

This preconference workshop, facilitated by Dr. Jaigris Hodson and Dr George Veletsianos (Canada Research Chair in Innovative Learning and Technology) arises out of a need identified by our recent research project which examined the experiences of female academics who experience online abuse. Our SSRHC funded research project revealed that academics turn to various sources of support when they attempt to cope with online harassment: They will seek help from family, friends, peers, their institutions, communities, lawmakers, and even the online platforms themselves. However, many of these sources, including institutions and platforms, often present barriers that frustrate women’s attempts to cope with harassment, and fail to provide much-needed support. This workshop leverages the knowledge generated by our research and mobilizes it into a workshop aimed at helping stakeholders address online harassment.

Participants will learn strategies for self-care, colleague support, and mobilizing institutional change when they or others are faced with online harassment as a result of their scholarly research and teaching work in digital environments. We feel this workshop will be of particular interest to AoIR attendees because they often are required to spend a lot of time online for work in spaces where they may leave themselves at risk of online bullying or harassment. Beneficiaries of this workshop therefore include immediate attendees of the conference, but due to the negative impacts of harassment on third parties (e.g., significant others, society at large when harassment leads academics to avoid certain kinds of research) this workshop will likely also impact other groups who are tied to our AoIR community.

This workshop will take the form of a do-a-thon. A do-a-thon is inspired by the idea of a hackathon, which is similar to an active workshop where participants work together to solve common challenges. In this workshop, we will present what we learned about barriers and challenges related to support and coping with online harassment, and participants will work in teams to develop ideas to address those barriers, while at the same time building on best practices from their own experiences and from our research.

It is expected that each workshop participant will leave the workshop with strategies for responding to harassment. Such strategies may be personally helpful if one experiences this phenomenon, but they will also be fruitful in helping attendees support peers and create positive change in their institutions such that institutions develop structures and processes to support their staff/faculty/students who may experience online bullying. It is also expected that future areas for research and collaboration will arise as a result of the interactive and hands-on nature of the workshop format. Finally, it is expected that the outcomes of the workshop can help support the Association of Internet Researchers in further growing already existing strategies to combat online harassment for its members. The materials to run the workshop will be released under a creative commons license online and will be made available for others to use, such that the effects of this work can be multiplied and not limited to the attendees of the conference.
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AoIR Early Career Scholars Workshop

Organizers: Jeff Hemsley, Syracuse University; Crystal Abidin, Curtin University; Aleena Chia, Simon Fraser University;  William Balmford, RMIT University; Erika D. Gault, University of Arizona; Kelly Quinn, University of Illinois at Chicago; Roohola Ramezani, Shahid Beheshti University; Shawn Walker, Arizona State University.

Purpose: This half-day workshop brings early career scholars together to address unique issues they face, develop strategies to achieve career goals, and foster a professional network. We define early career scholars as people who have finished the requirements for their terminal degree but have not advanced to the next level in their field or industry (e.g. in North America this would be tenure). AoIR’s strength is its communication. Now in its third year, this workshop fosters community among emerging scholars and bridges the divide between junior and senior scholars. We aim to continue working toward making this community as inclusive and representative as possible.

The workshop addresses both challenges and opportunities unique to early career scholars in the many fields and forms of scholarship represented at AoIR. First, we have to negotiate the transition from graduate student to early career professional that requires a higher level of autonomy and the challenge of figuring out the pragmatic and social aspects of a new work environment. Second, we must work quickly to establish ourselves in our fields and, often, secure funding. Third, we have increased service responsibilities. Fourth, after being guided by our advisors and committees for several years, we transition into mentorship roles. Fifth, we must learn to navigate to the next level of our careers while managing various degrees of precarity and ensuring time with family and friends. Being a junior scholar also comes with unique opportunities that we will explore. While recognition of internet scholarship has come a long way since AoIR’s inception, junior scholars still may find themselves facing certain hurdles in gaining recognition for their research (i.e. subject, method, etc.) in terms of promotion. In fact, some of the challenges we face are also opportunities to work towards changing the ways in which internet scholarship is perceived and valued within the academic structure.

The issues we will cover depends greatly on the participant. AoIR is an international and diverse organization, and we know that our experiences as scholars and educators vary by country, institution type, and field and are framed by our own identities (race, gender, etc.). Our goal is to discuss shared challenges and opportunities while understanding differences so that we can build our own professional networks at the same time that we create a diverse and inclusive community of scholars who will eventually become future career mentors within AoIR.

Format: Based on feedback from the 2017 workshop, we will maintain last year’s three-session format while making important adjustments to the content of those sessions. We will open with an activity for generating questions/concerns/issues relevant to junior scholars that participants would like addressed during the first session. That first session will consist of a fish-bowl discussion for workshop participants. This discussion is intended as a get-to-know others event as well as an opportunity to discuss the issues and opportunities we face collectively. The second session will be a panel of established scholars who can share their insight and experiences. We define established scholars as those individuals who have continued to research and publish within their field, and who have been promoted within their given professional system.

Our goal in recruiting panelists this year is to be responsive to the needs of the different types of junior scholars participating in the workshop. This year, we hope to engage more scholars from the humanities and non-academic environments. The organizers will start the panel with questions drawn from the first session. In the final session, participants will form small groups with a senior scholar to address topics relevant to them (type of institution, academic system, etc.). Time will be left for follow-up questions and group discussion. We also are planning an informal social activity following the workshop.

Audience: This workshop is geared toward early career scholars who have their terminal degree.

1) Provide a space for the next generation of AoIR scholars to start building strong ties with each other, more established researchers, and the AoIR community.
2) Promote understanding of the breadth of academic work, including our shared experiences and differences.
3) Connect with established academics to build a stronger communities of support for our careers.
4) Develop strategies to build and maintain a junior scholar community outside of the annual conference.
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Data Management for Social Media Research Data

Organizers: Katharina Kinder-Kurlanda, GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences;  Kelly Quinn, Department of Communication, University of Illinois at Chicago; Shawn Walker, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arizona State University

This pre-conference workshop looks at the theory, practice and ethics of managing data derived from the internet, with a special focus on social media data. Its aim is to empower researchers as stewards of their own data and also show how existing solutions may be able to help.

While many internet researchers are working with social media data and have found their own ways of managing often large datasets, the ‘best practices’ for curating these specific type of research data are not well defined. Nor are existing solutions necessarily widely shared and discussed. Often tools or techniques used are specific to a disciplinary domain or even to research groups or individuals. This often means that a lot of individual effort goes into searching for suitable ways to manage social media research data with little guidance available, or that researchers may apply approaches that they later find to be too laboursome, insufficient in informative detail, or otherwise inadequate for their own research data management.

Research data management is important both for individual purposes (e.g. creating an efficient working environment for researchers and research groups) and for advancing the research field by supporting data sharing. Researchers face various data management challenges when collecting, storing, or sharing datasets. Sharing such data with the research community is especially important, both for meta-studies (e.g. cross-cultural comparisons) and for replication studies that seek to ensure validity. In order to share data that is meaningful and useful to secondary users, these data need to be preserved, named, documented and presented in specific ways. In this workshop we will explore file naming conventions, versioning, and metadata capture with a focus on documentation of data collection and processing to allow for data reuse. We will also show some solutions of existing repositories for social media data and will cover preparation for repository storage and de-identification.

The target audience for this workshop are researchers who work with social media data, both qualitatively or quantitatively. We assume that workshop participants have experience in collecting some form of social media data for their research purposes. They are not required to have any specific strategy for documenting and managing their data yet, but should be willing to talk about their data collection and data storage routines during discussion phases. Both early career and senior scholars are welcome.

The workshop will show existing solutions with an emphasis on strategies that have been developed for other research data, particularly in the wider social sciences.

We are planning a half-day pre-conference workshop with theoretical input and the presentation of a concrete example case of archiving a large tweet collection related to the Occupy Wall Street movement (prepared by Shawn Walker) at the GESIS data archive in the first half of the workshop. Twitter data are still among the most common social media dataset used in research and there are thus already some examples for archiving strategies. Katrin Weller from GESIS, who has worked on archiving Twitter data, will be available for a brief skype statement and will also take questions.

In the second half of the workshop participants will have the opportunity to discuss their own data. Prior to the workshop participants can submit short descriptions of their datasets to be considered as illustrative examples during the workshop. In addition, we will be open to questions that come up during the course of the workshop. We will also bring along a second dataset from a platform that is not Twitter to highlight platform specific challenges.

At the end of the workshop participants will be aware of the different strategies that are already being applied to curating social media research data and will have gained insight into data management practices in general. They will have received feedback on their own individual solutions and challenges.
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Digital Methods for Digital Media Research

Organizers: Daniel Angus, Axel Bruns, Marcus Foth, Timothy Graham, Monique Mann, Ariadna Matamoros-Fernández, Peta Mitchell, Patrik Wikstrom
Digital Media Research Centre, QUT, Australia

This full-day preconference workshop introduces participants to digital methods (Rogers, 2013) and their applications in media, cultural and internet studies via a series of short talks, masterclasses, and hands-on methods sessions. The sessions will cover critical topics in Internet Research and related fields, from social media analytics to YouTube channel and video networks, visual social media research and designing alternatives for algorithms. Participants will be supplied ahead of time with learning resources including tutorials, readings and rich media examples. The schedule will also provide opportunities for discussion and practical experimentation. The workshop is designed for internet researchers at all stages of their careers, and will have particular relevance for PhD and early-career scholars. The session will be limited to 50 participants.

Welcome and Provocations for Digital Methods and Digital Media
This introduction sets out the state of play around digital methods and digital media. While some popular platforms, like Twitter, have been extensively studied by internet researchers and offer established methodologies, other platforms create their own ethical, methodological, and conceptual challenges – from Instagram’s changing API access to the role of YouTube in the spread of misinformation through influential channels. The introduction provides provocations for internet researchers, for approaches to digital media research that engage with critical elements of everyday digital media from users to big data to platforms to algorithms.

Session 1. Analysing Social Media Data with Tableau – Axel Bruns
Especially when working with large social media datasets, visual data analysis is now an indispensable part of the scholarly research and publication process. Data visualisation is able to provide a rapid overview of patterns in the dataset, and to pinpoint specific events and areas that should be selected for further in-depth analysis. The social media data analytics workshop will focus on a key emerging tool for large-scale analysis, Tableau, for processing and visualising large datasets.

Session 2. YouTube data analysis – Timothy Graham & Ariadna Matamoros-Fernández
Since launching as a platform for sharing videos in 2005, YouTube has become the second most popular website in the world according to In this workshop, participants will learn how to use the VOSON Dashboard software (VOSONDash) to collect data from YouTube videos, construct networks out of the data, and undertake basic social network analysis. We will also cover how to export the data in various formats for further analysis (e.g., qualitative analysis of comment texts). Participants will also learn how to import networks into Gephi and develop publication-quality network visualisations.

Session 3. Instagram data analysis – Daniel Angus & Patrik Wikstrom
Instagram has one billion active users, sharing 100 million photos, and generating 4.2 billion ‘likes’ per day. Instagram’s significantly large and engaged user base and distinctive everyday visual cultures have eluded intensive study due to the scarcity of methods for data collection and analysis. Instagrab is a research tool developed for collecting and processing Instagram posts and media files without requiring access to an API. In this workshop, participants will experiment with the Instagrab software, and also explore a new critical simulation framework designed for simulating the machine vision algorithms of Instagram (Carah & Angus, 2018).

Session 4. Algorithms by design – Marcus Foth, Monique Mann & Peta Mitchell
We live in a mediated world that is increasingly governed, judged, and served back to us by computer code, algorithms, and data. The emergence of this new data-driven “algorithmic culture” (Striphas, 2015) presents a challenge to the promises of “participatory culture” (Jenkins, 2006) that could be enabled by a thriving democratic internet. Although consumers contribute much of the data that algorithmic systems operate upon, those systems remain opaque black boxes (Pasquale, 2015) closed off to public understanding, scrutiny and control. Design-led approaches offer creative and collaborative ways to explore and identify hidden algorithmic constraints, and in this workshop, which builds on a collaboration with technology company ThoughtWorks, we explore a range of practical, design-led approaches that work to embed privacy-by-design and autonomy-by-design principles in the algorithms of the future.

Wrap-up: Challenges and Futures for Digital Methods
This final session will bring facilitators and participants together to reflect upon the methods introduced in the workshop, and to address challenges and needs for digital methods going forward. This discussion will offer participants additional opportunities to discuss issues and questions relevant to digital methods in their own individual research projects.
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Emotion Analytics of Social Media

Organizer: Valarie J. Bell, University of North Texas

Social media is an antenna for as well as an amplifier of the social, political, cultural and economic zeitgeist of a society’s content creators. A critical dimension to understanding this antenna is understanding the emotion that drives and motivates social psychological and sociological social media behaviors.

In this day-long bootcamp, researchers and advanced graduate students (2nd year doctoral students and later) will learn to plan, conduct, and report findings for a social media emotion analytics research project, focusing on the following: 1) Planning an emotion analytics project; 2) Collecting of social media data using Python and other non-coding tools; 2) Coding of social media text data for emotion analytics; 3) Choosing and using languages and software for modeling; 4) Establishing and following guidelines for specifying emotion analytics; 5) Making decisions for emotion modeling; 6) Verifying and validating emotion analytics models; 7) Interpreting and reporting findings; and, 8) Identifying sources and references for engaging in emotion analytics of social media. Essentially the bootcamp will take participants from the process of collecting social media data, including managing pitfalls and troubleshooting, validating and verifying results, to interpreting and reporting findings, and defending the validity and reliability of the methodology.

Participants will need a laptop running Mac or Windows 10 operating systems. No coding experience required but participants should have at least some experience in social media research as the basics of social media will not be covered.
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Value-Driven Next Generation Internet: Core Technologies, Values and Ethics of a Human-Centric Future Internet

Organizers: Anja Bechmann, Aarhus University; Charles Ess, The University of Oslo; Aline Franzke, University of Duisburg-Essen; Anne Henriksen, Aarhus University; Steve Jones, University of Illinois at Chicago; Annette Markham,Aarhus University; Lynge Moeller,Aarhus University; Zizi Papacharissi, University of Illinois at Chicago

Techno pessimistic and optimistic discourses of the internet have always existed, but we are witnessing a current profound anti-trust in the internet. Earlier, the story of the internet was a story of a broader civic engagement and a healthier democracy (Turner, 2006; Lessig, 2004; Abbate, 1999; Berners-Lee, 1999). But as humans are losing control to data-driven business models and non-human-centric internet technologies that story is changing.

Today, the story of the internet has two dominant narratives – both of which leave little agency to the users. The American model – ruled by capitalist market powers with internet giants harvesting massive amounts of personal data to shape human behaviour – and the Chinese model characterized by mass surveillance and government control of the internet exemplified by the Chinese Social Credit System.

But the two dominant internet models do not go unchallenged. Recently, several revelations have caused controversy – perhaps most notably the Cambridge Analytica scandal, coupled with the disclosure of frequent and massive scale hacking and surveillance operations, such as the Chinese hack of more than 500 million Marriott customer records and the case of Exactis where 340 million personal records were exposed on a publicly accessible server. The public backlash from these and several other scandals worldwide show a real demand for more ethical alternatives to the dominant internet models.

Also on a supranational level, there has been discussions on a third narrative; the human-centric internet. With the initiative “Next Generation Internet”, the EU Commission has ambitions to shape the future internet as an interoperable platform ecosystem that embodies the European values, such as openness, inclusivity, transparency, privacy, cooperation, and protection of data ( These values have been materialized in for instance the General Data Protection Regulation and in the “AI for people” approach (Floridi et al, 2018).

To support a more human-centric evolution of the internet, progressive development of internet technologies and policy is needed. Otherwise, the development of the internet technologies of the future will remain in the hands of internet giants in monopoly-like positions on the global data market (e.g. Zuboff, 2019).

In the process of shaping an alternative internet model to compete with the dominant narratives, high-level internet research in progressive internet technologies and policies will play a crucial role, answering questions such as: Which values, regulatory approaches, business models and technologies are going to be at the core of the future internet? In which context does these aspects of the internet currently develop? What are the possible future trajectories of the core internet technologies and associated stakeholders? Which values should these technologies uphold to ensure a progressive and human-centric development and widespread introduction? These are some of the questions driving this half-day pre-conference workshop on a more human-centric future internet.

The workshop will start with a series of lightning talks by selected AoIR scholars on the key issues within Next Generation Internet driving their research currently (e.g. AI, robotics, sustainable internet, ethics and internet values, political power structures, identities and trust). The lightning talks will be followed by a future workshop (Halse, 2013) where the basis for discussion will be topics derived from a systematic data collection and subsequent text analysis (see data sources and methods here:

The purpose of the workshop is to discuss current ‘hot topics’ in internet development with the intention of feeding AoIR contributions into the global discussions on a more human-centric internet. The results of this workshop and workshops in engineering and design research communities will be reported directly to the EU Commission as contributions to further policy work on ensuring a human-centric Next Generation Internet at an international level. We encourage participants from all parts of the world to join the pre-conference to anchor this debate internationally.

Preliminary topics include (see full list of associated keywords at

  • Data Sovereignty – open internet, net neutrality, personal data, identity theft, black box, AI research
  • Internet Values – hate speech, extremist content, sexism, gender discrimination, #metoo, child safety, parental control, diversity, racism, accessibility, care robots, voice assistants and chatbots
  • Identities & Trust – smart contracts, distributed ledgers
  • Cybersecurity & Resilience – cybersecurity, ransomware, cyberwar, hacking, killer robots
  • Ethical AI & ML – machine learning, deep learning, algorithmic bias, algorithmic accountability, AI, black box, open AI, data lakes, transparency
  • Trustworthy Online Media – facial recognition, digital assistant, voice assistant
  • Opt out & Self-governance – cyber threats, meltdown, hacking, quantum computing, encryption, critical infrastructure
  • Decentralising Power – free speech, internet freedom, gig economy, ico, worker’s rights, tech giants, distributed ledgers, consumer protection
  • A Sustainable Internet – blockchain, cryptocurrency, smart devices, energy efficiency, mining, renewable energy, data storage

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