Digital technologies and societies

Analysing our relationships with digital technologies and their impacts on society and culture
Our research focuses on the pervasive social, cultural and political impacts of platforms, artificial intelligence, digitalisation and data.

The transformative impacts of the ways we design, implement and use digital technologies are changing our societies and cultures. With its roots in the growth of the Internet, pervasive computing, data mining and social networking, the global advance of digital platforms, artificial intelligence and data driven enterprise at scale has reshaped how we work, play, educate, and care for ourselves and others. It has also fundamentally reshaped media and communications industries, cultures and practices.  Professions such as journalism, public relations, and publishing are responding to the challenges of platformisation, and new jobs and business models emerging. Uses of emerging technologies in the arts and culture sectors present new opportunities for creativity and engaging audiences.

Our research focuses on the nature of these changes, and how scholars can reshape dominant discourses, laws and policies, professional and creative practices, and industry frameworks, in order to promote more just and equitable outcomes. It is informed by visions of social justice, inclusion, economic equity, and environmental sustainability and by interdisciplinary approaches that bring together insights from  communication, media and cultural studies, science and technology studies, law, economics, sociology, digital humanities, arts, design and computing sciences. We work across disciplines to generate high-impact scholarly work that intervenes in key public debates about digital futures.

Current areas of research focus include:

Research into the design of games and playable media, play cultures and practices, including livestreaming, the monetisation of children in games, and applications of gaming media in other contexts (e.g. education).

Addressing legal, ethical, governance and regulatory challenges associated with the platformised Internet, digital rights, privacy and data security, and applications of AI.

How media, communications and entertainment industries are adapting to digitalisation and challenges from digital platforms.

How digital technologies are being used to improve engagement and participation practices and open knowledge creation in performance, the arts, libraries, museums, creative writing, journalism, public relations, publishing, political communication, and public health.

Critical analysis of governance frameworks informing applications of automation and AI in schools and universities.

Strategic storytelling and narratives in a global age; new methods for digital storytelling such as podcasting and digital sound arts.

e-services; cybersecurity; online propaganda and misinformation; digital war.

How AI and digital technologies can both undermine societal trust (deepfakes, misinformation etc.) but also enable new technological trust mediators (blockchain, recommendation engines, community managers etc.)

Evolving approaches to care, parental and community mediation, and online safety applying ‘Safety by Design’ principles and critically evaluating regulatory and governance frameworks for online safety especially for young people and minorities.

Critical evaluation of digital technologies application and datafication in urban governance and service provision, housing and public spaces, including data justice and data rights perspectives.

Applications of robotics in domestic and service environments.

Political economy of digital platforms and emerging business models, and the economic sustainability of news and entertainment media.

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