New TORCH network on the #SocialHumanities


Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 15.31.50

I’m very excited to be part of a new TORCH network on the #SocialHumanities. TORCH sponsors up to ten new interdisciplinary networks each year, with current projects ranging from Ancient Dance in Modern Dancers to the Celebrity Research Network. You can learn more about all of these networks here. The #SocialHumanities network aims to bring together researchers working across the humanities to debate and discuss the impact of social media on the way we study, work, interact, live and learn. We will be organising a range of events, workshops and seminars over the coming year that bring a diverse body of students, non-academic partners, researchers and  enthusiasts together with the aim of fostering knowledge exchange and skills sharing. I will be organising several events next year which will pay particular attention to how visual imagery circulates online and the role of embeddable videos, photographs and digital media in social media networks. My co-convenors on the project are Yin Yin Lu of the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) and Dr. Kathryn Eccles also of the OII. I have included the network description below and more information (with details of upcoming events) can be found here.


“Social media never sleeps. Every minute of every day, 347,222 tweets are sent, 4,166,667 Facebook posts are liked, 300 hours of new YouTube videos are uploaded, 284,722 Snapchat images are shared, and 1,041,666 videos are played on Vine. These numbers have increased dramatically every year, and will only keep increasing. There is heightened demand for academics of all disciplines to develop methodologies and theories to make sense of this data explosion.

Nested in the ever-evolving and ever-expanding field of the digital humanities, the #SocialHumanities network explores the implications of social media for society, from platform design and usage to the volumes of data generated. How can we interpret such vast volumes of data, both quantitatively and qualitatively, while maintaining a humanistic perspective? How have social media platforms altered our language and behaviours? What are the methodological challenges and ethical issues that arise in the analysis of social media data? How do images (and other cultural objects) spread on social media, and how are they (re)appropriated? How can social media analytics help cultural institutions better understand their engagement with audiences? What is the value of social media for society? What are the dangers?

There are many unanswered questions, and more will emerge as the network grows. The establishment of #SocialHumanities allows humanities scholars to more actively join in the conversations that social and computational scientists have initiated around these concerns. There is strong need for a more qualitative interpretation of social media data (especially data that is non-textual, such as images and videos), and for the integration of qualitative and quantitative approaches. This network allows humanities scholars to engage with not only a vast range of other disciplines in Oxford, from Cybersecurity to Physics, but also with many non-academic partners, both internal and external to the University. Its aims are to foster highly interdisciplinary knowledge exchange and skills sharing, promote and improve mixed methods research, stimulate interaction between academics and non-academics (in particular, companies that work with social media data), develop methodologies for the analysis of social media data, and enhance theoretical frameworks used for such analysis.”

If you have any questions about #SocialHumanities, event ideas, speaker suggestions, or are interested in becoming a member, please contact one of the convenors: Yin Yin Lu (, Kathryn Eccles (, Ros Holmes (