The Digital Culture research strand engages in analysing and evaluating the design, production, use and consumption of communication artefacts in contemporary culture. Communications and media are core to the development and maintenance of contemporary culture. With a strong focus on the social and cultural impacts of digital media this strand seeks to contribute to both policy and practice.
Projects that ICC staff have undertaken in the area of digital culture have been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) and the European Union. The Digital Art2 project was funded by NESTA and involved collaboration between Prof. Yates of the ICC, the Sheffield International Documentary Film Festival, Blast Theory (a digital performance arts group) and a number of technology providers, including Everything Everywhere and VeryCreative. Digital Art2 explored the use of readily available technologies such as 4G to support a connected platform for artists incorporating digital interactive technology in their work. The project sought to live test and present to audiences in an outdoor setting without the usual data transfer limitations. The project used Blast Theory’s “I’d Hide You” to investigate what is needed to connect audiences and artists, as well as to interrogate the notion of space and what constitutes a stage for art in interactive and digital contexts.
ICC projects have also focused on the role of digital media in supporting the social, economic and cultural inclusion of communities and citizens. The relentless development of digital media, the often high costs of new technologies, and government polices aimed at making savings through digital channel shifts all run the risk of marginalising vulnerable groups. This can lead to new forms of political, economic and social exclusion. The “Supporting Digital Engagement” project funded by Sheffield City Council and the ESRC sought to explore the detail of digital exclusion in four Sheffield communities and co-design support interventions with residents and the council. Other projects have looked at the development of digital inclusion strategies, leading to the “Seven C’s” report and guidelines for digital inclusion work.
Other projects around digital culture, led by Sue Potts of the ICC, include “Liverpool2007”, a National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) funded project that created an online collection of websites celebrating a community history of 800 years since the granting of Liverpool’s first charter; the Heritage Lottery funded “Liverpool Digital Archive Hidden History of the City” project, which covered ten individual projects on topics such as music history and the dock strikes; the NWDA funded “In My Life” project, which developed a toolkit for community websites using people’s stories as the hook for engagement; and a Mersey Broadband funded project, “Traveller Tairing”, that installed wireless technology and used creative media with Liverpool’s Irish Travelling community.