Mirko Tobias Schäfer / Assistant Professor
University of Utrecht Department for Media and Culture Studies


Featured Blog Entries

Date May 2016 / Category News

The Journal Computer Supported Cooperative Work approached me to put together a special issue on the impact of social media and big data on citizenship. The journal consists of five papers. Using different examples from medicine, urban space, journalism and blogs, these papers reflect on how social media and emerging data practices affect our understanding of citizenship. The fifth paper proposes a model for researching shared issues in the public sphere.

Date April 2016 / Category News

As a Meractor Research Fellow at the NRW School of Governance at University of Duisburg-Essen I am investigating social media use in public management and police in Nordrhein-Westfalen (NRW). With this research fellowship, I want to investigate exploratively the state of 'datafication' in NRW. Expert interviews with decision makers and practcioners from government bodies and the police shall provide insight into the process of implementing social media metrics and algorithmic processes into the various activities from communicating policies to monitoring publics and intervening in case of emergencies. The insights gained will be relevant in order to understand the transformation of our understanding of public sphere and democracy.

More Blog Entries


Date April 2016

Lindsay Caplan has published an excellent article at eFlux, questioning the seductive mode of data visualisations. Caplan argues that the currently popular analysis of data often has more aesthetic than epistemic value. Worse, researchers seem to cut corners and neglect social contexts and historic perspectives of their research objects. Her criticism is to be taken seriously if researchers want to achieve more than mere aesthetization of social and cultural phenomena in data visualisations.


Date March 2016

In this excellent essay, Shoshana Zuboff discusses the emergence of business models that depend and thrive on user data. Zuboff explains convincingly how paying with data is invading privacy, transforming public space and remodelling democracy towards what she calls surveillance capitalism.


Date February 2016

This article tells about the person behind Sci-Hub who built an efficient system for distributing scholarly articles for free. Scientific publishers such as Elsevier, Springer, Taylor and Francis or Sage charge universities hefty fees for making available scientific and scholarly articles. They thrive on low production costs as the authors, reviewers and editors are not paid for these activities. Receiving profit margins up to 30% this industry is guarding their monopolies anxiously through lobbying against open access, futile attempts of controlling digital distribution and aggressively suing platforms or persons who go against them.


Date February 2016

Facebook has emerged as powerful brokers of awareness. Hence, the algorithms managing the dissemination affect the reach of messages and the quality of public debate on these platforms and beyond. As a private company, Facebook is less invested in our public affairs but rather into its immediate profits. Therefore it is inclined to monetize awareness and throttle the so-called organic reach to make you pay for views. B. Traven over at ValleyWag has some interesting insights.


Date February 2016

Michael Massing who has written outstanding articles on the digital journalism now explores how effective reporting on the agenda of the super-rich elite should look like. In this article Massing revisits philanthropy in US American history and questions the political agenda most philanthropic donations are tied to. He calls for novel ways of reporting these activities, tracking money streams and making information publicly available.


Date January 2016

The metaphor of the cloud is deeply misleading in creating an opaque image of de-materialised hardware. This photo essay by Peter Garritano is an excellent opportunity to peek behind the metaphor and get a glance of the hardware and infrastructure that facilitates much of our information processes.


Date December 2015

This amazingly well researched article in the Netherlands most innovative and courageous news outlet De Correspondent names the Think Tanks that influence the debate on TTIP with so-called research paid for by lobby organisations. (the article is in Dutch)


Date December 2015

This article does not particularly deal with new media and digital culture, but it reminds me in a good way of the years I studied film at the University of Vienna. Alex Ross, the distinguished music critic at The New Yorker and author of The Rest is Noise has written this excellent piece on Orson Welles. He is referencing the most relevant books while discussing the popular and the lesser-known works of Orson Welles. A fantastic read!



Mirko Tobias Schaefer is a researcher in the field of digital culture.

This website provides information on his research interests and teaching activities.




Mirko Tobias Schaefer

Department for Media and Culture Studies

Utrecht University

Kromme Nieuwegr. 20
NL-3512 HH Utrecht

2000 - 2016 Mirko Tobias Schäfer

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