Monthly Archives: January 2018

Media Lab Doctoral Seminar February 15

Welcome to the Media Lab Doctoral Seminar
TIME: Thursday February 15, 2018, from 16:00–19:00
LOCATION: Aalto University Harald Herlin Learning Centre, Otaniementie 9, Espoo (Otaniemi), 1st floor room 116 (Johanna meeting room).

DOM-L0003 Doctor of Arts at Media Lab Seminar
Responsible  teacher: Prof. Lily Díaz-Kommonen

Presentations by: NinFeng Zhang and Francisco Martinez. See abstracts below.

The seminar is open for all. Welcome!

Analogue photo booths in Berlin: A stage, a trap, a condenser and four shots for kissing the person you love

by Francisco Martínez

Abstract: Why do analogue photos still fascinate young people? Why, for some purposes, might vintage technologies be considered more authentic than newer ones? And what is the contribution of old-school photo booths to Berlin as a city? In casting an ethnographic eye on analogue photo booths in Berlin via empirical data (participant observation and 60 interviews with users), this paper makes a case for the continued relevance of analogue technologies and practices in the contemporary digital age. The argument highlights the inconsistencies in the linear theories of media development and social change, thus pointing to a complex co-existence of actual and emerging technologies and practices. In this paper, I will also consider how the relationship between these old-school booths and Berlin is reciprocal, becoming part of the city’s scene, assembling people, displaying and materialising relationships, thereby providing an opportunity to be private in public and functioning as a cultural condenser, which simultaneously benefits from the local idiosyncrasy and contributes to making the city itself a place.


Francisco Martinez, PhD, is a postdoctoral researcher at Aalto University and an associate editor of the Anthropological Journal of European Cultures and of Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society. He has edited several books, curated different exhibitions, and has been awarded a dozen of scholarships (including Jean Monnet, Wenner-Gren and CIMO). For five years, he worked as a correspondent in Russia, Germany, Turkey, and Portugal, publishing over 550 articles and participating in 150 television programs. His monograph Remains of the Soviet Past in Estonia. An Anthropology of Forgetting, Repair and Urban Traces will be published in 2018 by UCL Press.


A historical, epistemological and ecological perspective on the generation mechanism of an Internet youth culture in the context of Chinese Social Media

by Ningfeng Zhang

Abstract: By June 2017, the number of people surfing the internet in China reaches 751 million, and has ranked the top in the world. Among then, the number of the youths occupies the main part. Social subcultural phenomenon is formed in the youth stage. And one of the most influential subcultural phenomenon is the “Toad Worship Culture”.

“Toad-worship” culture is a contemporary youth subculture that prevails within Chinese social media. The feature of this youth subculture is that young Chinese internet users poked fun, through a series of self-created visual memes, at Jiang’s heavy black-rimmed rectangular glasses and his high-waisted trousers. They also mocked his clumsy language and sometimes uncouth behavior at official functions. They even gave him a nickname in Chinese, namely “Ha Ma” (蛤蟆), which is “toad” in English based on his purportedly features including his big nostrils and huge mouth. All these mockeries made Jiang Zemin one of the biggest and most influential funny icons among young Chinese internet users and social media players. Though facing the pressure from the governmental censorship based on the mandatory social and cultural conformity that is consistent with Marxist-Leninist-Maoist dogma, numerous visual memes featuring Jiang’s image and his quotes have still been created and successfully mediated mostly in social media by young Chinese internet users since 2014. This kind of visual memes soon prevail among liberal-minded Chinese people in almost all kinds of social media in China. Most importantly, the birth and prosperity of “Toad-worship” culture has encouraged the birth of other series of its ramifications in different genres, and using visual memes in Chinese social media becomes a rather fixed “social habit” among Chinese internet users.

My research will use this specific cultural phenomenon as a case, to further then study the dynamics of its generation mechanism as a living organism in the context of Chinese social media. I am aiming form a historical, epistemological and ecological perspective to interpret this cultural phenomenon. And three questions will be answered by applying mixed-methods.

  1. How has visual memes, as a form of visual cultural paradigm been hierarchically determined as “mainstream” or “subculture” in China in terms of visual language and visual rhetoric? (historical review, visual content analysis and semiotic studies)
  2. A network study concerning the existing components, their intrinsic features, and how they interact with each other, in order to draw a pattern of the symbiotic relationship among components (visual ethnographic methods: participant observation and interview)
  3. what kind of societal value it reflects in China and what is its ethical and moral significance for Chinese media, social and political environment? (interview)

Ningfeng Zhang, MA (art and design), from P.R. China. First year doctoral candidate at Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture in the Department of Media.

Two Doctoral Candidate positions in Department of Media

The Department of Media has positions for

Two Doctoral Candidates

The positions are fixed-term and will be filled for 12 months. The starting date is 1st March 2018.

These positions are for doctoral students who study within the Department of Media, Aalto-ARTS, to support the final stages of their dissertation preparation, for pre-examination. The position duties are working full-time on the DA dissertation, so that within, but not later than, the end of the 12 month work period, the Head of Research in the Department of Media will make a proposal to the Doctoral Programme Committee confirming that the dissertation is ready to be submitted for pre-examination.


The salary for these positions is 2500-2700€ per month. Aalto University follows the salary system of Finnish universities.

How to apply

Applications for the position require:

1.      A written statement from the applicant that includes overview of the research, schedule and time-line for completion. This must include a written statement declaring that the applicant understands their dissertation will be ready to be submitted for pre-examination at the end of the work period.

2.      Full CV from applicant

3.      Recent academic transcript from Aalto University (digitally signed is accepted)

4.      Letter of Support from the Supervising Professor including a statement confirming their confidence that full-time work on the dissertation will allow the applicant to be ready to submit the dissertation for pre-examination at the end of the work period.

5.      Letter(s) of Support from the Advisor or Advisors including a statement confirming their confidence that full-time work on the dissertation will allow the applicant to be ready to submit the dissertation for pre-examination at the end of the work period.

6.      The applications for the positions should be submitted through the eRecruitment system no later than on Monday February 5th, 2018.

Apply for this job:

Vacancy: Post-doctoral Researcher in Design at Northumbria University

We are seeking to recruit a Post-doctoral Researcher with a background in Interaction Design / HCI and an interest in doing some exciting research around outdoor play for children and the Internet of Things. The post is for 12 months, but can be extended to 18 months. Please do pass to any Post-docs or nearly finished PhD students who might be interested in a move to the North East of England and joining our growing group of design and HCI researchers!

Closing date is 12th February.

Full advert below.

– – – –

Post-doctoral Senior Research Assistant (Playing Out with IoT project)

Senior Research Assistant (Full time, Fixed-Term for 12 months) – Ref ADS17/11

Salary:  £27,498 – £33,420 pa
Closing date: 12th February 2018

We are seeking a Senior Research Assistant to contribute to the participatory design and research through design strands of the EPSRC funded Playing Out with IoT project. Playing Out with IoT is an exciting and innovative project that is exploring how Internet of Things (IoT) technologies can be developed and extended to enable children to create digital outside play in their own neighbourhoods. The project responds to the concern that fewer and fewer children now play outside. This reduction in unstructured outdoor active play – or ‘playing-out’ – has led to a whole range of concerns around health, wellbeing and development. The main aim of the project is to make use of IoT technologies to increase outdoor play and allow public spaces to be re-scripted by children (and parents / guardians) for their own play, both by the use of the IoT toolkits we create, and a Playing Out Engine to produce and share stories about their play. The project is a collaboration between Northumbria University (Computer Science and Design), University College London (Education), Canterbury Christ Church University (Psychology), in partnership with Playing Out CiC, BeChange, Cederwood Trust and SAM Labs.

You will take a leading role with research participants, including groups of children aged under 9, to engage in co-design activities with them. You will be specifically responsible for the running of participatory engagements that involve the creation of new ideas for IoT to support ‘playing out’, and translating insights from these engagements into innovative technologies and associated IoT toolkits that will be tested by our project partners. It is also desirable that you have a methodological interest in collaborative design techniques and approaches to engaging children in design processes, although this is not a requirement.

You will have a PhD (or one that is close to completion) in interaction design, human-computer interaction or in a related design field. It is expected you will have a track-record of publishing in leading venues in these fields. Since the research conducted across Playing out with IoT is highly collaborative and interdisciplinary, you will have demonstrable experience and interest to work in multi-disciplinary teams. Excellent communication skills, as well as familiarity with a range of desktop publishing and media creation tools, is essential. You will also have bring research experience and understanding of designing and conducting studies and evaluations of technologies ‘in the wild’. It is expected you will have prior experience of qualitative data collection and analysis, and be comfortable with working with children and young people.

It is also essential that you are willing to travel around the UK for short periods during design and evaluation phases of the project. This will involve occasional travel to and staying with project collaborators in London, Bristol and Aylesham. Occasional weekend work may also be necessary.

This post is fixed-term for 12 months in the first instance, with the option to extend this to 18 months in total.

For an informal discussion about the post, please contact John Vines at  or Abigail Durrant at

The Sussex Humanities Lab is hiring

Research Fellow in Media History & Historical Data Modelling
University of Sussex – Media, Film and Music/Sussex Humanities Lab (SHL)

Contract: fixed term until 31 December 2021
Salary: starting at £32,548 and rising to £38,833 per annum
Closing date:  2 February 2018. Applications must be received by midnight of the closing date.
Expected start date: 1 April 2018

The School of Media, Film and Music in collaboration with the Sussex Humanities Lab (SHL) wish to appoint to a fixed term Research Fellow to support a major AHRC funded research project: BBC Connected Histories. The project will create a digital oral history archive reflecting the inside story of the Corporation. Funded for five years and led by Professor David Hendy, BBC Connected Histories will create a fully searchable resource, incorporating extensive tagging and Linked Open Data, from interviews with staff held in the BBC’s oral history collection, dating from the early 1970s onwards, and reflecting the experience of employees going back to the founding of the Corporation in 1922.

The post is full-time for 45 months, commencing on 1 April 2018, or as soon as possible thereafter. The role will involve the migration and ingestion of digital assets – primarily oral history records – into the project’s research store, tagging, creating new metadata and enriching this material in other ways to facilitate analysis by a wide number of users. The post holder will also: participate directly in the analysis of this material; engage in collaborative workshops at the Sussex Humanities Lab; attend project meetings; liaise with project partners (BBC, Mass Observation, Science Museum Group, British Entertainment History Project); write/contribute to articles and chapters for project publications; present seminar and conference papers; provide general research support to the project team as required. The post will be based in the School of Media, Film and Music.

The successful candidate will be familiar with data management; possess excellent computer skills, and have some expertise in media and twentieth-century history.

Candidates will be expected to proficient in the following:

• The transfer of data between different formats, and the generation of associated meta-data.
• XML tagging and schema design in compliance with TEI standards.
• Data analysis tools including, for example, topic modelling and network analysis.
• Familiarity with media history and the history of broadcasting.
The fellow will be expected to play a full role in project, School and SHL activities.

The position involves:

• Working with inherited oral history interviews and new interviews generated by the project.
• Processing the materials into new formats, and adding substantial tagging and meta-data to each file.
• Analysing the text and audio and visual files as part of creating a wider history of the BBC.
• Maintaining and helping to populate the project website.
The person appointed will work with project team and associated academics to produce a high quality digital and online resource. The Research Fellow will work within a lively and intellectually vibrant research programme to help deliver a new vision of the humanities – as a field with digital resources and critiques at its heart.

Good communication skills, a commitment to innovation, and an ability to work productively as part of a cross-disciplinary team are essential for this position.

For an informal discussion of the post, please contact David Hendy, Professor of Media and Cultural History (<>).

For full details and how to apply see

The University of Sussex values the diversity of its staff and students and we welcome applicants from all backgrounds.

More details found here:

Open guest lecture by Yannick Rochat

Welcome to an open guest lecture:

Yannick Rochat, University of Lausanne (UNIL)

The Time Machine: Dynamics of Information in the Digital Humanities

Friday February 2, 2018, from 10:00–12:00
Otakaari 1 X, lecture hall A1
Otaniemi, Espoo

This guest lecture is part of a course Topics in Visualization and Cultural Analytics DOM-E5103 at the Department of Media, Media Lab, but open for everyone interested!

Warmly welcome!

Abstract: Through the concept of «time machine» as it is understood in the digital humanities, Yannick Rochat will present some of the current problematics of creating interactive information systems in that field: reading and interpreting archives, architectural modeling, game design, new media studies.

09_Yannick_Rochat_72dpi_DSC_7967©SLiphardtYannick Rochat is a junior lecturer at the faculty of arts of the University of Lausanne (UNIL). He owns a MSc in mathematics and a PhD in mathematics applied to humanities and social sciences. His fields of study are digital humanities, new media and game studies. He is an occasional contributor to Swiss newspaper Le Temps.



Topics in Visualization and Cultural Analytics DOM-E5103 – Responsible teachers: Prof. Lily Díaz-Kommonen, Mamdooh Afadile, Khalil Klouche

Media Lab DA Seminar: Guest lecture by Prof. Dagny Stuedahl

Welcome to an open guest lecture:

Prof. Dagny Stuedahl, OsloMet – city university (Norway), Department of Journalism and Media studies:

Making dialogues work

Time: Thursday January 18, 2018, 4pm–6pm
Location: Harald Herlin Learning Centre, Johanna meeting room, 1st floor

This guest lecture is part of Media Lab DA Seminar at the Department of Media but open for everyone interested!

Warmly welcome!

More information:

This presentation will describe a participatory exhibition design prosess including public hearings, interviews, and round table sessions related to the exhibition FOLK which opens at Norwegian Museum of Science, Technology and Medicine (NTM) in March 2018. Also a participatory project used methods from participatory design ( PD)  for a year long process involving a group of 9 multiethnic young people to discuss identity, ethnicity and belonging. The goal of the participatory process was originally to design engaging activities for young people related to the theme of the exhibition, race and ethnicity, but ended with making a participatory sound installation that will become part of the exhibition.

The particiaptory process became part of research and communication activities of the curatorial study, which compared contemporary views on ethnicity with perspectives in historical racial science and contemporary research on human biological variation and their multiple entanglements with society, culture, economy, politics, and technology. Hence, the curatorial research interweave understandings of individual and group identities with broader political and ethical issues such as concerns on migration, the rise of racist and discriminatory attitudes, or indigenous peoples rights.

The way the curatorial research focus shaped the participatory process, and the way the young people where at each workshop responded to the current state of the curatorial work with the exhibition will be the main focus of the presentation. The museum did paralell to the participatory design process arrange multiple encounters through diverse communication formats including, focus-group workshops, public lectures, and hearings, and the presentation will reflect on the outcome from each of these compared to the longterm collaboration in the youth participation project.

NTM has earlier developed a record of research-based exhibitions and activities and has methodically been investigating the integration of research with communication and management of cultural heritage. Meanwhile, the participatory design proces was new to them, and the presentation will describe how the museum professionals approached the method, and how they integrated a participatory thinking in their curatorial reflections.



DOM-L0003 Doctor of Arts at Media Lab Seminar
Responsible teacher: Prof. Lily Díaz-Kommonen

Defence in the field of New Media: MA Sanna Marttila

The dissertation examines the ways in which Participatory Design (PD) and digital design endeavors can contribute to wider public access to, and use of, digital cultural heritage.

FRIDAY 19 JANUARY 2018, 12:00–14:00
Aalto University TÖÖLÖ CAMPUS

Nokia Hall, Main Building, 2nd floor
Runeberginkatu 14-16, 00560, Helsinki

MA, M.Phil. Sanna Marttila will defend her thesis Infrastructuring for Cultural Commons.

Opponent: Dr.polit Dagny Stuedahl, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (HiOA)

Custos: prof. Lily Díaz-Kommonen

Discussion will be in English.

More information:

In her doctoral dissertation Infrastructuring for Cultural Commons Sanna Marttila inquires into the ways in which Participatory Design (PD) and digital design endeavors can contribute to wider public access to, and use of, digital cultural heritage. Marttila advocates for an approach according to which digital cultural heritage is arranged and understood as cultural commons, and for more collaborative modes of social care for and governance of the cultural commons.

In addition to the empirically grounded findings and proposals contained in six individual research articles, Marttila develops a theoretical framework that combines scholarship on Information Infrastructures, Commons and PD. Against this framework Marttila interrogates how the information infrastructures and conditions that surround digital cultural heritage can be active in constructing and contributing to cultural commons. While doing this, she draws attention to the gap that exists between on the one hand official institutional digital cultural heritage collections, systems and practices, and on the other hand the digital platforms and practices through which everyday people create, curate and share digital cultural works.

In order to understand how to critically and productively bridge this gap, Marttila presents insights gained from conducting three design research cases that engage both cultural heritage institutions and everyday media users. Building upon this empirical work, and latching on to scholarship on the notion of infrastructuring, Marttila proposes four infrastructuring strategies for cultural commons: probing and building upon the installed base, stimulating and simulating design and use through gateways, producing and pooling shared resources, and, lastly, fostering and shaping a commons culture that supports commoning. In exploring these strategies, Marttila maps the territory between commons and infrastructuring, and connects these notions to the PD tradition.

In addition, drawing on her practical design work, Marttila discusses requirements for professional designers operating on commons frameworks and with collective action. By doing this, her dissertation not only breaks new theoretical ground through advancing theoretical considerations relevant to contemporary design research, especially the field of PD, but also contributes practical implications useful for professional digital media design practice, especially for designers working in the fields of digital culture and cultural heritage.


Defence in the field of New Media: M.Soc.Sci. Pirkka Åman

In the thesis, Pirkka Åman explores music recommendation systems and suggests new discovery strategies that make use of context information, information describing the listener’s situation. The ethical cornerstone of the thesis is to support cultural diversity by influencing music recommendations towards non-obvious and non-mainstream music. Åman believes that one way to achieve serendipitous – new, good, and often surprising – musical discoveries is to offer people ways to augment urban environments with music.

FRIDAY 12 JANUARY 2018 from 12:00
Lecture hall 822, ARABIA

Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture
Hämeentie 135 C, 00560, Helsinki

M.Soc.Sci. Pirkka Åman will defend his thesis Musical Serendipity. Designing for Contextual Music Recommendation and Discovery. on Friday 12 January 2018.

Opponent: PhD François Pachet, Spotify

Custos: prof. Lily Díaz-Kommonen

Discussion will be in English.

More information

In the thesis, Pirkka Åman explores music recommendation systems and suggests new discovery strategies that make use of context information, information describing the listener’s situation. The ethical cornerstone of the thesis is to support cultural diversity by influencing music recommendations towards non-obvious and non-mainstream music. Åman believes that one way to achieve serendipitous – new, good, and often surprising – musical discoveries is to offer people ways to augment urban environments with music.

Today, almost all music that has been recorded is available online. The problem for music lovers is finding the most interesting music from the catalogs of millions of tracks. One way to approach the problem is to include some kind of context information to recommendations, for example, location, time, social context or activity.

The author presents concepts and prototypes showcasing the potential uses of context information and analyzes interactions and context information used in commercial services and research prototypes. The results of the thesis show that involving context factors in music recommendation can lead to rewarding user experiences and serendipitous discoveries. The focus of music discovery is in urban environments where the field studies where conducted. The field study participants felt that the discovery of music and events improved the quality of the everyday life, showing the potential for similar commercial services.

On a more abstract level, the ethical undercurrent of the work is promoting cultural diversity as well as co-creation of urban environments with music-related applications. Through the concepts and prototypes, the author aimed to empower people by offering means to modify their environments by creating, experiencing and sharing virtual, augmented layers of music and other media content.

While the results show that the users indeed experienced serendipity in many ways, it can not be proven that context-aware music recommendations necessarily lead to cultural diversity. Instead, design implications are given to help designers and researchers of future systems to build rewarding and enjoyable context-aware content services, especially to enrich urban environments. The implications include:

Supporting open meaning-making through combinations of different media content and places;
Visual and interactive UI elements that communicate the system logic or explain why a recommendation was made;
Positive restrictions, such as allowing the content to be available only when the user is near a certain location or within a defined time window;
Supporting serendipity can be approached in many ways, for example by combining music with an activity, a location, certain time or an identity, which may result in serendipitous discoveries of not only music but the cultural layers of urban environments as well.
The work helps in opening new directions in the domain of social media since there are few studies conducted on music and social media services from the contextual point of view. Furthermore, various context-aware services (e.g. mobile shopping, advertising, travel and lifestyle applications) that sense people’s activity or location may benefit from the work.


PhD François Pachet, Spotify – A Guest lecture

Welcome to an open lecture at Media Lab!

PhD François Pachet, Director of Spotify Creator Technology Research Lab

‘Artificial Intelligence for music generation: the making of the album “Hello World”‘

Time: Thursday January 11, 2018, 4pm–6pm
Location: Harald Herlin Learning Centre, Johanna meeting room, 1st floor

This guest lecture is part of Media Lab DA Seminar but open for everyone interested!

Warmly welcome!

François Pachet is director of the Spotify CTRL (Creator Research Technology Lab).

He is the former director of the SONY Computer Science Laboratory Paris, where he led the music research team. He received his Ph.D. and Habilitation degrees from Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC). He is a Civil Engineer (Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées) and was Assistant Professor in Artificial Intelligence at UPMC until 1997. He joined the Sony Computer Science Laboratory in 1997 and created the music team to conduct research on interactive music listening, composition and performance. Since its creation, the team developed several award winning technologies (constraint-based spatialisation, intelligent music scheduling using metadata) and systems: MusicSpace, PathBuilder, Continuator for interactive music improvisation, Flow Composer, etc.).

He has been Principal Investigator of the Flow Machines ERC Advanced Grant, and has launched the first multi-artist mainstream music album composed with AI. His current goal in Spotify is to build a new generation of tools to assist music creation.

François Pachet has published intensively in artificial intelligence and computer music. He was elected ECCAI Fellow in 2014 and he is Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of Pernambuco (Brazil).

He is also an accomplished musician (guitar, composition) and has published two music albums (in jazz and pop) as composer and performer.


DOM-L0003 Doctor of Arts at Media Lab Seminar
Responsible teacher: Prof. Lily Díaz-Kommonen