Memory Algorithms: Quantitative and Qualitative Methods to Research Collective Memory on YouTube

Memory Algorithms: Quantitative and Qualitative Methods to Research Collective Memory on YouTube

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Mykola Makhortykh

University of Bern

November 14, 2019 / 6.30 pm

Center for Urban History, Lviv

Spread of digital technology leads to establishment of new environments of collective memory. Digital platforms, such as YouTube,  not only offer additional opportunities to spread the available stories about the past, but also incentivize the emergence of new memory narratives. The amateur narratives would often suggest a simplified or biased interpretation of the past. However, the instrumental use of digital infrastructure of the platforms, such as search algorithms, allows them to be broadly disseminated and to impact the collective memory of society.

Digital turnaround and the related algorithmic turn require the rethinking of old and emergence of new methods to research collective memory. Many conventional quality methods, such as close reading or the analysis of speech acts, shall take into account the multimedia nature of digital narratives about the past. As a result, it generates a number of conceptual and methodological challenges. At the same time, the growth of memory content actualizes the use of quantitative methods of memory research, such as automatic recognition of historical images, and text classifications, as well as the algorithmic audit to identify an impact of algorithms on representation of the past. The lecture will use the case of YouTube to illustrate new opportunities to research memory. Coming from quantitative methods, and challenges in using them.

The lecture includes several thematic blocks: 1) digital and algorithmic turn in collective memory; 2) qualitative methods of memory research; 3) quantitative methods of memory research.

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Mykola Makhortykh

received his PhD at the University of Amsterdam, where his research was focused on interactions between digital platforms and Second World War remembrance in Eastern Europe. Currently, he is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Bern, where he studies the formation of information diets in online media environments. His other research interests deal with the intersections between security studies, critical data and algorithm studies and digital heritage studies.

The event takes place as part of an international workshop "Historicity of visuality and historiography of images: new forms of digital and visual history/humanities" (November, 14-15, Center for Urban History).


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