Author Archives: Gauti Sigthorsson

Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication. Programme Leader for MA Media and Communication.

Hallo Amsterdam!

On the 24th of February, CPDA students took a trip to Amsterdam to explore the sights and the art that the city had to offer, as well as potential links with the University of Amsterdam – one of the top 15 universities in Europe.

Whilst in Amsterdam, Media and Communications students had 5 free days to tour the city. They visited various museums, including the EYE Film Institute, local landmarks and attended a lecture at the university.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The cold weather may have made for a frosty return back to London but many students and staff are definitely keen to visit again! (Hopefully when it’s a little warmer)

To see more posts like this and to stay updated on what we get up to, visit the main CPDA Blog where we post all the latest activities and events within the department!

The Graduate Show 2016 Catalogue

The full catalogue of student work across the department of Creative Professions and Digital Arts is now available at:

Media & Communications students contribute work to the show from two key final-year courses: Advanced Projects and the Dissertation.

The Graduate Show opens on 15 June 2016, at 7pm all over the Stockwell Street building.


Symposium: Student Research at the Graduate Show 2016

Our final year students will present their Dissertation projects at the Graduate Show 2016. Before the private view, we will gather for lively presentations and discussion of students’ research projects, what they found, and how they can communicate their findings.

The symposium takes place in seminar room 2014, from 4pm on Wednesday 15 June, followed by the private view of the Graduate Show, featuring the work of students in the Dept. of Creative Professions and DIgital Arts, and the Dept. of Architecture & Landscape. Refreshments will be available.

Please register attendance on our Eventbrite page (it’s free!).

Tools for Twitter archiving and analysis

What if I want to do a bit of social media listening, and I don’t have access to a fancy subscription-based analytics service, I don’t know how to code (e.g., in Python), or my computer is very basic? Take courage. There are tools for lo-fi social media research that require nothing more than a browser.
This is not about having fancy hardware. All but one of the recommendations here would work on a Chromebook laptop (but not a tablet or smartphone). They are presented in order of increasing difficulty to learn and use:
First, to investigate Twitter topics, keywords and trends, twXplorer is a very simple tool. It requires Twitter authorisation, so not much setup. The feature I like the most is the filtering it offers (by terms, hashtags and links), allowing you to drill down into a topic quickly. It’s a great tool for trying out searches to see what’s there.
Then, once you have your search terms ready, you can move on to something a bit more feature-rich: Netlytic is a cloud-based text and social networks analyser that requires no installation. When you register, you get a free basic account, but you can apply to get free student account with more datasets and queries allowed. You can set it up to query the Twitter API at set intervals to gather tweets over time. Netlytic also works with Instagram (location- and hashtag queries), YouTube, Facebook Groups and more.
Twitter Archiver is a Chrome add-on which links with Google Sheets to download tweets from a keyword search or hashtag at set intervals. There is a short video introduction here.
Blockspring is a service that allows you to query APIs, including Twitter, from your spreadsheet (either Excel or Google Sheets). This requires installing an extension in Google Sheets or Excel to enable you to pull down “live” data from web sources. The most immediately useful blockspring service for this purpose is the Twitter one, but Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram queries are also possible.
NodeXL Basic (paid version: NodeXL Pro) is an Excel extension that will load the results of a Twitter search (and searches from other social networking sites) into a familiar Excel spreadsheet environment for analysis. This only works under Windows, with MS Office installed. Because it works within Excel, NodeXL requires a good grasp of spreadsheets, and it will take you some time to get to grips with how to turn the intimidating table of raw data into a pretty network visualization or other analysis. Not surprisingly, it’s also the most powerful tool on this list.
Of course, these tools may be simple and browser-based, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to learn them yourself. You will have to play around with them, try things out, and definitely watch some instructional videos.
(Image: Conference tweet network for #drha2015, created in NodeXL)

Communication Asset Mapping with students

I love a good map, especially when the map tells me something that I didn’t know before. This is why we have for some time incorporated spatial methods in teaching communications research at Greenwich. With the help of students on the BA Media & Communications, I’ve put together a slide deck explaining how we have used communication asset mapping as a method for investigating the neighbourhood around the campus.

Slides: Communication Asset Mapping in Practice

One of the fundamental insights of media theory is that media shape space (the light bulb is the classic example of this, as Marshall McLuhan argues). More specifically, communications scholars are interested in questions of how people experience and interact in space – neighbourhoods, urban areas, or even individual streets. This is where digital technologies come in. Mapmaking has become a lot more accessible to non-experts in cartography in recent years. Tools like Google Maps, Mapbox and CartoDB make it possible to add layers of data on to maps of the world, down to a very fine level of detail. We can document and visualise our environment (and share those visualisations) using cheap or free tools online

So, this is why our students can sometimes be found walking around the public spaces of Greenwich, taking notes and pictures. The inspiration for this comes from the MetaConnects group at the Annenberg School for Communication (University of Southern California) whose work aims to link research and practice through the study of communities, diversity and communication technologies. Importantly, they have created a very useful research toolkit, shared online. We’ve borrowed some of their concepts and methods, and put them to use on the streets of Greenwich.

Here’s a link to the map we made, and here are some slides documenting the process. Enjoy!

Creative Conversations – events, research, collaborations

The Creative Conversations project aims to bring together academics, practitioners and students in the creative industries. It’s a collaboration between staff from across the Department of Creative Professions and Digital Arts. Events and research themes this year include ‘the new space of publishing’, the local creative businesses and organisations of Greenwich and SE London, and the relationship between markets and communities (Making London). Media and communication students have contributed to events and even some of the research that is coming out of the project.

Read more on the Creative Conversations blog.

Charlton House collaborating with Greenwich students

Students on the MA Media & Communication are working with local charity the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust this term on a live project for Charlton House, the best-preserved Jacobean mansion in London. The team of students will be developing ideas and practical suggestions in response to the charity’s communications needs.

We look forward to working with Charlton House to build awareness of this beautiful local gem among a broader audience. A great opportunity for everyone to get to know the mansion and its grounds is coming up on Sunday 18 October, with the annual Horn Fair, a day of events and activities at Charlton House.



Welcome, and welcome back!

This week we’re welcoming students back on campus after the summer.

Induction sessions for freshers aren’t all about meeting staff and finding resources. Incoming media and communications students collaborated today on a Storify: The Colours of Greenwich

Hashtag: #tweetwich

Good thing the weather was nice, because I didn’t have a rainy-day backup plan for a collaborative activity involving a (small) creative brief, use of social media, exploring the campus environment and publishing the results to the world, all in one hour. As you do.

Thanks to everybody who contributed! Thanks to Elise (@Morrrrgss) for the featured image.

The Contra Innovation Prize

Sophia Evans is our winner of the Contra Innovation Prize for her project, “The Washing Line.” Of her work, Sophia says: “The Washing Line” is a photographic journal centred on the workings of contemporary British homes. It looks at the everyday act of washing clothes and asks how people’s identities are expressed through the way they carry out this task.”

Of Sophia’s project, Ruth Kent, client partner at Contra, says:

Humans emit signs/clues about who they are and how they live their lives in many, many ways. Designers often observe those they are designing for, as a starting point for their design process. In ‘The Washing Line’, Sophia Evans has created a photographic journal – featuring a number of subjects – that brought both of the above statements to mind. By examining the simple act of getting the laundry done, Sophia collects intelligence on their respective identities. The viewer is presented with detailed and varied information on each subject.

Contra were impressed not only with the way in which this project was approached by Sophia, but also with its professional and polished presentation. The images selected by Sophia were all strong. (Additionally, little touches such as the colour of the title text complementing the ‘hero’ colour from each image, did not go unnoticed!). Overall, it was Contra’s observation that this was a project put together by someone ready to make a positive contribution to the creative industries.

We congratulate Sophia on her achievement, and wish her all the best for the future.

Three projects were shortlisted for the prize, and everyone involved had great difficulty deciding on just one entry. The other two projects shortlisted were:

Nicole with projectNicole Fernandez, “The Perfection of Imperfection.”

Nicole’s project investigates “bad” photography, mishaps and mistakes. “Should we throw out a photograph or delete it, just because the lighting in the shot was too dull; it came out blurry; or because the dog magically gained red eyes?”

Of Nicole’s project, Ruth Kent says:

This series of ‘happy accidents’ made me feel nostalgic for the days before digital photography. The ‘hit and miss’ nature of taking snaps, waiting for them to be processed and eagerly opening the wallet of prints, once they’d been collected.
Today, we all edit our photographs so much (manipulation and deletion) that the kinds of snaps in Nicole Fernandez’s piece are increasingly rare.

Oscar with projectOscar Lacey “Disturbing Desolate”

Oscar’s project is a short video that “aims to reproduce a dreamlike state, allowing audiences to consciously experience the common unconscious.”

This short film is clearly the product of a painstaking production process – a real labour of love! I came away with a deep respect for the filmmaking/editing approach. As a viewer, I was swiftly transported to a collection of memories of my own dreamscapes – nightmares especially! The imagery and montage conspired beautifully – leaving me feeling distinctly rattled. A great project.
All the shortlisted works are exhibited at This is Change, the 2015 Degree Show of the Department of Creative Professions and Digital Arts. The Contra Innovation Prize is sponsored by Contra, an award-winning digital agency working across web, design, video, mobile and social media. Projects eligible for the prize come from the course MEDS1146 Advanced Projects, led by David Waterworth and Steve Kennedy. Many thanks to Ruth Kent for taking time out to select the winner and for her comments on the shortlisted works.