9 - 13 January 2023
9 January at 9.15am Amsterdam time. Please be punctual!
Opening Day Location:
To be announced
Digital Methods Initiative
University of Amsterdam
1012 XT Amsterdam
Digital Methods Initiative - Winter School 2023
The use and misuse of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)
The Digital Methods Initiative (DMI), Amsterdam, is holding its annual Winter School on the 'Use and Misuse of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)'. The format is that of a (social media and web) data sprint, with tutorials as well as hands-on work for telling stories with data. There is also a programme of keynote speakers. It is intended for advanced Master's students, PhD candidates and motivated scholars who would like to work on (and complete) a digital methods project in an intensive workshop setting. For a preview of what the event is like, you can view short video clips from previous editions of the School.
What actually happened? The use and misuse of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)
From geolocating burning tanks in the Ukrainian fields and determining the authenticity of videos depicting possible human rights violations in Cameroon to reconstructing the events of January 6, 2021 in the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., activists, journalists, and the general public are increasingly turning to a (somewhat) new ally: Open Source Intelligence (OSINT). The systematization of information gathered from open, often internet-based, sources (as opposed to the classified sources of governmental intelligence) using digital tools, as OSINT may be defined, is turning into a highly regarded strategy to build public narratives of truth.
Recently, major news outlets such as The Guardian, The New York Times, and the BBC have added OSINT units called ‘visual investigation’ teams. They join more established investigation units from international civil society such as those of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, academic research institutions such as Berkley's Human Rights Investigations Lab, and citizen intelligence agencies like Bellingcat. Recent news articles have described the rise of open source intelligence as challenging existing authorities, especially state-controlled or other official information sources.
In doing so, OSINT practitioners have developed a particular set of reporting formats and verification tools that strengthen the epistemic authority of their practices. For example, crowd-sourced information from Twitter or Telegram is arranged next to video stills pulled from popular platforms or satellite images from public providers in order to put together and strengthen the argument of what actually happened.
OSINT has developed a signature 'investigative aesthetic' and style, dramatised and popularised by organisations striving for justice, such as Forensic Architecture, or preserving the memory of wars, such as the Syrian Archive. OSINT also taps into the transparency strategies of the open source ethos and the encouragement of DIY hacker culture. Professional and lay OSINT practitioners curate lists of tools, draft how-to guides and share training materials on YouTube and elsewhere to empower others to undertake similar work. These have been applied to projects that fight climate change and trace illicit money flowing through obscure corporate structures. They also have found an eager audience in those who dig for and post updates about conspiracy theories such as QAnon. Whether it is misuse or weaponisation, OSINT practices and styles have also been adopted by misinformation operatives such as 'War on Fakes'.
The Winter School takes up OSINT as an investigative practice and aesthetic. It offers critical research projects on data journalism, fact-checking and other investigative projects employing online data. It also combines OSINT tools with digital methods and other online research techniques for academic research that make use of verification. Finally, it analyses its cultures of practice and how it establishes and undermines others' epistemic authority.
For all details about this Winter School Course, please visit the Digital Methods website below.
- Dates: 9-13 January 2021
- Tuition fee: € 695
- Registration deadline: rolling admissions until 1 December 2022
- Academic director: Richard Rogers
- Organizers: Guillén Torres, Kamila Koronska
- Academic level: all graduate levels - Master's, PhD candidates and professionals/scholars
- Credits: 6 ECTS
- Field of study: New Media and Digital Culture
- Location: In-person. University of Amsterdam, Media Studies, Turfdraagsterpad 9, 1012 XT Amsterdam, the Netherlands
The Digital Methods Winter School is exploratory and experimental. It is not a setting for ‘just’ tool training or for principally tool-driven research. Substantive research projects are conceived and carried out. Participants are encouraged to ‘span time with their issue’ and the materials. In other words, we heed Alexander Galloway’s admonition about data and tool-driven work: “Those who were formerly scholars or experts in a certain area are now recast as mere tool users beholden to the affordances of the tool — while students spend ever more time mastering menus and buttons, becoming literate in a digital device rather than a literary corpus.” We encourage device and corpus literacy! The device training we ask you to do prior to the School through online tutorials, and at the School itself, in a kind of flipped learning environment (if you'll excuse the overused phrase), we would like to believe that you have familiarised yourself already with the tools (and are driven, to complete the thought). During the School we will discuss and tinker with the nitty-gritty, aim to invent new methods, techniques and heuristics and create the first iterations of compelling work to be shared.
 Alexander Galloway (2014)." The Cybernetic Hypothesis," Differences. 25(1):107-131. See page 127.
About the Winter School
The Digital Methods Winter School, a part of the Digital Methods Initiative, is directed by Professor Richard Rogers, Chair in New Media & Digital Culture, Media Studies, University of Amsterdam. The Winter School is one training opportunity provided by the Digital Methods Initiative (DMI). DMI also has a Summer School, held the first weeks of July. Both Schools have a technical staff as well as a design staff, drawn from the ranks of Density Design in Milan. The Schools also rely on a technical infrastructure of servers hosting tools and storing data.
In a culture of experimentation and skill-sharing, participants bring their laptops, learn method, undertake research projects, make reports, tools and graphics and write them up on the Digital Methods wiki. The School concludes with final presentations. Often there are subject matter experts from non-governmental or other organizations who present their analytical needs and issues at the outset and the projects seek to meet those needs, however indirectly.
The Digital Methods Initiative was founded with a grant from the Piet Mondriaan Foundation, the public cultural funding organization. The Digital Methods Summer and Winter Schools are self-sustaining.
Credits and completion certificate
Completion certificate and transcript for 6 ECTS are granted to participants who follow the School program, and complete a significant contribution to a School project as evidenced by co-authorship of the project report as well as final (joint) presentation slides. Templates for the project report as well as for the presentation slides are supplied. Please note that certificates of completion and the transcripts are the same. There are no other certificates or proof of participation supplied.
Digital Methods Winter School 2023Registration website for Digital Methods Winter School 2023
Digital Methods Winter School firstname.lastname@example.org
Digital Methods Winter School email@example.com://www.aanmelder.nl/138082
Digital Methods Winter School 2023Digital Methods Winter School 20230.00EUROnlineOnly2019-01-01T00:00:00Z
University of Amsterdam - Digital Methods IntitiativeUniversity of Amsterdam - Digital Methods IntitiativeTurfdraagsterpad 9 1012 XT Amsterdam Netherlands