Digital Life

Man taking photographs of monks in a prayer roomHow can digital technologies facilitate new forms of research and analysis that make a world in transformation intelligible?

Digital technologies are reshaping our social and cultural lives in unprecedented ways. The integration of digital technologies into everyday life has a range of consequences for individuals, families, communities, governments and institutions. Economies are restructured, social life is reconfigured, institutions are reorganised, and knowledge is produced.

The Digital Life theme aims to understand how new technologies transform our social relationships and cultural practices, creating new problems but also providing novel opportunities to address societal challenges. To realise the full potential of digital technologies to improve lives, we need to comprehend how they work in different contexts. Research that is alert to the technical properties of digital media, software and infrastructure is required, as well as sophisticated theoretical tools that make intelligible the place of the digital within complex cultural and social processes.

Our work informs real world questions concerning the design of cities, how Australia can maximise its role in a rapidly developing global digital economy, and ways of tackling youth mental health by understanding the socio-cultural aspects of young people’s uses of technology.

Digital technologies are also rapidly changing techniques of economic and knowledge management. New kinds of interface, practices of connecting and arrangements of data affect our everyday lives and ways of making a living. How are labour and value produced in the digital economy? Do practices of peer production provide hopeful alternatives to economic activities driven by intellectual property and competitive pressure? What do digital methods of cultural and social analysis reveal about contemporary knowledge and economic practices?

We are rethinking conventional approaches to studying digital life, and responding to emerging questions by harnessing expertise from a range of disciplines. We work with partners from all sectors, including commercial and not-for-profit organisations, government agencies and academic institutions. The theme, therefore, facilitates the conduct of research that actively intervenes in culture, society and the economy. 

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