Digital Methods

Digital Methods

By Richard Rogers

A proposal to repurpose Web-native techniques for use in social and cultural scholarly research.





A proposal to repurpose Web-native techniques for use in social and cultural scholarly research.

In Digital Methods, Richard Rogers proposes a methodological outlook for social and cultural scholarly research on the Web that seeks to move Internet research beyond the study of online culture. It is not a toolkit for Internet research, or operating instructions for a software package; it deals with broader questions. How can we study social media to learn something about society rather than about social media use? Rogers proposes repurposing Web-native techniques for research into cultural change and societal conditions. We can learn to reapply such “methods of the medium” as crawling and crowd sourcing, PageRank and similar algorithms, tag clouds and other visualizations; we can learn how they handle hits, likes, tags, date stamps, and other Web-native objects. By “thinking along” with devices and the objects they handle, digital research methods can follow the evolving methods of the medium.

Rogers uses this new methodological outlook to examine such topics as the findings of inquiries into 9/11 search results, the recognition of climate change skeptics by climate-change-related Web sites, and the censorship of the Iranian Web. With Digital Methods, Rogers introduces a new vision and method for Internet research and at the same time applies them to the Web's objects of study, from tiny particles (hyperlinks) to large masses (social media).


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262018838 280 pp. | 7 in x 9 in 56 figures


$30.00 X ISBN: 9780262528245 280 pp. | 7 in x 9 in 56 figures


  • (T)his is an important and groundbreaking book for several reasons. Rogers' overarching argument (...) is integral for a broader conceptualization of what digital social research should attempt to achieve. Rogers' research provides a much-needed perspective that goes beyond the often UK/US-centric focus that digital scholarship published in English provides. The realization I was left with after reading the book, above all, was that of the sheer scope and size of what lies before digital social researchers who are interested in how users and digital objects mutually constitute each other, the politics of software and the historiography of the web.

    Information, Communication & Society


  • Digital Methods is not a methods book in the traditional sense of the genre, though one will learn a great deal about 'virtual methods' from reading it. It's an historical, epistemological, and ontological treatise on the nature of the Internet and the purpose of Internet research. Rogers argues that the 'natively digital' can serve as a (complicated) window into the broader social, cultural, and political worlds we all inhabit. His argument is a compelling one that will change the way we think about the 'virtual,' the 'real,' and what each can tell us about the other.

    Michael X. Delli Carpini

    Dean, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania

  • This is a remarkable book that fills a gaping hole on questions of method. Over the years, Richard Rogers has contributed to questions of method and research in digital domains. This is his best yet.

    Saskia Sassen

    Columbia University; author of Digital Formations


  • Winner, 2014 Outstanding Book Award given by the International Communication Association