Annika has studied Media Culture and Economics at University of Siegen (Germany) and Sociology at University of Auckland (New Zealand). She completed her PhD in November 2012. Her dissertation discusses the emergence, practices and politics of map mashups: It examines who creates these digital maps, under which conditions, and how users engage with such innovative, digital possibilities. It is based on a qualitative research approach, including interviews with users, producers, and 'prosumers' of map mashups. During her PhD, she received a scholarship from the Graduate School “Locating Media” (University of Siegen). Since September 2013, Annika works at the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences in Maastricht.
Since completing her PhD, Annika mainly focuses on two research fields:
1. Hacker and maker culture
She employs her expertise in qualitative methods and digital media studies for investigations of hacker and maker culture. This topic is linked to her PhD research, since map mashups were originally the outcome of a 'hack' as well. Google Maps initially did not come along with an open API (application programming interface). Instead, developers such as Paul Rademacher hacked the site in order to combine it with content of their choice: "Map hacking is the practice of exploiting open-source mapping applications or combining one site's functionality with another's. These are known as 'mashups.' (Crampton, J. 2010. Maps 2.0, p. 27) Rademacher is among those (lucky) 'casual hackers' who were not sued, but instead hired - by Google Inc. in this case. His story is an interesting example for hacking which has even led to commercial applications.
After her PhD research, Annika then started investigating how hackathons could serve as way to engage citizens in creative, digital practices. Together with her UM colleague Dr Karin Wenz, she received funding as co-investigator for a project called "Hacking Heritage". During this project, she realised that hackers, makers, and the communities in which they are embedded in open up a fascinating and highly relevant research field. They allow for original insights into how high levels of digital skills - or digital literacy, as it is sometimes called - are acquired and maintained. Moreover, they enable forms of civic, and sometimes explicitly political, engagement. In particular, Annika is interested in how members of 'hackerspaces' and 'makerspaces' develop digital skills. These spaces are physical locations where community members engage in and discuss activities such as programming and hardware building. An interview on her research has been published by the UM Magazine in 09/2016. You can find it here.
2. Critical data studies and big data practices
Critical geographers have early on realised that digital data, commonly labelled 'big data', are often sensitive and that their utilisation necessitates careful ethical considerations. Craig Dalton and Jim Thatcher were among the first scholars to suggest that this requires a new interdisciplinary research field: critical data studies. Having done research on map mashups and (neo)geography, Annika likewise got interested in the intersection of maps and big data. In particular, she examined how projects such as 'Google Flu Trends', 'Health Map', and 'Flu Near You' draw on different kinds of big and small data for epidemiological surveillance, and how these were mapped.
If you would like to know more about her research, take a look at Annika's blog for updates.
Professional career history
- Since 07/2015: Assistant Professor in "Digital Culture", Maastricht University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of Literature & Art
- 09/2013-06/2015: Lecturer for "Writing & Media", Maastricht University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of Literature & Art
- 04/2013−08/2013: Postdoctoral fellow at the DFG-Research Group “Locating Media”, University of Siegen, Germany
- 03/2013−05/2013: Scholarship holder at the Equal Opportunities Office, University of Siegen
- 11/2012−02/2013: Academic coordinator and lecturer at the Centre for Media and Social Research, Media Department, University of Siegen
- 02/2009−11/2012: PhD student and scholarship holder at the graduate school “Locating Media/Situierte Medien” at the University of Siegen, supervised by Professor Dr. Jörg Döring
- 06/2011−10/2012: Freelance assistant at Dr. Josef Raabe publishing house, Berlin
- 10/2011−07/2012: Research assistant for the project “Cultural Geography of the media upheaval analogue/digital”, University of Siegen
- 03/2009−02/2010: Research assistant for the chair of New German Philology, Media- and Cultural Studies, University of Siegen
- 11/2008−01/2009: Research assistant for the project “Media-Narration and Media-Games”, University of Siegen