Digital Icons: Studies in Russian, Eurasian and Central European New Media

Digital Icons

by Vlad Strukov, U of Leeds/Editor of Digital Icons

Digital Icons: Studies in Russian, Eurasian and Central European New Media (Digital Icons) is an international, peer-reviewed online journal, published twice per year. Established in 2008, the journal is a multi-media platform that explores new media as a variety of information flows, varied communication systems and networked communities. The main goal of the journal is to disseminate research on new media in Russia, Eurasia and Central Europe across global communities of scholars, media practitioners and the general public. Thus, publications in the journal combine in-depth understanding of both the region and new forms of communication in their relation to established media and communication patterns. Contributions to Digital Icons cover a broad range of topics related to digital and electronic technologies, politics, economics, society, culture and the arts in Russia, Eurasia and Central Europe. Digital Icons advances new perspectives on both the region and new media because of its focus on the interconnectedness between social practice and new media, and their mutual impact.

While adhering to strict reviewing standards, Digital Icons practices an independent open access policy. As a result, the contents of the journal are available on the internet, as well as for download, without restrictions. This is of utmost importance for scholars and researchers in the region Digital Icons is targeting, where research institutions and universities are not always able to subscribe to costly international academic journals. Therefore, we aim to present the findings of original research in three languages: English, German and Russian. We hope to expand our language scope in the future. The journal publishes works that explore developments in information and communications technologies and their impact on the governance, economy and cultural life of the region. Submissions focusing on internet use and new media forms among the various diasporas of the region are also welcome. Digital Icons publishes research articles and essays by scholars from a variety of academic backgrounds, along with artists’ contributions; interviews, comments; reviews of books, digital artwork, memoirs and films; animation and computer games, and relevant cultural and academic events as well as any other forms of discussion of new media in the region.

Digital Icons explores and advances new, cutting edge topics and methodologies in the field. The journal does welcome and publish empirically-based case studies related to new advancements in the field of digital humanities, as well as critical assessments of digital humanities and big data research. In addition, the journal is concerned with the idea of historicising new media studies. It does so by featuring the unique project of Digital Memoirs, collecting personalized memories of the early developments in digital culture, as part of our cultural memory and—in future—as a base for historical analysis.

In addition to regular issues, Digital Icons publishes special thematic issues, investigating a specific aspect of new media usage in the region. Special issues are normally guest-edited by a specialist in the thematic area. In the next eighteen months, the journal plans to publish three guest-edited special issues. Additionally, the journal maintains a focus on new media and protest movements in the region: two issues focusing on Russia have already been published and the forthcoming issue will look at Ukraine. To echo Frederic Jameson’s stance expressed in his 2001 “A Singular Modernity”, the narrative of modernity is being written on the squares of Moscow, Kiev and other cities, as well as on the screens of computers and mobile phones, and most importantly in the minds of those people who have participated—either by voicing their opinion publicly or by reflecting on the events privately—in the debate about the future of their nation. This future will show whether the events will pave the way for a ‘singular modernity’, or will collapse into a postmodern pastiche of participatory democracy, or in fact will break the very logic of postmodernity by imposing the stagnant framework of statist regimes. Our aim as scholars is to provoke debates about the nature, function and parameters of democracy as a constitutive part of capitalist modernity. In general terms, this involves viewing events in Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere as part of the global crisis of capitalism and the global movement of political dissent, which takes the form of the appropriation of public spaces and, by extension, of the public domain of meaning and value exchanges, leading to regime change, military confrontation and possibly global political crises.

Digital Icons brings together world-leading scholars on new media. Its network has over 600 members worldwide. The journal has also been at the heart of many research projects in institutions in Europe, Russia and North America, and has organised multiple workshops and conferences, including, most recently: “Memory and Securitization in Contemporary Europe” in cooperation with the School of History (Southern Federal University) and the Centre of the European Union in the South West Russia, (Russia), June 2014. 

Digital Icons has attracted both scholarly and media attention. Editors of Digital Icons have presented on new media in the region on the BBC, Al Jazeera, New Economic Relations, and in many other media outlets. The journal has received praise from media scholars and practitioners, including Evgeny Morozov (“Digital Icons just published a new issue dedicated to social networks on the Russian-speaking Web. Plenty of interesting articles to read there”), Jeffrey Carr (“Digital Icons has produced the premiere work on Russian Social Networks. This is an area that GreyLogic spends a lot of time researching as part of our intelligence analysis work and I can’t wait to dive in to this exceptional body of research”), and many others.

This blog piece was excerpted from a longer piece published in the June edition of NewsNet