Mr Craig Ryder
I am a digital ethnographer with research interests that sprawl the digital mix: automation, influencers, precarity and nascent technologies such as blockchain and synthetic media. In 2020, I was awarded a 3.5-year CHASE studentship to pursue a PhD on social media in Sri Lanka. I am the founder and head of the Digital Studies Collective (DiSCo), an interdisciplinary network of PhD researchers who have curated the inaugural DiSCo Journal; a new, experimental publication exploring digital art, culture, and methods. I spent Spring-Summer 2022 as a visiting scholar at University of Helsinki (HSSH), researching social media content moderation debates on Twitter in Sri Lanka and Ethiopia.
Previously, I studied Social Anthropology (BA, Sussex, 2011) and Global Digital Cultures (MA, SOAS, 2020) and I have worked as a journalist-then-creative strategist for Roar Media in Colombo, one of South Asia’s fast growing media start-ups. I have also wrote extensively on the global tech ecosystem (see my Medium blog) and I co-founded EverMind; a mental health platform that connects professionals from emerging nations with people-in-need, everywhere, offering affordable, 24/7 & multilingual video therapy. Whilst I have been immersed in the tech and start-up culture, I am critical of it, and advocate for an alternative digital future.
My PhD research investigates the widespread proliferation of social media in Sri Lanka and the rise of what I term, “information influencers.” It tries to find out how people use social media platforms for political participation, especially to fight for minority and women rights, and why these trailblazers resist the temptations of traditional social media influencer culture whilst risking structural violence and social exclusion IRL.
My mixed-method approach pairs innovative computational processes to map the broader influencer ecosystem with traditional in-person ethnography in Sri Lanka. Theoretically, I advance Bourdieu’s notion of capital and rewire it for the digital era, arguing that beyond economic, cultural, and social capital there is a new form of capital - digital capital - that is growing in salience as the internet and digital devices become increasingly ubiquitous.