I am a Professor of Digital Culture in the Department of Communications and Media at the University of Liverpool and Joint Director of the Digital Media and Society Institute. I have undertaken research on the social, political and cultural impacts of digital media for over three decades. I have a major focus on projects that address digital inclusion and exclusion issues, working with academic and government colleagues to develop policies and interventions to support digital inclusion. This includes working with the UK's Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), the UK's media regulator Ofcom, and the Welsh Government. I also work extensively with charity organisations such as the Good Things Foundation, Cwmpas in Wales and SCVO in Scotland. In 2017 I was seconded to DCMS to act as research lead for the Digital Culture team – helping to develop the first UK “Digital Culture” policy. I am a member of the Greater Manchester City Region Mayoral Digital Inclusion Action Network and I am an appointed expert advisor to DCMS/DSIT and Ofcom.
I have recently completed a national project exploring citizens' data literacy and we are just completing a project to explore a “Minimum Digital Living Standard” for UK households – both funded by the Nuffield Foundation. I am a deputy director of the DSTL Defence Data Research Centre and a co-investigator on the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Digital Footprints Strategic Advisory project.
My research has been funded by the ESRC, the Nuffield Foundation, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the EU, and industry. My work has often been interdisciplinary and has predominantly involved creative and digital industry partners. I led a major Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded interdisciplinary programme (Engineering for Life) while at Sheffield Hallam. I have worked on a range of projects exploring aspects of contemporary culture and cultural policy. For example the Beyond the Multiplex project and work for Liverpool City Council to assess the current value of the Beatles legacy to the city.
I have been researching the impacts of the internet and digital media on language and culture since 1990. This started with a long-standing focus on digital media and interpersonal interaction. My PhD thesis (1993) is a large-scale linguistic comparison of speech, writing and online interaction. Subsequent published work has covered analyses of gender differences in computer-mediated communication (CMC), gender and computer gaming, email and letter writing, and science in the mass media. Over the last 15 years, I have also explored issues of gender and technology use, workplace ICT use, politics online, ICT use in policing and security, and the role of digital technologies in arts and culture. I have written textbooks on social research— including linguistic and discourse analytic methods, quantitative and qualitative research methods, and science communication.
I was previously the Associate PVC for Research Environment at the University of Liverpool and previously the Director of the Institute of Cultural Capital, a strategic collaboration between the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University. I established the Cultural, Communication and Computing Research Institute (C3RI) at Sheffield Hallam University, and previously worked at the Open University and the University of Leeds. As well as a background in social science, I have an interest and training in science (BSc Geology, DipNatSci Physics).