The Harkive Project: Popular Music, Data & Digital Technologies

Hamilton, Craig (2018) The Harkive Project: Popular Music, Data & Digital Technologies. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

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This thesis is about research around Harkive, an online project designed by this researcher, which gathers stories, reflections, and other data from people about their everyday engagement with popular music. Since 2013, over 1,000 people have contributed to the project, producing around 8,000 texts and highlighting the music reception activities of contemporary music listeners. The thesis presents an analysis of the texts and other data generated, answering a key research question: What can an analysis of the data generated by The Harkive Project reveal about the music reception practices of respondents? To answer this question, the researcher developed an experimental, innovative approach that conceives of Harkive as a space in which people can reflect upon their engagement with music, whilst simultaneously acting as a place that is able to replicate many of the commercial practices related to data collection and processing that have recently emerged as influential factors in the ways that popular music is produced, distributed and consumed. By focusing on a set of findings about the way people reflect on their engagement with music within the Harkive space, this thesis engages practically and critically with these new conditions. Simultaneously, the research explores how the systems of data collection and analysis that facilitate this are technologically complex, subject to rapid change, and often hidden behind commercial and legal firewalls, making the study of them particularly difficult. This then enables us to explore how the use of digital, data and Internet technologies by many people during the course of their everyday lives is providing scholars with new opportunities and methods for undertaking research in the humanities, and how this in turn is leading to questions about the role of the researcher in popular music studies, and how the discipline may take into account the new technologies and practices that have so changed the field. Ultimately, the thesis makes the argument that a greater practical understanding and critical engagement with digital, data and Internet technologies is essential, both for music consumers and popular music scholars, and demonstrates how this work represents a significant contribution to this task.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: I am grateful for the help and support offered to me by my supervisors, Prof. Nick Gebhardt and Prof. Tim Wall. Your guidance has been invaluable throughout this process, from exploring initial ideas for a PhD proposal back in 2013, right up until the final days and hours before submission. I have been hugely fortunate to have my work funded by the AHRC Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership, so I extend my thanks to all involved with this. To all of the other M3C students I met along the way, I wish you all the best. I am very proud to have been part of such a talented group of people. I have benefitted immensely from the support and encouragement offered to me by my colleagues in the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultures Research (BCMCR) in the School of Media at Birmingham City University. Working alongside hugely clever and supportive people has made this process a lot easier than working alone. In particular I’d like to thank the members of the informal writing club I have been part of. The opportunity to meet regularly to discuss the process, problems, and joys of writing about music has been of tremendous help. To the scholars and researchers from other institutions I have met at conferences, from Cork to Berlin, or who have talked with me over email and Skype, thank you for the feedback and encouragement. To Nick M and to Paul M: thank you for the technical assistance. To the various journalists, musicians, record label owners, technologists, artists, promoters, and those from many other walks of the musical life, thank you for writing about the project, providing promotional items, and spreading the word about my work. To all of the people who participated in The Harkive Project between 2013 and 2016, far too many to mention by name, I reserve a particularly special thank you. The response to the project exceeded all of my expectations, and this thesis iv would not exist without your stories. I have enjoyed reading them, and I look forward many more years of collecting stories on sunny days in July. To my friends and family, thank you for all the words of encouragement and support. In particular, thank you to the Independent Country boys (including, of course, Executive Producer Robson) for being my pressure valve and source of so much fun during this process. I apologise to The Dude and Mimi for all the missed walks. Finally, and most importantly of all, I should like to express my love and gratitude to my wife, Valerie, and my two sons, Mac and Bruce. You have supported me in so many ways during the completion of this work. I could not have done it without you. Thank you.
5 March 2018Completed
Uncontrolled Keywords: Popular Music, Data, Digital, Algorithms, Technology
Subjects: CAH11 - computing > CAH11-01 - computing > CAH11-01-01 - computer science
CAH10 - engineering and technology > CAH10-03 - materials and technology > CAH10-03-06 - others in technology
CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-02 - performing arts > CAH25-02-02 - music
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Kip Darling
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2019 15:59
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 16:54

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