[Publications] Alternative imaginations

Published in July 2022, it can be downloaded for free.

Lim, M. (2022). Alternative Imaginations: Confronting and Challenging the Persistent Centrism in Social Media-Society Research. Journal of Asian Social Science Research, 4(1), 1-22.



This article attempts to intervene the current trend in social media research that, to a certain degree, reflects the centrality of technology. Beyond the broad trend of technocentrism, I identify and outline four other major oversights or challenges in researching the social media/society relationship, namely online data centrism, moment centrism, novelty centrism, and success centrism. Stemmed from these four types of centrism, I offer an alternative imagination, namely a set of alternative pathways in social media research that value histories and historical context, interdisciplinarity, longue durée, and complexity. By revealing these oversights, this article aims to contribute to our collective attempt to interrogate the relationship between social media and society (and technology/society) critically. This alternative imagination might help animate, reveal, and make transparent various societal dynamics that otherwise would be invisible and, thus, might contribute to a better, deeper, and more comprehensive understanding of the technology/society relationship.

#publications #socialmedia #research #technocentrism

Tale of life

Someone who only knows me online (and whom I don’t know at all) shared a personal story with me with a remark, “Unlike you, my life consists of only sad stories”

“I’m sorry for what you have been through. I wish you a wonderful life ahead,” I responded.

But if I had an opportunity to say more, I’d say this:

I’m sorry you feel that way. You don’t know me and my life’s stories, but I’m glad that I reflect what the happy life looks like. However, in reality, every single person on earth has sad and happy moments. Life, I think, is neither about sad nor happy stories. It is a single tale that stretches across the breadth of time. Happy or sad depends on how we tell it and which part of it we choose to tell. More importantly, what happens within that tale isn’t simply given, a fate, or a mere luck. We’re not the sole author of it, but we play a central role in writing our own tale of life.

As for my own, I can summarise it in one phrase, “It is such an exquisite life.

m, ottawa may 2022

The Sound of Silence

“Hello darkness, my old friend … I’ve come to talk with you again …”

We’re pleased to present our a cappella rendition of a beautiful yet haunting song from Paul Simon (Simon & Garfunkel), “The Sound of Silence”.

We sincerely hope you enjoy the fruit of our labour-love for singing.

the Edoens

#acappella #edoens #simon&garfunkel #soundofsilence #paulsimon

Algorithms of Rage to rhythms of Change

“Algorithms of Rage to Rhythms of Change: Notes on a Research Journey”

A Closing Keynote Speech at “Visions of Change” Conference

University of Calgary, 11 May 2022

by: Merlyna Lim, Canada Research Chair in Digital Media & Global Network Society & ALiGN Media Lab Director, Carleton University

Part I: “Algorithms of Ragehttps://youtu.be/TLodwU5ZvrU – 5’59”

Part II: “The Rhythm of Ushttps://youtu.be/8F1noEbb_d – 8’16”

Part III: “The AlgoRhythms of Rohingya and Hasan’s bicyclehttps://youtu.be/E9RyM3TrYxM – 7’06”

Part IV: “Burning Bodies: The Offbeat that Binds Ushttps://youtu.be/VChCQZ6Xyas – 7’56”

Part V: “Closing remarks: Rhythms of Change?https://youtu.be/Uk-5U_fC4W8 – 2’29”

#rhythm #algorithm #change #pandemic #covid19 #coronavirus

Creating Amidst Sorrow & Pain

Ten year ago, in 2012, I published “Clicks, Cabs, and Coffee Houses: Social Media and Oppositional Movements in Egypt, 2004–2011”, a writing that eventually became my most cited article (cited 880 times on 21/04/22). Honestly, I don’t think it was my best. The piece was personally historical, but not because it’s highly cited. It was the first of a series of articles I published around social media and the MENA uprisings, that attempted to challenge techno-centrism that dominated academic and media discourse at that moment. A move that wasn’t new for myself as I had started criticizing techno-determinism since I published for the first time ten year earlier, in 2002. The difference is, this time it was dramatically noticed by many. This moment of recognition, to a certain degree, shaped the latter trajectory of my career in academia.

Continue reading “Creating Amidst Sorrow & Pain”

Driven by Emotion

An article written based on my research and the interview with me.

“Social media algorithms feed emotions–the more a post is hated or loved the higher its score and its propensity to go viral. While that love-hate dichotomy may be great for business, it’s not so great for society. Read about it in Another Take: http://ow.ly/nzFy50IxA6v


FRIENDSHIP – YOu’ve Got a Friend in Me

Friendship is one of the most precious things in life. A true friendship lasts a lifetime and real friends never grow apart.

True friends are those who are invited to look closely under the veneer of a seemingly smooth and tidy life, to feel the contour of your life’s cracks and crevasses, and accept its scruffy lines and raggedy edges. They’re part of your life. Through days and years, play and fears, laughter and tears.

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Today, in a meeting of a certain association, I was asked about my research, as apparently my expertise doesn’t fit any of traditional clusters of that associated association.

So, here is my answer:

My discipline is called science, technology, and society studies (STS) and my research expertise lies between science/engineering and social science/humanities.

I research the complex interaction between technology and society.

Specifically, it’s an interdisciplinary intersection between sociology, urban studies, and media studies on one side and data science, information science, human-computer interaction on the other side.

Continue reading “MY FIELD/RESEARCH: WHAT I DO”