Elizabeth Van Couvering
My primary research interest is in the political economy of large online media platforms including Google and Facebook, as well as other platforms which copy features of the large media platforms. I also study data visualisation and, increasingly, climate communication.
My Google scholar profile (ironic, I know) shows recent work
Current funded research projects:
- Algorithms and media organisations
- SWEGIG (job intermediary platforms in Sweden)
At Karlstad, I teach final-year students in media theory and methods with a focus on PR and strategic communications, and science and technology studies. I also teach our data visualisation course.
I was born in Cambridge, England and raised in Boulder, Colorado. Academia is the family business: both my parents also had PhDs. My mother taught vertebrate palaeontology at the University of Colorado and my father ran Micropaleontology Press out of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
I moved to London in 1994 and remained there until 2013. In London I met and married my husband, Henrik Örnebring, who also teaches at Karlstad. In 2013 we moved with our family to Karlstad permanently. We have two children born in 2007 and 2012.
An internet pioneer, Elizabeth Van Couvering has been involved in digital media since 1986, when she began writing shared stories on VAXes connected to the ARPAnet. In 1994, she moved to London and began working at the UK's first cybercafe, Cyberia; then at one of the first domestic Internet Service Providers, Easynet. She then went on to join of one the first UK web agencies, Webmedia, and afterwards worked at a range of digital marketing companies in the UK, including Excite!, Jupiter Research, and Organic Online. This career gave her a front-row view of the internet boom and bust of the late 1990s and its aftermath. Beginning her PhD in 2002, she continued to consult on online website and traffic measurement methodologies with clients such as Nielsen Online and IAB Europe. In addition to her PHD from the London School of Economics and Political Science, Dr Van Couvering holds an MBA from the Open University and a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Brn Mawr College. Her research interests include search engines and the political economy of digital media.
2012. “Search Engines in Practice: Structure and Culture in Technical Development” in G. Bolin, ed., Cultural Technologies The Shaping of Culture in Media and Society. New York: Routledge.
2011. “Navigational Media: The Political Economy of Online Traffic” in D. Winseck and D. Jin, eds, Media Political Economies: Hierarchies, Markets and Finance in the Global Media Industries. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
2008. “The History of the Internet Search Engine: Navigational Media and the Traffic Commodity” in A. Spink and M. Zimmer, eds. Web Search: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (177-206). Berlin: Springer.
2008. “Internet Ratings Systems” in W. Donsbach, ed. The International Encylopedia of Communication (2453-2455). Oxford:Blackwell.
2008. “Search Engines” in W. Donsbach, ed. The International Encylopedia of Communication (4521-4525). Oxford:Blackwell.
2008. With Sonia Livingstone “Information Literacy” in W. Donsbach, ed. The International Encylopedia of Communication (2230-2234). Oxford:Blackwell.
2008. With Sonia Livingstone and Nancy Thumim. "Converging traditions of research on media and information literacies: Disciplinary and methodological issues" in J. Coiro, M. Knobel, C. Lankshear and D.J. Leu, eds. Handbook of Research on New Literacies (103-132). New York and London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
2007. “The Economy of Navigation: Search Engines, Search Optimisation, and Search Results,” in M. Machill and M. Beiler, eds. The Rising Power of Search Engines (105-126). Cologne: Herbert von Halem Publishers.
2007. “Is Relevance Relevant? Markets, Science and War: Discourses of Search Engine Quality,” in Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 12(3):article 6. Available at: http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol12/issue3/vancouvering.html
2005. With Sonia Livingstone and Nancy Thumim Adult Media Literacy: a Review of the Research Literature.. Commissioned by the Office of Communications (Ofcom). Published by Ofcom. 86pp. Available at: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/advice/media_literacy/medlitpub/aml.pdf