Dr Tim Highfield

Lecturer in Digital Media and Society

BA (Hons) (University of Western Australia), PhD (Queensland University of Technology)

Email: t.j.highfield@sheffield.ac.uk

Telephone: 0114 222 6447 (external), 26447 (internal)

Room: B06f


Tim joined the Department in September 2019 from the University of Amsterdam, where he was Assistant Professor in New Media and Digital Culture (2018-19). He was previously Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow (2015-18) at Queensland University of Technology, where he also completed his PhD in 2011. Tim is also Secretary for the Visual Communication Studies division of the International Communication Association (2018-2020).


Tim's research examines critical cultural implications of social and digital media within everyday life. His work focuses in particular on digital cultures and practices with regards to visual, temporal, and political perspectives.

His current research projects include Digital Time, exploring the temporal interventions and applications of digital platforms, and Visual Cultures of Social Media, examining the role of visual content within everyday social media contexts. His current collaborative research includes the Australian Research Council-funded project Digital Media, Location Awareness, and the Politics of Geodata (with Peta Mitchell, Larissa Hjorth, Agnieszka Leszczynski, and Paul Dourish; 2018-2020), and the forthcoming book Instagram: Visual Social Media Cultures (with Tama Leaver and Crystal Abidin, Polity, 2019).

Research areas

  • Digital methods
  • Visual social media
  • Politics and/of digital media
  • Time and digital media
  • Everyday digital cultures
  • Digital media platforms and their cultural and political interventions

Funded research projects

  • 2018-20 Australian Research Council Discovery grant (DP180100174): Digital Media, Location Awareness and the Politics of Geodata
  • 2014-15 Australian Research Council Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) grant: TrISMA: Tracking Infrastructure for Social Media Analysis

In 2019/20, Tim will be teaching in the following modules:

  • Digital Methods
  • Advanced Social Media Research


Leaver, T., Highfield, T., & Abidin, C. (2019, in press) Instagram: Visual social media cultures. Cambridge: Polity.

Highfield, T. (2016) Social Media and Everyday Politics. Cambridge: Polity.

Peer-reviewed journal articles

Highfield, T. (2018) ‘Emoji hashtags // hashtag emoji: of platforms, visual affect, and discursive flexibility’. First Monday, 23(9). doi:10.5210/fm.v23i9.9398

Leaver, T., & Highfield, T. (2018) ‘Visualising the ends of identity: pre-birth and post-death on Instagram’. Information, Communication & Society, 21(1), 30-45. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2016.1259343

Burgess, J., Mitchell, P., & Highfield, T. (2018) ‘Automating the digital everyday: an
introduction’. Media International Australia, (166), 6-10. doi:10.1177/1329878X17739020

Mitchell, P., & Highfield, T. (2017) ‘Mediated geographies of everyday life—navigating the ambient, augmented and algorithmic geographies of geomedia’. Ctrl-Z: New Media Philosophy, 7.

Miltner, K.M., & Highfield, T. (2017) ‘Never gonna GIF you up: Analyzing the cultural
significance of the animated GIF’. Social Media + Society, 3(3). doi:10.1177/2056305117725223

Highfield, T., & Leaver, T. (2016) ‘Instagrammatics and digital methods: studying visual social media, from selfies and GIFs to memes and emoji’. Communication Research and Practice, 2(1), 47-62. doi:10.1080/22041451.2016.1155332

Highfield, T. (2016) ‘News via Voldemort: Parody accounts in topical discussions on Twitter’. New Media & Society, 18(9), 2028-2045. doi:10.1177/1461444815576703

Croeser, S., & Highfield, T. (2015) ‘Harboring dissent: Greek independent and social media and the antifascist movement’. Fibreculture, 26, 136-157.

Highfield, T. (2015) ‘Tweeted joke lifespans and appropriated punch lines: Practices around topical humor on social media’. International Journal of Communication, 9, pp. 2713-2734.

Highfield, T., & Leaver, T. (2015) ‘A methodology for mapping Instagram hashtags’. First Monday, 20(1). doi:10.5210/fm.v20i1.5563

Croeser, S., & Highfield, T. (2014) ‘Occupy Oakland and #oo: Uses of Twitter within the Occupy movement’. First Monday, 19(3). doi:10.5210/fm.v19i3.4827.

Highfield, T. (2013) ‘National and state-level politics on social media: Twitter, Australian political discussions, and the online commentariat’. International Journal of e-Governance, 6(4), pp. 342-360.

Bruns, A., Highfield, T., & Burgess, J. (2013) ‘The Arab Spring and social media audiences: English and Arabic Twitter users and their networks’. American Behavioral Scientist, 57(7), 871-898. doi:10.1177/0002764213479374

Bruns, A., & Highfield, T. (2013) ‘Political networks on Twitter: Tweeting the Queensland state election’. Information, Communication & Society, 16(5), 667-691. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2013.782328

Highfield, T., Harrington, S., & Bruns, A. (2013) ‘Twitter as a technology for audiencing and fandom: The #Eurovision phenomenon’. Information, Communication & Society, 16(3), 315-339. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2012.756053

Highfield, T. (2012) ‘Talking of many things: Using topical networks to study discussions in social media’. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 30(3-4), 204-218. doi:10.1080/15228835.2012.746894

Highfield, T., & Bruns, A. (2012) ‘Confrontation and cooptation: A brief history of Australian political blogs’, Media International Australia (143), 89-98. doi:10.1177/1329878X1214300111

Highfield, T., Kirchhoff, L., & Nicolai, T. (2011) ‘Challenges of tracking topical discussion networks online’, Social Science Computer Review, 29(3), 340-353. doi:10.1177/0894439310382514

Bruns, A., Burgess, J., Highfield, T., Kirchhoff, L., & Nicolai, T. (2011) ‘Mapping the Australian networked public sphere’, Social Science Computer Review 29(3), 277-287. doi:10.1177/0894439310382507

Highfield, T. (2009) ‘Which way up? Reading and drawing maps of the blogosphere’, ejournalist, 9(1), 99-114.

Edited special issues

Burgess, J., Mitchell, P., & Highfield, T. (2018) ‘Automating the digital everyday’. Media International Australia, (166).

Book chapters

Highfield, T. (2019) ‘Visual social media’. Vos, T., & Hanusch, F. (Eds.), International
Encyclopedia of Journalism Studies. John Wiley & Sons.

Croeser, S., & Highfield, T. (2018) ‘Blended Data: Critiquing and Complementing Social Media Datasets, Big and Small’. Hunsinger, J., Klastrup, L., & Allen, M. (Eds.), Second International Handbook of Internet Research. Springer.

Highfield, T. (2017) ‘Histories of blogging’. Goggin, G., & McLelland, M. (Eds.), Routledge Companion to Global Internet Histories. Routledge, pp. 331-342.

Highfield, T. (2017) ‘Social TV and depictions of community on social media: Instagram and Eurovision fandom’. Messaris, P., & Humphreys, L. (Eds.), Digital Media: Transformations in Human Communication (second edition). Peter Lang, pp. 156-165.

Bruns, A., & Highfield, T. (2016) ‘Is Habermas on Twitter? Social media and the public sphere’. Bruns, A., Skogerbø, E., Christensen, C., Larsson, A.O., & Enli, G. (Eds.), Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics. Routledge, pp. 56-73.

Highfield, T., & Bruns, A. (2016) ‘Compulsory voting, encouraged tweeting? Australian elections and social media’. Bruns, A., Skogerbø, E., Christensen, C., Larsson, A.O., & Enli, G. (Eds.), Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics. Routledge, pp. 338-350.

Bruns, A., & Highfield, T. (2016) ‘May the best Tweeter win: The Twitter strategies of key campaign accounts in the 2012 US election’. Bieber, C., & Kamps, K. (Eds.) Die USPräsidentschaftswahl 2012: Analysen der Politik- und Kommunikationswissenschaft. Springer Fachmedien, Wiesbaden, pp. 425-442.

Croeser, S., & Highfield, T. (2015) ‘Mapping Movements: Social media research and big data – Critiques and alternatives’. Elmer, G., Langlois, G., & Redden, J. (Eds.), Compromised Data? Bloomsbury, pp. 173-201.

Bruns, A., & Highfield, T. (2015) ‘From News Blogs to News on Twitter: Gatewatching and Collaborative News Curation’. Coleman, S., & Freelon, D. (Eds.), Handbook of Digital Politics. Edward Elgar, pp. 325-339.

Bruns, A., & Highfield, T. (2014) ‘The Arab Spring on Twitter: Language Communities in #egypt and #libya’. Bebawi, S., & Bossio, D. (Eds.), Social Media and the Politics of Reportage: The Arab Spring. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 33-55.

Bruns, A., Burgess, J., & Highfield, T. (2014) ‘A ‘Big Data’ Approach to Mapping the
Australian Twittersphere’. Arthur, P.L., & Bode, K. (Eds.), Advancing Digital Humanities: Research, Methods, Theories. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 113-129

Bruns, A., Highfield, T., & Burgess, J. (2014) ‘The Arab Spring and its social media audiences: English and Arabic Twitter users and their networks’. McCaughey, M. (Ed.), Cyberactivism on the participatory web. New York: Routledge, pp. 86-116.

Highfield, T. (2013) ‘Following the yellow jersey: Tweeting the Tour de France.’ Weller, K., Bruns, A., Burgess, J., Mahrt, M., & Puschmann, C. (Eds.), Twitter and Society. New York, NY: Peter Lang. pp. 249-261.

Bruns, A., Highfield, T., & Harrington, S. (2013) ‘Sharing the News: Dissemination of
Links to Australian News Sites on Twitter.’ In Gordon, J., Rowinski, P., & Stewart, G. (Eds.), Br(e)aking the News: Journalism, Politics and New Media. New York, NY: Peter Lang. pp. 181-209.

Harrington, S., Highfield, T., & Bruns, A. (2012) ‘More than a backchannel: Twitter and television’. Nogeura, J.M. (Ed.), Audience Interactivity and Participation: Interview/Essays with academics. Brussels: COST Action Transforming Audiences, Transforming Societies.

Bruns, A., & Highfield, T. (2012) ‘Blogs, Twitter, and Breaking News: The Produsage of Citizen Journalism.’ Lind, R.A. (Ed.), Produsing Theory in a Digital World: The Intersection of Audiences and Production. New York, NY: Peter Lang. pp. 15-32.