Announcing the Director of the Digital Cultures and Societies Hub

15 March 2022

The School is delighted to announced that Associate Professor Nicholas Carah will be the inaugural Director of the Digital Cultures and Societies Hub.

Nic’s research examines the algorithmic, promotional and participatory cultures of digital media platforms. A collaborator of the first order, Nicholas is involved in a number of research projects funded by diverse sources, with both academic and public audiences. He is a Chief Investigator on the ARC Discovery Project ‘Using machine vision to explore Instagram’s everyday promotional cultures’, and the Linkage Project on young Australians and the promotion of alcohol and nightlife on social media, as well as a Vichealth-funded project that tracks below-the-line marketing by harmful industries on social media; he is an investigator on a New Zealand Marsden Fund project examining young people, digital media and limbic capitalism; and an Associate Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society, where he is particularly involved in the Ad Observatory project. Across these research activities Nicholas’ research offers a sustained account of the foundational role advertising plays in the development of digital and social media platforms and their cultures. Beyond their business models, his work investigates how the promotional dynamics of digital media affects our identities and cultural practices.

His work has scholarly and public impact. He has been invited to contribute to significant evaluations of digital alcohol marketing by the World Health Organisation and the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance. Nicholas is regularly invited to address national forums, including Federal Parliament, by leading organisations such as the Australian Medical Association, Public Health Association of Australia and the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education. He is Deputy Chair of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), the largest research and advocacy organisation to reduce alcohol-related harms in Australia, currently running the $27m Every Moment Matters digital health promotion campaign. Through his public engagement, Nic plays a key role in developing broad understanding and policy responses to advertising on digital platforms across multiple public sector organisations.

Nics’ research has been published in Media, Culture & Society, Social Media & Society, New Media & Society, Television & New Media, Convergence, Consumption, Markets & Culture, and Mobile Media & Communication. He is the author of Media & Society: Power, Platforms and Participation, Brand Machines, Sensory Media and Calculative Culture (2016), and Pop Brands: branding, popular music and young people (2010). He is the co-editor of Digital Intimate Publics and Social Media (2018) and the forthcoming Conflict in My Outlook in partnership with curators at the UQ Art Museum.

Nic is also an award-winning teacher and has made contributions to developing cutting-edge curriculum in digital media, communication and cultural studies. From 2016 he played a central part in the redesign of UQ’s Bachelor of Communication and was the program convenor for two years. He was a UQ Teaching Fellow (2018) and has been awarded the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Award for Teaching Excellence (2019) and The University of Queensland Award for Teaching Excellence (2020) for his contributions to student partnership, blended learning and curriculum development relating to digital media. He served as Deputy HoS in HASS’s largest School, Communication and Arts, from 2019 to 2021.

Nic will call on all these skills – rainmaking, collaborating, coalition-building, conceptualising, writing, publishing, policymaking, influencing, publicising, project managing, teaching, learning, and cat herding – in his role as inaugural Director of the Digital Cultures and Societies Hub, as we seek to build a vibrant, diverse, and supportive intellectual culture around digital cultures and societies research in HASS.

Contact the Digital Cultures and Societies Hub at to find out more about upcoming events and activities.