Category Archives: Conferences

Rethinking cars as communication devices, #ANZCA2014

We presented our current thinking at the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) 2014 conference last week, at Swinburne University Melbourne, Australia.

For this version, we focussed on the mobile media policy gap, i.e. how policy is slow to adapt, is ignorant towards the cultures of use and is slow to adapt, and focussed on the autonomous automobility area. The work was well received with two significant pieces of feedback.

Firstly, Ben Goldsmith pushed our thinking around the privacy concerns of cars that are driven by mobile phones. Beyond the concerns of your data being captured and used in ways not previously thought of, ala FourSquare, what are the consequences of users relying on their mobile phones to arrive at a destination to be ‘hijacked’ and re-routed. A very plausible consideration for manufacturers and policy people to address.

Given the tight time constraints, we only had time for one other comment, provided by Jason Farman asked a great question around the cyclic nature of mobile communication and and cars. Given the past development of cars ‘accommodating’ mobile phones and then becoming an ideal space for mobile communication, are we seeing a similar turn in the current thinking? I.e. mobile phones being incorporated through app development and integration to only advance to the next space of phones driving communication and entertainment in vehicles.

Certainly two great ideas from two amazing scholars that we will incorporate as we move forward with this research.

#ANZCA14 is off to a flying start!

This morning, Gerard Goggin and I were allocated the opening slot of the first parallel session of the 2014 Australian and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA).

We presented some of our recent research on connected cars and provided some insights into the case studies we have been tracking. You can view the slides here.

Some great questions emerged for us to follow up on:

  1. What about privacy issues? If cars are driven by mobile phones, how does privacy of data play out? Is it significant to think about how corporate car manufacturers approach privacy?
  2. Given the development of telephones as communication devices in cars, are we observing a cyclic emergence of communication in cars?

Great questions and looking forward to working this into our work.

Stelarc

Digital Humanities Australasia Summary – #dha2014

I have just returned from a very successful conference in Perth, the Digital Humanities Australasia, 2014. As with many conferences one comes away with a bunch of new information and contacts. Below is a quick recap on some of those significant highlights I gleaned from the past week.

Day One, Keynote One

Neil Freistat, University of Maryland “The Promise(s) of Digital Humanities”

A very welcomed provocation from Professor Freistat for the field of digital humanities, particularly as it begins to define itself from humanities studies. As I listened to Neil talk, the one thought that kept appearing was ‘definition is by way of exclusion’, in that something becomes by stating what it is not. In the past, a strong argument for digital humanities has been made as a field that utilises digital tools to assist in the study of humanities. However this has recently been criticised as being too simplistic to describe DH, with a flurry of definitions and rationales emerging (particularly as DH begins to attract research funding and appoint HDRs, ECRs, etc).

Nonetheless, debate has ensued around what DH actually is with much discussion placed on its lack of strategic vision. Freistat located his discussion in a utopianistic frame that provides futorities or promising notes, while also showing utopia’s inherent undoing in its makeup. He argued that without utopian vision there is no innovative thinking which does not lead to any turn in the field, which he notes has much momentum in the TransformDH Movement. When the utopian vision is then critiqued, a operationalised version of digital humanities is possible.

My new mantra: Less yack, more hack!

This set the tone well for the next few days, which also raised many questions around ontologies/topologies, archives/collections big/deep data, and although no one actually noticed it, the need for translation roles between different forms of expertise and knowledge.

Day Three, Keynote Three

Dr Anthony F. Beavers – “Why Computational Philosophy Belongs in the Digital Humanities”

Another interesting presentation by Anthony Beavers asked why philosophy as not been included in the digital humanities, since after all, philosophy had been using computational methods since Aristotle. By highlighting that philosophy is either  empiricist – observational, (Aristotle, Occam, Locke, Hume) or rationalist – mathematical (Plato, Descartes, Leibniz), Beaver focussed on the rationalist philosopher. His examples included truth tables from circa 1850, through to more recent methods of computational philosophy and agent based modelling. It appears maths mixed with philosophy can reveal knowledge previously not known, as demonstrated by modelling the case of the class clown – computational philosophy says one class clown is entertaining and stimulates the environment whereas two is distracting and non-productive.

Given this provocation, Beaver argued that philosophy is at home in the digital humanities. He also noted it is the DHists that are rejecting the philosophers, but rather the philosophers that are ignoring DH.

Session papers

I’ll quickly highlight a few standout papers I managed to catch:

Terea Swirski – “Young Peoples Safety and We’ll Being in Digital Culture: Affordances and Infrastructures”

  • Objects and technology and how this is changing our knowledge and understanding,
  • Bricollage as how we assemble our memories and understanding from our prior readings – intertextuality
  • Participatory design – how did it inform the methodology explicitly?
  • ‘Keep It Tame’ – young and well campaign

Sydney Shep, Esta Chiang, Maximilon Baddeley, Sara Bryan and Flora Feltham - “Visualising Correspondence Networks: William Colenso and the Victorian Republic of Letters”

  • Amazingly similar to our study although on a smaller scale
  • Highlights the importance of deep data rather than big data
  • Provided some additional tools for SNA and data collection

Toby Burrows, Deb Verhoeven - “Deploying Ontologies in the Humanities and Creative Arts”

  • HuNI is an aggregate that subverts the problems of ontology
  • Users create records via links to other data and other relationships I.e. Vernacular linking
  • Vernacular linking is the key to understanding how data connects to data beyond ontologies and folksonomies

David Carlin – “A ‘Living Archive’ for Circus Oz: investigating digital techniques to deploy cultural memory”

  • Great take on the concept of a ‘living’ archive
  • Fantastic use of video in an accessible archive
  • lovely design work from the RMIT crew

Michael Kerr Gisick – “‘The First YouTube War’: The U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as case studies in digital history”

  • Probably the best paper at the conference
  • Explores YouTube through the lens of the Afghan war soldiers
  • A very new slant on what I would call creative vernacular

Tama Leaver and Tim Highfield – “A Methodology for Mapping Instagram Hashtags.”

  • Actually this was the best paper of the conference
  • Very similar to our work except on the Instagram platform
  • We spoke about collaborating in some sense on future work

Some useful links and projects:

Original image by Scott Beale

Internet Histories and Futures

Yesterday, I attended a symposium which was primarily concerned with highlighting the history of the internet as a means of understanding the future of the internet. Internet Histories/Internet Futures was held at the University of Sydney, and included presentations from Gerard Goggin, Tom Boellstorff, Jean Burgess, Mark McLelland and Tama Leaver.

As you might expect, a forum such as this had a strong focus on policy and regulation, or how not to stop the internet. I couldn’t help but think as I listened to each speaker talk that there is a canyon between cultures of uses and internet regulation (if it even exists in some of these spaces/ideas). As policy develops, it is probably about two or three years behind cultural adoption, and cultures of uses on the internet move at such a rapid pace (and are often buried very deep) that internet regulation would merely complicate things further because of the disjuncture of semantic understanding. That is, policy and legal frameworks do not process the indexical cultural meaning to provide a suitable enough understanding of the ecosystem.

Mark McLelland highlighted this beautifully through the subcultural  fandom activities such as Mpreg (male pregnancy) and Yaoi (Reappropriation of boys in love) as slash fiction. In both cases, they have fairly extreme user-created content that if read incorrectly will miss the close representation of gender politics by Japanese women. A undoubtedly complex undertaking to correctly regulate this cultural use (if regulation is at all needed?).  How would regulation approach this hot potato:

So the five areas that were represented yesterday (disability, universal accessibility, platform politics, gender subcultures, birth and death online) all require highly particular approaches for regulation. The problem, is how to translate the cultural languages into the policy arena. A take away point for me that I am sure we will work into our future work, particularly around increased citizenry through mobile internet cultural practices.

Some rough notes from each presenter:

Gerard Goggin

  • A cue from internet freedom, political history of languages etc
  • The way we imagine the history of the internet is culturally based and not well understood
  • New understanding of disability and internet future – based on characteristics
  • The technological development of interfaces for impaired promotes cultural and communication innovations – visual communications for the deaf (e.g. Skype)
  • A disconnect between media histories more broadly, could the internet histories connect the collection of media and comms?
  • Cultural disability is played out through language – there is no word for disability in aboriginal
  • A dissatisfaction with the current policy frameworks is present within academia – disability is a clear

Tom Boellstorff

  • Universal accessibility includes access for X from the get go – universal theory builds on disability theory – not the ramp at the back of the building but incorporated in the intial design
  • Not the deficit but the potential of the set technologies for affordances
  • Similitude and difference, time and space, futurity are three concepts and three historical moments this work is based on
  • Tech can shrink space but not time, it will never be the same time in two different places
  • The collapse of online/offline dichotomies is sloppy, and maybe digital means more
  • Let’s explore the negative
  • The gaps between the digits, the 1 and 0s are never .5 – they’re always separate
  • Indexical is context based, it links something to something (semantics)
  • First Monday paper on big data
  • Do we need ethnography anymore with big data research? The link to historicity of internet studies
  • The ‘unbearable slowness’ of ethnography
  • Q: Digital divide increasing, what about the impact of location on access – rural urban for example, or connected devices?
  • A: How users modify things on platforms is the fascinating area to look at – second life and the different experience between the mobile access and the laptop client shapes how people function

Jean Burgess

  • Toaster procession – our fascination with devices OF the internet
  • The culture of the internet and the rise of hegemonic terms of the internet
  • The narratives of inclosure and the rise of proprietary systems to close the internet, the lock down of copyright etc
  • Platforms also become significant  in this space
  • See ‘The culture of connectivity’ – van Dijck
  • What are the stuff of platforms?
  • The cultures of use of platforms?
  • What is twitterish about twitter?
  • Social media histories – interface designs, the landing page etc can tell us a lot about the internal discussions towards development
  • How the design shifts is representative of the internal discussions politics etc

Mark McLelland

  • The anxiety of the uses of the internet, porn on the internet and children
  • Concepts are thrust upon us by media i.e. Rudd and the Hensen children moment
  • The concept of ‘child’ has a huge impact on society, particularly around the age of consent
  • Mpreg as a femantasy scene
  • Yaoi/BL genre hetalia
  • Theses scenes are looking at the role reversal of the empowerment of women through directed sexual narrative
  • Young people are taking control of their own sexuality through the grey area of legislation surrounding child pornography online -
  • The law isn’t very good at semiotics, the meaning loses it’s context
  • Interpretation of the legal system is significant within these practices -it seems to me there should be a body that integrates between communities of interests and legal representatives and regulatory frameworks
  • There is clearly a language barrier between the cultural practice and the legal system – is this a call for intermediation?

Tama Leaver

  • Agency of the young and old online
  • Facebook now has terms for the death of a user – the account will be closed down
  • Who owns the material? Rights revert to Facebook
  • On Google you becom inactive
  • This is an example of algorithm versus real world measures
  • Perpetu manages your online estate in the event if your death
  • These are really complex when the family discussion is put on the table
  • Many of the actions contradict the official policies of the platforms
  • It’s not really a thing in the start up culture to think about the end of the platform
  • Content Export options are good
  • Should the regulation extend beyond the individual or the contents contribution to humanities history?
SH

The Award Winning Dr Timothy Dwyer – Shanghai Surprise!

We are delighted to announce that recently Dr Tim Dwyer was the recipient of the Top Paper Award for the ICA Shanghai Regional Conference, 10 November 2013, for his paper Transferring Digital Media Industry Cultures: Accessing News in Asian Mobile Internets. Congratulations Tim!

Tim’s paper is not only a credit to an outstanding academic career, but also marks a significant contribution to the Media Diversity section of the Moving Media project. He has also set the benchmark for all additional outputs from the research project.

From Dr Dwyer’s paper:

As part of a broader Australian Research Council-funded project into the mobile Internet we assume the enduring importance of media diversity, in particular news diversity, as a policy priority in a convergent media era. The purpose of the news diversity research component of the Moving Media project is to investigate the implications of mobile news content provision, including for the development of media diversity policies. The research examines how news production practices operate in a context of proliferating media devices, escalating social media usage, media convergence and mobility. As people increasingly access news by way of mobile Internet-connected devices, it is suggested that mobile Internet media cannot be based upon naïve assumptions of service or content plurality, despite the expansion of online publishing outlets and delivery systems. Mobile computing and software raise complex industrial and socio-cultural questions regarding access to Smartphone news apps. By investigating the openness (and restrictedness/exclusivity) of mobile Internet platforms/news apps, the research aims to develop our understanding about how these mobile media ecologies are being used by media producers and consumer/citizens. These Asian case studies explore the dynamic relations between old and new media industries including as part of these transformations: the governance/content management of digital news apps and how this relates to other masthead content; their availability and how they’re accessed; the usage patterns of particular news brand apps; and, their affordability together with platform access and handset (cultural) histories, including branded/proprietary content arrangements associated with specific portals and telecommunications networks.

aaDH

Accepted paper for #aaDH2014!

We’re in! We just received notice that our social network analysis paper exploring the informal policy actors of mHealth across the the Twitter platform has been accepted for the Australasian Association of Digital Humanities (aaDH) conference 2014.

Here’s the abstract we will work from:

Scholarly interest in data privacy and the regulation of mobile Internet has intensified in recent years, particularly following Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations about Prism, the US government’s secret communications surveillance and data mining project. Much analysis has focused on the politics and architectures of data privacy regulation and network access. However the surveillance moment also invites scrutiny of academic data gathering and mining online. In open governance movements such as Occupy there has already been considerable debate about the ethics of big data research, particularly where the aim is to track individuals’ online agency around political processes and policy activism. With that context in mind, this paper examines the methodological implications of conducting large-scale social network analysis using Twitter for mobile Internet policy research.

Mobile internet is emerging at the intersection of broadband internet, mobile telephony, digital television and new media locative and sensing technologies. The policy issues around the development of this complex ecology include debates about spectrum allocation and network development, content production and code generation, and the design and the operation of media and telecommunications technologies. However not all of these discussions occur in formal regulatory settings such as International Telecommunications Union or World information Summit meetings, and not all are between traditional policy actors. Increasingly social media platforms such as Twitter and Linked-in host new networks of expertise, informal multi-actor conversations about the future of mobile Internet that have the potential to influence formal policy processes, as occurred during the January 2012 SOPA/PIPA campaigns in the US.

As part of the three year Australian Research Council Discovery project Moving Media: Mobile internet and new policy modes, this research team is mapping and interpreting the interplay between these diverse policy actors in three areas of accelerating media development: digital news, mobile health and locative media. However research into informal policy networks and processes online presents interesting problems of scale, focus and interpretation, given the increased affordances for citizen participation within the international political arenas of social media.

To better understand who these online stakeholders might be in the mobile health field, and how they operate in relation to the normative policy and regulatory circuits, we have adopted a social network analysis methodology, in order to track Twitter-based social relationships and debates. Using a series of hashtags, including #mhealth, #mobilehealth and #healthapps to track ongoing policy-related exchanges, we have begun to identify who is influential in these spaces, what they are talking about and how their input to debate may impact on mobile internet regulation.

This paper will outline that SNA approach and highlight some of the procedural and ethical concerns surrounding big data collection and analysis, which are consistent across contemporary digital humanities research. These concerns include how we can use big data harvesting and analysis tools to align quantitative with qualitative methods, how we can justify our research claims via these tools and how we might better understand and implement these innovative research methods within the academy. In particular the paper will interrogate the methodological suggestion that qualitative methods lead quantitative research, considering instead whether a more rigorous approach is to invert the quantitative/qualitative relationship.

Ingrid Mason and Luc Small delivering the closing address of THATcamp Sydney 2013

#THATcamp Sydney, October 2013 Review

We recently presented some of our social network analysis research of the informal policy actors within the mobile health regulatory space at the THATcamp Sydney unconference. Unfortunately I missed the first day and Fiona could only attend the first session of that day, but we managed to see a full (half) day on the second.

Amongst other great projects I observed, one that certainly stood out for me was the Australian’s Women’s Register. In conjunction with the University of Melbourne, they are doing some outstanding work on collecting and analysing data about Australian women – highly recommend checking this out.

Fiona and I then conducted our session which we took as an opportunity to talk about our work so far and use expertise in the room to interrogate and develop our methodology. It was an amazing experience and you can hear the audio from our talks here.

Some of the points that emerged from the discussion include:

  • Who are the official organisations that are interacting in these conversations?
  • There is existing research to suggest that participation is driving policy
  • Debra Lupton at the University of Sydney to explore data and politics
  • Nick  Thurburger University of Melbourne, experience and developing methodology in converting Excel sheets to data clean http://languages-linguistics.unimelb.edu.au/thieberger/
  • Thresholds of data – what to use, who are they, where are they, rural voices etc – we need to think about our own thresholds which shape the data analysis
  • Demographic profiling in the process – this is critical to understand the ‘why’ of the interactions between the actors
  • Content coding around the data collection, who do we want to hear from?
  • Jake Wallace Charles Stuart university, experience in political party process
  • Policy analysis portal – I am thinking we need to develop a tool similar to this to embed in our site – that is users can bring their data to it and run their own analysis
  • Positive and negative sentiment in tweets – UWS are working in this space
  • Government institutions are legally required to collect social media conversations – interesting!
  • Internal organisational cultural behaviours influencing what is said  and what is not said via freedom of information act
  • If so, could we access Yammer data?
  • Digital engagement as opposed to social media
  • Atlas of living Australia dashboard.ala.org.au - great site to play around with in representing data
  • Internet archive to send or harvest bit.ly links – credibility of user data in government policy
  • Suirveillance in terms of peaks of use, who is using soc med and when
  • Gnip.co twitter api – this is the ‘fat tube’ of Twitter data and Fiona is working on a collaborative approach with UTS
  • Steve Cassidy at Uni of Macquarie – workflow people http://web.science.mq.edu.au/~cassidy/

And if that’s not enough, the wonderful Yvonne Perkins kept a Google doc of the session which can be viewed online.

Great session and i think it is a fantastic primer for our paper which we will present at the aaDH (Australasian Association of the Digital Humanities) conference in 2014 – thanks for the input THATcamp!

MobileNews

Mobile Internet’s “Creative Destruction”: Implications for global mobile policy, IAMCR 2013

We have finally started publishing our presentations as part of our output for the Moving Media research project.

The first in the series (which you can access all of our presentations through the ‘Presentations’ tab above or at the Moving Media Slideshare page) is Gerard Goggin’s presentation at the 2013 IAMCR conference. Here is Mobile Internet’s “Creative Destruction”: Implications for global mobile policy:

[slideshare id=28103697&doc=gogginetalmobileinternetcreativedestructioniamcr2013-131110232806-phpapp02]

Finding Mobile Internet Policy Actors in Big Data

Adapted from the original image by Cambodia4kids.org, published under CC BY

Adapted from the original image by Cambodia4kids.org, published under CC BY

Some recent thinking by the Moving Media research team on the implications of big data research in relation to locating informal policy actors:

Scholarly interest in data privacy and the regulation of mobile Internet has intensified in recent years, particularly following Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations about Prism, the US government’s secret communications surveillance and data mining project. Much analysis has focused on the politics and architectures of data privacy regulation and network access. However the surveillance moment also invites scrutiny of academic data gathering and mining online. In open governance movements such as Occupy there has already been considerable debate about the ethics of big data research, particularly where the aim is to track individuals’ online agency around political processes and policy activism. With that context in mind, this paper examines the methodological implications of conducting large-scale social network analysis using Twitter for mobile Internet policy research.

Mobile internet is emerging at the intersection of broadband internet, mobile telephony, digital television and new media locative and sensing technologies. The policy issues around the development of this complex ecology include debates about spectrum allocation and network development, content production and code generation, and the design and the operation of media and telecommunications technologies. However not all of these discussions occur in formal regulatory settings such as International Telecommunications Union or World information Summit meetings, and not all are between traditional policy actors. Increasingly social media platforms such as Twitter and Linked-in host new networks of expertise, informal multi-actor conversations about the future of mobile Internet that have the potential to influence formal policy processes, as occurred during the January 2012 SOPA/PIPA campaigns in the US.

As part of the three year Australian Research Council Discovery project Moving Media: Mobile internet and new policy modes, this research team is mapping and interpreting the interplay between these diverse policy actors in three areas of accelerating media development: digital news, mobile health and locative media. However research into informal policy networks and processes online presents interesting problems of scale, focus and interpretation, given the increased affordances for citizen participation within the international political arenas of social media.

To better understand who these online stakeholders might be in the mobile health field, and how they operate in relation to the normative policy and regulatory circuits, we have adopted a social network analysis methodology, in order to track Twitter-based social relationships and debates. Using a series of hashtags, including #mhealth, #mobilehealth and #healthapps to track ongoing policy-related exchanges, we have begun to identify who is influential in these spaces, what they are talking about and how their input to debate may impact on mobile internet regulation.

This paper will outline that SNA approach and highlight some of the procedural and ethical concerns surrounding big data collection and analysis, which are consistent across contemporary digital humanities research. These concerns include how we can use big data harvesting and analysis tools to align quantitative with qualitative methods, how we can justify our research claims via these tools and how we might better understand and implement these innovative research methods within the academy. In particular the paper will interrogate the methodological suggestion that qualitative methods lead quantitative research, considering instead whether a more rigorous approach is to invert the quantitative/qualitative relationship.

Day One, #ANZCA2013

Digital Media Regulation, credit: David S. Waller

Digital Media Regulation, credit: David S. Waller

Wednesday 3 July was the official first day of this year’s Australian and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) conference. It is the yearly opportunity for communication scholars of this region to gather and share research, meet and greet with each other and develop future collaborations with colleagues from other universities. Day one was no exception with an outstanding display of research along with some provocational keynote addresses. The following is a recap on some of the significant moments I was privileged enough to catch.

The first keynote presentation was by Ang Peng Hwa who is an internet governance expert from the Nanyang Technology University. The focus of his presentation was the black out of communication in Nepal during 2006 which provided an opportunity to examine human reaction when forced to deal with an uprising and no communication channels. He also provoked us in that technology is important, but not that important – a notion I struggled with. Some key take away points include most people are not politically motivated but become so when faced with a communication blackout – media anxiety creates interest in politics; People go to the streets for information in these times creating a swell of protesters; leadership becomes localised, i.e. there are multiple leaders in an uprising where it is possible to create at a local level as opposed to national level. He then called for a liberalism approach towards media regulation with a hint of ‘nirvana’ as a humanity index.

Session two provided some wonderful papers including Donell Holloway’s look into an emerging firewatch website in WA and Simon Order’s reflection on community radio within WA. A standout paper of a parallel session was Kate Raynes-Goldie’s Radical Transparency: Privacy and Facebook. Her take on radical transparency was to examine Facebook historically as a key player to shift user behaviour in relation to privacy: Facebook always pushes the boundaries, has a reaction from the users and then eases slightly. The result has been a gradual shift in user behaviour through our approach towards privacy: user behaviour has now moved from anonymous activity to clearly identifying ourselves on the internet. Her last question was how does Google Glass challenge this current societal norm, given Google’s recent banning of pornography and facial recognition?

Session three was our turn to present our Moving Media project, but to also talk about the Mapping Global Media Policy website. Given the level of interest after this presentation from other candidates, it appears our research and the GMP website are valuable to others working in this area.

The standout presentation for the day however, was the final plenary session with MIT scholar Mia Consalvo who took us through the history of game studies and presented this in a way that most communication and media scholars could apply the thinking, or at least the game study problems, to their work. From the formalisation process of cultural policy within game studies DIGRA, to the first sports game Tennis For Two, through to the more complex issues surrounding LambdaMOO and MUD’s, Mia presented the edge of game studies that clearly overlapped with many issue media and communication scholars are faced with more broadly. She also provided us with multiple lenses to view these issues through, namely The Magic Circle which addresses how games shift between in world/out world realities, and keys and frames as a means of understanding the realms. A standout message  for me was the procedual approach of gamers where their agency is questioned: is the act of playing more important than the user agency, and if so how does that effect the user experience?

Looking forward to the coming days of ANZCA and the many new networks that are emerging amongst the scholars.