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.