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!

Gephi-logo

Improved Gephi processing through Java RAM allocation – downloadable

Recently, our social network analysis methodology hit a snag as the computer I am using started to crash when attempting to process our larger data sets. The data sets are not extremely large at this stage (approx 8MB Excel sheets with about 80 000 lines of text), but nonetheless too big for my MacBook Pro to handle. Just to remind you, we are using Gephi as our analytics software (open source)

I started looking into virtual servers where Amazon EC2 Virtual Servers are the benchmark in this domain. They seem to be located in Northern America, i.e. San Francisco, and I have been advised the geographical location of Amazon is good when scraping data from technology companies like Twitter and Facebook, who also host their data in a similar geographical area. However, Amazon does appear to be a little too expensive for the research budget – although very tempting to wind some servers up to collect and process our data quickly.

The second option was to lean on the national super computer infrastructure for Australian researchers, NeCTAR. I established two medium virtual servers (2 vCPU, 8GB RAM, 60GB local VM disk), installed a Ubuntu operating system, but had difficulty in talking with the system (happy to take input from anyone here).

Then, we had a meeting with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) people at the University of Sydney who have been very helpful in their approach. We have been liaising with Justin Chang who provided us with an improved version of Gephi that essentially enables us to use more RAM on my local machine to process the data sets. Justin provided me with a disk image that I installed, tested and was able to get moving with the analysis again.

I asked if I could share the Gephi with our readers, to which he agreed – and provided a step by step on how he created an improved RAM allocated version of Gephi:

- Download the ‘Gephi’ .dmg frill from: https://gephi.org/users/download/

- Open the .dmg file

- Copy the Gephi.app file to a folder on your desktop

- Ctrl + Click the Gephi.app file and click Show Package Contents

- Navigate Contents  > Resources > Gephi > etc and open the gephi.conf file in a text editor

- Change the maximum Java RAM allocation:

FROM:

default_options=”–branding gephi -J-Xms64m -J-Xmx512m -J-Xverify:none -J-Dsun.java2d.noddraw=true -J-Dsun.awt.noerasebackground=true -J-Dnetbeans.indexing.noFileRefresh=true -J-Dplugin.manager.check.interval=EVERY_DAY”

TO

default_options=”–branding gephi -J-Xms1024m -J-Xmx2048m -J-Xverify:none -J-Dsun.java2d.noddraw=true -J-Dsun.awt.noerasebackground=true -J-Dnetbeans.indexing.noFileRefresh=true -J-Dplugin.manager.check.interval=EVERY_DAY”

This enables Gephi to utilise up to 2GB RAM when processing data, you can allocate any amount of RAM here (as long as it is less than your systems RAM resources)

- save the file

- run the application ‘Disc Utility’

- from within Disc Utility click file > new > Disk Image from Folder and select the folder that you created on the desktop and then click Image.

You can download the DMG with the two versions of Gephi (1GB and 2GB).

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.

A brief history on the trajectory of apps in automobiles

apps in carsI have done some very crude and preliminary research into the current state of apps and automobiles. However to understand the current framework, it is useful to explore the history of internet in cars to reveal how we have arrived at our recent fascination with connecting smartphones and automobiles.

The following is a preliminary look at a few manufacturers and their technological implementation of devices, protocols and applications.

2003: German Ministry of Education research into FleetNET – a type of ad hoc network between cars and objects,

2006: Academics (Ernst et al.) call for IPv6 to be the protocol used for internet in automobiles,

2008: BMW uses Autonet (dongle in the cigarette lighter or installed router) to connect and mobilise their iDrive in-dash internet browser; Autonet adds media storage ad becomes Delphi/Autonet Mobile System; UConnect system from Chrysler makes and appearance,

2009: Toyota Prius has a consortium of businesses to develop and implement the ng (Next Generation) Connect system, which backs onto the 3G network – it also employs LTE (long term evolution) to act as a wireless hotspot,

2010: Ford integrates API system Sync which utilises app technologies (OpenBeak, Pandora and Stitcher), while GM uses OnStar which is a built in car phone service using sensory technology like iRadar and CARbonga,

2011: Ford Sync into 10 European models – a move away form embedded technology to enable users to connect their devices, subscription based at $395 plus some features requiring $60; GM offers MyLink: using apps to access Pandora, Stitcher and eventually Facebook, email etc.,

2012: BMW iDrive updates its software to 4.x and significantly improves its rendering and mapping capabilities, interesting to see the disappearance of surfing the net in this update,

2013: Emphasis on smartphone integration; iOS and Android are producing apps that connect to the car; apps are using GPS and drawing information from communities of users to provide real time information; aCar to interface with the car’s operating systems (fuel consumption, mileage etc); CarLocator; GasBudy; iOnRoad – camera to detect accidents; iWrecked for when you have an accident; 3rd party componentry is quite distinct in this era to connect older cars with smartphones; average cost is around $5.99 per app (needs further investigation); Audi is working with Inrix Inc for parking data; BMW working with Parkopedia Ltd. for info on parking spaces (user communities); GM using OnStar RemoteLinkMobile app to start car and lock/unlock car; manufacturers still unclear about whether to connect to other cars or internet; Telematics is the burgeoning field from these types of discussions; Hyundai has Blue Link mobile services; BMW release “Last Mile” app.

Summary

What this leads me to believe is that there are four distinct eras in mobile internet within cars which has directed car manufacturers to abandon their desire to turn cars into mobile hot spots. The first sees the push come from academia (and no doubt the policy sector) to establish a suitable mobile automobile internet technology and protocol. The second sees car manufacturers implement communication systems that, awkwardly, brings the internet to the automobile. The third has manufacturers abandoning their push to make the car the internet source, and concentrate on app installation. While the final era demonstrates an integration moment where the manufactures concentration appears to be BYOD (bring your own device) to the automobile, where the apps are preinstalled to integrate with the car.

More research is required to fill a few of the obvious gaps here, but what is clear is there are four moments that are ‘driven’ by the political economy approach that are fascinating to investigate. Why did certain manufacturers partner with particular technological groups and not others? At what point did the manufacturers decide to abandon one form of tech for another? Will apps on smartphones be the future or will we see a reversion to include connectivity in the automobile?

The final observation is there seems to be three types of automobile apps emerging: safety apps (crash prevention, diagnostics, etc), general apps (radio, media, radars, navigation, objects etc), and insurance apps relevant to incidents (speed, camera, cause).

This week in apps – App Store turns 5

Original image available at http://upstart.bizjournals.com/news/technology/2013/07/10/5-facts-about-app-stores-5th-birthday.html

Original image available at http://upstart.bizjournals.com/news/technology/2013/07/10/5-facts-about-app-stores-5th-birthday.html

It has been a few weeks since we took a broad look at the app industry and made some sort of summary of it, but you may have noticed we have been busy with the social network analysis of the mobile health industry. That is not to mention the two conferences the entire research team have attended in Dublin (the International Association of Media and Communication Research IAMCR) and Perth (Australian and New Zealand Communication Association ANZCA) where we presented our work to date. We are happy to report our research was well received with many new connections being forged across the two week period. But! Back to app news…

The big news this week is the Apple App Store has turned five and to mark the event they have released a suite of apps for free. Given the enormous success of the platform and app generation, it is useful to historicise on the apps that made the store such a success. It is also worth mentioning that iOS7 has emerged amongst the development world, where some of the key developments include an improved Siri, more transparent Command Centre, transparent folders and the introduction of photo filters (interesting yet in no way a threat to Instagram).

As is always the case, privacy issues are rampant in the mobile communication world, especially given the recent hysteria surrounding the whistleblowing activities of former CIA IT consultant Edward Snowden. In the mobile world, we have seen Microsoft begin to pull apps from their platform that are deemed vulnerable. There is also some thinking emerging amongst practitioners, who are beginning to question, are social apps just a little too creepy in how they share your personal information? We are again reminded that free apps are the gateway to your personal privacy of information, where some are suggestions free apps are essentially a modern equivalent of spyware. However, as Kate Raynes-Goldie suggests, it is radical transparency.

If we switch our perspective to the economics of the app environment, there has been some fascinating research released into the app economy in Vietnam, proving an enormous long tail in the concept, development and marketplace relationship. One amazingly interesting website I stumbled across this week is created by b_willer as part of the Visual.ly suite of infographics. I highly recommend this fascinating interaction with some of the most prominent startups of the last ten years.

Once again, chat apps have dominated our communication habits, where the most recent figures indicate that WhatsApp has an active membership of 250 million users. That’s enormous compared with Twitter’s 200 million users. This Wall Street Journal article highlights some of the new movers in the chat app arena. Keeping with shifting cultural habits, interesting to note that apps are having an impact on youth who are rediscovering radio. TuneIn is a type of radio aggregator with more than 40 million users consuming more than 1 billion hours of radio!

Given the recent push for the FDA to finalise its recommendations on the regulation of health apps, it is interesting to read the other side of the debate, namely those attempting to monetize the experience. In the health apps world more broadly, there is a industry push for doctors to begin designing apps, governments to take a proactive approach towards designing health apps, and a reminder of which types of health apps to avoid. Given the advice on which types of apps to avoid, it is interesting to note the recent award won by the training app, Mobile Medic which is effectively using those ‘do nots’ in a positive and educational sense. For a quick wrap on the week in mobile health, check out his blog.

This week, we also turn our attention towards the increase of apps within cars. The emerging signs we are beginning to follow come from the BMW ConnectedDrive initiative, who have just released a new swag of apps for their prototype. And, if you have been following the taxi app sagas from around the world, you’ll be interested to read the taxi app saga has now spread to China.

Lastly, we leave this week with a look at two potentially useful apps yet a little strange in their approach. In keeping up with the wearables fashion, diapers are now notifying parents when they are full, while Japan has released new election apps for its upcoming election, encouraging users to engage in the gamification of the election process.

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.

Moving Media is a comprehensive study of mobile Internet, how the infrastructures are evolving, how people use these convergent technologies, and how traditional and new modes of media policy respond.