Panel Discussion: Design ethics and the age of conversational systems

Friday 9 November 2018 3:30-5.00pm
Social Sciences Building – Lecture Theatre 200
As AI disrupts more human activities, practitioners, academics and the public are increasingly asking about the impact it will have on society. Without doubt an area of great impact is human communication. In this panel we will discuss advances in computer based conversational systems: avatars and chatbots, and how they may change the way we communicate. The panel members are world leaders on digital rights, conversational systems, avatars, human communication and AI ethics.

Panelists

Rafael A. Calvo is Professor at the University of Sydney, ARC Future Fellow and Director of the Software Engineering Group that focuses on the design of systems that support wellbeing in areas of mental health, medicine and education.

Jean-Claude Martin is Professor of Computer Science at Université Paris Sud, France whose research whose research is focused upon virtual coaches, personality and emotions.

Nick Enfield is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Sydney and Director of the Sydney Social Sciences and Humanities Advanced Research Centre (SSSHARC) interested in human to human communication and the possible impact of conversational agents.

Virginia Dignum is Professor at the Department of Computer Science, Umeå University, Sweden. She is director of the Center for Responsible AI, a research institute dedicated to the study and development of AI systems that meet their social responsibility.

Moderator

Gerard Goggin is the inaugural Professor of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney interested in the social, cultural, and political aspects of digital technologies, especially the Internet and mobile media and communication, and disability and accessibility. He co-leads the Our Machines, Our Selves Dean’s Initiative with Professor Heather Horst.

 

Climate Change and the Media: Discussion and Book Launch

Monday 5 November 2018

Discussion: 5.00pm – 6.30pm, Law School Foyer, New Law School, followed by Book Launch: 6.30pm – 8.00pm, Law Lounge, Level 1, New Law School

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Presented by Sydney Environment Institute in partnership with the Department of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney

Over the last twenty five years the weight of evidence about the causes and consequences of climate change has become compelling. The solutions are fairly simple—we must switch to more sustainable and efficient forms of energy production. And yet they remain elusive—globally we produce significantly more greenhouse gases now than we did back in 1990. The sad truth is that this inaction has made climate change inevitable—the only question that remains is whether we can prevent it spiralling out of control.

How do we explain this colossal global failure? The problem is political rather than scientific: we know the risks and we know how to address them, but we lack the political will to do so. The media are pivotal in this equation: they have the power to set the public and the political agenda.

Join an international panel of experts for the Sydney launch of Climate Change and the Mediaedited by Benedetta Brevini and Justin Lewis. The panel will discuss the key themes addressed in book, exploring how and why media coverage has fallen short in communicating both science and the politics of climate change.

Speakers

Peter Hannam, Environment Editor, Sydney Morning Herald
Professor Justin Lewis, University of Cardiff
Dr Alana Mann, Department of Media and Communications
Dr Terry Woronov, Department of Anthropology

Chair

Dr Benedetta Brevini, Department of Media and Communications

Political Participation on Social, Civic and Computer Networks – Francesco Bailo

Friday 12 October 2018, 3.00-4.30pm

MECO Seminar Room S226, John Woolley Building A20

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As political participation and organisation move online, the nature of the networks that sustain them changes. In this talk I will discuss my research into the Internet-mediated project of the Five Star Movement, an Italian political movement born out of a blog and that today controls the Italian government and more than one-third of Parliament. How could a political movement emerge from the Internet and only with the resources offered by the Internet become the dominant political force in a country?

In providing my answer to this question, I will reflect on the emerging political relevance of what I call the Citizen User: a new political identity defined by a sense of political disempowerment coupled with the intensive use of empowering Internet services. Based on the electoral results from the last two general elections and from the online activity of tens of thousands of users on Facebook and Meetup.com, I will provide insights into the territorial determinants of the electoral success of the Movement and reflect on the changing role of existing social and civil networks in fostering new forms political mobilisation in the age of the computer networks.

Francesco Bailo is Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Media Methods in the Department of Media and Communications (University of Sydney). Francesco obtained his PhD from the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney in 2017. His PhD thesis investigates the impacts of online talk and social-networking sites on political participation and organisations. He is interested in digital methods and particularly in the applications of network analysis and quantitative text analysis.

This changes everything! What “the digital” means for the purposes and practices of education

This changes everything! What “the digital” means for the purposes and practices of education

Friday September 21, 3pm – 4.30

John Woolley Common Room, N480, John Woolley Building, A20

University of Sydney

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Schools and education systems are caught in the headlights of the digital era. Just as John Dewey formulated the principles of education for democracy in the context of violent industrialisation, rapid urbanisation and unprecedented social change in a new and emerging nation, so the global effects of computerisation and the digital are going to transform the wider purposes of education in both liberal democratic and authoritarian societies. This talk will open up debates around: the changing function and practices of school itself; the wider purposes of digital literacy; changing nature of civic participation in an increasingly digitalised and datafied society; and the limits of the discipline of Education as principles and practices buckle and strain in an increasingly competitive and unfair world.

Bio: Julian Sefton-Green is Professor of New Media Education at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia. He has worked as an independent scholar and has held positions at the Department of Media & Communication, London School of Economics & Political Science and at the University of Oslo working on projects exploring learning and learner identity across formal and informal domains. He has been an Honorary Professor of Education at the University of Nottingham, UK and the Institute of Education, Hong Kong and he is now a Visiting Professor at The Playful Learning Centre, University of Helsinki, Finland.

He has been the Head of Media Arts and Education at WAC Performing Arts and Media College – a centre for informal training and education – where he directed a range of digital media activities for young people and co-ordinated training for media artists and teachers. Prior to that he worked as Media Studies teacher in an inner city comprehensive London; and in higher education teaching undergraduate and postgraduate courses, leading teacher training degrees in media education.

He has researched and written widely on many aspects of media education, new technologies, creativity, digital cultures and informal learning and has authored, co-authored or edited 14 books. Recent volumes include The Class: living and learning in the digital age (New York University Press, 2016)Learning Identities, Education and Community: young lives in the cosmopolitan city (Cambridge University Press 2016) and Learning beyond the School: international perspectives on the schooled society (Routledge, 2018)He has directed research projects for the Arts Council of England, the British Film Institute, the London Development Agency, Creative Partnerships and Nominet Trust and has spoken at over 40 conferences in 20 countries.

Life in Antarctica: mediations, speculations, ethnographies – Juan Francisco Salazar

Friday September 14, 3pm – 4.30

John Woolley Common Room, N480

John Woolley Building, A20

University of Sydney

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In recent years, the Antarctic has become a fitting space for anthropological analysis and ethnographic research as human activities intensify and human populations increasingly make themselves at home in Antarctica. These processes demand a deepening of inquiry into what kinds of socialities, subjectivities, material cultures, affects, and cultural practices are emerging there. As one of the most mediated places on Earth, Antarctica shapes the future of the planet in unexpected ways. It is not only a unique laboratory for science, but an exceptional laboratory for thinking about futures on and off Earth. Informed by ethnographic work in the Antarctic Peninsula and the production of a series of media projects, including digital storytelling, a feature-length documentary film, and an online game, this paper explores world-making processes through which extreme environments are made habitable and through which Antarctic gateway cities develop novel urban imaginaries of connection to Antarctica.

Bio: Juan Francisco Salazar is an Associate Professor in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts, and Research Director of the Institute for Culture and Society (ICS) at Western Sydney University. As an anthropologist, communication specialist and filmmaker, his academic and creative work is concerned with the coupled dynamics of socio-environmental change. He has worked with a range of communities in Chile, Colombia, central Australia, Cambodia, Vanuatu and Antarctica. His latest book is the co-edited volumeAnthropology and Futures: Researching Emerging and Uncertain Worlds (Bloomsbury, 2017) and his latest film is the award-winning documentary Nightfall on Gaia (2015). He is currently leading the Australian Research Council Linkage Project Antarctic Cities and the Global Commons: Rethinking the Gateways (2017-2020) and finishing a new feature length documentary film titled The Bamboo Bridge.

Custodians of the Internet: Platforms, Content Moderation, and the Hidden Decisions that Shape Social Media – Tarleton Gillespie

Tuesday August 28, 4pm – 6pm

John Woolley Common Room, N480

John Woolley Building, A20

University of Sydney

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Most social media users want their chosen platforms free from harassment and porn. But they also want to see the content they choose to see. This means platforms face an irreconcilable contradiction: while platforms promise an open space for participation and community, every one of them imposes rules of some kind.

 

In the early days of social media, content moderation was hidden away, even disavowed. But the illusion of the open platform has, in recent years, begun to crumble. Today, content moderation has never been more important, or more controversial. In Custodians of the Internet, Tarleton Gillespie investigates how social media platforms police what we post online – and the societal impact of these decisions.

 

“I have been writing about the impact of platforms and the digital transformation for fifteen years,” said Gillespie. “This book explains how content moderation works: how the platforms think of their responsibilities, the way they create and articulate the rules, the labor behind the scenes, and recent efforts to automate it all.” Based on interviews with content moderators, creators, and consumers, this book contributes to the current debates about the public responsibilities of platforms, be it about harassment, data privacy, or political propaganda.

 

Gillespie argues that content moderation still receives too little public scrutiny. How and why platforms moderate can shape societal norms and alter the contours of public discourse, cultural production, and the fabric of society.

 

Tarleton Gillespie is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research New England, part of the Social Media Collective research group. He is an affiliated associate professor at Cornell University, in the Department of Communication and the Department of Information Science. He cofounded the blog Culture Digitally.

He is the author of Wired Shut: Copyright and the Shape of Digital Culture (MIT, 2007), the co-editor of Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society (MIT, 2014); his newest book is Custodians of the Internet: Platforms, Content Moderation, and the Hidden Decisions that Shape Social Media (Yale, 2018).

Gatewatching and News Curation: Journalism and Social Media – Professor Axel Bruns

Friday 24 August 2018, 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

MECO Seminar Room S226, John Woolley Building A20, University of Sydney

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Social media users now engage almost instinctively in collective and collaborative gatewatching processes as they respond to major breaking news stories, as well as in their day-to- day sharing of interesting articles with their social media contacts. Meanwhile, existing media outlets are increasingly seeking to maximise the shareability of their sto ries via social media, and a number of new players are fundamentally built around providing ‘viral’ content. This talk shows how this impacts on news industry practices and approaches. It reviews the practices of everyday users as they engage with the news, and highlights how enterprising journalists have come to connect and engage with such users. It traces the conflicted responses of journalists and news outlets from their early dismissals to gradual engagement with social media, and asks whether, as journalism is subsumed into social media, news outlets can remain distinctive enough to survive.

Prof. Axel Bruns is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and Professor in the Digital Media Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. He is the author of Gatewatching and News Curation: Journalism, Social Media, and the Public Sphere (2018), Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond: From Production to Produsage (2008), and Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production (2005), and a co -editor of the Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics (2016), Twitter and Society (2014), A Companion to New Media Dynamics (2012), and Uses of Blogs (2006). His current work focusses on the study of user participation in social media spaces such as Twitter, and its implications for our understanding of the contemporary public sphere, drawing especially on innovative new methods for analysing ‘big social data’.

See Axel’s research blog here and he tweets at @snurb_dot_info. More details on his research into social media can be found here.

The Moral Economy of Mobile Phones Symposium and Book Launch

Friday 17 August, 3pm – 5.30pm

MECO Seminar Room S226, John Woolley Building A20, University of Sydney

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The rapid uptake of mobile phones in the Pacific Islands over the last ten years has created a complicated moral economy. We understand the moral economy of mobile phones to imply a field of shifting relations among consumers, companies and state actors, all of whom have their own ideas about what is good, fair and just. These ideas inform the ways in which, for example, consumers acquire and use mobile phones; companies promote and sell voice, SMS and data subscriptions; and state actors regulate both everyday use of mobile phones and market activity around mobile phones. Ambivalence and disagreement about who owes what to whom is thus an integral feature of the moral economy of mobile phones.

This symposium reports on research in Fiji and Papua New Guinea funded by the Australian Research Council, including two documentary films. It concludes with a book launch for The Moral Economy of  Mobile Phones: Pacific Perspectives, an edited volume published in May 2018 by the Australian National University Press and is available for free download here.

Confirmed presenters include: Heather A. Horst (University of Sydney), Robert J. Foster (University of Rochester), Lucas Watt (RMIT University), Wendy Bai Magea (University of Goroka), Romitesh Kant (University of South Pacific/LaTrobe University), and luke gaspard (University of Sydney). The Moral Economy of  Mobile Phones: Pacific Perspectives will be launched by Professor Gerard Goggin (University of Sydney).

Reporting Elections: Rethinking the Logic of Campaign Coverage – Dr Stephen Cushion, Cardiff University

Friday 3 August 2018, 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

MECO Seminar Room S226, John Woolley Building A20, University of Sydney

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How elections are reported has important implications for the health of democracy and informed citizenship. But how informative are the news media during campaigns? What kind of logic do they follow? How well do they serve citizens? Based on original research as well as the most comprehensive assessment of election studies to date, Stephen Cushion’s talk will examine how campaigns are reported in many advanced Western democracies. Focusing on the most recent US and UK election campaigns, he consider how the logic of election coverage could be rethought in ways that better serve the democratic needs of citizens.

During the 2017 UK election campaign, his study found broadcasters drew heavily on journalistic judgements about public opinion in vox pops and live two-ways. In doing so, the portrayal of citizens in television news was largely shaped by a relatively narrow set of assumptions made by political journalists about the public’s ideological views rather than conveying a more representative picture of public opinion. As a consequence, at times voters were portrayed as favouring more right- then left-wing policies despite evidence to the contrary.

Cushion thus argues that election reporting should be driven by a public logic, where the agenda of voters takes centre stage in the campaign and the policies of respective political parties receive more airtime and independent scrutiny.

Dr Stephen Cushion is a Reader at Cardiff University School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies. He has also published over 50 journal articles and book chapters on issues related to news, politics and journalism. He is on the editorial board of several leading academic journals, including Journalism StudiesJournalism PracticeJournalism: Theory, Practice and CriticismJournalism Education and Journal of Applied Journalism and Media. He has written three sole authored books, News and Poitics: The Rise of Live and interpretive JournalismThe Democratic Value of News: Why Public Service Media Matter(2012, Palgrave) and Television Journalism (2012, Sage) and one co-authored book, Reporting Elections: Rethinking the Logic of Campaign Coverage (2018, Polity Press, with Richard Thomas).

Witness This! How to document research with mobile video

When: Friday June 1st
12.30-3.15
Where: MECO Seminar Room S226, John Woolley Building A20MECO Seminar Room S226, John Woolley Building A20

With Jean Christophe Nougaret, head of communications, Médecins Sans Frontières Australia
and Denby Weller, video journalist, Macleay College

In this seminar and workshop we explore the benefits, techniques and challenges of using your mobile phone for video documentation of your research, from fieldwork interviews and focus groups to ethnographic projects.

Jean Christophe Nougaret, head of communications for Médecins Sans Frontières Australia discusses how and why he uses his smartphone to record MSF activities in the field, covering issues of privacy, visibility, immediacy, economy and accessibility.

Then Denby Weller, video journalist with Macleay College and formerly Fairfax Media, will take a short practical workshop covering shot planning, framing, capture, lighting, eyeline and technical execution as well as the basics of video interviewing and how to compile a video story. Participants will conduct a video exercise and so need to bring a fully charged smartphone, with its native video recording application.