Communicative Reflexivity and Financial Bubbles: Linking Minsky to Marx – Peter Thompson, Victoria University of Wellington

Tuesday 2 April, 2019, 3pm – 4.30pm

Seminar Room 203, RD Watt Building, University of Sydney

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The aim of this paper is to outline a communicative framework for understanding the reflexive, constitutive role of financial information in the generation and annihilation of financial bubbles. In contrast to the neoclassical economic notion of efficient markets which implicitly assume that information is representative of fundamental market conditions, the approach here highlights the reflexive, constitutive role of information in shaping market reality. This approach emphasizes the potential for financial feedback loops between financial actors and media to endogenously (and performatively) shape market expectations and the symbolic ontology of fictitious asset values.

This analysis is then linked to Hyman Minsky’s Financial Instability Hypothesis (FIH) which identified the central role of credit expansion and leverage in driving cycles of endogenous asset price inflation and collapse. The value of linking Minsky’s FIH to communicative processes is twofold: a) it provides the basis for a more complete analysis of how financial investors respond to the market signals their own activities generate (e.g. asset price inflation leading to discounted risk and cheaper credit) and b) by foregrounding the symbolic processes underpinning trading activity and the generation (and annihilation) financial asset values, it provides a link between the FIH to a revised Marxist account of finance capital’s crisis tendency.

Peter Thompson is a senior lecturer in Victoria University of Wellington’s media studies programme. Primarily, a political economist, his research interests include communication processes in financial markets as well as analyses of media policy. Peter is a founding co-editor of the Political Economy of Communication journal and is currently vice-chair of the IAMCR political economy section. He is also chair of the Better Public Media trust which campaigns for public interest media policy in New Zealand.

De-/Re-Constructing home – Maren Hartmann, University of Arts, Berlin

Friday 29 March, 2019, 3.00pm – 4.30pm

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

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De-/Re-Constructing home: Notions of home and homelessness in times of mobile media

One of the always-taken-for-granted, but yet again constantly shifting concepts within media and cultural studies is the home. Maren Hartmann’s talk aims to unpack and map different understandings of the notion of home – both in media studies and beyond, but also in terms of both ontological and epistemological aspects. Four main – and rather diverse – foci shall serve to aid this mapping process: a) a (brief) feminist take on the household and home; b) a definition of home in the context of homelessness; c) the (media studies) concept of domestication and d) the home button. Next to often taking the notion and existence of home for granted, we often rely on “being-at-home” for our well-being and our identity-formation. In times, however, where insecurities seem once again on the rise, we need to take a new look at the interconnection between home and being-at-home. Drawing on work on homelessness, this talk proposes the concept of homing – making oneself at home in diverse ways. It also addresses the question what role media can play therein.

Maren Hartmann is professor of communication and media sociology at the University of Arts (UdK) in Berlin, Germany. She has worked at universities in the UK, Belgium and Germany and been a visiting scholar in Denmark and Sweden. In 2019, she is a Visiting Scholar in the SLAM Department of Media and Communications. Her work has four main foci: media and time; appropriation, esp. domestication; media and mobilities; home & homelessness. She has published widely in these fields. Maren is also involved in international organizations (Academiae Europeana, the German DGPuK and ECREA) and a regular guest at international conferences. 

Discussant:

Justine Humphry is a Lecturer in Digital Cultures in the Department of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney. Her previous appointments include Lecturer in Cultural and Social Analysis at Western Sydney University and Research Fellow in Digital Media at the University of Sydney.

Automated Decision Making and Society – Julian Thomas

Friday 15 March, 2019, 3.00pm – 4.30pm

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

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Digital media industries are at the head of a new wave of automation, driven by an expanding array of intelligent technologies, from deep learning to blockchains. Automation promises great benefits, but concerns abound over the prospects of industry disruption, increasing inequality, declining productivity, and diminishing economic security. With the rapid expansion of automated decision making, new risks to human rights and welfare are emerging. This talk reviews current developments in automation, and considers the ways in which researchers in media studies may contribute to the emergence of ethical, responsible and inclusive automation.

Julian Thomas is Professor of Media and Communications at RMIT University. He leads the Technology, Communications and Policy Lab in RMIT’s Digital Ethnography Research Centre. Julian’s recent publications include Internet on the Outstation (INC, 2016), Measuring the Digital Divide (2016, 2017, 2018), The Informal Media Economy (Polity, 2015), and Fashioning Intellectual Property (Cambridge UP, 2012). He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities, and is actively involved in a wide range of consumer, research and policy organisations in the technology and communications sectors.

The Journalisms of Islam: Contending Views in Muslim Southeast Asia – Janet Steele

Monday 11 March 2019, 5.30 – 6.30pm

Quadrangle History Room S226, University of Sydney

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Join Janet Steele, author of Mediating Islam: Cosmopolitan Journalisms in Muslim Southeast Asia, for a seminar on Islamic journalism.

What is Islamic journalism? It depends on where you stand. In Indonesia or Malaysia, journalism and Islam can have many different faces.

At Sabili, an Indonesian Islamist magazine first established as an underground publication, journalists were hired for their ability
at dakwah, or Islamic propagation. At Tempo on the other hand, a weekly Indonesian news magazine that was banned by the Soeharto regime and returned to print in 1998, journalists don’t talk much
about sharia. Although many are pious and see their work as a manifestation of worship, the Islam they practice has been described as cosmopolitan, progressive, and even liberal. Does Islamic journalism require that reporters support an Islamic party as they do at Harakah newspaper in Malaysia? Or is it more important to practice the kind of substantial Islam promoted by the Indonesian newspaper Republika? What about Muslim journalists who work at secular news organization such as Malaysiakini?

Journalists at these five news organisations in one of the world’s most populous Muslim regions draw upon what are arguably universal principles of journalism, but understand and explain them through the lens of what I call an Islamic idiom. What they say about the meaning of their work suggests a richness of experience that has been overlooked by both scholars and those engaged in international affairs.

Janet Steele is an Associate Professor in the School of Media and Public Affairs at the George Washington University, and the director of the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication.

This seminar is co-hosted by SSEAC and Media@Sydney, Department of Media and Communications.

Digital Rights in an Age of Surveillance AI

Thursday, 7 March, 2019, 4.30pm – 6.00pm

Seminar 2.03, RD Watt Building (A04), University of Sydney

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Three leading researchers of artificial intelligence and its societal implications discuss how emerging AI technologies are affecting our digital rights, particularly in light of the increased use of machine learning in forms of surveillance and policing. In partnership with the Goethe Institute, the Department of Media and Communications welcomes you to this in-conversation event with:

Professor Melvin Chen(Nanyang Technological University, Singapore), is a philosopher of artificial intelligence and researcher in creative cognition research, ethics, metaethics and aesthetics. He is a member of the ‘AI for Humanity’ initiative, and is interested in the cross-cultural negotiation of issues such as the ethics and governance of AI, and the role of education in an AI-driven age.

Dr Theresa Züger (Humboldt University, Germany) is Head of the Office for the Third Engagement Report at the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society and a researcher of digital forms of civil disobedience. In 2017, Theresa was a research fellow at the Center for Advanced Internet Studies with her project Polynocular Tech Lab. She is co-founder of Bridge Figures, an organisation countering xenophobia with digital strategies. She tweets @thezueger

Mr Karaitiana Taiuru (Christchurch, New Zealand) is a long-time advocate of digital Māori rights and a researcher of data sovereignty and digital colonialism, te reo Māori revitalisation with technology, Māori representation and intellectual property rights. His PhD research examines the ways in which genome sequencing technologies perpetuate institutional racism and racial stereotyping.

Digital Publics: Hidden and Untraceable Data

When: Monday 3 December, 2018 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Where: Philosophy Room S249, Philosophy Room S249, University of Sydney Camperdown, NSW 2006

Part of this year’s Digital Humanities Downunder Summer Institute, co-hosted with Western Sydney University, The Department of Media and Communications, The University of Sydney.

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Human-machine communication is increasingly embedded in our everyday lives through the rise of social media, the Internet of Things (IoT), linked data, and so-called smart technologies such as connected homes, smart cars, and digital assistants. As our use of these technologies continues to grow and integrate with our personal lives, the early promise of machines increasing user communication and participation, seems to have faded towards a world where humans primarily only communicate with machines and must participate or risk being excluded. These integrated and connected processes of human-machine communication are increasingly less visible overtime as they become embedded in platforms, sensors and autonomous systems, while the obvious concern for citizens is an increase of user tracking and surveillance. What is of greater concern, and often underexplored, is our ability to, as James W. Carey (2005) notes, disentangle the consequences of entangled connected devices from the wider world of power and ambition. Understanding this critical ambition should be the role of citizens, who inform and are guided by leading public figures in these arenas.

This is precisely the role researchers from the Humanities, Social Sciences and Human-Computer Interaction disciplines should be engaging in. However, in a post-Cambridge Analytica world, gaining access to these sorts of environments for research and critical examination is increasingly difficult. This is a critical moment for expertise from a number of areas to collaboratively design and employ new approaches towards digital research methods, that can inform and work with publics, advise policy makers, and guide appropriate best practice for users of human-machine communication environments.

To explore this area, we have a panel of leading experts discussing the current and emerging themes of human-machine communication, who will apply their critical lens to this increasingly important area for citizens.

Professor Jean Burgess, Director of the Digital Media Research Centre
Professor Michele Willson, Dean of Research for Faculty of Humanities and Professor, Internet Studies, Curtin University
Dr Aim Sinpeng, Lecturer University of Sydney

Dr Jonathon Hutchinson, Lecturer University of Sydney, and Dr Justine Humphry, Lecturer University of Sydney, will be the discussants for the evening.

Register here

 

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.