Worlds of Journalism – Beate Josephi

Friday 13 September, 3.00pm – 4.30pm

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

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Worlds of Journalism, based on survey data from 67 countries, offers a truly global picture of journalists, their demographics, role orientations, perceptions of freedom, ethical considerations, and trust in public institutions. Based on her authorship of the demographic profiles of journalists, this talk will highlight some of the surprising results with regard to gender, age and education of journalists, and take up the findings of other chapters to convey an understanding of journalistic culture as it manifests itself in a politically diverse world.

Dr. Beate Josephi, Honorary Associate at the Department of Media and Communications at Sydney University, has been on the Advisory Board of the Worlds of Journalism Study project since its inception. She is the lead author of the chapter on ‘Profiles of Journalists: Demographic and Employment Patterns’, and contributing author to ‘Journalistic Culture in a Global Context’.

About Worlds of Journalism

Colonising the public? Smart street furniture and the techno-politics of urban media

Image courtesy of Antoine Hubert, Creative Commons

Friday 6 September, 3.00pm – 4.30pm

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

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This seminar introduces the Smart Publics research collaboration between the University of Sydney and the University of Glasgow on the social, design, and governance implications of smart street furniture, drawing on fieldwork in Glasgow, London and New York. We situate this research in a critical account of the privatisation of public space in cities and the role of smart urbanism as a trend accelerator. We explore these issues in the context of smart upgrades to street furniture like kiosks and benches, which are hybrid urban media objects purportedly installed to address barriers of access to information-communication networks. Yet we argue that these emerging forms of street furniture raise serious risks related to surveillance, data harvesting, and targeted advertising—which are unevenly distributed among users. We also outline how their installation changes city flows and social interactions, and how their ownership challenges the role of local government in overseeing public objects and spaces. We conclude by considering the historical development of (smart) street furniture as translations from earlier objects in public space such as phone booths and benches which mediate urban life, craft urban publics, and are adapted and resisted by users.

Justine Humphry is a Lecturer in Digital Cultures in the Department of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney and co-lead of theSmart publics University of Sydney-University of Glasgow research partnership. Her research is on the cultures and politics of mobile media and smart technology in everyday life with a focus on digital inequalities, mediated publics and marginalised media use. Justine has studied mobile communication and homelessness extensively and has conducted collaborative research on mobile antiracism apps in Australia, France and the United Kingdom. Her current projects involve researching smart street furniture in New York, Glasgow and London.

Jathan Sadowski is a postdoctoral research fellow in smart cities in the School of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney. His work critically analyses the political economy of digital technologies that are data-driven, networked, and automated. His current projects include an ethnography with a city government on the process and politics of planning smart initiatives. Jathan’s book – Too Smart: How Digital Capitalism is Extracting Data, Controlling Our Lives, and Taking Over the World – will be published in 2020 by The MIT Press.

Chris Chesher is a Senior Lecturer in Digital Cultures in the Department of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney. His current research focuses on the interplay between smart home and smart city technologies: the role of voice in smart speakers and voice assistants; the digitisation of real estate advertising; the global introduction of smart street furniture; and smart technologies at the interface of private and public spaces. He is also working on a collaboration with the Sydney Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Systems, and on a book called Invocational Media.

Sophia Maalsen is a lecturer in urbanism and former IB Fell postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Sydney. Her research addresses the increasing digital mediation of housing and alternative forms of housing, including the increase in tenure forms such as share housing across all age groups. Maalsen also researches practices of smart urbanism and is currently on two grants that look at how smart urban practices and governance materialises in different contexts. Prior to joining the University of Sydney, Sophia was a postdoctoral researcher on the EU funded Programmable City Project where she investigated the digital transformation of cities and urban governance. Her particular expertise is in understanding the intersection of the material, digital and the human and how this effects lived experience. She is the author of The Social Life of Sound (2019, Palgrave MacMillan).

AI and ethics: Why all the fuss? Toby Walsh (University of New South Wales)

Wednesday 28 August, 3.00pm – 4.30pm

John Woolley Common Room, N480, John Woolley Building A20, University of Sydney

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There’s a lot of discussion in many different fora about AI and Ethics. In this talk, Toby Walsh will attempt to identify what new issues AI brings to the table, as well as where AI requires us to address otherwise old issues. He will cover topics from driverless cars to Cambridge Analytica.

Toby Walsh is Scientia Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of New South Wales and Data61. He was named by the Australian newspaper as one of the “rock stars” of Australia’s digital revolution. Professor Walsh is a strong advocate for limits to ensure AI is used to improve our lives. He has been a leading voice in the discussion about autonomous weapons (aka “killer robots”), speaking at the UN in New York and Geneva on the topic. He is a Fellow of the Australia Academy of Science and recipient of the NSW Premier’s Prize for Excellence in Engineering and ICT. He appears regularly on TV and radio, and has authored two books on AI for a general audience, the most recent entitled 2062: The World that AI Made.

#Everest: Mobile media and mobile livelihoods in the Mt Everest tourism industry – Project launch

Friday 2 August, 3.00pm – 4.30pm

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

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In the wake of the Mount Everest avalanches of 2014 and again in 2015 due to the Nepal earthquake, the Nepali state government and private telecommunications corporations have made a committed effort to increase digital connectivity in the largely remote and underdeveloped Khumbu region. This recently improved mobile infrastructure has coincided with an increase in the number of tourists arriving in the region between 2016 and 2018 and the increase in tourists has influenced the demand for workers in the region’s tourist industry. This paper discusses a research agenda for a wider ethnographic study that brings together research in transnational migration, lifestyle mobilities and travel to investigate the relationship between mobile media in shaping the meanings of Everest and its impact on the routine practices of minority workers. The wider project explores emerging digital practices as they are unfolding in these initial years of the growth of telecommunications infrastructure in the Everest region.

Jolynna Sinanan is Research Fellow in Digital Media and Ethnography at the University of Sydney. She has an interdisciplinary background in anthropology and development and her research focusses on digital media practices in relation to regionally comparative mobilities, family relationships, work and gender. Her books include Social Media in Trinidad (UCL Press, 2017), Visualising Facebook (Miller and Sinanan, UCL Press, 2017) and Webcam (Miller and Sinanan, Polity, 2014).

How Pet Scenarios Can Disrupt Energy Futures

Friday 14 June, 3.00pm – 4.30pm

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

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Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world and is part of the trend towards humanising pet care, which is making keeping pets more energy intensive. In this talk, Yolande Strengers will approach speculation about future energy demand through the lens of changing household practices using the example of pet care and entertainment. Developing the concept of a ‘social practice imaginary’ as a variation of the ‘sociotechnical imaginary’, she will outline how energy forecasting methodologies for anticipating futures such as those involving energy can and should be informed by ethnographic insights about changing household practices.

Yolande Strengers is Associate Professor of Digital Society and Technology at Monash University’s Faculty of Information Technology, where she leads the energy futures theme in the Emerging Technologies Research Lab. Yolande is a digital sociologist specialising in the interactions between people and emerging  technologies, particularly in the home. Her research is mostly applied, and delivered in collaboration with research partners include electricity distribution businesses, consumer advocacy organisations, peak bodies such as Energy Consumers Australia. She has recently completed an ARC DECRA project on the smart home, and is lead CI on the ARC Linkage project ‘Digital Energy Futures’. She is author of Smart Energy Technologies in Everyday Life (2013),  and has published widely on energy consumption and emerging technologies in households and other contexts.   

Beyond Anthropomorphism Symposium

International Symposium

The University of Sydney

Beyond anthropomorphism: Rethinking human-machine relations in robotics and A.I.

Tuesday June 11 and Wednesday June 12

The Beyond Anthropomorphism symposium challenges the popular expectation that the perfect future robot will be indistinguishable from, or superior to humans, or that humans will be perfectible through technology. Drawing on the latest research in engineering, social sciences and humanities, this event will evaluate the current state-of-the art against these fantastic visions. AI, robotics and social robotics were founded on the metaphors of the thinker, the labourer and, most recently, the companion. This symposium will explore where these metaphors are productive, and where they are misleading to provide a more grounded understanding of the likely futures for these exciting and terrifying technologies.

This symposium is organised by the University of Sydney Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Systems SIRIS (previously Centre for Robotics and Intelligent Systems), in collaboration with the Sociotechnical Futures Lab (STuF) in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the University of Sydney Business School.

*This program is a draft and it is current at the time of publishing. Further changes and updates will follow.

Download Symposium Program

Tuesday 11 June 2019

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Co-hosted by Sydney Ideas at SSB Lecture Theatre 200 Social Sciences Building

6pm: Opening by Ian Manchester, Associate Director, Sydney Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Systems (previously Centre for Robotics and Intelligent Systems)

Chair: Naoko Abe & Chris Chesher

6.10pm: Minoru Asada (Osaka University, Japan)

Watch an introduction to How to Design Artificial Moral Agents Towards a Symbiotic Society here

6.30pm: Raya Jones (Cardiff University, UK)

Watch an introduction to Anthropomorphism as a Dialogue with Ourselves here

6.50pm: Discussion and Q&A

7.30pm: End of Day 1

Wednesday 12 June 2019

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Lecture Theatre 1130 Abercrombie Business School Building

9am: Registration


9.30am: Laurence Devillers (Sorbonne University/CNRS, France)

Watch an introduction to Bad Nudge Bad Robot: Ethical Issues here

Chair: Naoko Abe

10.20: Coffee Break


Chair: Kai Riemer

10.40am: Mike Seymour (University of Sydney, Australia)

The Arms Race of Faces: AI, Agency and Identity

11.10am: Chris Chesher & Fiona Andreallo (University of Sydney, Australia)

Eye, vision and gaze in science fiction and social robotics

11.40am: Katsumi Watanabe (Waseda University, Japan, University of New South Wales, Australia)

Agency, experience, and social interactions in cognitive scientific views

12.10pm: Lunch


Chair: Justine Humphry

1.10pm: Naoko Abe (University of Sydney, Australia)

Generating anthropomorphic motion and sociological perspective

1.40pm: Simon Coghlan, Lucy Sparrow, Martin Gibbs, Jenny Waycott (University of Melbourne, Australia)

The human touch: Ethical dimensions of care robots made “in our image”

2.10pm: Yolande Strengers (Monash University, Australia) & Jenny Kennedy (RMIT University, Australia)

Turn me on, turn me off

2.20pm Coffee Break


Chair: Jolynna Sinanan

2.40pm: Yuji Sone (Macquarie University, Australia)

Hiroshi Ishiguro’s android science: The fabulation of “upstream engagement” and entertainment

3.10pm: Jason Tuckwell (Western Sydney University, Australia)

Technē, agency and computation

3.30pm: Ed Santow (Australian Human Rights Commission, Australia)

Of AI, horses and jockeys: Re-negotiating our relationship with machines in the era of AI

4pm: Toby Walsh (University of New South Wales, Australia)

Artificial and Natural Minds

4.30pm Break


Chair: Chris Chesher

4.40pm: Panel discussion

5.40: End of Day 2

Voice and Participation in Global Food Politics

Friday 17 May, 3.00pm – 5.00pm

The Forest Lodge Hotel, 117 Arundel St, Forest Lodge

Register via Sydney Environment Institute

Food politics is where the social, the technical, the cultural, the economic – and the environment – meet. But where is the democracy in our foodways? Most decisions about our food environments are left to profit-seeking companies and policy-makers who are out of touch with the lived experiences of food insecurity.  In this book Alana Mann draws on her international research into social learning and movement-building to suggest how ordinary people can have voice and participate in the co-design of food environments that are fairer, tastier, and healthier. That means respecting many choices based on culture, capacity, nutritional needs, and preference in diets, and doing so within planetary boundaries that respect the non-human too.

Join us at the Forest Lodge Hotel, Glebe, from 3pm for the official launch of the Voice and Participation in Global Food Politics, a short lecture and Q & A, all followed by festivities.

Alana Mann is Chair of the Department of Media and Communications within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney, Australia. Her research focuses on the engagement of citizens and non-state actors in activism and policy debates to inform the creation of just and sustainable food systems. She is a lead researcher with the Sydney Environment Institute.

Danielle Celermajer is a Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney. Her research stands at the interface of theories exploring the multi-dimensional nature of injustice and the practice of human rights. She is the lead of Multispecies Justice Project, one of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences six flagship research themes.

Myths, Mistakes, and #FakeNews: A Historical Perspective

Tuesday 14 May, 3.00pm – 4.30pm

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

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Fake news has existed since the dawn of modern journalism. Yet the term itself largely entered the popular lexicon only in the last decade. For all the public discussion of fake news, an agreed-upon definition, and a general understanding of the phenomenon, has largely escaped consensus. Is fake news any erroneous information delivered with an intention to deceive? Or is it the biased selection of facts without context? Is it simply propaganda by another name – or is it something else?

This talk discusses typologies of Fake News by focusing on a singular, illuminating case study: the mythic panic in response to Orson Welles’s ‘War of the Worlds’ broadcast in 1938. Several themes emerge when closely examining initial reportage of the infamous mass panic that did not actually occur. Newspaper journalists reporting on the audience response to the program in the first two days after the broadcast often provided inaccurate, biased, and unverified information to their readers. Learning how this happened, and why it happened, and how it shaped history, will help us sharpen our critical skills and develop the type of media literacy that’s particularly relevant in today’s media environment.


Michael J. Socolow is an Associate Professor of Communication and Journalism at the University of Maine [USA]. He is a 2019 Fulbright Research Scholar at the News and Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra. The author of Six Minutes in Berlin: Broadcast Spectacle and Rowing Gold at the Nazi Olympics, Socolow writes on U.S. media history, propaganda, and sports broadcasting. Professor Socolow is a former journalist, having worked as an Assignment Editor for CNN in Los Angeles, where he helped cover such stories as the O.J. Simpson trial and the 1994 Northridge earthquake, and he worked as an Information Manager for the Host Broadcast Organizations at the Barcelona, Atlanta, and Sydney Olympics. His journalistic columns on media history have appeared in the New York Times, Slate, and numerous other outlets.


Dr Margaret Van Heekeren was appointed to a Lecturer position in the Department of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney in February 2019. She is a journalism historian, and a founding member of Macquarie University’s Centre for Media History. Dr Van Heekeren’s research interests include the history of fake news and false news, the history of ideas in Australian journalism, and continuity and change in news reporting practices. She will present her research findings on fake news at the 2019 International Communication Association conference in Washington DC in May.

This event is presented by the Department of Media and Communications (University of Sydney) as part of the Media@Sydney Seminar Series and the Centre for Media History (Macquarie University).

Automating the Social: Digital Futures for Welfare, Disability, Social, and Health Services

Friday 10 May, 3.00pm – 4.30pm

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

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This event will be live streamed with captions on Facebook. To view, follow the MECO Research page on Facebook.

In recent years, we have seen the rise of automation, and associated developments in digital technology, data, and AI, being imagined and deployed to reshape the face of welfare, disability, health, and social services. Major programs in governments departments such Social Security and Health, the ambitions and realities of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and initiatives by private, not-for-profit, and NGO providers and organizations, involve reconfiguring service delivery and support via automation and digital innovations. Already there are many changes and benefits in people’s lives from these new systems and digitally-supported economies of care and support, yet there are key challenges and potential losses also – not least from the kind of new power relationships, failures in accountability and participation, and foreclosure of the complex aspects of people’s lived experience that such systems and practices are supposed to respond to and enhance.

In this timely event, we will hear from leading figures in various areas where new regimes of automation are rapidly proceeding – and will have the opportunity for an interactive discussion to identify and debate key issues to be addressed, and options for how we might shape these emerging technical and social systems in humane and fair ways.


Paul Henman is Associate Professor of Digital Sociology and Social Policy, and Principal Research Fellow in the Centre for Policy Futures, The University of Queensland. For over 20 years, his research has examined the nexus of information technologies, public administration and social policy. His publications include Governing Electronically (Palgrave 2010) and Performing the State (Routledge 2018). His current research deploys novel digital methods to understand the web ecology of government and human service delivery.

El Gibbs is Media and Campaigns Manager at People With Disability Australia. PWDA is a national disability rights, advocacy and representative organisation that is made up of, led and governed by people with disability. Founded in 1981, the International Year of Disabled Persons, People with Disability Australia provides people with disability with a voice of our own. PWDA has a cross-disability focus representing the interests of people with all kinds of disability and is a non-profit, non-government organisation.

Leanne Dowse is Professor and Chair in Intellectual Disability and Behaviour Support [IDBS] at UNSW where she has been a researcher since 1995 and an academic since 2008. Leanne’s research and publications apply models of critical inquiry to the study of disability and in particular, intellectual or cognitive disability. Her work utilises a multidisciplinary approach to investigate social justice issues for people with complex needs. In particular her work addresses the intersections of disability with mental illness, acquired brain injury, homelessness, social isolation, early life disadvantage, experience of out of home care, substance misuse and violence. Her work is particularly concerned with the ways these intersect for Indigenous Australians with intellectual disability, for women with disabilities, those in the criminal justice system, and people with complex behaviour support needs. Leanne has been and is chief investigator on a number of major Australian Research Council, NHMRC, and Federal and NSW government funded grants over the past 10 years.

Wayne Hawkins is Disability Policy Advisor with the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN). Wayne has led ACCAN’s work on telecommunications access for consumers with disability, telecommunications affordability and emergency services. Prior to joining ACCAN Wayne was National policy officer with Blind Citizens Australia. Wayne is a doctoral candidate at Sydney University researching Australian telecommunications and disability policies.

Gerard Goggin is the inaugural Professor of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney, a position he has held since 2011. Gerard’s research focusses on social, cultural, and political aspects of digital technologies, especially the Internet and mobile media and communication, and disability and accessibility. He has published 20 books and over 170 journal articles and book chapters. As well as his academic roles, Goggin has had a twenty-year involvement in communications and telecommunications policy, including appointments as a board member of the Disability Studies and Research Institute (DsaRI), foundation board member of the peak organization Australian Consumer Communication Action Network (ACCAN), deputy chair of the self-regulatory body Telephone Information Services Standards Council (TISSC), and member of the Australian e-Research Infrastructure Council (AeRIC).


Live Captioning for Media@Sydney

Posted by MECO Research on Thursday, 9 May 2019

Digital Knowledge Resources in the Caribbean and Pacific

Friday, 3 May, 2019, 3.00pm – 4.30pm

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

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From YouTube to Talanoa: Digital Knowledge Resources in the Caribbean and Pacific

Theories of learning in and through digital media have largely drawn upon research in Western contexts such as the US and UK. Yet, as sociocultural learning theory has demonstrated, context often requires a re-thinking of the spaces and practices of learning. This seminar examines digital media and learning practices among tertiary sector educators and students at national and regional universities in Fiji and Trinidad. Comparing the use of knowledge resources in each context, we highlight the ways in which learning practices are situated in wider, everyday practices and social relationships and how technology landscapes and infrastructures work together to shape practices of collaboration and peer-to-peer learning.

Heather Horst is Professor of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney. She is a sociocultural anthropologist whose research focuses upon understanding how digital media, technology and other forms of material culture mediate relationships, communication, learning, mobility and our sense of being human. Her books examining these themes include The Cell Phone: An Anthropology of Communication (Horst and Miller, Berg, 2006),Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with Digital Media (Ito, et al. 2010, MIT Press), Digital Anthropology (Horst and Miller, Eds., 2012, Berg), Digital Ethnography (Pink, Horst, et al. 2016, Sage) and The Moral Economy of Mobile Phones: Pacific Perspectives (Foster and Horst, 2018, ANU Press).

Jolynna Sinanan is Research Fellow in Digital Media and Ethnography at the University of Sydney. Her research focusses upon uses of digital media in different cultural contexts in relation to family relationships, gender and migration. Her books include Social Media in Trinidad (UCL Press, 2017), Visualising Facebook(Miller and Sinanan, UCL Press, 2017), Webcam (Miller and Sinanan, Polity, 2014) and How the World Changed Social Media(Miller et. al. 2016, UCL Press).

Fulori Manoa is a researcher from the University of the South Pacific. Her research interests include online and mobile learning in the Pacific Islands, Pacific Islands regionalism and diplomacy.

Sheba Mohammid has over 10 years experience in digital media policy. Her research focuses on how learning is practiced in formal and informal landscapes in a variegated knowledge society, and how people enact learning in their everyday lives through a variety of literacies and fluencies. Dr Mohammid’s applied work has included leadership roles in managing national development projects and serving as ICT policy specialist for the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and a director on the Global Social Media Impact Study. Her academic and applied interests have intersected as she has strategised and delivered e-learning to participants from over 50 countries.