PODCAST: Playful and playable locations by Kyle Moore

In July of 2016, the mobile gaming landscape shifted dramatically with the release of the highly anticipated and popular Pokémon GO. Opinion pieces rushed to offer critique, with the ultimate goal of understanding how such a game might alter our engagement with public space. In Pokémon GO, location isrepresented as a node within a vast map of the world, building on data aggregated from Google Maps and algorithmically filtered crowd sourcedlocations from Niantic Lab’s other two location-based applications Ingress and Field Trip. Whether they are Pokéstops, Gyms, or Ingress Portals, locationsbecome present in these games via the collective labour of mobile game players. In this seminar, Kyle Moore focuses on the specificity in which locations are constructed via this process of data overlay and broader sociocultural implications surrounding our understanding of playing in public. Drawing from preliminary ethnographic observations of Sydney based location-based game communities, this seminar offers a perspective on how we might reframe our engagement with location as a potentially playful one, and in turn also think of location as a playable object.

Kyle Moore is a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney in the Department of Media and Communications. His doctoral research explores the way forms of urban mobile gaming are situated within urban environments, focusing on the sociocultural and material circumstance which frame our understanding of play. Kyle has previously published research on mobile, portable, and location-based games in journals such as M/C and Games and Culture.

PODCAST: Once a journalist, always a journalist by Penny O’Donnell

New technology, industry restructuring and jobs cuts are changing the conditions for journalistic work around the world and disrupting journalism’s claim to control the field of news work. In this presentation, Dr Penny O’Donnell (University of Sydney) critically examines the relationship between job loss and identity crisis, asking what happens to professional identity after redundancy, particularly to those who consider themselves ‘journalists at heart’? The analysis draws on the results of a national survey of 225 journalists laid-off from Australian newsrooms between 2012 and 2014. It argues attention to the twin experiences of job loss and job seeking offer a productive vantage point on this dynamic relationship because it prompts journalists to reconsider the nature of their expertise in achanging labour market, while at the same time reminding researchers to rethink traditional claims about ‘professional identity’to account for contemporary journalism’s more complex definitions, sites and populations engaged in news work.

Dr Penny O’Donnell is Senior Lecturer in International Media and Journalism at the University of Sydney. She is a Chief Investigator on the New Beats Project, responsible for industry liaison with the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), and engaged in the internationalization of the project through collaborations with Canadian, German and Indonesian researchers. Recent publications appear in Journalism, Journalism Practice, Ethical Space, Australian Journalism Review and African Communication Research.

PODCAST: Measuring the digital divide by Julian Thomas

In this presentation, Professor Julian Thomas (Swinburne University ofTechnology) will discuss The Australian Digital Inclusion Index, ameasurement tool that addresses the need for informed public policy andprojects to enhance digital inclusion in Australia. As the Internet becomesincreasingly central to everyday life, the social and economic consequencesof digital exclusion also increase. However, the challenge of the “narrowingbut deepening” digital divide presents immediate problems for bothresearchers and policy makers. Although substantial progress has beenmade on understanding digital exclusion at national and community levelsin Australia, the absence of a sufficiently granular, longitudinal dataset hasbeen a continuing limitation across all disciplines. And without comparablemeasures of the digital divide, the benefits of interventions are oftenpoorly understood. The Australian Digital Inclusion Index is an ongoing,collaborative project which aims to address these issues. This talk outlinesthe Index’s objectives, design, main national and NSW findings, as well aspossible uses in research, policy and practice.

Professor Julian Thomas is Director of Swinburne University’s Institute forSocial Research. His recent publications include The Informal MediaEconomy (2015) and Internet on the Outstation: The Digital Divide andRemote Aboriginal Communities (2016).

PODCAST: Holding the memories by Bunty Avieson

In this seminar, Dr Bunty Avieson examines how death and success exacerbate the ethical dimensions of truth and representation using a casestudy of Timothy Conigrave’s memoir Holding the Man. The book waspublished in 1994 by Penguin Australia, who promoted it as a “tender andsexy” account of his 15-year love affair with schoolmate John Caleo. Theirromance flourished despite resistance from their middle class conservative Catholic families, various infidelities and relationship struggles, andultimately their shared battle with AIDS. It has been described as “soulshaking”,“one of Australia’s most beloved non-fiction books” and “Romeoand Juliet for the AIDS era”. Ten days after Conigrave delivered themanuscript to Penguin, he died, leaving the aftershocks of his personal revelations to reverberate in his absence. This might have been a small butcontained moment of attention for the two families, who could then have returned to privately grieve, except that the book became a bestseller, then a play performed in Australia, NZ, USA and London’s West End andan international feature film with Guy Pearce and Anthony LaPaglia. Holding The Man has become a “living” memoir and it is thefamilies left behind who carry its legacy in a plurality of ways.

Dr Bunty Avieson is a Lecturer in the Department of Media andCommunications at the University of Sydney. She has published three novels, a novella and two memoirs, which have been variously translated intoJapanese, German and Thai, and been awarded two Ned Kelly Crime Writing Awards for her crime fiction.

PODCAST: Mapping media waste by Kathleen Williams

In this presentation, Dr Kathleen Williams (University of Tasmania), explores the relationship between waste and media. Her work maps how media technologies are disposed of or recirculated in ad hoc economies and networks; creatively reused by hoarders and collectors; or destined for the scrapheap. Through interviews and site visits with waste management and community resource initiatives, this research charts how decisions are made around what becomes waste, how organisations seek to engage communities, and how the lifecycle of media objects can be extended or disrupted. Her work also turns to representations of waste in order to understand our mediatised relationship to it. As media objects become trash, how are these objects being used differently, and how does this influence everyday practice? Drawing upon work in waste studies, memory studies and media archaeology, this presentation combines theoretical understandings of media materiality and disuse alongside emergent community practice and engagement (image: chinatechnews.com).

Dr Kathleen Williams is a lecturer in media at the University of Tasmania. Her work looks at how media technologies can be co-opted from their intended or assumed uses, particularly through the relationship between screen and digital cultures, and nostalgia.

PODCAST: Understanding public service media value beyond the fifth estate by Jonathan Hutchinson

This presentation explores and outlines how we can use social media conversation and social media metrics to understand how citizens value their PSM organisations in real time. This research focuses on the Australian context, and its public service media organisation, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), which relies on government funding to perform its day-to-day activities, including content production as per its legislated Charter. The research findings indicate there are new agents emerging in these social conversation spaces, recalibrating how users act, communicate and produce content. These new agents are cultural intermediaries who demonstrate high social capital, and are able to interact between distinct stakeholder groups, while negotiating appropriate online governance models, especially with social media ‘ad-hoc publics’ (Bruns and Burgess, 2011).

Dr Jonathon Hutchinson (Ph.D. 2013, ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation, QUT) lectures in Online and Social Media Communication at the University of Sydney. His current research explores everyday social media use, the role of social media influencers within co-creative environments, and how social media is used in cyber-terrorism. He is a trained ethnographer, has been published in many leading national and international journals, and is developing eResearch methodologies for social media network analysis. He tweets from @dhutchman.

PODCAST: Towards a model of locative journalism by Ivar John Erdal

Visiting Norwegian journalism scholar Ivar John Erdal is currently developing a model of locative journalism.

In this two-part lunchtime presentation, Associate Professor Erdal first discusses an innovative research collaboration between Volda University College located in western Norway, and Sunnmorsposten (smp.no), a regional newspaper, which introduced data journalism in 2012. The project, entitled, Situated technology – mediation, experience and journalism, sees selected students working with experienced SMP journalists and editors to develop new forms of digital storytelling; the news content is then co-published on both the newspaper and students’ websites. The next phase of the project includes experimenting with locative content for mobile devices.

In the second part of the presentation, Associate Professor Erdal examines recent conceptualisations of locative media, and journalism for mobile devices, by a range of scholars (Goggin et al., 2015; Westlund, 2013; Campbell, 2016) before sharing some preliminary ideas about his own proposed model. This theoretical inquiry is informed by recent empirical research on the journalism for mobile devices published by Scandinavian and English-language legacy media in Norway, and, in particular, efforts to classify this output in terms of locativeness.

PODCAST: How the world changed social media by Jolynna Sinanan

This presentation explores global variation in the uses and consequences of social media. The project involved nine anthropologists living in eight countries in communities as varied as an English village, a factory town in China, a town on the Turkish-Syrian border, an IT complex set in villages within South India, a low income settlement in Brazil, as well as sites in Chile, Italy and Trinidad. It offers a comparative analysis on the impact of social media on politics and gender, education and commerce. Some questions we asked are what is the result of the increased emphasis on visual communication? Are we becoming more individual or more social? Why is public social media so conservative? Why does equality online fail to shift inequality offline? How did memes become the moral police of the internet?

Jolynna Sinanan is a Vice Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Media and Communications at RMIT University. Previously, she was a Research Fellow in Anthropology at University College London with the Global Social Media Impact Study. She is the author of Social Media in Trinidad (forthcoming, UCL Press) and co-author with Daniel Miller of Webcam (2014, Polity) and Visualising Facebook (forthcoming, UCL Press).

PODCAST: Interfaces, architectures, bodies by Yiğit Soncul, Grant Bollmer and Maren Koehler*

Understanding the material, infrastructural dimension of contemporary media culture requires an engagement with a larger history of technology, one filled with interdisciplinary articulations that bring together cultural studies, art history, and architecture with the emerging frameworks of ‘media theory’ and ‘media philosophy’. This seminar examines Bernhard Siegert’s theorization of ‘cultural techniques’. Yiğit Soncul, Grant Bollmer and Maren Koehler will discuss the various ways they use Siegert to expand the focus of Anglophone media studies, embracing interdisciplinary crossings to examine how affects, bodies, identities, and spaces are shaped and produced by past and present ‘cultural techniques’.

*Partial recording of Grant Bollmer’s talk only

PODCAST: Digital journalism and democracy by Beate Josephi

Digital journalism defines its relationship to democracy differently to When traditional journalism. Technological changes have made it possible to participate actively in the creation and distribution of news, a role previously confined to journalists and media houses, thus potentially democratizing journalistic processes. This talk first sets out different models of communicative democracy, notably the elitist, the participatory and the deliberative model. It then explores how these new possibilities of participation affect journalism, journalists and society as a whole, discussing both gains and losses. As yet digital journalism is unevenly spread across the globe, but its affordances have the potential to reinvigorate the participatory and deliberative model of democracy.

Dr Beate Josephi is an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney. Her research queries the role of democracy in journalism. Recent publications include a chapter on ‘Digital Journalism and Democracy’ in the forthcoming Handbook on Digital Journalism (Sage), edited by Tamara Witschge, Chris Anderson, David Domingo, and Alf Hermida; and a guest-edited issue of Journalism on ‘Decoupling Journalism and Democracy’ (2014).