#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

RSVP via Eventbrite

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).

Media@Sydney Seminar Series 2019, Semester 2

We are very pleased to announce our Semester 2 schedule for the 2019 Media@Sydney series. Events are usually held on Fridays in the John Woolley Building (A20) at the University of Sydney and Friday seminars are usually followed by informal drinks.

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Friday 2 August: #Everest: Mobile media and mobile livelihoods in the Mt Everest tourism industry – Jolynna Sinanan (University of Sydney)

3.00pm – 4.30pm, MECO Seminar Room, S226, John Woolley Building A20, University of Sydney

Friday 6 September: Justine Humphry (University of Sydney) and Glasgow Smart Furniture Group

3.00pm – 4.30pm, MECO Seminar Room, S226, John Woolley Building A20, University of Sydney

Friday 13 September: Worlds of Journalism – Beate Josephi (University of Sydney)

3.00pm – 4.30pm, MECO Seminar Room, S226, John Woolley Building A20, University of Sydney

Monday 30 September: AoIR Pre-conference event: Data Futures

Co-hosted by UNSW

Friday 11 October: Mary Gray (Microsoft Research)

3.00pm – 4.30pm, MECO Seminar Room, S226, John Woolley Building A20, University of Sydney

Friday 18 October: Jacqueline Vickery (North Texas University)

3.00pm – 4.30pm, MECO Seminar Room, S226, John Woolley Building A20, University of Sydney

Friday 25 October: “Pulling the sheep’s wool”: Online thriftiness, labour relations and domesticity in a Chinese factory – Tom McDonald (Hong Kong University)

3.00pm – 4.30pm, MECO Seminar Room, S226, John Woolley Building A20, University of Sydney

Friday 1 November: Creativity and Automated Decision Making – Heather Horst and Kazjon Grace (University of Sydney)

3.00pm – 4.30pm, MECO Seminar Room, S226, John Woolley Building A20, University of Sydney

Friday 8 November: No seminar, MECO HDR Conference

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

RSVP via Eventbrite

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

RSVP via Eventbrite

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

RSVP via Eventbrite

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

RSVP via Eventbrite

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

RSVP via Eventbrite

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