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

RSVP via Eventbrite

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

RSVP via Eventbrite


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

RSVP via Eventbrite

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

RSVP via Eventbrite

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

RSVP via Eventbrite

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.

When Journalists go “Below the Line”

When Journalists go “Below the Line”

Seminar by: Scott Wright (University of Melbourne)
When: Fri. 1 June 2018,
3:00 pm – 4:30 pm AEST
Where: MECO Seminar Room S226, John Woolley Building A20
University of Sydney

When Journalists go “Below the Line”: Engaging with the audience in comment spaces at The Guardian (2006-2017)

Scott Wright, Associate Professor in Political Communication, The University of Melbourne

This paper longitudinally analyses how journalists at The Guardian engage with their audience in comment spaces, using an overarching quantitative analysis of comments; a content analysis of the comments by journalists; and interviews with journalists. The paper finds that the total number of comments has risen exponentially (n=110m). Journalist participation in comments varies significantly, with a small number of “super-participants”. There is a very strong pattern, with journalist comments rising rapidly until 2012, before declining quickly. Interviews find that this pattern is explained by the huge increase in the volume of comments; changes in editorial priorities; and a shift to engagement to Twitter. When journalists comment, they engage in a wide variety of actions, including arguing and debating, providing further information, correcting errors, and defending their journalism practice.

Scott Wright is Associate Professor in Political Communication at the University of Melbourne. His work focuses on: everyday online political talk, particularly in ‘third spaces’; how moderation and interface design affect online political communication; ‘super-participants’; and government-run e-democracy experiments such as e-petitions and consultations.

Slow Magazines: Indies in print in a digital age

Friday May 18, 3.00pm – 4.30pm

S226 Seminar Room, Department of Media and Communications, John Woolley Building, (Level 2 entry off Manning Road), University of Sydney

Imagine walking into WH Smiths or Barnes and Noble where mainstream print magazines are placed under accepted industry categories, and where sales are generally in decline. Now imagine an alternative magazine store where categories are challenged, subverted and invented, and where new titles proliferate and have a growing audience. These stores exist in the ‘creative cities’ of the West and are a vital element for the indie magazine community of makers and readers to thrive.

Slow Magazines: Indies in print in a digital age investigates the reasons behind the surprising proliferation of indie magazines in print being made in the digital 21st century, a time when print was expected to become obsolete.

These magazines are a critical and creative response to the speed and distractions of digital media. And yet, while slow magazines are produced as beautiful printed objects, they use the affordances of digital culture (software, websites, social media) to create a breathing space of quality independent journalism, editorial and design creativity, with the aim of providing alternative representations of the ways we live, think and create.

Insights gained from interviews with a broad range of indie makers in the UK, Europe, US and Australia will be integrated within a discussion of the philosophy of ‘slow’, the democratisation of critique, neoliberalism and the DIY/DIWO/DWYL nexus, the discourse and analysis of creative labour, the connection between independent media and the Utopian question ‘what if?’, in an attempt to explain this phenomenon.

Megan Le Masurier is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney. She has been collecting print indie magazines for more than a decade and is working on a book to explain her, and others, obsession – Slow Magazines: Indies in print in a digital age.

Autonomous Driving Futures

Autonomous Driving Futures

Seminar by: Sarah Pink (RMIT University)

When: Fri. 11 May 2018 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm AEST. Lecture will be followed by informal drinks in the John Woolley Building.

Where: MECO Seminar Room S226, John Woolley Building A20, University of Sydney, NSW 2006

Registration Required on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/mediasydney-seminar-autonomous-driving-futures-by-sarah-pink-tickets-45156329798

Abstract: Autonomous Driving (often called self-driving) cars were the most hyped emerging technology in 2015, and Autonomous Driving Vehicles (ADV) featured amongst MIT Technology Review’s Top 10 Emerging Technologies in 2015, 2016 and 2017. They are now reviewed, debated and discussed across multiple policy, industry, technology design and public media narratives daily. In these debates AD futures are frequently visioned as utopian or dystopian and subsequently associated with assumptions about beneficial or apocalyptic individual and societal impacts that AD technologies and services would have on future lives, cities and security. Predicted benefits include energy efficiency, environmental sustainability, and improved quality of life, safety and wellbeing for users. Concerns relate to regulation and power relations embedded in the decision making and ethics of automation and machine intelligence, data and privacy, technology failure, transport system disruption and urban congestion. Yet while these science and technology, business and regulatory narratives frequently predict and describe human futures, there is a dearth of research and little understanding of how diverse human lifestyles, experience, feelings and actions will be implicated in co-constituting these futures. Instead it is often problematically assumed in industry and policy contexts that the benefits promised by AD will be achieved if humans simply trust, accept and adapt to them. Subsequently technology and infrastructure research, testing and preparation by industry, planning and policy stakeholders is focused towards these ends, and is usually undertaken in preparation for AD roll out in the large cities, and highways of the Global North.  Research from the social sciences and humanities suggests otherwise: in this talk I will outline how theoretical and empirical research from this field contests dominant narratives about AD futures, why interventions from the social sciences and humanities are needed, and how this constitutes not simply an urge to create better and more appropriate technology design for people, but rather also suggests the need for a movement from the social sciences and humanities in directing our route towards responsible and ethical technological futures. In doing so I will draw on research developed with teams I collaborate with in Sweden and Brazil.

Bio: Sarah Pink is a Distinguished Professor in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University. Her research, which is at the intersection between design anthropology, futures and technology, currently focuses on Emerging Technologies and Digital Futures, and Design for Wellbeing, which she works on through a series of academic research council funded projects and academic-industry partnerships in Australia and internationally. Current projects investigate autonomous driving vehicles, self tracking and personal data, safe technologies, and hospital environments and design. Her recent co-authored and co-edited books include Uncertainty and Possibility (2018), Anthropologies and Futures (2017), Making Homes (2017), Refiguring Digital Visual Techniques (2017) and Digital Ethnography (2016).

The future is union: Digital journalists pushback against employment insecurity, Penny O’Donnell

The future is union: Digital journalists pushback against employment insecurity

Seminar by: Penny O’Donnell (University of Sydney)

When: Fri. 27 April 2018 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm AEST (Lecture will be followed by informal drinks in the John Woolley Building)

Where: MECO Seminar Room S226, John Woolley Building A20, University of Sydney, NSW 2006

Registration Required on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/the-future-is-union-digital-journalists-pushback-against-employment-insecurity-dr-penny-odonnell-tickets-44661087515

While scholarship on the digital transformation of journalism has increased significantly in recent years, digital journalists’ efforts to unionise for improved working conditions and a voice in the workplace have received scant attention. Yet, with problems of ‘churnalism’ and fake news on the rise, it becomes important to study digital journalists’ pushback against employment insecurity and other threats to journalistic autonomy and editorial standards. This paper draws on three case studies of journalists organising in Australia, Ireland and the United States to examine what digital journalists want from unionisation and what they have achieved so far. It finds decent pay and working conditions are one priority, but so too is strong occupational representation to bal
ance employer prerogative, and guarantee digital journalists get a say in the future of journalism. The paper argues union revitalisation emerges as an important variable in achieving unionised digital workplaces.

Penny O’Donnell is Senior Lecturer in International Media and Journalism at the University of Sydney. Her research interests include work futures in global journalism, comparative media research, and digital transformation of the Australian media landscape. She is a Chief Investigator on the New Beats Project (see www.newbeatsblog.com), an ARC-funded study of the aftermath of job loss and re-employment in Australian journalism (LP140100341 and DP150102675). Internationalisation of the project now includes Canadian, Indonesian, and Dutch case studies. Recent publications from the project appear in Journalism Studies, Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism, Journalism Practice, and Australian Journalism Review. Email: penny.odonnell@sydney.edu.au