Over the next month, I’m lucky enough to be involved in three separate events focused on infancy online, digital media and early childhood. The details …

[1] Thinking the Digital: Children, Young People and Digital Practice – Friday, 8th September, Sydney – is co-hosted by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner; Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University; and Department of Media and Communications, University of Sydney. The event opens with a keynote by visiting  LSE Professor Sonia Livingstone, and is followed by three sessions discussing youth, childhood and the digital age is various forms.  While Sonia Livingstone is reason enough to be there, the three sessions are populated by some of the best scholars in Australia, and it should be a really fantastic discussion.  I’ll be part of the second session on Rights-based Approaches to Digital Research, Policy and Practice. There are limited places, and a small fee, involved if you’re interested in attending, so registration is a must! To follow along on Twitter, the official hashtag is #ThinkingTheDigital.

The day before this event, Sonia Livingston is also giving a public seminar at WSU’s Parramatta City campus if you’re in able to attend on the afternoon of Thursday, 7th September.

[2] The following week is the big Digitising Early Childhood International Conference 2017 which runs 11-15 September, features a great line-up of keynotes as well as a truly fascinating range of papers on early childhood in the digital age. I’m lucky enough to be giving the conference’s first keynote on Tuesday morning, entitled ‘Turning Babies into Big Data–And How to Stop it’.  I’ll also be presenting Crystal Abidin and my paper ‘From YouTube to TV, and Back Again: Viral Video Child Stars and Media Flows in the Era of Social Media‘ on the Wednesday and running a session on the final day called ‘Strategies for Developing a Scholarly Web Presence during a Higher Degree & Early Career’ as part of the Higher Degree by Research/Early Career Researcher Day.  It should be a very busy, but also incredibly engaging week!  To follow tweets from conference, the official hashtag is #digikids17.

[3] Finally, as part of Research and Innovation Week 2017 at Curtin University, at midday on Thursday 21st September I’ll be presenting a slightly longer version of my talk Turning Babies into Big Data—and How to Stop It in the Adventures in Culture and Technology series hosted by Curtin’s Centre for Culture and Technology.  This is a free talk, open to anyone, but please either RSVP to this email, or use the Facebook event page to indicate you’re coming.

ACAT Poster

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OASo, it’s Open Access Week this week, and just in case you’ve not been paying attention, yes, I am a fan. Open access journals like the fantastic Fibreculture ensure anyone – whether in academia or anywhere else – can  read the work published there (including my own Olympic Trolls: Mainstream Memes and Digital Discord?). Gold open access (proper, full, unrestricted) is the best, but ‘green’ open access arrangements also mean that many commercial publishers at least allow authors to share an early version of their work, so while you might not be able to access the final published version, at least a post-print (a version not formatted and edited by the journal, but still 100% the same content) can be hosted elsewhere, which is why you can read Joss Whedon, Dr. Horrible, and the Future of Web Media over at Academia.edu.

Instead of blowing my own trumpet further, though, I’d rather talk about two recent open access developments that are far more interesting. The first is a truly outstanding collaboration by a group from the Association of Internet Researchers (and the Selfies Research Network on Facebook) who’ve created an open access, Creative Commons licensed, Selfies course. Each of the six weeks covers a particular perspective or area relating to selfies, with readings, provocations, suggested assignments and, of course, selfie activities. The breadth of ideas, and structured learning activities, make this a great course in its own right, but even more impressively it’s explicitly presented as material that can be used, explored, utilised and built on by other educators across a range of disciplines and levels. This sort of collaboration and sharing epitomises the very best of open access education, and it doesn’t hurt that the people behind it are some of the smartest thinkers about online culture around today.

So, kudos and well done to the talented group who’ve created this amazing resource, namely: Theresa Senft (New York University, USA); Jill Walker Rettberg (University of Bergen, Norway); Elizabeth Losh (University of California, San Diego, USA); Kath Albury (University of New South Wales, Australia); Radhika Gajjala (Bowling Green State University, USA); Gaby David (EHESS, France); Alice Marwick (Fordham University, USA); Crystal Abidin (University of Western Australia, Australia); Magda Olszanowski (Concordia University, Canada); Fatima Aziz (EHESS, France); Katie Warfield (Kwantien University College, Canada); and Negar Mottahedeh (Duke University, USA).

I’ll be attending the preconference event Show Me Your Selfies: A pedagogy workshop where we’ll be discussing selfies and the selfies course, which should be a wonderful and stimulating morning, and a great lead in to Internet Research 15 which is in Daegu, South Korea this week.

Secondly, and speaking of amazing open access work, I was ever so pleased to get my hands on Jill Walker Rettberg’s new book Seeing Ourselves Through Technology: How We Use Selfies, Blogs and Wearable Devices to See and Shape Ourselves. It’s a fabulous and timely read, situating selfies, quantitifed selves and other recent phenomena with historical context, but also asking fascinating questions – and giving quite a few answers – about where these forms are going. Jill will have hardcopies of the book at IR15, but it’s completely open access, which means anyone – yes, that means you – can download and read it for free in a range of formats right now! (Update: You can read Jill’s detailed thinking behind paying for an open access monograph here.)

Looking back towards Perth, here’s a video I participated in put together by Curtin Library talking about why open access matters to researchers:

I’m the last talking head, and the bit of my interview they used is where I emphasise the importance of The Conversation using a Creative Commons open access license that explicitly gives permission for the work to be republished elsewhere. I know from first-hand experience, a piece in The Conversation can turn up in a lot of different places.

If you’re in Perth this week, there are lots of events on for Open Access Week run by Curtin Library, the details of which are here!

Enjoy Open Access Week: it’s all about sharing, after all!

[Photo by biblioteekje CC BY NC SA]

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At today’s first day of the Perth CCI Symposium I presented the next section of my ongoing Ends of Identity research project as part of the Cultural Science session. I’ve attempted to use the BBC TV series Who Do You Think You Are? to explore how social media both before, during and after our lives shapes, frames and reframes who ‘we’ are in various ways.

As always, comments, questions and criticism are most welcome! Smile

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This Saturday I’ll be participating in the Ctrl-Z Symposium at Fremantle Arts Centre. It’s broadly exploring ideas of ‘writing’ with a focus on new media (being very conscious of the provocative nature of that term, especially its newness!). The symposium is the first big event arranged under the umbrella of Curtin’s new Centre for Culture and Technology, and the title is shared by the upcoming Ctrl-Z journal which will launch next year. You can find the programme here and a spiffy flyer below.  If you’re in Perth and free, it’d be great if you can join the discussions this weekend. The event kicks off at 1pm.

ctrl-z-e-flyer

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Links for May 31st 2011 through June 6th 2011:

  • Parents using Facebook to attack school staff, Principals Federation says [Perth Now] – “Parents are using Facebook and other social networks to attack principals and teachers they dislike or believe have wronged them or their children. The growing practice of raging against school staff online has sparked calls for the Education Department to step in. “These forums can also fuel the sort of misplaced anger and hatred that can end in physical confrontations and school lockdowns,” Australian Principals Federation president Chris Cotching said. Lawyers acting for the federation have warned the department it could be legally culpable if it continued to ignore online campaigns against staff.”
  • Palin Fans Trying to Edit Wikipedia Paul Revere Page [Little Green Footballs] – Interesting case study on Wikipedia’s accuracy – after Sarah Palin gets history wrong, her supporteres try and edit Wikipedia to make the Palin version; drama and editorial warfare ensue: “Man, you’ve gotta almost admire the sheer blind dedication of Sarah Palin’s wingnut acolytes. Now they’re trying like crazy to edit the Wikipedia page for “Paul Revere” to make it match Palin’s botched version of history. Here’s the Revision history of Paul Revere; check out the edits that are being reversed. Also see the discussion page for an entertaining exchange between Wikipedia editors and a would-be revisionist.”
  • Google Chrome: Lady Gaga [YouTube] – Clever ad for Google Chrome featuring Lady Gaga (and simultaneously a Lady Gaga ad featuring Chrome!) which really highlights how she’s deeply engaging with her fanbase via social media.
  • Google’s YouTube policy for Android users is copyright extremism [guardian.co.uk] – Cory Doctorow laments Google’s copyright-driven philosophical contradictions: “The news that Android users who have jailbroken their phones will be denied access to the new commercial YouTube pay-per-view service is as neat an example of copyright extremism as you could hope for. Android, of course, is Google’s wildly popular alternative to Apple’s iOS (the operating system found on iPhones and iPads). Android is free and open – it costs nothing to copy, it can be legally modified and those modifications can be legally distributed […] unless you’re running a very specific version of Google’s software on your phone or tablet, you can’t “rent” movies on YouTube. Google – the vendor – and the studios – the rights holders – are using copyright to control something much more profound than mere copying. In this version of copyright, making a movie gives you the right to specify what kind of device can play the movie back, and how that device must be configured.”
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Want to learn more about the Creative Commons? Want to hear about the latest development nationally and beyond? Want to hear from Perth folks who’ve been using the Creative Commons as part of education, the creative industries and even government? Then the Creative Commons Roadshow is for you and, for the first time in ages, the show’s coming to Perth.

Date: 2 September 2010.
Times: 10.00 am – 3.30 pm.
Venue: State Library of Western Australia, Alexander Library Building, Perth Cultural Centre, Perth

You can check out the program here; the exact speakers are still being finalised and will be added once the details are sorted, but I’ll definitely be talking about the Creative Commons in Education during the local champions segment from 1-2. If you’re interested, please come along: it’s a free event, all you need to do is register here (and please try and indicate your areas of interest, to the CC Team know which topics to focus on during the afternoon discussion groups).

I really enjoyed being part of the Building an Australasian Commons event that the Creative Commons Australia ran in Brisbane in 2008, but it’s even better to the CC team touring the country and I hope lots of Perth folks will come and hear how Creative Commons licensing and ideas can enrich your learning, sharing, creating and more!

Update: Here’s the program for the day …
CC Roadshow – Perth – Program

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Issues about privacy and Facebook have been in the news a great deal recently, but one of the implicit but less discussed issues is the notion of your digital footprint.  Your digital footpint simply means the unintended effects digital communication will have in the future since it’s simultaneously digital content (and thus potentially lasts forever).  Earlier this week I was interviewed by Jarrod Watt for ABC’s Heywire and you can listen to the what I said here.  If you prefer you go straight to the mp3 recording, or listen here …

[audio:http://blogs.abc.net.au/files/drtamaleaver_heywire.mp3]
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Links for March 9th 2010:

  • Mapping the growth of the internet [BBC News] – Useful flash-powered world map from the BBC visually demonstrating the growth in internet use across the globe from 1998 to 2008. (Quite a lot of growth to be seen!)
  • Return of the natives by Slavoj Zizek [New Statesman] – Slavoj Zizek gets stuck into Avatar: “So where is Cameron’s film here? Nowhere: in Orissa, there are no noble princesses waiting for white heroes to seduce them and help their people, just the Maoists organising the starving farmers. The film enables us to practise a typical ideological division: sympathising with the idealised aborigines while rejecting their actual struggle. The same people who enjoy the film and admire its aboriginal rebels would in all probability turn away in horror from the Naxalites, dismissing them as murderous terrorists. The true avatar is thus Avatar itself – the film substituting for reality.”
  • Adventures in the Wild, Wild West: Media140 Perth [media140.org] – Official wrap-up post for Perth Media 140 (Feb 2010), including links to pretty much everyone involved and a snappy little video summarising some of the key themes (if you watch closely you can see what 10 seconds of my talking head looks like after presenting a talk in a room which is warmer that 40 degrees Celsius!).
  • Study: Ages of social network users [Royal Pingdom] – A really useful breakdown of social networking websites by age, including these stats:
    “* Bebo appeals to a much younger audience than the other sites with 44% of its users being aged 17 or less. For MySpace, this number is also large; 33%.
    * Classmates.com has the largest share of users being aged 65 or more, 8%, and 78% are 35 or older.
    * 64% of Twitter’s users are aged 35 or older.
    * 61% of Facebooks’s users are aged 35 or older. […]
    * The average social network user is 37 years old.
    * LinkedIn, with its business focus, has a predictably high average user age; 44.
    * The average Twitter user is 39 years old.
    * The average Facebook user is 38 years old.
    * The average MySpace user is 31 years old.
    * Bebo has by far the youngest users, as witnessed earlier, with an average age of 28.”
  • Twitter Hits 10 Billion Tweets [Mashable] – “It’s official: Twitter has surpassed 10 billion tweets. […] you can tell by the actual tweet ID numbers that we have crossed the magical threshold. The milestone shows that Twitter’s still growing at a rapid pace: it broke 1 billion tweets in November 2008 and 5 billion tweets just four months ago.”
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Today was Media 140 Perth, a one-day event exploring brands, marketing and communications in the real-time web.  Many of the speakers were more business and PR orientated, but I presented a short talk about the longevity of real-time online conversations (ie online conversations also = online content) and suggested some ways in which businesses using real-time conversations and platforms like Twitter might go about ensuring the people they’re inviting into the conversation are doing so in a fully informed manner.  Here are the slides:

(The slides probably don’t make much sense without my narration, but comments are of course welcome.  If you were there at the presentation, comments from you are welcome to, although I’m sure most of you will prefer Twitter.)

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Clay Shirky’s ‘Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable’ has been getting a fair amount of attention in the past few days and his central point is ringing true for most people: the traditional revenue model of the newspaper is so dead that it might just be time to admit that in many cases news will need to find (a) new platform(s) of choice.  It is worth noting, though, that Shirky is not downplaying the important role journalists have to play in our society; what he has resoundingly challenged is whether collecting their daily output on printed paper has much of a future.  Indeed, Shirky’s conclusion is worth noting:

Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism. For a century, the imperatives to strengthen journalism and to strengthen newspapers have been so tightly wound as to be indistinguishable. That’s been a fine accident to have, but when that accident stops, as it is stopping before our eyes, we’re going to need lots of other ways to strengthen journalism instead.

When we shift our attention from ’save newspapers’ to ’save society’, the imperative changes from ‘preserve the current institutions’ to ‘do whatever works.’ And what works today isn’t the same as what used to work.

I concur; the world at large needs good journalism, but many good journalists will need to find a new home and it’s likely a new medium, too.  On March 12, the New York Times posted this visualisation:

US Newspaper circulation

You’ll have to click and see the enlarged version to read the text, but the brown and beige circles show declining circulation numbers for US newspapers; blue circles show increases (there are very few blue dots).  The US is a country of brown and beige dots.  The fact that neither Shirky nor anyone else knows what should come next is an important tension.  For those currently making a living working for newspapers who are laying off staff, this is a really immediate tension and, to be honest, I’m glad I’m not in those shoes.  For society more broadly, the question of where we get our news, and whether we’re willing to pay anything for it – either personally or through an organisation we support, or even through government funding – is something we do need to consider. I have to say, I’m feeling more protective than ever of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and SBS and have no qualms whatsoever about some fraction of my taxes supporting both.  And sitting at a point of convergence of the best traditional journalism and web 2.0 platforms have to offer, I’m glad that people like Margaret Simons are finding new ways to keep the fourth estate alive and well.  (And to be fair, there is still a lot of quality journalism out there … it just too often gets buried behind the bleeding leads.) 

For Perth folks, the paucity of our current choice in newspapers has been obvious for a long time; we only have one and it has spent almost all credibility it ever had.  A new editor is on board now, but it’ll take a lot before The West holds any serious sway or has most people read it for anything other than the TV Guide and Saturday classifieds.  In a well timed move, Perth’s citizen journalism advocate, Brownen Clune, has just relaunched her own web presence, hitting the ground running a provocative post entitled ‘The Emperor’s New Media’ which argues that many journalists lack credibility, and the profession overall is in disrepute, leaving little wonder why so many folks don’t want to pay to read it anymore:

Can we be so quick to blame the business models of newspapers (selling advertisements) when people won’t miss the service (news) they are providing? For years journalists have been regarded alongside used-car salesmen as the least trustworthy profession and every journalist has certainly experienced the polite disdain from strangers when you tell them what you do.

There is something very wrong with the media and the quality of journalism has a lot to do with it. “News” has become so devalued that people are not willing to pay for it.

Bronwen’s post has attracted some spirited comments from Fairfax journo Nick Miller (continuing an older debate, really) who does remind us that Perth certainly hasn’t really developed much of an alternative model as yet (and Bronwen’s PerthNorg, which is valuable, relies a great deal on filtered content created by the mainstream newspapers).  But to return to Shirky’s point, we need more experiments, like PerthNorg, which are willing to try and find new ways to connect journalists of various types with audiences. 

In terms of the quality of journalism out there, there’s definitely appetite for more transparent reporting and for reporting that returns more clearly to the notion of the fourth estate; keeping the average citizen informed is, after all, the aim.  If nothing else, the fact that Jon Stewart and The Daily Show (a comedy show!) managed to get so many tongues wagging in the US recently when they went after CNBC’s ethics, and then Jim Cramer in particular when he took issue with Stewart’s criticism, shows that there is real desire for a more robust sense of the fourth estate (even if many people don’t recognise the term any more).  As The Washington Post put it:

Jon Stewart has amassed a passionate following over the years as a sharp-edged satirist, the man who punctures the balloons of the powerful with a caustic candor that reporters cannot muster. As public furor over the economic meltdown rises, the Comedy Central star has turned not just his humor but also his full-throated outrage against financial journalists who he says aided and abetted the likes of Bear Stearns, AIG and Citigroup — especially those who work for the nation’s top business news channel.  Stewart morphed into a populist avenging angel this week, demanding to know why CNBC and its most manic personality, Jim Cramer, failed to warn the public about the risky Wall Street conduct that triggered the financial crisis.

Okay, ‘avenging angel’ might be a bit over-the-top, but Stewart has, in my opinion, re-energised the question of journalistic ethics and, if nothing else, we can see responses like Fix CNBC http://fixcnbc.com/; while the sentiment is noble, perhaps, like, Fix the Newspapers, we need to hope for more?

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