Monday, January 25, 2010

CFP Alert: Paying Attention: Digital Media Cultures and Generational Responsibility

Via the P2P Foundation and Patrick Crogan, of the Digital Cultures Research Centre, a call for papers for an upcoming conference (Sept. 2010) that will likely be of interest to many of you. Here are the details, reproduced in full form the original CFP.
CALL FOR PAPERS: Paying Attention: Digital Media Cultures and Generational Responsibility

A European Science Foundation Research Conference, Linkoping, Sweden 7 – 10th Sept 2010. Organised by the Digital Cultures Research Centre at the University of the West of England.

1. Professor Jonathan Dovey, Director, Digital Cultures Research Centre, University of the West of England
2. Dr Patrick Crogan, Department of Culture, Media and Drama, University of the West of England.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers:
1. Michel Bauwens, Foundation for Peer-to-Peer Alternatives
2. Bernard Stiegler, Director, Institut de recherche et d’innovation, Centre Georges Pompidou
3. Tiziana Terranova, Associate Professor in the Sociology of Communications, Universita di Napoli

‘Paying Attention’ concerns the politics, ethics and aesthetics of the attention economy. This is the social and technical milieu in which web native generations live much of their lives. It will address key questions like: What architectures of power are at work in the attention economy ? How is it building new structures of experience? What kinds of value does this architecture produce? ‘Paying Attention’ encourages dialogue between researchers from the fields of Cultural and New Media Studies, Education, Communications, Economics, Internet studies, Human Computer Interface Studies, Art and Design. It also seeks the input and insights of creative practitioners exploring critical and alternative uses of new media forms and technologies.

Through an ever-burgeoning technical apparatus of surveying, data mining and internet search-tailoring the attention of individual minds is estimated, costed, marketed, bought and sold. The ‘attention economy’ is enabled by technologies like Google’s web-crawler and search algorithms and agents and all kinds of metadata production. The dominance of this mode of conceiving and calculating attention, above all that of the young, can be seen to be bearing fruit in many national, regional and global phenomena. The traditional values of the public sphere are unmistakably reshaped though these processes.

‘Paying Attention’ is also interested in how practices such as videogaming, P2P Filesharing, pervasive media experimentation, and mobile phone activism also create detours, reinventions and reimaginings of the cultural program to which younger generations are recruited. While there is a concerted effort to commercialise and exploit these spaces according to the demands of the global media industries, web 2.0’s reorientation of social communication practices remains charged with an indeterminate techno-cultural potential which the conference seeks to explore.

Applications are invited for research paper contributions on any subject relevant to the conference’s aims. These may include the areas listed below to indicate the broad scope of relevant topics or subjects. The conference also seeks through its ‘Poster’ section contributions of an experimental kind from digital media and computer-based practitioners that engage with the conference theme of attention and experiential design in critical and/or creative ways. These may take the form of demos, animatics, ethical or critical design projects, installation treatments or concepts in progress. These will form a major part of the program as key elements in the articulation of viable technocultural futures.

Key Themes
1. Education, Technique & Responsibility
2. The Political Economy of Digital Experience
3. Emerging forms of knowledge and value transmission
4. Ethical design, trust and security
5. Experiments with mediated attention and experience
6. Value in the new social spaces of digital culture
7. Records, archives and digital memories
8. Metadata, search algorithms and politics
9. Entertainment, marketing and attention technologies
10. Web 2.0 : Playbour and Grammatisation
11. Profiling Data Mining and Control
12. Pervasive media and remediated living spaces

Applications Due Date: by March 30th, 2010

Notice the emphasis on youth/young people, as well as the inclusion of both interdisciplinary academic research and works by creative types/media practitioners. Sounds like this will be an amazing conference, bringing together a number of my core interests - yay!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Canada's Privacy Commissioner Launching Public Consultations Aimed at Understanding Online Tracking, Profiling and Targeting

A quick post today to relay an announcement from the Privacy Commissioner of Canada Jennifer Stoddart, on a series of public consultations that her Office is hosting on issues of online tracking, data mining, data profiling and the targeting of consumers by businesses. A great opportunity to share some of the emerging info on kids' online games and websites, as well as data mining and tracking in general. Here's the description from the department website:
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is hosting consultations with Canadians on issues that we feel pose a serious challenge to the privacy of consumers, now and in the near future.

The topics to be explored include the online tracking, profiling and targeting of consumers by businesses, and the growing trend towards cloud computing.

The aim of this consumer consultation is to learn more about such industry practices, explore their privacy implications, and find out what privacy protections Canadians expect with respect to these practices. The consultation is also intended to promote debate about the impact of these technological developments on privacy, and to inform the next review process for the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).

The centerpiece of the consultations will be a series of single-day panel discussions involving a range of participants, including representatives of industry, government, consumer associations and civil society. In order to canvass the broadest possible range of views in preparation for these events, we are also welcoming written submissions.

For more info, you can check out:
Today's news release;
The Call for Submissions;
and, in the interests of preserving people's privacy while they participate in the consultations, a Preliminary Privacy Impact Assessment Analysis of the consultation process. Note that they've assessed that the consultations will have an "overall low impact on privacy" - Cute ;)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haitian Youth Document the Earthquake & Aftermath

Photo by Andrew Bigosinski, for AOL News.

Via Unicef's MAGIC Network, news today about an amazing and humbling initiative being undertaken by students of Haiti's only film school, the Ciné Institute, who are tirelessly documenting and producing an eye witness account of this week's devastating earthquake and its aftermath. Located in Jacmel, a small town south of Port-au-Prince, the film school's classrooms and most of its equipment were reduced to rubble during the earthquake. But that hasn't stopped its students -- all but one of which is currently accounted for, but all of whom have lost their homes and/or loved ones -- from banding together to produce on the ground news footage, which they have been uploading to the internet since Thursday. So far, they've been able to salvage six cameras, a few editing stations and an uploading station from the site of their former school. Working with a team in New York, they've been able to generate an impressive multi-media news stream, complete with (in some cases) english subtitles and growing attention from mainstream media outlets (some of whom are using their footage, e.g. CNN).

You can watch the videos on the school's Vimeo channel, through the school website, and on Facebook. You can also follow them on Twitter, and view some of the first images taken in Jacmal through Flickr. Their work not only provides a crucial firsthand account of the disaster's impact and aftermath in Jacmel, but also raises awareness about smaller communities and towns that are also in need of global aid, but that might not be getting as much attention as Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince. As Dana Chivvis, who did a feature on the students' efforts in a recent article for Aol News, writes:
With their lives in chaos and their buildings in ruins, the students set up a makeshift base at a radio station. With the equipment they salvaged, they have four editing stations and one uploading station. Working with a team at the school's office in New York, they uploaded Keziah's video to their Web site only two days after the earthquake.

At noon on Friday, a second video was up, and six more are waiting for volunteers to edit and produce. Fritzner Simeus's footage shows buildings stacked like pancakes on top of themselves, people freeing a man pinned under the rubble, and thousands at night lying in the grass at the airport with nothing but blankets to cover themselves.

"The idea really now is that we make the world know that Jacmel has been equally hit as Port-au-Prince and need as much support," Bigosinski said. The students have had food and fresh water, but supplies are running low. Already fuel for generators and medical supplies in the town are nearly spent.

Clearly, along with the need for support in these vital areas, the students will also need support to continue their work of covering the aftermath. They are already encountering problems with internet access, which could seriously delay their efforts to provide a key public and humanitarian service of keeping the rest of the world informed of what's going on in Jacmel. They're currently in search of a temporary donation of an Inmarsat BGAN, a lightweight, easily transportable broadband global area network (BGAN) that would enable them to upload large video files without having to rely on the limited local services currently available to them. Just one of many things that we can do to help, but one that media professionals might be in a particularly unique position to make happen.

My heart goes out to the students and teachers of the Ciné Institute, to Jacmel and to Haiti, to all those impacted or whose loved ones have been impacted by the earthquake, and to all those involved in the relief efforts.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Get Ready Sports Fans!!!

This semester, I will once again be teaching cmns324, Media, Sports and Popular Culture at Simon Fraser University (School of Communication). This time around, however, I get to co-teach the course with a colleague, Danielle Deveaux, which means lecturing half as often, running half of the tutorials and actually getting a chance to get to know many of the students! This course is pretty popular, which means extra big lecture halls and strategic time management, so the opportunity to lead small group discussions in tutorial will be a great way to get a real sense of what everyone is thinking, where the problem areas are, etc. We've divided up the lectures, divided up the labour, divided up the worrying - this should be an interesting experiment in job sharing and I'm really looking forward to seeing how the course unfolds as a thoroughly collaborative project. Since this semester Vancouver is (finally) hosting the Winter Olympics, this should be a particularly timely and compelling series of discussions/lectures/etc.

You can check out the details (syllabus in the final stages of revision) on the course website. As always, I'll be providing links and updates to the course website throughout the semester, and will tweet any links/items that overlap into kids' media using a #cmns324 hash tag (e.g. Mattel's new WWE toyline). Here's the official course description:
The objective of this course is to critically examine the changing relationship between sports and the media within western popular cultures. We will begin with an historical overview of the sport and media industries, and an introduction to some of the key themes and concepts that will be explored over the course of the semester.

During the second section, strong emphasis will be placed on the political economic dimensions of sports media, including production, marketing and commodity flows; the commodification of youth sports and "lifestyle" sports; labour issues and athletes’ rights.

In section three, we will examine media, sport and the politics of “identities”, including national identities and globalization; sports subcultures; the representation of gender, race and ethnicity within sports media; and popular depictions of sports and athletes.

The final section will explore the social, cultural and political meanings of the sporting “spectacle”, as well as the impact of media technologies (both old and new) on sports performance and spectatorship. Discussions will touch upon a wide range of issues and theoretical approaches, with examples drawn from a variety of sports and sporting practices.

I'm pretty sure the course is over full by now, but if you're an SFU student who's interested, you can always check in with the Communication department undergrad advisor to get on the wait list. The course is taught pretty frequently as well, so there's always next time.