Friday, April 29, 2022

DIY Book "Tour" and Other Ways I'm Promoting My Book (Digital Playgrounds)




Anyone connected to me on social media or who knows me irl is well aware that I have a new book out, published by the University of Toronto Press and released in July/August 2021 (Digital Playgrounds: The Hidden Politics of Children's Online Play Spaces, Virtual Worlds, and Connected Games). Super exciting and my publisher has been in touch a couple of times to follow up on things I said I would do to promote the book, like contacting book review editors (which is tough, actually, because not as many journals seem to do this anymore), and applying for book awards (where applicable, since of course you mostly can't self-nominate for those). Apart from that, though, I've been pretty much left to my own devices when it comes to promoting the book and, at a more basic level, raising awareness that it even exists. And I haven't done a spectacular job so far, which is starting to stress me out, since soon the book won't be "new" anymore and thus no longer eligible for "new titles to watch" lists or book reviews or media coverage or most awards, etc. 

The ongoing pandemic has played a major role here, of course. I'm still scrambling to do my usual everyday job, and it's been really hard to find the time and enthusiasm to put into extra work that also feels a lot like blatant self-promotion. Argh. Anyway, it's been a lot tougher than I thought it would be. 

Luckily (so lucky), I have a supportive network of other academics and students who are stepping up and giving me some really important and exciting opportunities to talk about the book at a number of conferences and events this Spring (2022). This is in addition to the lovely Book Launch hosted by the Institute for Research on Digital Literacies at York University in January. 

Here's the list of stops on my totally unofficial "book tour" so far. More to come, I hope. As soon as I finish grading papers for the year and have a moment to reach out to non-academic community groups, apply to more conferences, and maybe make some of the content/key findings available via accessibly written blog posts or articles (or an OpEd?).   

Meet the Author Events:

Meet the Authors: 2022 CCA Book of the Year Award Nominees, at the Canadian Communication Association (CCA) Annual Conference at Congress, May 17, 2022.

CGSA Book Launch Event (Meet the Authors), at the Canadian Game Studies Association (CGSA) Annual Conference, June 2, 2022. 


Keynote Talks:

Grimes, S.M.(2022) Call to Action on the Digital Playground. Keynote address to be delivered at the Visions of Change: A CMP Graduate Student Conference, University of Calgary, May 10, Calgary, Alberta.

Grimes, S.M. (2022). The Politics of Children’s Digital Playgrounds. Keynote address to be delivered at Digital Society @ Manchester Symposium, June 6-11, Manchester, UK.


Invited Talks:

Grimes, S.M. (2022). Digital Playgrounds: The Hidden Politics of Children’s Online Play Spaces, Virtual Worlds, and Connected Games. Critical Computing Seminar Series, Third Space at the Dept. of Computer Science, University of Toronto, May 25, Toronto, ON.

Grimes, S.M.  (2022) How Digital Games are Redefining Children's Rights Online. Stress-Free Degree Lecture Series (Alumni Reunion), University of Toronto, May 25, Toronto, ON.


Conference Paper (peer-reviewed):

Grimes, S.M. (2022). Children’s Rights In/And Digital Games. To be presented at the Canadian Communication Association (CCA) Annual Conference at Congress, May 20, Virtual Event.  


Journal Article/Foreword:

Grimes, S.M. (2022). The politics of children’s privacy. European Data Protection Law Review 8(1): 14-18. Available here.


Friday, September 10, 2021

Job Opportunity Alert: P/T Graphic Design & Data Visualization Position with the KMDI




 GRAPHIC DESIGN & DATA VISUALIZATION POSITION

WITH KMDI (University of Toronto)


The Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto, is seeking to fill a part-time Graphic Design & Data Visualization position reporting to the Institute’s Director. The successful candidate will contribute to our in-house knowledge media design and mobilization through the creation of illustrations, data visualizations, graphics, presentations and other image-based content aimed at communicating and promoting research produced by members of the KMDI to diverse communities, which include cross-sector partners, children and youth, people from marginalized groups, and the public at large. 

 

 

Qualifications

 

- Experience in Graphic Design, Intermediate to Advanced Skills in Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop), and/or other comparable graphic design software (e.g. Inkscape, Corel)
- Specialized skills in data visualization practices and software

- Familiarity with research methods used in the social sciences and science and technology studies (STS), including qualitative and quantitative approaches 

- Ability to convey complex information, including findings and theoretical advances, through polished and engaging visuals

- Demonstrated ability and experience in clearly communicating research findings through data visualizations, interactive charts, graphs and other tools to diverse audiences. 

- Experience teleworking or working remotely, including collaborating with co-workers and team members through teleconferencing/virtual collaboration programs (e.g. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Miro, Notion)

- Excellent reading comprehension and communication skills

- Solid understanding of marketing and branding

- Excellent organizational skills 

- Exceptional analytical and problem-solving skills

- Self-motivated; takes initiative; pro-active

- Committed, reliable, ability to work both independently and as part of a team

 

Desired Skills

- Familiarity with norms/formats of popular social media platforms (e.g. TikTok, Facebook, Discord, and Twitter)

- Familiarity with current web standards-based HTML, CSS 

 

Responsibilities:

- Creating original graphics, infographics, illustrations and/or data visualizations of select KMDI research project findings and activities, to support effective knowledge translation and knowledge mobilization to audiences from diverse sectors and communities; 

- Creating original graphics and infographics for use in KMDI communications materials (e.g. reports, conference presentations) for regular public outreach, marketing and branding purposes; 

- Assisting in the development and delivery of innovative knowledge mobilization plans for faculty and student-led research projects. 

 

The KMDI is strongly committed to diversity within its community and welcomes applications from racialized persons/persons of colour, women, Indigenous/Aboriginal people of North America, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas. Qualified applicants must have the resources and availability to complete most (potentially all) of the work remotely and must be legally entitled to work in Canada for the duration of the contract. 

 

The successful applicant will be offered an initial casual employment contract of 150 hours, to be completed between October 1, 2021 – March 30, 2022 (with possibility of renewal). Hours are flexible but should average a minimum of 5 hours a week for the duration of the contract. Salary will be commensurate with experience, projected between $35-$40/hour.

 

Please note that only successful candidates will be contacted for an interview.

 

To apply, email a CV, cover letter, and portfolio to KMDI Director Dr. Sara M. Grimes (sara.grimes@utoronto.ca) by end of day on September 26, 2021.  

 

Monday, August 23, 2021

(My!!) New Book Alert: Digital Playgrounds, published by University of Toronto Press


I am so excited to finally be able to say this: My book is out!!! After many delays (including two maternity leaves and two sick leaves) and multiple, much-needed updates to the analysis and literature, I finished the monograph I've been working on since my second year as a UofT professor. Digital Playgrounds: The Hidden Politics of Children’s Online Play Spaces, Virtual Worlds, and Connected Games (2021, University of Toronto Press) is officially published and available for purchase wherever you buy academic books (well, maybe not WHEREVER, but you can get it through most major book sellers, as well as directly from the publisher's website). The back cover reviews/blurbs were amazing (read humbling), and I'm really hopeful the book will make some waves, or at the very least inspire some serious conversations about the importance, meaning and potential of digital play for children, and the need for us to pay closer attention to how digital play spaces are designed and managed. 

The abstract for the book is available on the publisher websites (and all of the other book seller websites), so I thought I would use this space to share the list of unique features that I wrote for my editor when the book was still going through the publishing process. The tone is a bit braggy (as such things should be when trying to convince someone to put your book on their shelf), but provides my justification for why the book is important, and how it builds on/diverges from the existing literature. 

Digital Playgrounds is the first single-author book to examine children’s online play spaces across time and platforms. It provides a synthesis of multiple studies conducted over eighteen years, and grounds the analysis and discussion in the academic literature, policy/regulatory regimes, and cultural discourses as they have evolved over this same period. 

Digital Playgrounds contains a comparative and contextualized analysis of a range of connected digital games and play spaces designed and marketed to children (aged 6 to 12 years), and identifies dominant trends that have evolved in this space over time, and across shifting trends and rapidly changing technological forms.

The majority of the academic literature on children and digital technologies is either focused on risk/harms or on educational outcomes. With some important exceptions, few books on the topic delve deeply into other aspects of children’s relationship with technology. Digital Playgrounds considers multiple dimensions of children’s digital play: as crucial forums for play, culture, civic engagement and well-being; as artifacts that contain a contentious set of cultural politics; as quasi-public spaces where important new relationships are forged between children, corporations, parents, and governments; and as a social phenomenon that raises a number of increasingly urgent policy issues. 

The original research described in this book is notable for its innovative, interdisciplinary methodology, which incorporates elements of historical analysis, critical analysis, design analysis, discourse analysis, semiotic analysis and an analytic adaptation of play testing. 

The theoretical framework is unique and robust, drawing on critical theories of technology, semiotic approaches to user-technology relations proposed by science and technology studies (STS), as well as concepts drawn from cultural politics, children’s cultural studies, new sociology of childhood, and critical communication studies. This inventive, interdisciplinary framework enables an examination of the very issues that have been most often overlooked in the existing literature, including questions about the ways in which social norms, assumptions, and expectations about children become embedded and reproduced within the design, contents, interface, packaging and management of the artifacts that adults make for them.

Digital Playgrounds avoids both the celebratory and the condemnatory discourses that frequently dominate discussions about children and technology. It provides a comprehensive, historically and theoretically grounded analysis that acknowledges both the opportunities and the challenges associated with children’s connected games.

Among published books on the topic of children and virtual worlds, connected games, and online play, the vast majority are focused on a single game or setting, and very few provide a comparative analysis across time or across gaming trends/technologies. 

The book ends with the identification of four specific problem areas in the design and management of commercial children’s digital playgrounds, and a call to action for creating a more equitable, child-centric, rights-based model for designing and regulating this space.


As mentioned on Twitter, I'm keen and available to do class visits, community events, talks, interviews about the book (and the research and issues it describes) over the 2021-2022 school year and beyond. 

Thank you in advance to everyone who picks up a copy, checks it out of the library, or otherwise reads and engages with the book. This was a real milestone for me, and the culmination of so much hard work and sacrifice. That said, I truly loved writing it and hope to write another one soon.


Monday, June 28, 2021

Summer Research Assistant Position with the Critical Technology Podcast


Call for Applications: Virtual Research Assistant Position creating original music for Podcasts, KMDI/Faculty of Information, University of Toronto

Job Description

100 hours, July 20-October 30, 2021 

$27-$30/hour

Dr. Sara M. Grimes, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Information and Director of the Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) is seeking a Research Assistants to assist in the production of an academic podcast creation, creating original music tailored to the narration for each episode of the upcoming season of the Critical Technology podcast (6 episodes total), and theme music for 1-2 additional podcasts to be produced by the KMDI.  

https://criticaltechnology.buzzsprout.com

http://kmdi.utoronto.ca/the-critical-technology-podcast/

Responsibilities:

1) Compose/create original digital music tailored to theme and subject matter for 6 episodes of a podcast that explores academic research on children and digital technology;

2) Collaborate with the Podcast Audio mixer/Sound engineer on the creation of variations of these compositions;

3) Work with the Director and podcast assistant to determine suitable tone/motifs for each episode, and different topics addressed in the episodes;

4) Create short original theme songs for 1-2 additional podcasts to be produced by the KMDI. 


Qualifications:

Previous experience in composing, creating, remixing digital music in a variety of styles;

Familiarity with professional quality podcast music/sound;

Knowledge and skills using music technology and relevant digital media tools/platforms;

Able to work independently and as part of a team. Comfortable engaging in creative collaboration, and with taking notes/direction;  

Excellent verbal communication skills;

Self-motivated; able to take initiative and be pro-active;

Committed; reliable and able to meet deadlines;

Able to work remotely.

Qualified applicants must have the resources and availability to complete all the work remotely (personal computer, reliable internet connection), in accordance with COVID-19 physical distancing requirements, and must be legally entitled to work in Canada for the duration of the contract. Preference will be given to current University of Toronto students. The University of Toronto is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from racialized persons / persons of colour, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas and perspectives. 

Please note that the start and end dates are negotiable (to some extent), but that the work must be completed in conjunction with the podcast publication dates (Fall 2021). If you have any questions, concerns, or require assistance completing this application please contact sara.grimes@utoronto.ca


How to apply: 

Email sara.grimes@utoronto.ca with brief cover letter, CV, and a short sample of your music.

Applications are open until the position is filled. Please note that only qualified, short-listed applicants will be selected for an interview.


Saturday, May 01, 2021

Call for Applications: Academic TikTok (Virtual RA Positions x3)

 


Call for Applications: Three Virtual Research Assistant Positions with the Academic TikTok Pilot Project, working with the KMDI/Faculty of Information, University of Toronto

 

Job Description

60 hours, May 17 (revised from original May 10) - June 30, 2021 

$28-$38/hour (commensurate with experience)

 

The Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) is seeking 3 Research Assistants to assist in a pilot study of the use of TikTok for academic knowledge mobilization. The pilot will include a review of both the literature (academic/industry) and the compilation of a collection (or playlist) of current examples of TikToks made for educational purposes, which will be used to produce a report or white paper on the topic which will be published on TSpace and on the KMDI website (open access). The report should emphasize whether/how TikTok might be used to relay new and emerging research findings, and identify of a preliminary list of best (or promising) practices. Lastly, the research team will produce a series of TikTok videos aimed at sharing the findings of a recent global study of children’s rights in the digital environment. This project will enable a unique and timely intervention into emerging academic discussions about the use of corporately owned social media for academic knowledge mobilization, while laying the groundwork for future research in this area. 

  

Responsibilities:

1)     Assist with designing and building the pilot study research design;

2)     Assist with the review of relevant academic literature and industry publications/reports on the topic of educational and knowledge mobilization uses, challenges and opportunities associated with TikTok or other video/image based social media; 

3)     Assist with identifying, recording/screen capturing and managing relevant TikTok videos in a shared repository; 

4)     Collaborate on the production (planning, writing, filming, directing, editing, etc.) of a series of TikTok videos aimed at mobilizing knowledge of a recent academic study among diverse targeted audiences (team will have access to KMDI video/audio recording equipment); 

5)     Attend regular virtual meetings with the research team to share and compare findings, address anomalies and resolve discrepancies;

6)     Maintain a record/documentation of your work, process, and findings (weekly research memos); 

7)     Contribute to the writing and preparation of a preliminary report or white paper on the current state of research and practice relating to TikTok as an educational and/or knowledge mobilization platform.  

 

Qualifications:

      Previous experience with TikTok and/or similar video-based social media platforms.

      Previous experience producing videos and/or related digital content;

      Strong to excellent technical skills in video production, audio production, video editing, post-production, special effects or other media-related areas;

      Strong to excellent research skills, especially relating to the retrieval, critical evaluation, and synthesis of academic literature (literature review); 

      Strong to excellent written and verbal communication skills; 

      Committed, reliable, organized, ability to work both independently and as part of a team.

Qualified applicants must have the resources and availability to complete all the work remotely (personal computer, reliable internet connection), in accordance with COVID-19 physical distancing requirements, and must be legally entitled to work in Canada for the duration of the contract. Preference will be given to current University of Toronto Faculty of Information and/or Knowledge Media Design (Collaborative Specialization) students. The University of Toronto is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from racialized persons / persons of colour, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas and perspectives. 

Please note that the start and end dates are negotiable (to some extent), but that the work must be completed in its entirety before July 30, 2021. If you have any questions, concerns, or require assistance completing this application please contact sara.grimes@utoronto.ca

 

How to apply

Email sara.grimes@utoronto.ca with brief cover letter and CV. 

Applications are open until the position is filled. Please note that only qualified, short-listed applicants will be selected for an interview.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Summer Research Assistant Positions: Come work with me!

Please see below for 2 separate Calls for Applications. I'm looking for summer (2021) research assistants to help me with two related research projects that I'm working on right now. The first is for The Media Ratings Project (2 RAships), and the second is for the the In-Game Ads Study (2 RAships). Please pay special attention to the qualifications, including the resources and ability to work remotely. Note that preference will be given to current UofT students in the Faculty of Information and/or Knowledge Media Design (Collaborative Specialization), and that applications from racialized persons / persons of colour, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas and perspectives are especially encouraged and welcome.


Call for Applications: Virtual Research Assistant Position(s) with The Media Ratings Project, working with Professor Sara Grimes, KMDI/Faculty of Information, University of Toronto

 

Job Description

100 hours, May 10- July 16, 2021 

$28/hour

 

Dr. Sara M. Grimes, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Information and Director of the Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) is seeking 2 Research Assistants to assist with designing and conducting a comprehensive content analysis of Canadian and US media ratings systems. Data will be used to conduct a comparative analysis of how children’s media (here defined as media made and targeted directly to children and youth) is classified by formal ratings systems, such as the MPAA or the ESRB, across different formats, age categories, geographical regions and time. This project will enable a unique and timely intervention into emerging academic and policy discussions about age-appropriate media and design, while laying the groundwork for future research in this area. 

  

Responsibilities:

1)     Assist with designing and building a coding protocol suitable for cross-media content analysis;

2)     Assist with defining and delineating of the data set, and conduct the data collection;

3)     Assist with inputting, cleaning and managing data in a shared database; 

4)     Assist with conducting and interpreting data analysis, generating frequencies, cross-tabs, etc., identifying and interpreting patterns/trends;   

5)     Maintain a record/documentation of your work, process, findings (weekly research memos); 

6)     Contribute to the writing and preparation of a preliminary report of findings. 

 

Qualifications:

      Strong to excellent research skills, especially relating to the retrieval and critical evaluation of digital/online sources; 

      Strong to excellent skills in data management, and knowledge of relevant tools and software (e.g. SPSS, Excel, OneDrive, etc.);

      Strong to excellent written and verbal communication skills; 

      Previous experience with quantitative research methods and modes of analysis, especially those used in content analysis (intercoder reliability, frequencies, cross-tabs); 

      Previous experience or familiarity with Canadian and/or US media regulation (governmental) and industry-driven ratings systems (e.g. ESRB, MPAA, Canadian Ratings Classification System, App Store (iOS) Ratings, etc.);

      Committed, reliable, organized, ability to work both independently and as part of a team.

Qualified applicants must have the resources and availability to complete all of the work remotely (personal computer, reliable internet connection), in accordance with COVID-19 physical distancing requirements, and must be legally entitled to work in Canada for the duration of the contract. Preference will be given to current University of Toronto Faculty of Information and/or Knowledge Media Design (Collaborative Specialization) students. The University of Toronto is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from racialized persons / persons of colour, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas and perspectives. 

Please note that the start and end dates are negotiable (to some extent), but that the work must be completed in its entirety before July 30 2021. If you have any questions, concerns, or require assistance completing this application please contact sara.grimes@utoronto.ca

 

How to apply

Email sara.grimes@utoronto.ca with brief cover letter and CV. 

Applications are open until the position is filled. Please note that only qualified, short-listed applicants will be selected for an interview.

 


*********************************************




Call for Applications: Virtual Research Assistant Positions with the In-Game Ads Study, working with Professor Sara Grimes, KMDI/Faculty of Information, University of Toronto

 

Job Description

100 hours, May 10- July 16, 2021 

$28/hour

 

Dr. Sara M. Grimes, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Information and Director of the Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) is seeking 2 Research Assistants to assist in the compilation and coding of a comprehensive data set (database) of the “in-game ads” (advertisements) that appear in popular app games categorized as appropriate for children in Canada. Data collection will involve both playing a large number of children’s games/apps and documenting the ads as they appear through the capture of images/video other relevant qualitative and quantitative data. This data will be used in a subsequent study of the effectiveness of current age classification systems in children’s games across platforms. This project will enable a unique and timely intervention into emerging academic and policy discussions about age-appropriate media and design, while laying the groundwork for future research in this area. 

  

Responsibilities:

1)     Assist with designing and building a database and coding protocol;

2)     Assist with the collection of data by actively playing a large number of games classified as appropriate for children aged 4years+ (devices and games will be provided) while documenting ads as they appear (intermittently, and often without warning);

3)     Attend regular virtual meetings with the research team to share and compare findings, address anomalies and resolve discrepancies;

4)     Assist with inputting, cleaning and managing the data in a shared database; 

5)     Maintain a record/documentation of your work, process, and findings (weekly research memos); 

6)     Contribute to the writing and preparation of a preliminary report of findings. 

 

Qualifications:

      Previous experience playing digital games especially on Apple iPad and/or Samsung Galaxy.

      Previous experience working with children, or strong/demonstrated knowledge of children’s studies, children’s media and/or children’s literature theories;

      Strong to excellent research skills, especially relating to the retrieval and critical evaluation of digital/online sources; 

      Strong to excellent skills in data management, and knowledge of relevant tools and software (e.g. SPSS, Excel, OneDrive, etc.);

      Strong to excellent written and verbal communication skills; 

      Previous experience with creating, organizing digital images and/or video; 

      Committed, reliable, organized, ability to work both independently and as part of a team.

Qualified applicants must have the resources and availability to complete all the work remotely (personal computer, reliable internet connection), in accordance with COVID-19 physical distancing requirements, and must be legally entitled to work in Canada for the duration of the contract. Preference will be given to current University of Toronto Faculty of Information and/or Knowledge Media Design (Collaborative Specialization) students. The University of Toronto is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from racialized persons / persons of colour, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas and perspectives. 

Please note that the start and end dates are negotiable (to some extent), but that the work must be completed in its entirety before July 30 2021. If you have any questions, concerns, or require assistance completing this application please contact sara.grimes@utoronto.ca

 

How to apply

Email sara.grimes@utoronto.ca with brief cover letter and CV. 

Applications are open until the position is filled. Please note that only qualified, short-listed applicants will be selected for an interview.