Monthly Archive for September, 2006

Photos: Day Six in Brisbane (AoIR Conference concludes…)

See just today’s photos or you can see the entire photo slideshow (updated daily)

Today marked the end of the AoIR conference for 2006. All in all, I think the experience has been well worth the $2500+ I’ve spent to get here. This is no thanks to grants… everything came out of my own pocket, which shows you how serious I’ve taken to my first major conference.

In trying to make this trip worthwhile, I’ve been documenting and sharing everything I could. As a result of my effort, Matthew Allen joked that I should be made “Press Officer” in the next AoIR conference, while Axel Bruns gave me a thumbs up for photoblogging. Most embarrassing though, was when Christy pointed out my blog posts in front of everyone at the reception (awe thanks!). She shares my thought that we need more attendees blogging about the conference, since this allows people who can’t make it to still be aware of what went on. Blogging also doubles up as a distributed way of marketing the association… one that’s easy, cheap and highly accessible.

Take a look at how Alex, Christy, Erikca and Rachel have also done in their bid to blog the conference. Incidentally, Rachel is a flickr fanatic (like me!) and has started an AoIR flickr group for our photos. For photos and blog posts, remember to tag them “AOIR2006” so that we can easily find them.

Switching gears, the AoIR committee invited attendees to share their thoughts at the closing reception. Some prominent points included:

1. Dealing with conference no-shows.
It happens at most conference, not just for AoIR’s. While tougher measures are possible (informing the delegate’s dept. chair), there was a reminder that its considered falsification of information if an academic puts a conference down on his/her CV without being present (I wonder if being via Skype is considered presence).

2. Keeping to 15min presentation time.
Attendees were irked that some presenters rushed through their Powerpoint slides even though they knew they had only 15mins. Thus, even though there were panel chairs to remind them of their time, it’s really the earnest of the presenter to do a good job. I think it’s a default demotivator, since it makes them look unprofessional.

3. Second chance for rejected submissions
“A second bite at the cherry” as someone said. AoIR committee responded by saying that submissions should really be vetted by the graduate student’s peers / advisors first, instead of putting the earnest on AoIR. This made perfect sense to me.

Stay tuned for more video interviews, including a vox populi of what fellow attendees thought of this conference, and what they expect from the next one in Vancouver.

You can see what I’ve covered in today’s photos or see the entire photo slideshow which is constantly updated.

theorycast.15 :: The Knitting Blogs Phenomenon

For someone like me, never would I have known about the knitting blogs phenomenon. Simply put, it’s HUGE. I met Mary-Helen (the Witty Knitter) at the AoIR conference in Brisbane and she told me all about it. You get to hear about celebrity knitting bloggers, about the various groups who knit (e.g. Men Who Knit, MIT Knitters, Gay & Lesbian Knitters, Political Knitters, etc), knitting events (e.g. Knitters without Borders, Knitting Olympics), as well as the knitting industry which has blown up because of this new knitting craze. Get your knitting patterns ready and watch the Witty Knitter tell you the wonderful story.

Update: Larskflem found a knitting flickr group called The Knitting Project, while Mary-Helen points out a group of hip NYC knitters called the Knitta Crew.

Download the Quicktime version here, see previous episodes or subscribe to theorycast via iTunes.

theorycast.14 :: Wikipedia’s Missed Connections

Wikipedia: Missed connections
Alex Halavais • Derek Lackaff • University at Buffalo, USA
In this AoIR IR:7.0 presentation, Alex describes an approach to measuring the coverage of Wikipedia’s content, in an effort to show the degree to which it emphasizes particular areas of knowledge. Their contention is that while errors of commission may be diminished by the distributed work of contributors to the site, the volunteer nature of contribution leads to errors of omission; or, more exactly, to differences in the salience of various topics.

Download the Quicktime version here, see previous episodes or subscribe to theorycast via iTunes.

Photos: Day Five in Brisbane (AoIR Conference)

See just today’s photos or you can see the entire photo slideshow (updated daily)

There are less photos this time, but I did score video interviews with three relatively fringe researchers today. They’re currently being uploaded as we speak, so stay tuned!

On a personal note, instead of feeling relieved after presenting my paper today, I felt even worse. I get the sensation that I just don’t have the “academic literacy” that the other scholars possess. While I might be somewhat tech-savvy, I just don’t seem to be research-savvy yet. I wonder what it will take for me to reach that point. Hand-holding by advisors? I hope not. Since coming to this conference, I got to see the cross-disciplinary approaches to Internet research. Some study games, some communities, some on grassroots media, and all using different techiques for their research. Some use more rhetoric, some more quantitative, some I have no bloody idea. I find way too many things interesting, so focus could be the problem.

Interestingly, the Australian PhD requirement is a 100,000 word essay, which way different from the American system where you have to take some coursework, and produce a number of publishable papers. This is why dissertation blogs differ according to region: Australian ones have word-count updates, while American ones generally “bitch“. But don’t take my word for it… take a look this slide I took from Melissa Gregg’s presentation on “Banal Bohemia: Blogging from the ivory tower hot desk”. Her paper draws on a number of examples and looks at blogging as a prism through which the shifting nature of academic labour can be understood. She found that blogs serve in offering a space for sharing the disappointments and anxieties of scholars, be it PhD candidates or junior faculty.

You can see what I’ve covered in today’s photos or see the entire photo slideshow which is constantly updated.

AoIR Presentation: Building Social Capital for Online Youths

Building Social Capital for Online Youths

In a few hours, I’ll be presenting my paper on “Building social capital for online youths”. While building might not be the most appropriate word in relation to social capital, it does get the message across. I’ll be focusing on real-world examples of web services which helps foster greater Social Contact and Civic Engagement, elements of a well-connected and vibrant community. I’d like to thank Dr. Pauline Cheong who initially taught me all about social capital.

Fri 29 Sept. 14.15 – 15.45. Redlands Room
Building social capital for online youths: A Singapore case study
Kevin Lim • University at Buffalo, USA

The Internet can strengthen the community fabric by facilitating personal communication, but it may also privatise leisure time and reduce social interaction. Using a classification of the emergent types of social capital, Borgatti, Jones, & Everett (1998) have produced a standardised set of analytical tools for social capital research. This research would reveal the relationship between the Internet usage of youths and show how related organisations could encourage social contact and participation in civic engagement. The results would be useful in understanding how the Internet can be used to build a vibrant youth community that would be vital for any nation.

Download Powerpoint presentation

UPDATE: And now we have the presentation video…

Photos + Commentary: Day Four in Brisbane for AoIR Conference

Brisbane Day Four
See just today’s photos or you can see the entire photo slideshow (updated daily)

Briefly, there are six concurrent presentation sessions going on throughout each day. As such I’ve been hopping from room to room speedblogging. Erikca wrote a bit about the conference, while Alex Halavais has done an excellent job mobblogging the sessions he attended (his later sessions overlap mine). I can’t keep up with him, but here’s my take of the day.

8.30am – 9.30am: Communities and Communication Session
“Overcoming cultural and geographic distance in the ‘Net generation’: The impact of the Internet in rural and remote areas”
Dianne Looker • Mount St Vincent University, Canada

In essence Dianne looked at the digital divide between the urban and rural parts of Canada. She surveyed the number of networked computers in each area, and noted the type/speed of their connections, as well as how much time residents of each area spend online. Apparently this is part of a social enrichment project where her goal is to find ways to lessen this digital divide. She mentions social capital as a dimension of community cohesion, but notes that it doesn’t go further than aspects of community bonding.

9.30am – 9.45am: Gaming Session
“Reconfiguring project ecologies in the video games industry”
John Banks • Queensland University of Technology, Australia

John spoke about how game companies were involving more gamers into their product design. They recognize how gamers have been modding games and producing add-ons to make games even more fun. An ethical question arises when we talk about the idea of labor: Are game publishers truly empowering creativity by giving gamers opportunities to mod their games? Or are these game modders being enticed to come under the game publishers’ control, governance or exploitation? This becomes more apparent when we talk about the economics of games, since more games are now being repackaged with gamer created content.

9.45am – 10.00am: Identities and Diversity Session
“Memes and identity in online communities”
Hilary Wheaton • University of Western Australia, Australia

Memes are tricky to define, and in Hilary’s case, she notes examples of quizzes which reveal more about yourself. For example, taking a quiz to find out which CareBear you are. These quizzes are short Q&As, and the hooks are the ability for self-reflection, allowing for dialogue (talking point), giving recognition to orginators, social networking and is in itself, self-replicating. She then went into a rhetoric about the relationship between memes and identity. Focusing on the LiveJournal perspective, she explained the relevant structure of LJ, namely the Info page, the Recent Entries page as well as the Friends page which lets to see your subscriptions (Ed: notice it’s mostly blog technologies rebranded for less tech savvy users). She compares memes to the idea of a virus and whether you choose to be infected by it. Since LiveJournal (or even blogs) lack physical dimensions, memes are a way of reflecting self, by allowing for personal recognition, meaningful interactions and virtual performance.

10.00am – 10.30am
“Circulation of topics on the Web: Bird flu in the e-newspapers and the blogs”
Lina Hellsten • KNAW, Virtual Knowledge Studio, Netherlands

Using the Bird Flu epidemic as a way of tracking news flows, Lina analyzes the content of newspapers, medical publications and blogs for her study. To check for media trends in “bird flu”, Lina used LexusNexis for tracking newspapers, PubMed for tracking medical journals and BlogPulse for tracking blogs. What she found out was that none of the media refer to one another, with the exception of blogs which mostly reference online versions of newspaper articles (hyperlink) and that blogs also tend to focus on local news related to bird flu (makes sense). I was thinking that we would see more references to other media (e.g. TV network news) when there are online features which make such media more accessible. For example YouTube for recorded video content. In the case of PubMed, the layman blogger would probably not have access to it (subscription-based), let alone the skill to search for such relevant medical articles.

This is just the first part of the morning session. There were many more interesting presentations I attended, but with just Alex and me blogging about the conference, it’s overbearing. Once again, I’m sad that no one’s sharing notes from the conference. I seem to be the only maniac running around snapping photos of people and presentations. WTH is going on? I guess internet researchers might understand social media, but very few actually participate in the process. Is blogging too risky, too uncool, or is it just too much work?

You can see what I’ve covered in today’s photos or see the entire photo slideshow which is constantly updated.

Pathway: Wikipedia mapping tool for Mac

Pathways: Wikipedia mapping tool for Mac

Wikipedia is a popular reference for most of us, but you might have realized that searching for topics on it can be a pain. While some of us might have better luck finding Wikipedia pages via Google, a new tool has emerged for Mac users called Pathway. As you can see in the screenshot above, the tool allows you to visualize hyperlinks from the topic page you are currently on, and allows you to create a historical trail of links, allowing you to flow from one page to another easily with minimal paging time. For anyone, this might be a time saver. For Wikipedia researchers, this might allow you to better visualize your research (hat tip to John Waller).

You can download Pathway here…

Photos: Day Three in Brisbane (AoIR Conference begins…)

Brisbane Day Three
See just today’s photos or you can see the entire photo slideshow (updated daily)

Day Three of my Brisbane trip includes a visit to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, a tour of the amazing Creative Industries Precinct of QUT, a welcome reception for the AoIR ’06 Conference and me bumping into an old classmate back in my Ngee Ann Poly “Mass Comm” days. Terry Johal is currently pursuing his PhD in Communication at RMIT, where he’s also teaching and researching on blogs, specifically in South-East Asia.

Since it’s my first time to AoIR, I don’t have any cliques to hang with. At times I’m trying to chat people up, but it’s not easy. Instead, I spend my time surveying conversations from afar. Here you see the well-respected Chinese researcher Guo Liang speaking with a younger Chinese researcher. She was studying the economics of digital goods in China. IMHO, this is a big deal in China since that infamous SL real estate tycoon, Anshe Chung, runs a real business in China dealing in virtual property. It’s so successful that the China government gave her special innovator status for creating a new forms of work. Read this BusinessWeek interview with her to find out more.

Checking in with Technorati, the blogging scene still seems pretty disappointing in terms of academic bloggers. Terry and I were just talking about how so many Internet researchers don’t have a blog, let alone an online presence at all. Leading the charge, Alex Halavais has started blogging about the mobile learning session he attended. He found a neat hack for SMS in the classroom, where the instructor would use BluePhoneElite to receive SMS from students in class and have these messages displayed via his laptop to the class projector. Students would typically send questions in a backchannel fashion, which is less invasive (less pressuring) for them than say disrupting the class in real life.

You can see what I’ve covered in today’s photos or see the entire photo slideshow which is constantly updated.

PicNic ’06: The Amazing Crossmedia Conference

I guess it’s a little early to scan the blogosphere for mentions of the AoIR conference this year. It’s just starting today so I’ve added the Technorati RSS feed to NetNewsWire to be on top of things. While I’m getting ready to leave my hotel room for the AoIR pre-conference events (I’m going Koala hugging), I spotted a pretty cool conference happening in Amsterdam today. It’s called PicNic.

Though researcher Christy Dena has chosen to skip that in favor of AoIR, We-Make-Money-Not-Art is just raving about it:

I’m leaving soon for Amsterdam to give a talk at PicNic. The programme of the conference is amazing. There will be super stars like Dan Gillmor and Craig Newmark, but the presentations i am really looking forward to hear are by Philip Rosedale, Founder of Linden Lab/Second Life, Sampo Karjalainen from Habbo Hotel, blogjector Julian Bleecker, Soh-Yeong Roh, Director of the Art Center Nabi in South Korea, John Thackara from Doors of Perception and Michael Naimark

That’s not to say AoIR won’t be as interesting. There’ll be a wider selection of topics presented on Internet culture and you can be sure I’ll be there to cover it. PicNic’s just reminding us that academia could use that “cool” factor.

Photos: Day Two in Brisbane

Brisbane Day Two
See just today’s photos or you can see the entire photo slideshow (updated daily)

Day Two of my Brisbane trip includes BigW (Australia’s Walmart), a pathetic Chinatown (where my friend nearly got mugged this morning), shots of a beautiful food court along Queen St. Mall, a native bird rummaging through city trash, as well as night shots along the Brisbane waterfront (by MrBig’s request).

You can see what I’ve covered in today’s photos or see the entire photo slideshow which is constantly updated.