What an amazing two days I just had in Queenstown, New Zealand for the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) conference. I walked away with several exciting outcomes that build for the following year.
First, the public service media panel that Chris Wilson and I organise was very successful and likely to be picked up for a special issue. His will hopefully include the paper Terry Flew presented and the work that Stuart Cunningham and Ben Goldsmith had intended to present but were unable to. We will also use this as a platform to develop our PSM ECR group.
The digital research methods workshop that I facilitated was a roaring success! This followed on from our precon in Sydney a few months back, and continues to build momentum amongst a variety of universities. It was lovely to see much support for the project and to hear what the issues and interests are from our colleagues and peers in this developing area. We have established that ethics and digital research, a showcase of existing projects, knowledge transfer between university ethics groups and how digital research can align with teaching are the initial areas the working group (which sounds like it might become a stream) will address.
The digital methods panel that i organised, but was unable to attend due to my flight out of NZ, went well from what I hear. This will provide the basis for the very likely special edition I will edit in Communication, Research and Practice, the new Taylor and Francis ANZCA journal. Great interest had by all in this project, with a mutually beneficial outcome.
Finally, I walk away as the NSW representative for ANZCA. I’m not entirely sure what this means at the moment, but I am very honoured and delighted to have been nominated by Cate Dowd for the position. I will work on this in the coming months.
I’d like to share with you my latest article which is looking at the intersection point of fringe creativity that is incorporated into traditional media organisations. The specifics of this is explored through online community co-creation and how the creative output of this group of users is incorporated by the ABC.
The role assumed by institutions that directly develop and support online communities has emerged as a crucial factor in the development of self- governance models for online communities engaging in collaborative practices. Commonly, online communities reject top-down governance models in favour of a meritocracy that positions users in authoritative positions because of their online performance. Scholarly research into online communities suggests that their governance models are horizontal, even where the community platforms are being developed or supported by commercial institutions. Questions of authority and power emerge when institutional, top-down governance models intersect with online community meritocracy in day-to-day communicative activities and while engaging in creative production. This article examines an experiment in fostering interactive public service media by users of the now-defunct ABC Pool through the case study of Ariadne. It tracks how early user-driven ideas for creativity were aligned with the interests of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation through a process of community self-governance alongside cultural intermediation.
Penny O’Donnell and I have just had an article published that brings together contemporary journalism practices with social network analysis techniques. Our enquiry focussed on The Australian’s ‘Indoctrination’ article by Sharri Markson from 2014, and follows the aftermath through the conversations of those that were accused of being ‘indoctrinated’.
Penny and I brought together a broader understanding of the changing landscape of journalism practice through participatory culture, while investigating how influential Twitter conversationists can socially, politically and economically ‘pushback’. You can read the entire article here:
This article examines journalism students’ responses to claims in The Australian, made in October 2014, alleging some of Australia’s top universities were indoctrinating rather than educating future journalists. It reports the findings of a case study of user engagement with the story, including social media network and sentiment analysis of the resulting Twitter conversation. We found evidence of what we term “pushback journalism”, a new type of user engagement by younger people. Journalism students and other interested users converged to “rewrite” the indoctrination story – using wit, irony and humour as well as argument – with the aim of setting the record straight from their perspectives. In contrast to Australian social media research on adversarial relationships between professional and amateur journalists, we argue “pushback journalism” provides evidence of contiguous but critical relationships between the current generation of professional journalists and upcoming journalists-in-training, based on different if overlapping ideas about, and experiences of, journalism education, media careers and the future of news.
And finally, the social graphs could not be printed in the article, so they are below in a day-by-day blow:
I’ve just had an article accepted in Mobile Media and Communication titled, ‘The Future of Digital Archive Collections: Augmenting Public Service Media Geo-Locative Archives’. This is work from my time at the ABC that explores the impact of mobilities upon digital archives. It also draws on my work on cultural intermediation. I will upload a pre-print version to my Publications page shortly, but in the meantime, here is the abstract:
During 2011, the now defunct ABC Pool (abc.net.au/pool) project developed an experiment that sought to combine emerging augmented reality (AR) technology with the archival collection of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). The MyBurb project attempted to alter experiences of Australian suburbs by augmenting ABC archives in contemporary suburban environments to explore the blur between physical and digital spaces with its citizens. Mobile media, specifically geo-locative AR applications such as Layar are “one of the most widely used mobile AR applications” (Liao & Humphreys, 2014, p. 2) and challenge the sociological implications of hybrid spaces as “[m]obile interfaces … allow users to be constantly connected to the Internet while walking through urban spaces” (de Souza e Silva, 2006, p. 261). The project was successfully implemented, but was rarely utilised by the audience it sought to engage, revealing a division between aspects of the ABC’s remit and engaging its audience through mobile technology and environmental hybridity. This observation supports the cultural production gap Hesmondhalgh (2007) identified between the production and consumption of cultural goods, which I argue could be facilitated through technological intermediation as part of the broader concept of cultural intermediation (Hutchinson, 2013; Maguire & Matthews, 2010; Negus, 2002). How then could cultural intermediation facilitate the collaborative production of cultural goods to include the affordances of geo-locative media while avoiding the disconnection between the MyBurb project and its stakeholders? The data presented within this paper represents three years of research at ABC Pool where I was embedded as the community manager/researcher in residence.
I organised a seminar to explore the state of play of digital methods on April 19, here at the University of Sydney. Here’s the blurb:
This ANZCA preconference, co-hosted by the University of Sydney’s Department of Media and Communication (MECO) Media@Sydney seminar series, explores the emerging field of digital research methods.
The proliferation of data generated by new media devices has exploded within the last few years, leading to the development of new and exciting possibilities of connected, linked and deep data. The market place has seen new and emerging start-ups that operate in and around new media data, policy makers are unsure of how to govern and regulate this emerging area of activity, and finally, researchers and academics are especially interested in this field as it presents new ways of understanding the world around us. By being able to ask new questions of once exhausted research sites and to make sense of research data in new and exploratory ways, both opportunities and challenges manifest for those working and researching in this field.
Digging the Data explores the state of the field for digital research methods within the media and communication discipline. With a backdrop of the digital humanities, this preconference will explore the tensions between humanities scholars and computer scientists collaboratively working on digital media projects. Both research specialists have different expertise, vastly different scholarly trajectories and often speak different languages. However, when working collaboratively, the disciplines can develop novel research questions, unique research methodologies, focus on areas previously inaccessible and explore previously exhausted research environments.
This post is aimed at those emerging scholars who have recently completed their PhD (or are about to) and are tackling the ‘nothing-ness’ stage of post-doc life.
I have recently just passed the 12 month mark since completing my PhD and have been awarded the title of Doctor of Philosophy. True, this is a fantastic achievement in one’s life that brings prestige and new doors that need opening. However, there were many ups and downs during this period that I was honestly not prepared for – even after having one of the best supervision teams for three and a half years, and attending one of the country’s most prestigious research centres, there were a few hidden potholes.
Let’s start with the good bits. Of course I can now select ‘Dr’ in the drop down menu of any reservation list, and I do admit I enjoy being referred to as Dr Hutchinson by various individuals. That aside, the professional positives are many including landing a three year teaching and researching contract at one of the top ranking universities in Australia. I have also been lucky enough to collaborate with some of the most outstanding researchers around the globe to work in areas that I am truly passionate about – internet research, digital research methods and public service broadcasting. I have found myself in a department with colleagues that are very supportive and are the ever-mentors toward my academic movements, ensuring the security of my career. I am well positioned for successful grant applications and am currently working on my first book.
In terms of positives and all the right stuff for career progression, I’ve got it! I am happy about that. But there were many things I had to tackle during the past twelve months that I was less than prepared for.
Given that most of us that do a PhD, do so at a later stage in our lives, this generally means we have, you know, life commitments. And juggling all those balls can be fairly tricky. Money, kids, relationships, living arrangements, holidays, down time – it’s all a bit of a behemoth to navigate at times. And with no job security, the pressure of this is almost crippling.
Before I go on, I was lucky enough to work some extremely supportive colleagues who ensured that life was easier than it could have been, but there were still some moments that were touch and go. If anything, I want this post to prepare PhD-ers for what is about to come next.
As I watched a few of my fellow PhD-ers get snapped up in positions around the world, I was happy for them, but always thinking ‘when will it be my turn/why didn’t I get that job?’ And then you submit 90 000 words…
The very day after submission, attempting to access my institution’s email was a moot experience – handy given all the jobs I had applied for were directed to that address. The brief relief I was given after writing near 90 000 words was confronted by an almost crippling anxiety of where will my money come from now, considering I have no scholarship to support me? Luckily, I was offered some research assistant work and casual teaching in the interim which eased those pressures and helped pay the rent.
This was followed closely by being slugged with no student discount on anything anymore – there goes any minimum entertainment you thought you might have been able to afford. Then the government realise you are earning money in your job, so there goes your family tax benefit. I distinctly remember one week losing nearly $600 in income and expenses raising by approximately $700 – this ‘prestigious Dr’ was all but broke.
The grand notions I had of becoming a doctor and life just rolling into grandeur were fading quickly. Sure I had an outstanding qualification with amazing prospects, but there were a few months there that I couldn’t quite see past it.
All the while the economic and political environment surrounding academia was becoming hostile (in the Australian context at least), with new positions in the media and communication field becoming a rare commodity. I just spent a total of 12 years educating myself and was looking at an unemployment prospect? Really? Is that it?
As many of you know, I was offered a position at USyd, which has been an amazing opportunity this far with some exciting developments just on the horizon. But as it stands, I only have a three-year contract, of which I am seven months into. There is a slight chance my position may roll into an ongoing position, but there is certainly no guarantee. So while for the moment I have peace of mind, there is a niggling anxiety right up in the back there about where to next.
I guess from one perspective, this is great to keep me continually moving forward, but it does make me question, especially with an enormous increase of people completing PhDs, the sustainability of an academic career. I love what I do, but perhaps the academic model is shifting in our current environment.
If you are nearing completion of your PhD, I would urge you to make plans to have a few chess pieces ready to play and think through your own strategy of how to navigate that post-PhD void.
Of the many media organisations making the transition towards digital, the ABC is one of the most advanced.
So in the face of a $254 million budget, or “back offices” cut, as Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull calls it, its worth exploring if the ABC can continue to perform its role in shaping the digital media market.
We have already begun to see the ABC landscape shift with the announcement that The Roast and reports that state editions of 7.30 will be dropped in 2015, with more programming announcements expected shortly. But ABC managing director Mark Scott has repeatedly acknowledged the media landscape is shifting towards the digital environment, presenting opportunities for future audiences.
It is estimated that 71% of Australians access the ABC’s television, radio and online services, with approximately 6 million unique visits to ABC online properties each week. Interestingly, the ABC also attracts 498,900 active users of the ABC flagship app each month. The online audience is significantly growing, based on the ABC’s Webtrends data, that recorded a shift from 5 million unique visits at July 2013.
Can a leaner ABC concentrate its efforts on the digital environment and continue to innovate for Australian audiences?
The answer lies in whether the ABC can deliver distinctive innovation. Being a distinctive innovator involves identifying areas that are not viable for commercial operators, developing innovative programming and services to address that market, and sharing those innovations with the media industry as a whole.
A great example of distinctive innovation is the ABC’s iView catch-up and on demand television service, that no doubt inspired other services such as the SBS’s On Demand service and Channel Ten’s tenplay.
The ABC is also a national cultural facilitator, demonstrated through ABC Pool, a collaborative project that engaged Radio National audiences to co-create radio documentaries, and ABC Open which is responsible for developing regional Australian’s digital literacy and storytelling capacity.
Recently, ABC2 developed and broadcast one of the most innovative projects to emerge from the public and commercial television broadcasting environments. #7DaysLater was a seven episode series that experimented with using the audience to not only write the brief for the comedy series but to help with its production.
By engaging audiences via social media platforms such as Twitter, Google Hangouts and Instagram, Daley Pearson and his crew encouraged users to contribute script ideas, costume designs, plot themes, punch lines and invited them to be talent on the episodes.
The project enlisted the talents of some of the most influential and emerging YouTube producers including Nick Boshier (Bondi Hipsters, Beached Az), Alex Williamson, John Luc (Mychonny), Theodore Saidden and Nathan Saidden (SuperWog1).
These YouTube up-and-comers not only brought a new take on Australian comedy that was raw and refreshing, they also brought their expansive audience with them. Additionally, these producers found themselves in professional production roles, generating and contributing to Australia’s creative industries. This innovative production approach has launched some of their professional careers and shored up the roles of Nick Boshier and Christiaan van Vuuren as pioneering talents of new comedy in the country, as demonstrated through their latest program, Soul Mates.
With substantial cuts to its budget, it is questionable if innovative programming and services such as #7DaysLater will be a viable option for the ABC to pursue.
The Abbott government’s financial squeeze on the ABC also places immense pressure on its innovation department, responsible for some of the most groundbreaking media projects in the past. The Bluebird AR game dealing with the controversial issue of geoengineering was the first of its kind as a trans-media experience, while the Opera House Project collaboration with the Sydney Opera House is something we are likely to never see again. Without support for these activities within the ABC, the broader Australian innovation sphere will be decreased.
So while many commentators respond with their concerns for the future of ABC programming within the current economic environment, the more significant question to ask is how will Australian innovation fare if one of its leading innovation institutions is forced to limit its experimental capacity? The Australian population should be concerned with the knock-on effect of the public service they stand to loose due to budget cuts to the national broadcaster.
Jonathon Hutchinson has received funding from the Australian Research Council in the past for research related to the ABC.