Two seminars next week: Sarah Fox and Robert Appelbaum

Due to the Collaborative Future-Making symposium on Tuesday and Wednesday, there is no K3 seminar this week. But we will return with two seminars next week, both taking place in the K3 Studio, fifth floor of Niagara:

On Monday, November 18 at 15.15-17.00

Sarah Fox, Postdoctoral Fellow, Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University: Looking Out from the Stall: Hygiene Resources, Maintenance, and the Internet of Things

On Wednesday, November 20 at 10.15-12.00

Robert Appelbaum, Senior Professor of English Literature, K3: The Renaissance Discovery of Violence

Below you will find abstracts and short bios.

Sarah Fox: Hygiene Resources, Maintenance, and the Internet of Things

Abstract:

Restrooms may appear far from contemporary sites of innovation. But over the past decade, corporations and public institutions have begun developing internet of things (IoT) technologies for these spaces in ways that increasingly define people’s experiences of hygiene resources. Drawing on a 3-year multi-sited ethnographic study, Sarah Fox will discuss how digital technologies entwine with existing forms of collaborative labor to sharpen managerial control of public restroom access and maintenance. Informed by this work, she will describe her collaboration with local activists and custodial staff to reimagine these technologies. Across 18 months throughout the city of Seattle, she developed and deployed a networked sensor designed to support the needs of people without regular access to everyday hygiene resources. This work highlights and contends with a tendency for IoT devices to prioritize concerns for cost-reducing efficiencies and regulatory techniques, rather than support collective responsibility—a concern of increasing importance as design and human-computer scholarship attends to data ethics in public life.

Bio:

Sarah Fox is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute. Her research focuses on how technological artifacts challenge or propagate social exclusions, by examining existing systems and building alternatives. Her work has earned awards in leading computing venues including ACM CSCW, CHI, and DIS, and has been featured in the Journal of Peer Production and New Media and Society. She holds a Ph.D. in Human Centered Design & Engineering from the University of Washington and has worked in design research at Microsoft Research, Google, and Intel Labs.

Robert Appelbaum, Senior Professor of English Literature, K3: The Renaissance Discovery of Violence

Abstract:

Violence has a history, affected by factors ranging from technological developments to the structure of the household. The representation of violence in art and literature has a history too. In the first place, it documents changes in the history of violence. In the second place, it plays a role in moulding sensibilities, of calling attention to the uses and abuses of violence, of examining heroism, perfidy and victimhood, of bringing spectators and readers not only to see but also to feel what violence is, and of exploring what we can or ought to feel about it.

In this introductory presentation of my VR-funded project on the Renaissance Discovery of Violence, I call attention to writers like William Shakespeare and Matteo Bandello, an Italian novelist, as well as to painters like Michelangelo Caravaggio. I argue that beginning in the fifteenth century, if not sooner, violence was de-normalized in Europe – writers and painters began addressing violence as an exception in human affairs. In addition, representations of violence were subjected to aesthetic reflexivity. In other words, violence increasingly came to be seen as an expression of a grievous will to power which needed to be tempered with self-restraint and observed, at least sometimes, with horror. 

Bio:

Born in New York City and educated at the University of Chicago and the University of California, Berkeley, Robert Appelbaum is Professor Emeritus of English Literature at Uppsala University and Senior Professor in Arts and Communication at Malmö University. Currently the Erik Allardt Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, he is the author of numerous essays on literature, culture and history, and six books, most recently Terrorism Before the Letter: Mythography and Political Violence in England, Scotland and France 1559-1642 (Oxford, 2015) and The Aesthetics of Violence: Art, Fiction, Drama and Film (Rowman and Littlefield, 2017). In addition to completing his project on Renaissance violence, he is editing a volume for Bloomsbury, A Cultural History of Myth in the Renaissance and a special issue for Studia Neophilologica, “Is economic inequality also a literary problem?”

Sara Gottschalk and Juliana Restrepo: Presentation of PhD projects on Sustainable living and Relational home-making

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Sara Gottschalk and Juliana Restrepo, PhD students in Interaction Design. At the talk they will present their ongoing PhD projects.

The title of Sara Gottschalk’s talk is:

Sustainability for rent? Designerly approaches for forms of sustainable living.

The title of Juliana Restrepo’s talk is:

Relational Home-making – An everyday practice focused on existing and potential relations between home, nature and systems.

They will take place on Wednesday, November 6 at 10.15-12.00 in The K3 Open Studio, NIC 0541, Niagara.

Below you will find abstracts for the talks.  

Abstract Juliana Restrepo:

My research positions itself in relation to metadesign, home geographies, feminist theories and sustainability research. The overall focus is on (future) homes and sustainability. I will use the term ‘Relational home-making’ as a concept that focuses on situated care and ethics, and that nurture people’s curiosity to acknowledging the constitutive relations between what is visible/invisible, included/excluded, wanted/unwanted; in practices that create, maintain and develop home(s) and feeling of home(s).

I am interested in exploring how different meanings, narratives, habits create different everyday understandings of home. This exploration will consider a broader perspective about the meaning of ‘home’ while reflecting on the interdependence between a home with its location and the interactions within.

The project aims at building a collection of everyday stories and to co-design ‘new tales’ (stories of practical knowledge) that can create transdisciplinary understandings about how to care and nurture for our homes through sensitization, preparation and collaboration. 

Keywords and concepts:  Home-making, wisdom, resilient, re-orientation, preparation, know-how, survival, everyday doing, well-being

Abstract Sara Gottschalk:

My research starts in an interest in the relationship between design, societal transformations for sustainability and adaptation to climate- and environmental changes. In this transformation, home and housing has a strong connection both to the individual and society at large, and plays a central role to enable various forms of sustainable living. Though many sustainable concepts are being proposed for new buildings, my interest lies in the transformation of the existing housing stock and the possibilities of doing this process in a democratic and collaborative manner, with a special focus on tenants´ position and participation in this transformation.

At this seminar I wish to discuss:

  • How can complex, interdisciplinary and many-level issues such as housing, be approached with a design-perspective?
  • Methodology, design and ethnographic studies: experiences, tips, etc?

Introduction:

The Swedish average environmental impact, can be expressed as about 10TCO2e* per capita (2016) (1) or as consumption equivalent to about 4 planets/year (2018) (2), a clearly – environmentally and socially – unsustainable standard of living. In Sweden, as well as globally, this impact is unequal distributed, but as a quantitative measurement it gives a hint of what is considered as “a normal way of living”. The first Swedish environmental goal (3) stipulates a society without net greenhouse gas emissions after 2045, and a truly sustainable consumption level means consumption within “one planet”. It is hard not to interpret these numbers as a call for major changes of “the normal way of living”, both as individuals and the Swedish society as a whole. Solutions for changes, technologically, economically, politically, culturally and behaviorally are being proposed, but efforts made so far, are not enough.

In the richer parts of the world, lifestyle changes are at the very heart of sustainable change, connecting the everyday life of individuals to infrastructural organizations of the society. One aspect of this infrastructure is housing, where and how we live. In Sweden, a deep split in the housing market has become evident, where sustainability/unsustainability is used in two completely different ways. One the one hand environmental sustainability being branded in new built “flag-ship” areas such as Västra Hamnen in Malmö (4), Kvillebäcken in Gothenburg (5) and Hammarby sjöstad in Stockholm (6); all areas criticized for being targeted towards middle-class/upper-middle-class, and through “tech-fixes” and relative sustainability, green-washing life-styles with rather large environmental impact. On the other hand, the social dimension being discussed in terms of the unsustainable segregation, “renoviction” (“renovräkning”) and a dysfunctional building market targeting another group of people. The current debate about the Swedish housing situation is dominated by the shortage of affordable housing, especially tenure apartments, mainly in the three major cities. The urgent need to build affordable housing has sparked a discussion of building with lower standards of quality. The §marketisation of the housing sector has contributing to the consumerist view of home as an object of investment, and interior design as something to wear and tear, contributing to increased pressure on natural resources. From this perspective, environmental and social sustainability does not meet in the Swedish housing discussion.

 Sustainability, design and life at home

With this background I see a great importance for alternative ways to address, interpret, develop and give form to various ways of sustainable living, and how to make them robust enough to meet future challenges of climate- and environmental changes. In Sweden, 51% of the housing stock consists of apartments, of which just over 59% are tenure apartments (11). I have a special interest in the tenant’s position and opportunities to participate in the design process of various sustainable living formats. In accordance with Allbolagen from 2011 (12) all tenants are to be offered co-influence in the housing and in the housing company (13). Today, there is no praxis in how this is to be done.

This also requires a better understanding of forms for sustainable living. One approach to sustainability is to focus on environmental and social goals of the sustainable development concept, giving the economic dimension a subordinated role, either embedded as a mean in social sustainability or simply as an outcome of environmental and social goals instead of a goal in itself. This can be exemplified in models such as the Global Sustainable Development Quadrant (8), the critical and heterodox doughnut economy model (9) and recently in the Swedish research project Beyond BNP (10). This approach on sustainability is something I am interesting to elaborate with in a housing context.

 

Overarching research questions:

  • How can sustainable living better be understood in aspects of environmental and social sustainability? And how can it be understood in praxis?
  • What opportunities exist, and can further be developed, for tenants to be part of the design process of creating sustainable living in apartments?
  • How can society transform and adapt the existing housing stock to coming challenges of climate- and environmental changes? What is already being done? What can be done in a design-perspective?

 

References

  1. Konsumtionsbaserade utsläpp av växthusgaser per person och år, Naturvårdsverket: http://www.naturvardsverket.se/Sa-mar-miljon/Statistik-A-O/Vaxthusgaser-konsumtionsbaserade-utslapp-per-person/ (191020)
  2. Living Planet Report, 2018: https://www.wwf.se/rapport/living-planet-report/ (191020)
  3. Sveriges miljömål: http://www.sverigesmiljomal.se/ (191020)
  4. Holgersen, S. (2017). Staden och kapitalet. Malmö i krisernas tid. Göteborg, Daidalos.
  5. Hagbert, P., & Femenías, P. (2016). Sustainable homes, or simply energy-efficient buildings?. Journal of housing and the built environment, 31(1), 1-17.
  6. Wangel, J. (2013). Hur hållbara är Hammarby Sjöstad och Norra Djurgårdsstaden?.
  7. Network, G. F. (2017). Making the Sustainable Development Goals consistent with sustainability.
  8. Raworth, K. (2017). Doughnut economics: seven ways to think like a 21st century economist. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing.
  9. Hagbert, P., Finnveden, G., Fuehrer, P., Svenfelt, Å., Alfredsson, E., Aretun, A., Karin Bradley, K., Callmer, Å., Fauré, E., Gunnarsson-Östling, U., Hedberg, M., Hornborg, A., Isaksson, K., Malmaeus, M., Malmqvist, T., Nyblom, Å., Skånberg, K. & Öhlund, E. (2018). Framtider bortom BNP-tillväxt: slutrapport från forskningsprogrammet “Bortom BNP-tillväxt: scenarier för hållbart samhällsbyggande”. [Stockholm]: KTH Skolan för arkitektur och samhällsbyggnad.
  10. SCB, Drygt 4,7 bostäder i landet.:https://www.scb.se/hitta-statistik/statistik-efter-amne/boende-byggande-och-bebyggelse/bostadsbyggande-och-ombyggnad/bostadsbestand/pong/statistiknyhet/bostadsbestandet-2015-12-31/ (191020)
  11. Lagen om allmännyttiga kommunala aktiebolag (AKBL), § 1, paragraf 3 (2010: 879)
  12. Boverket 2014:28, Allmännyttans erbjudande till hyresgäster om boendeinflytande och inflytande i bolaget

* Emissions embedded in production from abroad included.

Florencia Enghel: Prime-time protest? Screening the news coverage of transnational women’s protests in global TV networks (2017-2019).

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Florencia Enghel, Senior Lecturer in Communication for Development and Docent in Media and Communication Studies

The title of the talk is:

Prime-time protest? Screening the news coverage of transnational women’s protests in global TV networks (2017-2019).

It will take place on Wednesday, October 30 at 10.15-12.00 in The K3 Open Studio, NIC 0541, Niagara.

Below you will find an abstract for the talk.

On 8 March 2017, 2018 and 2019, women’s protests were held in various parts of the world to coincide with International Women’s Day. These actions were spurred to a significant extent by Latin American feminist collectives that have mobilized regularly since late 2015, seeking to coordinate efforts regionally and internationally within a framework of transnational solidarity (Campillo, 2018; Król & Pustułka, 2018). Emerging studies suggest that protests have been profusely documented by activists themselves via social media and covered in varying ways by national news outlets (Matos, 2019). But have they been televised globally? Based on footage from the flagship news programs of eight global newsrooms (BBC, CNN, Deutsche Welle, Euronews, France24, Al Jazeera, Russia Today and China Central Television), I analyse how the protests, which have grown in extent and in digital/local visibility, were covered by international TV networks news year-on-year.

Although the prime-time news broadcasts of global television networks are arguably one among other sites where meaning regarding protest movements is produced and circulated in digital times, understanding how these outlets have recorded and represented the international women’s strike in the past 3 years is nonetheless important given their sustained symbolic power. Moreover, unpacking their politics of representation regarding ongoing women’s struggles can serve to inform the strategic design of counter-strategies for the feminist movement to strengthen its appeal for international solidarity (Sarikakis & Shaed, 2007; Gallagher, 2014).

To this effect, this study takes a qualitative descriptive-interpretative approach. Building on the analytical framework developed by the Robertson (2018), I screen the 2017-2019 data in three senses: 1) by focusing on representations of women’s protest on television screens; 2) by comparing coverage across global broadcasters, identifying which (and how) made the protest visible and which screened it out, as well as similarities and differences in their journalistic narratives; and 3) by providing insights into how global TV networks are meeting (or failing to meet) the challenge of representing the increasing number of women who find that political representation has failed them, and are taking to the streets of the world to seek justice (Fraser, 2008).

Developed with data provided by the Screening Protest Project (funded by the Swedish Research Council and based at Stockholm University’s Dept. of Media in Sweden; see http://screeningprotest.com/), the study contributes to updating existing indicators for the analysis of gender portrayals in the news (in particular by problematizing earlier propositions according to which misrepresentation could be addressed by incorporating female journalists into newsrooms) and examines how the prime-time coverage of global TV news networks between 2017 and 2019 may have promoted or hindered greater understanding of, and solidarity with, the claims of women’s movements.

References

Campillo, Inés (2019) ‘If we stop, the world stops’: the 2018 feminist strike in Spain. Social Movement Studies, 18:2, 252-258, DOI: 10.1080/14742837.2018.1556092

Fraser, Nancy (2008) Scales of Justice / Reimagining Political Space in a Globalized World Polity Press, Cambridge

Gallagher, Margaret (2014) “Reframing Communication Rights: Why Gender Matters” in Padovani, Claudia and Calabrese, Andrew (2014) Communication Rights and Social Justice. London: Palgrave MacMillan.

Król, Agnieszka & Pustułka, Paula (2018) Women on strike: mobilizing against reproductive injustice in Poland. International Feminist Journal of Politics, 20:3, 366-384, DOI: 10.1080/14616742.2018.1460214  

Matos, Carolina (2019) Feminist Media Studies Across Borders: Re-visiting Studies within the Brazilian National Context. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 20(2), 11-25.

Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol20/iss2/2

Robertson, Alexa (ed.) (2018) Screening protest. London: Routledge.

Sarikakis, Katharine and Shade, Leslie (2007) Feminist Interventions in International Communication: Minding the Gap. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Therese Hellberg: Den villkorade gemenskapen: folkhem, kön och nationell identitet i svensk litteratur 1940-1955

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Therese Hellberg, PhD student in Media and Communication Studies.

The title of the talk is:

Den villkorade gemenskapen: folkhem, kön och nationell identitet i svensk litteratur 1940-1955.

It will take place on Wednesday, October 23 at 10.15-12.00 in The K3 Open Studio, NIC 0541, Niagara.

This will be Therese’s 50 percent PhD seminar. Tina Askanius, Senior Lecturer and Docent in Media and Communication Studies, will function as discussant.

Below you will find an abstract for the talk. The seminar will be held in Swedish.

Abstract:

På seminariet kommer främst (utkast till) kapitel som presenterar mitt ramverk att diskuteras. Det finns också artiklar att ta del av för den som önskar en vidare inblick i hur analyser av mitt primärmaterial kan se ut.

Skicka ett mejl till Therese – therese.hellberg@mau.se – om du vill läsa text inför seminariet.

Under seminariet vill jag fokusera på möjligheter, svårigheter och begräsningar i mitt nuvarande upplägg. Det innebär bland annat diskussioner om avgränsningar, interdisciplinära dialoger, positionering(ar) och mitt perspektiv på media, kön och nationsforskning.

Sammanfattning av mitt doktorandprojekt:

Syftet med min forskning är att bidra med nya kunskaper om svenskt mediesamhälle och folkhem under 1940- och 50-talen genom studier av underutforskade eller rent av outforskade romaner och sakprosatexter skrivna av kvinnliga arbetar- och medelklassförfattare.

Forskningen bedrivs utifrån ett kritiskt feministiskt perspektiv med föresatsen att synliggöra mekanismer som villkorade dels författarskapen i det samtida medielandskapet och dels värdering och urval av betydande texter i (allmänna) litteraturhistorieskrivningar. Min studie av exkluderade kvinnliga författares texter sätts i dialog med dessa för att bredda historieskrivningen.

Min forskning bidrar med tolkningar av romaner och sakprosatexter utifrån frågeställningar som: Vad kan exkluderade texter ur den svenska litteraturen som var vällästa under sin samtid medföra för vår förståelse av folkhemstiden liksom till förståelsen av makten bakom kunskapsproduktioner och historieskrivningar? Vilka kunskaper kan min studie tillföra till periodens medie-, litteratur- och feministiska historia?

Det innebär att jag sätter texterna i relation till det samtida medielandskapet, föreställningar om höglitterär estetik och litteraturens kopplingar till samhälle och politik samt den feministiska kritiken av könade och rasifierade samhällen. Texterna analyseras utifrån hur de diskuterar tillhörighet och utanförskap i den nationella gemenskapen – folkhemmet – liksom producerar och förhandlar föreställningar om kön, klass och svenskhet. Det görs med utgångspunkt i förståelsen att texter är medproducenter av (föreställningar i) samhället och att typen av nationellt projekt påverkar synen på vem som inkluderas och exkluderas i den nationella gemenskapen. Svenska mediers nations- och könsskapande funktioner har studerats vad gäller 40- och 50-talens radio och filmproduktioner vilka min studie går i dialog med. Den går också i dialog med forskning som finns om periodens politiska och historiska skeenden som berör välfärdsbygge och befolkningsdebatt med tillhörande diskussioner av svenskhet och kvinnor och mäns roller i samhället. Studier av kvinnorepresentationer i svensk 40- och 50-talsprosa är dock knapp. Däremot historiseras mina analyser med hjälp av tidigare undersökningar som behandlar föreställningar om kvinnors roller i samhället från 1890 fram till och med andra världskrigets utbrott.

Maria Hellström Reimer, Erin Cory, and Per Möller: Translocality and translocal subjectivities. A research overview across the fields of migration-, culture- and urban studies

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Maria Hellström Reimer, Professor in Design, Erin Cory, Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication Studies, and Per Möller, Lecturer in Media and Communication Studies, all K3.

The title of the talk is:

Translocality and translocal subjectivities. A research overview across the fields of migration-, culture- and urban studies

It will take place on Wednesday, October 16 at 10.15-12.00 in The K3 Open Studio, NIC 0541, Niagara.

Below you will find an abstract for the talk. The report, which the talk is based on, will be made available at the latest on Monday October 14. To obtain it, send a mail to maria.hellstrom.reimer@mau.se.

The seminar takes as its point of departure the ongoing work with a Mistra Urban Futures Research Report concerning the role and understanding of urban culture, cultural practices and cultural movement in the midst of ongoing migration. While the notion of culture is again central to political debates, it is often confined within a territorial, ethnic or identitarian framework. The aim of the report is to trouble this tendency by drawing attention to relevant interdisciplinary studies of culture and cultural practice, with special consideration given to issues of mobility and migration.

Increasing spatio-temporal ambiguity has not only prompted a wide array of emergent cultural practices, but has also given rise to new challenges in the study of cultures and cultural movement(s). Following Williams’ (1981) critique of strictly observational and classificatory cultural research, the report acknowledges the political, historical, and disciplinary complications associated with the study of evolving, cross-boundary cultural formations ‘in-the-making.’ Thus, the question becomes not only how new conceptual frameworks may contribute to intensified critical reflection and deepened understanding, but also if and how cultural research may affect cultural policy and everyday urban social sustainability efforts.

Anne-Marie Hansen: Designing for relations between people beyond technology supported interaction

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Anne-Marie Hansen, senior lecturer in Interaction Design. 

The title of the talk is:

Designing for relations between people beyond technology supported interaction

It will take place on Wednesday, October 2 at 10.15-12.00 in The K3 Open Studio, NIC 0541, Niagara.

Below you will find an abstract for the talk.

Anne-Marie S. Hansen presents a critical perspective on the technology fascination that lead to the production of different kinds of connectivity through social media, welfare technologies, sharing economies and internet of things. She introduces an exploratory approach to the field of interaction design where design for relations beyond technology-supported interactions is in focus. By drawing upon experiences from Hilary Cottam’s studies of the British welfare system, as well as a selection of studies in spirituality, we will look into potential aesthetics (and ethics) of interaction that can serve as inspiration for designing connections between people, building community infrastructures and resilience in situations of climate emergency and scarcity of resources.

Veera Virmasalo: Practices of framing middle class civic ideals in Namibia. How to be a good privileged citizen in a deeply unequal society

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Veera Virmasalo, PhD student in Media and Communication Studies. 

The title of the talk is:

Practices of framing middle class civic ideals in Namibia. How to be a good privileged citizen in a deeply unequal society

It will take place on Wednesday, September 25 at 10.15-12.00 in The K3 Open Studio, NIC 0541, Niagara.

This will be Veera’s 50 percent PhD seminar. Florencia Enghel, Senior Researcher in Communication for Development, K3, will function as discussant.

Below you will find an abstract for the talk. If you would like the complete text, please mail Veera (veera.virmasalo@mau.se).

This is the 50% seminar for my PhD research in Media and Communication Studies. The research is situated in Namibia, a deeply unequal southern African post-apartheid society, which has been my home for much of the time since 2007. My discussant in the seminar is Florencia Enghel, senior lecturer in Communication for Development. With her help, I will try to understand what – out of all the things described in the long abstract below – might reasonably fit in one PhD thesis and what else might have to be included. 

The research aims to add to the understanding of cross-class societal solidarity as an area of interest in the fields of media and communication studies and development communication. Solidarity across class lines within a society has for long been a largely neglected topic in media and communication studies, as in many other academic disciplines.

In particular, I am interested in how middle classes see their roles vis-à-vis socioeconomic inequalities, how communication work done by a variety of societal actors interacts with their understandings, what else influences that communication work, and how the communication work perhaps influences the middle class understandings and potentials for the kind of societal solidarity that could contribute to equitable social change.

In societies throughout the world, there exists a range of societal actors who try to speak about socioeconomic inequalities to the middle classes. They preach different civic ideals, urging the middle classes to engage in a variety of very different activities in the name of equality, solidarity, social justice, poverty reduction or charity. For example, the middle classes are encouraged to protest, vote, donate, volunteer or consume in particular ways. In the recent years, the activities towards the end of the list –  such as donating money and volunteering – have probably become more pronounced than earlier as various social projects, faced by cuts to the role of the state, now need to attract private funding and other private resources for their operations. The research is interested in the contradiction inherent in this arrangement: On the one hand, the support is sorely needed. On the other hand, the communication work that aims to attract support may enforce stereotypes and practices, which in fact obstruct the kind of societal solidarity that could contribute to equitable social change.

Theoretically, the research looks at communication work and the ‘doing of middle class societal solidarity’ by individuals as a set of social practices, which lead to particular framings of issues and solutions with classed underpinnings. In line with practice theory, the research suggests that civic ideals are fluid and constantly emerging, their framings depending on what is available in terms of material, what people consider important to do in their sociocultural context, what they know, and what they can do.

To explore how societal solidarity is understood and communicated in Namibia, I have conducted a year of practice-based research in and around a technology innovation hub project in the Namibian capital of Windhoek. My role in the tech innovation hub is to help the hub in the communication work they do to attract the local private sector and middle class individuals to support inclusive innovation – a variety of technology innovation processes, which are aimed at empowering people from marginalised backgrounds through techno-entrepreneurialism. Part of this work is formed by rather mundane communication work of organising events, writing press releases and posting on social media. Another part is a more unusual undertaking, which uses a series of co-design activities and exhibitions to try understand what the powerful think, what the relatively powerless want to say to them and how to communicate this. These workshops have resulted in an installation, which is a room built of two walls and uses augmented reality technology to communicate things that cannot be seen in the physical room itself.

Parallel with my communication practice in the tech innovation hub, I have conducted interviews and observations of other societal actors who communicate towards the same target audiences, also seeking for their support in various social issues. This work suggests that the middle class civic ideals the tech hub is appealing to are not that different from those referred to by organisations that are seemingly very different from the hub. All construct their ideals from a mix of ‘African’ and ‘foreign’ elements, in a way that in many respects resembles the appropriation of feminist ideas and politics for neoliberal purposes.

I also keep an autoethnographic journal to reflect on personal experiences that are relevant for societal solidarity in the context of communication work, and especially in the context of development communication.

Firstly, my experiences shed light on the role of outside people and ideas in development communication. Development communication often is, in a variety of ways, connected to the international development industry. Its policies and funding decisions are regularly made by people who come from settings that are very different from the settings where they are implemented. The implementers, too, are often foreigners to the local setting where they work. I am an example of such an implementer. I live and work between Nordic societies (Sweden and my native Finland, where I grew up in the heyday of the Finnish welfare state) and Namibia (and before Namibia, Zambia). Even after all these years, I cannot but look at Namibia with my Nordic glasses and with my Nordic expectations of what societal solidarity should look like. Dynamics like this are an important factor in the practice of development communication.

Secondly, my experiences shed light on different traditions within the field of development communication.  In the past twenty years, I have worked a variety of jobs that could all be described as development communication. This is the first time that I am involved in something that focuses on entrepreneurialism, private sector, and technology – all the latest buzzwords in international development policy. Does this work differ – and how – from working in contexts that have been journalistic or where the main goal has been to get the government(s), international organisations, or civil society organisations to do something or to ensure public support for their work? 

Thirdly, my experiences also shed some light – although distorted by my being outsider – on what it is like to be a middle class Namibian. In many ways, I am a Namibian middle class person in-the-making, and even more so is the Namibian–Finnish daughter I am raising. 

Roel Roscam Abbing: Social Media Platforms. Hugo Boothby: The Politics of Listening

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Roel Roscam Abbing and Hugo Boothby, new PhD students at K3, Roel Roscam Abbing in Interaction Design and Hugo Boothby in Media and Communication Studies. At the seminar, they will talk about work done before starting the PhD education and about their forthcoming theses.

The title of the talks are:

Welcome to The Federation (Roel Roscam Abbing)

Listen up! (Hugo Boothby)

They will take place on Wednesday, September 18 at 10.15-12.00 in The K3 Open Studio, NIC 0541, Niagara.

Below you will find abstracts for the talks.

Welcome to The Federation (Roel Ascam Abbing)

 Abstract:

In this seminar I will introduce my previous work as an artistic researcher on the crossroads of networked computation, infrastructures, self-organization and DIY approaches. This previous work included a project Welcome To The Federation, which set the stage for my current PhD research direction at K3.

This research is particularly focused on the Fediverse, a loose network of inter-operating social media platforms that has rapidly gained momentum in the wake of ongoing privacy violations and abuses on mainstream social media. The Fediverse itself is not a new phenomenon, since alternative social media implementations have existed for almost a decade. However, the novelty of the current Fediverse is the influx of new social conceptions into the ecosystem. This seems partly to be the case because Mastodon (https://joinmastodon.org), one of the newer implementations that through a focus on design and user experience became the most popular, had an early heavy presence of contributors from various minority backgrounds. These LGBTI and PoC developers brought with them new concerns, discourses and techniques in to this part of Free/Libre and Open Source culture. Considering that many of the innovations that have made Mastodon popular have been social rather than technical in nature, the Fediverse has become a laboratory in which questions of social organization and governance can no longer be artificially decoupled from the underlying software. As a case study for reflecting on how to design resilient community infrastructures and possible alternative trajectories to the Silicon Valley model of technical development, the Fediverse presents a compelling case for engagement from the discipline of interaction design.

Listen up! (Hugo Boothby)

Abstract:

This seminar is a presentation of the PhD research project that I started in September 2019. The research is placed within Media and Communication Studies with a specialisation in Sound Studies. My thesis will address the politics of listening. The particular focus is technologies of listening and the listening experiences they afford. I seek to explore how mediated sites of listening create opportunities, but also engender limitations, for political engagement. In this presentation I hope to provide a brief overview of my field of study, and define the frame within which I propose to address a politics of listening. At present my work is primarily concerned with technologies of listening at their granular level. My present site of research being algorithmic selection within digital audio processes. My initial case study explores the affordances and materialities of the MP3 data compression format and iPod digital media player. The research method that I propose for this work is a practice-based or artistic research approach. Taking as a point of departure my sound installation/composition ‘Music for Universities’ (Boothby 2019a and 2019b). This is work that uses the transversal media tool of “eventualisation” (Gansing 2013). Eventualisation understood here as a process of appropriation and recontextualisation that works to problematise technologies of listening and the sites of mediated listening they enact. I will use the seminar to propose a theoretical framework that draws on theories of affordance (Gibson 1977), media ecology (Fuller 2005) and affect (Gilbert 2004). For this work I take my definition of politics and conceptualisations of space from the philosopher Jacques Rancière (2001; 2011).

References:

Boothby, Hugo (January 2019a) Transversal Media Practice as Tool for Radio Research.

Paper presentation at Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association (MeCCSA) Conference, University of Stirling.

Boothby, Hugo (April 2019b) Music for Universities. Paper presentation at Algorithmic Music: Value, Creativity and Artificial Intelligence, one-day symposium. King’s College, London.

Gansing, Kristoffer (2013) Transversal Media Practices: Media Archaeology, Art and Technological Development. Malmö: Malmö University. Doctoral dissertation

Gibson, James (1977) The Theory of Affordance, in R. Shaw and J. Bransford (eds). Perceiving, Acting and Knowing: Toward and Ecological Psychology, (pp. 62-82) Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Gilbert, Jeremy (2004) Signifying Nothing: ‘Culture,’ ‘Discourse’ and the Sociality of Affect. Culture Machine, Vol 6

Rancière, Jacques (2001). Ten Theses on Politics. Theory & Event 5(3), Johns Hopkins University Press. Retrieved September 4, 2019, from Project MUSE database.

Rancière, Jacques (2011) The Thinking of Dissensus: Politics and Aesthetics. In Bowman and Stamp (eds.) Reading Rancière. London: Continuum.

Joshka Wessels: Why we need more empathy. Syrian video activism, immersive cinematic VR and emotional intelligence.

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Joshka Wessels, Senior Lecturer in Communication for Development, K3.

The title of the talk is:

Why we need more empathy. Syrian video activism, immersive cinematic VR and emotional intelligence.

It will take place on Wednesday, September 11 at 10.15-12.00 in The K3 Open Studio, NIC 0541, Niagara.

Below you will find an abstract for the talk.

In this seminar, I will analyse the relationship between experiences of war, emotions, 360-degree YouTube videos and cinematic VR. In 2014, I interviewed a range of video activists from Aleppo for my postdoctoral research project on the role of YouTube in the Syrian uprisings. In order for them to tell the world their story, the Syrian video activists used their mobile phones to the maximum and experimented with all kinds of digital audiovisual technology such as drone technology and 360-degree video cameras. The first 360-video from a war zone was filmed by Syrian video activists in Aleppo. In 2014, British filmmaker Christian Stephen of RYOT, connected with video activists from Aleppo Media Centre (AMC) inside Syria to record 360-degree video. It consisted of a rig with 6 GoPro cameras who recorded 360-degree video in realtime, which could them be experienced and watched by a user using a head mounted set, like the Oculus Rift headset. In 2015, Youtube enabled uploads of 360-degree videos and this led to the first ever 360-degree video footage from a warzone, from Aleppo, entitled ‘Welcome to Aleppo’.

Syrian filmmaker and video activist Abdallah Hakawati recorded a video clip in the district of Bustan al Qasr in Aleppo during daily bombings, which later became known as the ‘Freedom Song Girl’. In the clip, which was recorded on 16 November 2012, a young girl sings a famous revolutionary song about freedom, during a protest in Aleppo. She is repeatedly singing her hope for freedom when she is suddenly interrupted by a deadly bomb blast that erupts behind her (Al Arabiya, 2013). This video clip went viral, up to a point that Abdallah Hakawati lost total control over where the clip was being distributed. When the Freedom Song Girl YouTube video went viral, it was picked up by many different international news agencies. Eventually the clip caught the attention of Nonny de la Peña, a pioneer media artist from California. De la Peña is from the University of Southern California (USC) and has been at the forefront of the use of Virtual Reality technology in documentary and journalism. She has developed so-called Immersive Journalism, which is a form of media production that allows first person experience of the events or situations described in news reports and documentary film (de la Peña et al., 2010). de la Peña shares the concern that the overload of audiovisual information available today, desensitizes audiences who then become indifferent to the suffering of others and predicts that the role of Immersive Journalism could reinstitute the audience’s emotional involvement in current events (Ibid. p.298). The first person experience is generated by the use of a head-mounted display, which places the user in a virtual 3D environment that will give an embodied experience (Ibid. p.292).

In 2016, the premiere of the Boost Hbg, Film-i-Skåne and Malmö Stad supported cinematic VR film “Flykten från Sverige” took place at the library of the city of Malmö. The experience, which was directed by me, went on tour through Skåne and other places in Sweden and eventually won a prize for best VR in 2018 at Skåne’s Pixel filmfestival due to the emotional impact of the installation. “Flykten från Sverige” is a fiction cinematic VR installation, viewed on a VR headset and tells the story of a flight from Malmö under bombardment, from the point of view of an eight-year old child. The installation is interactive and users can experience three different scenarios of fleeing from Malmö under war. Spatial sound recording was used to enhance the feeling of presence in VR. The production team used so-called emotional mapping to design how the single-user should feel at the end of each scenario; despair, frustration and relief. The emotional impact of the piece was considerable, with users sometimes crying after both the despair or frustration scenarios.

The use of immersive cinematic VR has been coined as an ultimate medium to enhance empathy and bring more understanding for the point of view of others. Through the use Virtual Reality Perspective Taking (VRPT) (van Loon et al., 2018) the user is placed in a situation where he/she rarely or never will be and looks at the world through the eyes of someone else. van Loon (2018) claims that VRPT increases cognitive empathy for specific others. Comparing the use of 360-degree video to report from the Syrian War with the development of immersive journalism and cinematic VR for fictive interactive scenarios of refugee experiences, I am critically discussing the assumption whether VRPT is necessarily a ‘force for good’.

References:

Al Arabiya, ‘Song Sung Blue: footage of singing Syrian hit by blast goes viral’, 6 February 2013,  https://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2013/02/06/264782.html.

van Loon, A., Bailenson, J., Zaki, J., Bostick, J. and Willer, R. (2018) Virtual reality perspective-taking increases cognitive empathy for specific others. PLOS ONE 13(8): e0202442.

de la Peña, Nonny, Peggy Weil, Joan Llobera Elias Giannopoulos Ausiàs Pomés, Bernhard Spanlang, ‘Immersive Journalism: Immersive Virtual Reality for the First-Person Experience of News’,  Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments 19/4 (2010), pp. 291-301.