MiT8 Reflections/ End of Semester

I should have written this post a few days ago, but I seem to be in a state of semi-exhaustion the past week. I’m finishing up my finals and looking forward to a few days off, but as with the end of every semester, I seem to have forgotten how to jump and am stumbling through the final hurdles.

Media In Transition 8 was a very enjoyable conference – I took the train up last Friday, dropped my bag off at the hotel and went immediately to the opening proceedings. I was really impressed with the way the organizers had stacked so many compelling sessions throughout the day, which really made it difficult to choose where to go and what to attend. There were a lot of familiar themes, if you’re paying attention to the current trends in media research and work – surveillance, algorithms, big data, “spreadability” and “oversharing.” I personally enjoyed the more “transgressive” concepts discussed in panels on activism, pirate politics and counterpublics. Some of the presenters I was really impressed with include Christobal Garcia’s network analysis of the Chilean Student Movement, Thomas Poell’s work on media activism and representation, and Patrick Burkart and Martin Fredriksson work on pirate politics and what someone termed “liquid democracy.” I have so many notes to yet dig through…

I was also very happy to present along with Luis BohorquezCarlotta Cossutta & Arianna Mainardi, and Tom Pettitt, in a session the organizers dubbed “Media Spheres” which wound up having a great deal more to do with a reconstituted sense of self via our relationships in network society than public sphere stuff. Cossutta and Mainardi were talking about subverting surveillance and reconstructing alternative expressions of the self, Bohorquez talked about finding a sense of home and belonging in a highly mediated community, and Pettitt (a medievalist at a media studies conference) gave us a historical context for the changing perception of self and what he calls the “Gutenberg Parenthesis,” something that really interested me and I am still processing mentally – I feel it somehow relates to ecology and anti-androcentrism, two things I am very interested in.

Unfortunately I seem to have lost my business card holder where I was storing all the contacts I made at the conference… very frustrating, since there were a great deal of very insightful people I met! So if we bumped into each other, feel free to reach out.

I would write more about my own work, but I’ll save that for when I’ve collected my thoughts – several weeks ago I finalized my thesis proposal which was accepted (far as I know!) and I’ll be working on it over the summer and this fall. My earlier post on the Yackathon Hackathon shows how I was able to complete a PAR-styled event or exercise and was incredibly useful for my research… but also needs to be fully processed still!


This is just a quick post to say I’ll be presenting at MiT8 on Sunday – I’ve been retooling my work and gearing up for my second conference and I’m excited to talk about the theory side of my work! Here’s my latest abstract:

When we think about identity, the medium through which we express, articulate and define that concept plays heavily into how it is understood. As society uses new mediums, that mediation becomes remediation, and consequently redefinition. As the public sphere has become more ” identity research has shifted focus to collective issues. This is due to concerns regarding group agency and politics, the means by which those definitions are created and maintained, and the freedom from physical proxemics due to new communications technologies. Those developments foreshadowed the mainstream embrace of new media and social networks. The condition of virtual identity and community is now experience by a large public, interacting and existing through digital media. But how does that change the way we shape the community, and how it shapes us? Issues of the individual and the collective provide challenges to internet users and scholars alike. This work explores those issues, namely the question of how we resolve the online public sphere (or spheres) with our personal identities, and how we collaboratively construct recursive publics. 

Apparently the latest draft is also already up on the website. I’ll be presenting Sunday morning as part of a panel on “Media Spheres” – the invitation was an honor because there are a lot of really great and interesting scholars I hope to meet! Obviously I’ll be tweeting from @mrliterati, feel free to reach out if you’re there as well!

Hackathon Research Updates

highres_208510922Yesterday I went to the Code Across NYC hackathon, organized by CodeForAmerica and OpenNYForum. They had a pretty nice event space at the NYU-Poly Varick Street Incubator, and I think it was well put together with civic hackers and open government advocates in mind.  I was there as part of my participant observation for my thesis work on Hackathons, and like before, I had some qualms about how much I’d be able to participate, given the very skill-based nature of the event.

Unlike some of the other events I’ve been to, there were no prizes, and organizers were very clear that you get out what you put into this event. There weren’t any really evidently corporate sponsors – Joel Natividad of Ontonida was there (we had a really good conversation in the breakout group) and talked about OpediaCities as a “Smarter City” platform, for the sort of data-wrangling and resource management that others could build off of. There was also a presentation about Socrata, some talk about NYC Department of Education’s interest in this work, and Big Apps.

Our breakout sessions were really neat – there was a large crowd of beginners, about 17 people, a smaller group of people who knew what they were doing and were there to get something done, and a non-technical group I joined for a policy discussion. Noel Hidalgo (who led the intro and our policy group) explained how OpenNYForum is writing a white paper that will go to good government transparency advocates, and then be fleshed out to a broader paper on open open government and open data advocacy. Continue reading