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My European Odyssey
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Leeds / Ibiza / Leeds.
I'm back from a brief visit with my mother, who now lives on the Spanish island of Ibiza. Even though Ann and I were able to drop in for a few days last summer as well, I normally only get to see mum every few years or so, and so I was very keen on using the opportunity of my sabbatical at Leeds University for a quick escape to warmer climes. For an island so renowned as a frequent getaway spot for British and other tourists, though, getting there and back proved surprisingly difficult, and any relaxation which three days away from my research work might have provided had already disappeared well before I arrived back at the hovel on Sunday night.

Habermas on the Internet (in more ways than one)

Jean has posted a YouTube video of a recent interview with philosopher Jürgen Habermas, and also links to my recent comments on Habermas's continued refusal to engage meaningfully with the Internet and other networked, decentralised, public many-to-many media and with what they may mean for the future of the public sphere. There's also the start of a little further discussion about how to situate such media within Habermas's theories. I meant to reply directly there, but my response turned out a little lengthy for a blog comment, so I'm posting it here instead.

Coming Up...

The past few days have been nothing but productive, even if I've taken some time off my research for the book. Instead, I've completed and/or revised a number of conference papers and other articles that are due over the next few months - clearing the decks, or indeed the desk, before I fully descend into book mode.

2007 is going to be a very productive year for me, as far as papers, articles, and other publications are concerned. I've managed to combine my stays here at Leeds University and later on at MIT in Boston with a few conferences in the UK and the U.S., respectively, and there are a number of further conferences in Australia and elsewhere as well. There's also a couple of book chapters and at least another journal article, but most those I can't say that much about yet. I have now posted some of the completed conference papers on this Website, though, so please feel free to have a look (and to comment, of course!).

Changing Models of Scholarly Discourse

Towards the end of March, I'll be attending the ICE 3 conference (Ideas, Cyberspace, Education) at Ross Priory on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland (hopefully the conference acronym won't reflect the weather there). My own paper deals with issues around teaching produsage, but in the lead-up to this small but apparently high-powered conference (Gunther Kress is a keynote speaker), one of the presenter teams has set up a blog to discuss the challenges of social software and other online publishing models for the traditional academic publishing environment. Reading one of the position statements, by Bruce Ingraham, led me to post a somewhat un-bloggy, lengthy response, which I'm also reposting here:

Narratives and Identities in a Produsage-Based Environment?

After my guest lecture at the University of Lincoln the other day, one of the students, David Lawson, sent me an email with a couple of very thoughtful questions. I thought I might as well answer them publicly - further comments are, as always, invited...

After thinking about your lecture and how it may relate to the work that I'm doing, I saw the connection. The new publishing mode that you propose, 'produsage', throws up the question of Does this model better fit today's society, with relation to people's attraction to media that has no set narrative trajectory? If users are finding, contributing to and distributing the news then where is the narrative structure of this medium?

5 Things You May or May Not Know about Me

Jean and Catherine (nice to hear from you again!) have both tagged me. It's taken me some time to reply to this challenge, but here we go - five things you didn't know about me:

  1. I once served in an electronic warfare unit in the West German army, and had to learn some basic Russian - our task was to listen in to Red Army transmissions in then-East Germany, presumably to work out if and when the Soviets were going to attack. Of course they didn't, and in fact during my time in the army the wall came down and the whole exercise became fairly pointless. (Well, you probably did know that one if you've read "The Redundant Spy"...)

'Anyone Can Edit' Rides Again
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Leeds / Lincoln / Leeds.
I'm back from a quick trip to the very pretty town of Lincoln, where I've visited my former M/C colleague turned University of Lincoln lecturer Guy Redden, to catch up and do a quick guest lecture: a very much revised version of 'Anyone Can Edit', the lecture I toured on the U.S. East Coast in late 2005. This new revision of the lecture incorporates some more of the research I'm currently undertaking for my book project From Production to Produsage, of course. After the lecture, I was also able to catch up with some more of the students at Lincoln, which was very enjoyable.


Sunny DayWe've enjoyed a surprisingly mild and sunny weekend here in Yorkshire, with temperatures threatening to creep into the low tens (though not yet, unfortunately, the low teens). Just as well, too, as over the same weekend the water heater here in the house failed, to be repaired only on Monday morning - meaning no heating or hot water whatsoever. Brrrr. So, I've spent a few extra shifts in my (heated) visiting scholars' office at the University of Leeds over Saturday and Sunday. (But at least one benefit of this has been that it's enabled me to listen to Hannover 96 beat Bayer Leverkusen in a proximate time zone for once...)

Habermas and/against the Internet

One of the advertised highlights of last year's International Communication Association conference, which I attended, was the keynote lecture by communication studies warhorse Jürgen Habermas. For most of us in the audience, this was an only moderately enjoyable experience, however - unfortunately, the acoustics of the plenary hall combined with Habermas's accent and pronounced lisp meant that much of the lecture was very difficult to understand, even in spite (?) of the Powerpoint slides (photos of some of which I included in my blog post at the time).

Leeds: Second Impressions

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There's been almost no rain in Leeds this Sunday, so (after processing another 50 or so pages of the Benkler I'm currently working through) I've used the opportunity to explore town a little more. This is the first day without rain or snow since the start of the week, and the temperature has risen slightly; there was in fact a little sunshine if you looked skywards in the right moment. The evening sky even has a kind of dark bluish tinge, rather than just fading from grey to black.

Leeds certainly is a town on the move - there's plenty of new residential and office development around the river and train line, and good parts of the city centre look like they've been redeveloped reasonably recently. That's not to say that there aren't still plenty of 60s and 70s municipal building monstrosities sprinkled liberally through town, much as they are in so many Western European cities. Leeds University isn't above reproach in that regard either - the iconic and the ugly (and the iconically ugly) are often just a stone's throw apart.


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