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Blog Mapping and Beyond...

It's been a good week already - on Monday I've received notice that we've been successful with a major research grant application in this year's ARC Discovery round. The three-year project for which we're receiving $400,000 from the ARC, with my esteemed colleague Jean Burgess as the postdoc researcher, will extend the existing work on blog mapping which I've been engaged in for the past few years and take it to a new level - beyond capturing 'only' what happens in the Australian political blogosphere, we'll be working to get a much more comprehensive picture of Australian public communication online across blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and perhaps even Facebook. None of this would be possible without the fantastic work of our colleagues Lars Kirchhoff and Thomas Nicolai at Sociomantic Labs in Berlin, incidentally, so a very big thanks to them for their massive contribution so far - we're looking forward to the next three years... Below is the abstract for the research project (and no doubt I'll post more about it here as we get going in early 2010) - and there are various articles and presentations covering our blog mapping efforts to date elsewhere on this site.

New Media and Public Communication:
Mapping Australian User-Created Content in Online Social Networks

Understanding the ways people contribute to and use the Internet for a wide range of purposes is important to Australia's future from both a social and an economic perspective. Effective, evidence-based policy depends on developing a vastly improved understanding of the current level of Australians' online activities and interests. This project provides crucial, detailed baseline data on the social, cultural and technological dynamics of Australian online public communication, which can inform further government initiatives to strengthen the country's digital economy and to maximise civic engagement through media participation.

The ARC announcement is also very timely as I'm heading down to Sydney for a couple of guest talks at the Journalism & Media Research Centre on UNSW's Kensington campus; one of these will outline the opportunities that are now available for researchers using large-scale data gathering and analysis methodologies to address media and cultural studies problems, while the other will discuss my work on produsage with a special focus on how it may be incorporated into pro-am models involving both social media communities and commercial or non-profit institutions. Abstracts are below, and follow the links to previews of the presentations (audio to come soon if I manage to record the presentations...).

Tracking Social Media Participation: New Approaches to Studying User-Generated Content

PhD Seminar

Thursday 29 Oct., 11 a.m. - 12.30 p.m. - Seminar Room, Journalism & Media Research Centre, 3-5 Eurimbla St (corner High St), Randwick, Sydney

The impact of user-generated content on a variety of media industries and practices is by now well understood from a conceptual perspective (e.g. Benkler 2006; Jenkins 2006; Bruns 2008). What remains less thoroughly explored is the possibility to utilise the affordances of Web 2.0 technologies themselves to generate large datasets that can be used to track and evaluate user participation practices in order to develop a solid evidence base for further research into social media, and further development of social media projects, technologies, and policies. This presentation outlines research possibilities across a number of social media spaces, and uses the example of a current research project studying the Australian political blogosphere to explore potential methodological approaches.

Produsage and Beyond: Exploring the Pro-Am Interface

Staff Seminar

Thursday 29 Oct., 2-4 p.m. - Seminar Room, Journalism & Media Research Centre, 3-5 Eurimbla St (corner High St), Randwick, Sydney

The concept of produsage (Bruns 2008) describes the user-led collaborative approach to content creation which is prevalent in open source, citizen journalism, and the Wikipedia, as well as many other social media spaces. While many produsage projects have emerged initially to challenge dominant players in industry, their successful establishment as viable and sustainable alternatives also opens the door for an exploration of manageable cooperative arrangements between industry and community. Many challenges remain for such Pro-Am (Leadbeater & Miller 2004) models, however - not least an often deep-seated sense of mutual distrust -, and successful Pro-Am models may be most likely to succeed when sponsored by trusted third parties (public broadcasters, NGOs). This presentation explores pitfalls and possibilities in the Pro-Am space.

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