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Hybrid Organisational Innovation: The Case of Tela Botanica

The next speaker at AoIR 2010 is Serge Proulx, who is interested in how sharing practices are organised in the collaborative knowledge environment Tela Botanica. What does it mean to contribute to this type of online environment? The site is a French-language site for discussions on botany, founded in 1999, and highly successful in its field (with some 12,000 members to date).

The site publishes a weekly newsletter with some 7,700 subscribers that is open to contribution to all and allows for comments attached to articles; it also posts events and job offers. There is also the E-Flore database of plant descriptions which uses can contribute to (and which is professionally overseen), an online resource of bibliographic references, and a collaborative project space that allows site members to develop specific projects.

Future Directions for the Music Industry: Lessons from the Swedish Independent Scene

The last keynote at AoIR 2010 is by the fabulous Nancy Baym, whose recent work has focussed especially on the Swedish independent music industry. Nancy’s based in Kansas, but is now well connected with the Swedish music scene – and that’s just one example of the international cultural interconnections which we’re now seeing.

Her initial interest in Swedish music stems from exposure to independent music stores in the US which import overseas music; most of these stores are labours of love rather than significantly successful commercial enterprises – and they are now also selling music back to Sweden, in fact! Music Websites in the US and elsewhere in the world which focus on Swedish music are also popular in Scandinavia itself.

Tracking Breaking News across Social Networks

The next speaker at AoIR 2010 is Luca Rossi, whose interest is in how information propagates through social network sites. This works with data from Friendfeed, which is somewhat similar to Twitter, but also allows people to add their own comments and likes directly to other’s posts (more similar to Facebook in this regard).

How can we define information propagation on this site, then? If a user posts some content on Friendfeed, then this message is visible to all of their followers – and if one of the followers comments or likes that message, it also becomes visible to the people following that follower, and so on. Luca’s team collected Friendfeed data for two weeks in September 2009 – some 10 million posts including 500,000 likes from 450,000 users.

Prevalent Community Values on Wikipedia

The next speaker at AoIR 2010 is Jonathan Morgan, who shifts our focus to Wikipedia. His interest is in how communal values are expressed by participants on the site – for example around specific controversies on the site. His project examined the debates around the Jyllands Posten / Muhammad cartoons controversy; here, the editors who created the Wikipedia entry covering this issue decided to include the offending cartoon in the entry at first, which generated substantial debate.

The site’s professed aim is to empower and engage people around the world, and founder Jimmy Wales has echoed these sentiments in his own statements. Surveys of Wikipedians in the English-language Wikipedia also refer to altruism, reciprocity, sense of community, as well as fun and a sense of mission.

The Emergence of Convergent Supersurfaces

The final speaker in this session at AoIR 2010 is Zizi Papacharissi, whose interest is in civic habits emerging around online media. She begins by noting the mythology of the new, which suggests that newer media can revive old democracy, the idea that technology can reconfigure public space, and the continuing public/private debate.

Contemporary democracies are characterised by a nostalgia for older forms of civic engagement, by a realisation of the limitations of representative models of democracy, by an overreliance on aggregate forms of public opinion (polls which transform nuanced opinion into yes/no responses), declining public participation and increasing cynicism about democracy. Against this, a new civic vernacular is emerging that suggests new modes of citizenship which reform older metaphors and increasingly take place in the private sphere.

Online Activists as a New Political Elite

The next speaker in this session at AoIR 2010 are Yana Breindl and Nils Gustafsson, whose interest is in networked digital activism. Such activism is not necessarily more or less inclusive or democratic than conventional activism. In democratic theory, there are the three strands of competitive, participatory, and deliberative democracy, and activism is often perceived through the lens of the latter two; online activism is seen as encouraging participatory or deliberative features in the democratic system.

Reality is perhaps more on the competitive side, where most people are seen as passive participants in a political system that is otherwise run by a small ruling elite that is legitimised and made accountable in elections, but left to its own devices between them. Factors which do influence the political process are other elites (business, political, social, and otherwise) – and in the Internet age, new elites (which are seen as less hierarchically organised) are emerging.

Danes on Facebook

The final AoIR 2010 panel for today starts with Lisbeth Klastrup, who’s presenting on a study of how Danes participate in Facebook. While the overall Facebook community now numbers some 500 million users, how localised and fragmented is that community, for example along national and local lines? Examining the Danish Facebook community might provide some useful answers to this question. Some of this is also related to overall cultural patterns, of course – the importance of local and family ties to a national culture, for example; a ‘national intimacy’ which is relatively strong in Denmark. Contrasted with this is a ‘banal globalism’ – a general but relatively shallow interest in global events and issues.

Online Campaigning by the Obama Campaign

The final speaker in this ECREA 2010 session is Sabine Baumann, whose interest is in online grassroots campaigning especially in the past US presidential election. There, of course, to win a candidate not only needs votes, but campaign funding in the first place, and the Obama campaign was exceptionally successful in attracting campaign contributions (collecting twice as much money as John McCain, mainly from small donations under US$200).

Spending figures are also interesting in this regard – McCain spent some US$4.6m on Internet campaigning, Obama spent a whopping US$24m. The Obama campaign Website also prominently displayed its donation and online merchandise functionality, of course; the online store was hugely successful, in fact (offering campaign clothing and art from notable designers and artists).

Civil Conversations on Facebook during the 2009 Indonesian Presidential Elections

Finally at ANZCA 2010 we're on to Hamideh Molaei, whose interest is in the use of social media during the 2009 presidential elections in Indonesia. Social media have impacted on political processes, of course - social media are used for networking and fundraising, political discussion, and the dissemination of political messages. Facebook has been used in this way in a number of contexts, of course - both by politicians and ordinary citizens.

Six social media sites - including Facebook - are amongst the ten most popular sites in Indonesia. The last presidential election there was held on 8 July 2009, as the second direct election after the end of the Suharto regime, it was won by Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Facebook was used as a venue for advertising and disseminating election-related material. Candidates had personal pages; there were election education groups; and a variety of independent pages were also set up.

Viewer Engagement with the Interactive Drama of Reservoir Hill

The final session at the ANZCA 2010 conference starts with Carolyn Michelle, whose interest is in the TVNZ programme Reservoir Hill, released weekly as an online interactive drama and advertised on TV and buses; the story was about a teenage girl moving to a new city who resembled another girl from that community who had gone missing. Each of the Webisodes lasted some 6-10 minutes.

Viewers were encouraged to text in with comments and advice to the main character, and extra bonus scenes were created from this; they were also incorporated in further episodes, and viewers' names were acknowledged. There was also a video blog by the character, as well as Facebook and Bebo pages. Initially, the show had an audience of some 20,000, but gradually this audience declined; it also won a Digital Emmy.


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