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Local Practice, Global Reach?

I spent the first session of this second day at AoIR 2008 as a member of a panel on academic publishing - I didn't blog this, for obvious reasons. This second session starts with a paper on "Transcoding Place" by Vicki Moulder, in the overall area of social design and media convergence. How do communities enact agency in this space, especially given that digital social architecture is a fluid system, unlike conventional physical architecture?

Designers and creative professionals have a responsibility and are able to cause real change in design; this is especially important in the context of the changes brought about by media convergence. Can meaningful online agency (e.g. tagging and uploading content to YouTube and other social media sites) compare in any real sense with activism on the streets? Vicki and her colleague Jim Bizzocchi examined this question in the context of the Crude Awakening event at Burning Man, comparing the semantic structure of a face-to-face event in the Nevada desert (attended by some 45,000 spectators) with its video documentation (which was uploaded to YouTube by numerous users within hours of the event).

Collaborative Local Content Creation through edgeX: An Evaluation (AoIR 2008)

AoIR 2008

Collaborative Local Content Creation through edgeX: An Evaluation

Sal Humphreys and Axel Bruns

  • 16 Oct. 2008 - AoIR 2008 conference, Copenhagen

This paper presents research data and findings from the collaborative content creation project edgeX: Mapping the missing grassroots, which was reported on in the 2007 AoIRs conference (Authors). This project is based in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia and explores the potential for, geographically local communities to enhance their social ties and sense of communal identity through the integration of a Website into their communication ecologies. The Website,, allows local users to upload their own content in a variety of formats, and thereby (figuratively as well as literally) to put themselves and their work on the map; a Google Maps-driven geobrowsing interface is a centrepiece of the edgeX site. edgeX has most of the features available to the communities of Flickr, YouTube, and social networking sites, enabling users to publish and share their work and to interact with each other.

Encouraging and Mapping Political and Creative Engagement

We're coming towards the end of the last day here at AoIR 2007, and Kirsten Foot is the first speaker in the post-lunch session, presenting a co-authored paper on link structures and engagement practices in U.S. and U.K. fair trade networks. Fair trade movements aim to develop more equitable practices in international commerce in a variety of commodities (not just coffee), and Kirsten and her colleagues examined fair trade movements' historical roots (since the end of World War II) in a previous study; in the U.K., contrary to the U.S., there are also important relationships with government bodies (and there are a number of official 'fair trade towns' in the U.K., but only one in the U.S.). U.K. movements are now having some impact even on European Union policy, in fact. In the U.S., targets of such movements are usually corporations, by comparison.

Off to Canada

I'm heading out to Canada tomorrow, to present three papers at two conferences, and I've uploaded those papers and presentation Powerpoints here now. As a counterpoint to my solo work on the produsage book, I've really enjoyed working in collaborative teams this year - in addition to the ARC Linkage projects for edgeX and Youdecide2007 (and the Gatewatching group blog and ABC series with Barry and Jason from Youdecide), I'm also working in cross-institutional teams on couple of Carrick Institute projects examining teaching and learning in social software environments and building a network of Australian creative writing programmes. So, it's perhaps no surprise that all three papers on this trip are co-authored works - two with my colleague Sal Humphreys from QUT, and one with Lars Kirchhoff and Thomas Nicolai from the Universität St. Gallen in Switzerland.

What's worked out particularly well this month is the timing of the conferences - I'm headed first to the Association of Internet Researchers conference in Vancouver on 17-20 Oct., and from there it's just an overnight flight to the International Symposium on Wikis in Montréal on 21-23 Oct. Given how long it takes to get anywhere from Australia, being able to do a number of conferences on the one trip is always very useful - and I'm particularly looking forward again to AoIR, since due to my role as conference chair at last year's conference in Brisbane I missed most of the presentation sessions except for the keynotes and those sessions that I presented in myself. As always, I'm planning to blog everything I'm attending, and I'll try to record and slidecast my own papers. For now, here's a preview of what's to come:

Playing on the Edge: Facilitating the Emergence of a Local Digital Grassroots (AoIR 2007)

AoIR 2007

Playing on the Edge:
Facilitating the Emergence of a Local Digital Grassroots

Axel Bruns and Sal Humphreys

  • 20 October 2007 - AoIR 2007 conference, Vancouver, Canada

This paper by Axel Bruns and Sal Humphreys for the Association of Internet Researchers conference in Vancouver, 17-20 Oct. 2007,describes the first phase of the Emergent Digital Grassroots eXpo (edgeX) project - a research and application project centred on mapping grassroots and amateur content creation, community engagement with new media, and strengthening local identity. Developed in conjunction with the City Council of Ipswich, a city of some 150,000 residents in regional Queensland, the edgeX project provides a site for local residents to upload creative content, to participate in competitions, to comment on each other's work, and to develop new skills. Research goals associated with edgeX arise from a broader project of mapping the creative industries and their role in the knowledge economy, and a growing understanding of the significant part user-led content creation plays in these processes, especially including the role of amateur creatives.

Online Creative Networks for Kids

My colleague Justin Brow is next; he's been involved in the development of and is a researcher in the QUT Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation (iCi). He begins with a brief introduction to the economic role of the creative industries - some 140,000 people are working directly in the CI in Australia, but the focus of CI analysis is now shifting from the production of creative outputs themselves to creative industries' input into other industries; some 160,000 people in Australia work in creative occupations within other industries. A further 150,000 people work in managerial and administrative roles related to the CI, establishing a 'creative trident' of occupations and contributing some $21billion to Australian GDP (this is set to double in the coming years).

edgeX - Mapping the Missing Grassroots

edgeX is a research project funded by the Australian Research Council under the ARC Linkage programme. It was developed by Liz Ferrier (UQ Ipswich) and myself; the other chief investigators in the team are Jo Tacchi (QUT), Dave Rooney and Phil Graham (UQ Ipswich), and our postdoctoral research Sal Humphreys. Our industry partner for the project is the Ipswich City Council. The official ARC title for this research project is "Mapping the Missing Grassroots: Ethnographic Action Study of Local Grassroots Broadband Content (Co-) Creation and Consumption", and the project officially commenced at the start of 2006.

Progress on Multiple Fronts

It's been a positive few days on either side of the Australia/Invasion Day holiday. On Wednesday we gained a major sponsor for the Association of Internet Researchers conference in Brisbane in September, which should enable us to attract a further fairly high-profile keynote speaker; more on this as we go. Later that day we aso started work on the edgeX, or "Mapping the Missing Grassroots", ARC Linkage project between QUT and UQ Ipswich with Ipswich City Council - and I'm looking forward to seeing this one get going. More work on both today, with a few keynote speaker possibilities emerging...

Blogs, Grassroots, and Money

Phew - another day spent editing the Uses of Blogs book with Jo Jacobs; we're now very close to sending off the manuscript to Peter Lang for editorial comments and proofreading. This has turned out to be a very strong collection of essays on blogs and blogging from a wide range of perspectives, and I think it will do very well. And nothing against our original cast of contributors, but we've added a few more authors in the last few months, and they've made quite an impact as well.

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