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A Quick Update from the Road: My Lectures from Helsinki

Well, as Tuesday's blogburst already indicated, I'm slowly progressing on my current travels. The event at the Copenhagen Centre for Communication and Computing was something of a preview for a panel on "Digital Data – Lost, Found, and Made" which is on the programme for the 2012 conference of the Association of Internet Researchers here in Salford; expect plenty of liveblogging from that conference to start tomorrow.

Before this conference and the Copenhagen event, though, I spent a few days in Helsinki, where I gave two guest lectures in the international Masters course – and I've neglected to post those lectures here so far. So, here they are. Unfortunately, my audio recorder ran out of batteries during the first lecture, so there are only slides for it - however, that lecture was a repeat of my SBPJor keynote in Brazil last October, so you can go to those slides for the audio.

Below are the two lectures:

Sharing the News: Dissemination of Links to Australian News Sites on Twitter (AoIR 2012)

AoIR 2012

Sharing the News: Dissemination of Links to Australian News Sites on Twitter

Axel Bruns, Tim Highfield, and Stephen Harrington

  • 20 Oct. 2012 – Association of Internet Researchers conference, Salford

Around the World in 28 Days (and 14 Papers)

It’s that time of the year again, when I set off for the usual end-of-year round of conferences – and this year has turned out to be an especially busy one. As I write this, I’m already in Toronto for the inaugural workshop of a Canadian-funded, multi-partner research project on Social Media and Campaigning which is led by Greg Elmer of Ryerson University; this comes at an interesting time, of course, with electioneering south of the border in full swing. We’re already tracking the Twitter performance of both campaigns’ key accounts – more on that as it develops.

My next stop is Helsinki, where I’ve been invited to present two guest lectures to the international Masters students. The first of these will be an update of the keynote “Gatekeeping, Gatewatching, Real-Time Feedback: New Challenges for Journalism”, which I presented at the Brazilian Society of Journalism Researchers last year, and addresses the challenges faced by journalism in an always-on, social media-driven environment; the second presents the work which my Mapping Online Publics colleagues and I have done on “Social Media and Crisis Communication”.

New Article on Twitter and Journalism in Australia

I’m please to say that a new article of mine has been published in Media International Australia (which means I’ve now had articles in consecutive MIA issues…). The issue in question, on “The ‘New’ News”, was edited by my QUT colleagues Stephen Harrington and Brian McNair, and looks like a bumper collection of exciting work – full details are here.

My article is on the use of Twitter by Australian journalists, looking especially at the Rudd/Gillard leadership spill in June 2010, and the federal election night in August. Below is the abstract – the full article is here, and a pre-print version is here.

Journalists and Twitter: How Australian News Organisations Adapt to a New Medium

From the substantial volume of tweets during the Rudd/Gillard spill, the 2010 election campaign, and the screening of Q&A episodes to Australian editor Chris Mitchell’s threat to sue journalism academic Julie Posetti for reporting on statements about him at an academic conference, Twitter has developed an increasingly visible presence in Australian journalism. While detractors like Mitchell remain vocal, many other journalists have begun to explore manageable approaches to incorporating Twitter into their work practices, and for some – like the ABC’s ‘star recruits’ Annabel Crabb and Latika Bourke – it has already become a career driver.

Building on the data generated by a continuing, three-year ARC Discovery project, this article examines the tweeting practices of selected high-profile Australian journalists during significant political events, and explores their positioning within and interactions with the wider network of Australian Twitter users. It employs innovative data processing approaches to assess the centrality of these professional journalists to the networks of Australians discussing the news on Twitter, and places these observations in a wider context of journalist/audience relations, a decade after the emergence of the first citizen journalism Websites.

Wrapping Up the Year with Some More Publications, and New Projects

Time for a quick update again: I’m hardly even back from the SBPJor conference in Rio de Janeiro in November, but my keynote “Gatekeeping, Gatewatching, Real-Time Feedback: New Challenges for Journalism” from the conference has already been published in the Brazilian Journalism Research journal, alongside the other keynotes. I posted the slides and audio from the presentation last month – and a similar presentation in German, from my visit to Vienna in March, is also online here.

When I arrived back in my office from the Rio trip, I was also very pleased to see that the Digital Difference book, collecting papers from the 2007 Ideas, Cyberspace, Education 3 conference on the shores of Loch Lomond, had finally arrived. It’s been a long road, but congratulations to the editors, Ray Land and Siân Bayne, for sticking with the project. My article, “Beyond Difference: Reconfiguring Education for the User-Led Age”, applies produsage concepts to explore new approaches to education.

Three Challenges for Journalism in the Social Media Age

Rio de Janeiro.
My own keynote presentation started the second day of SBPJor. Powerpoint and audio are below; the full paper (which attacks the topic from a slightly different angle, but makes much the same points) is also online.

My sincere thanks to Carlos Franciscato and the SBPJor organisation for the invitation to speak at the conference; it’s been great to meet some of the many Brazilian journalism researchers whose work I’ve been aware of for some time now. I’m sorry that because of the language barrier I’ve not been able to participate more fully in the conference itself, but I hope my contribution has been useful – some good discussion in question time, certainly!

The Effect of Changes in Journalism on Democracy

Rio de Janeiro.
As part of my last overseas trip for this year, I’ve made it to Brazil for SBPJor, the conference of Brazilian journalism researchers – which opens with a keynote by John Pavlik. (My own plenary presentation follows tomorrow morning.) John’s focus is on the consequences of digital journalism for democracy: chief amongst these, disruption and innovation in the journalism industry; the emergence of a digital divide between those with and without access; the development of more robust interactive media; greater transparency in government; and increased civic participation.

Disruption and innovation is driven by greater access to high-speed wired and wireless Internet, as well as new (also mobile) technologies which enable us to connect to these networks. Additionally, the global economic downturn also presents great challenges for the media to reinvent themselves; this has been a problem for the mainstream media, but also provides opportunities for new media players to step into the breach.

Robotic Journalism?

Berlin.
In response to Chris W. Anderson’s talk at the Berlin Symposium, Lorenz Matzat now discusses the question of ‘robot journalism’ and its impact on newsroom jobs. There is a substantial increase in the amount of data being collected (and to some extent, made available) by all sorts of devices; these data would also be valuable for journalistic purposes, of course.

Understanding Algorithmic Journalism

Berlin.
The afternoon session at the Berlin Symposium, on intermediaries in public communication, begins with Chris W. Anderson’s presentation on data journalism (he’s not the ‘long tail’ guy, by the way). He begins by describing journalism as a media form that’s meant to bring the public together – to assemble the reading public. In a sense, Google, and data algorithms, similarly bring the public together – and intermediaries emerge in this process.

Algorithms are predetermined sets of instructions for solving a specific problem in a limited number of steps; one of the best known algorithms of recent years is Google’s PageRank algorithm, of course. They are hybrid entities, cyborgs, both human and machinic: they combine both human intentionality and social structure, and technological affordances. In other words, they’re part of the social world, not machines impacting on it from the outside – but they’re also not determined entirely by social and societal forces, but retain technological qualities.

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