#Media2012 EastMidlands (6th June, 2011 – Leicester)

I will be co-organising (alongside citizen’s eye) a #media2012 event in Leicester on the 6th of June. If you are interested in participating in or organizing your own media centre as part of the nationwide citizen media network during the 2012 Olympics, the 6th of June would be a good place to start.

Event Schedule

There will be a meeting of the #media2012 network on the 6th of June at the Phoenix Square Digital Media Centre in Leicester. The event will be hosted by Citizen’s Eye and will form part of a week’s worth of activities for Community Media Week.

The time table will be as follow:

10-12 Free morning of activities with an opportunity to participate in events such as Community Media Centre and local news agencies, browse stands and participate in discussion around Olympics, media making and community driven education. The building will be operating as a functioning community space through the course of the day which gives those who attend the chance to experience and participate in some of the work citizen’s eye and the local community of Leicester, are planning for during London 2012.

12-2 Introductions and Lunch

Between 12-2 there will be a chance to meet members from Citizen’s Eye news agencies who will be at the Phoenix Square (and hopefully as part of a outdoor event in the area adjacent the the building). There will also be a public event to show case the media2012 plans.

2-4 Regional Updates (in the Screen Room)

Introductions and updates from #media2012 regions. We will contact regional chairs individually ahead of the meeting.

4-6 Next Step and Future Planning.

A more dedicated space to discuss future strategies towards 2012.

Beyond 6pm – there is a number of additional activities as part of community media week for those who are staying after the event.

Getting there:

From the Phoenix Square website:

“Phoenix Square is located in the centre of Leicester City within the Cultural Quarter. For parking please follow the brown signs marked Curve. The Rutland Centre NCP car park on Halford Street is conveniently located just a few minutes away from Phoenix Square and is open 24 hours a day.

Visit Google maps to plan your trip to Phoenix Square, if you are using a Sat-Nav please enter postcode LE1 1TG.”

“Traveling by bike www.cyclestreets.net
Traveling by bus www.travelineeastmidlands.co.uk
Traveling by foot www.maps.google.co.uk
Traveling by train www.nationalrail.co.uk
Traveling by taxi www.multimap.com”


There is no need to register for this meeting although it would be helpful to the organisers to know who will be coming so we can include discussions on the agenda. Please email me to let us know or for more information. Please follow the twitter account @media_2012 and join the mailing list for more details.”

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PGCert rabble. Thinking about student learning & meta-assessments.

As part of my PGCert, I need to write 500 words on how my current engagement with course/module design has an effect on students’ learning. Originally I was meant to do this on the VLE, straight after the class, but I forgot (naughty student.) but I found out that as long as I post the discussion somewhere that there is opportunity for commentary, it is ok for me to revisit the topic now. Naturally, blogging is probably my preferred choice *anyway*.

The assignment involves me putting together a ‘patchwork’ of three exercises around the theme of student learning. The first ‘patch’ involved me collecting data from students using the “Lancaster Survey” (which, I thought must have been well famous enough to have a wikipedia entry – it doesn’t, given the fact we are not meant to critique the methodology, only write up the responses.) It worked along the lines of asking students to answer questions such as “I tend to read little beyond what is required for assignments.” on a scale of 1-4 (1 disagree-4 agree) and from the results, we can tell how the class as a whole ‘generally’ learns. My results were off the scale, where 12.1 was “normal”, I had scores of 19 and 21, which apparently equates to the subject area I teach, media is creative and therefore we are all wild and rebellious. I also did my survey during the snow week (last week of term at Christmas), which means that I wrote my first patch around the idea that students who are well into their subject area will traipse across Birmingham in snow shoes to talk about Althusser for the love of knowledge. Because those who filled it out had already completed their end of term assignment and turned up because they hadn’t missed a single class, so why start now? Not a complete representation of the class as a whole, by any means. Remember, I cannot challenge the method, only write it up as a ‘fact finding mission’ for my assignment. I would be keen to run the same thing again, only with a full classroom. 

The third “patch” relates to  a response an article on conditions under which assessment support students[.pdf], that I am working on at the moment. It speaks a lot about time required to feedback information, to keep feedback regular and to think about what happens when students are not assessed on coursework (and what the motivation is to prepare ahead before classes.) Although I’m still working through these ideas, much of my own restrictions rely on time and the amount of ‘time’ that the university has budgeted for me to teach.

Currently, I am paid-by-the-hour type teacher, so there is only every going to be a set number of hours in which I will receive payment for the work I do. Nevertheless, still being a student in someway, encourages me to go above and beyond that set time to make sure that the students get responses to their questions, can get brief feedback on their work and I tend to ‘over-write’ feedback on assignments. I am still (just about) of the way that I treat students how I would like to be treated. I am worried, of course, that through the processes of experience and increasingly the act gap between me and those I teach increase (started teaching at university level when I was 23) that I can’t sustain that, especially when I need to make sure I have enough money to pay bills and enough time to complete my PhD.

So maybe it is easier to rely on theory of learning, rather than doing what you think is ‘right.’ There is also going to be that transformative element where the students that I teach beyond my PhD will be those who are taking on the full whack of debt to be in that class room, and will have their own expectations of what I should be giving them as a teacher. I think it is really important for me, if I get the chance to work on my own courses and modules, that a response/solution to this is built into the process. I don’t think I can continue to do what I’m doing, especially when, for instance my first year theory students, through what I thought was a great 13 weeks of critical discussion around new media, still provide consistent neo-liberal style commentary on their student evaluation forms. Too much reading, too hard to understand, what does this have to do with finding a job in the media. Of course I don’t want to give up, and it takes time – especially when I reflect on my own media studies degree and how long it took for me to finally *get* it – but thinking about this stuff in the meta way that a teaching qualifications affords, I’m a little too frightened that some of the things that are taught as ‘solutions’ or as a ‘toolkit’ could end up being the solutions that might just numb me to all this. 

I’ve genuinely found the PGCert useful (although do I bang my head about it on several occasions). It reminds me of my grandpa and his experiences of silver surfer club at the college. He recently began a 6 week course in using a computer and the internet, despite having been given a mac mini 2-3 years, which he’s bumbled along with, working out email and Skype with much pulling teeth. He felt by registering with course (amongst the numerous books he has managed to *buy* off amazon around the subject area) that he would finally be able to work a computer in the same way that “everyone else” all can. He did 3 weeks of windows xp training before giving up. He complained that he didn’t see why he had to learn the things he already knew. It took him to register at a formal course to actually convince him of all the things we had been telling him at the start. That there is no one way to work a computer, that it takes time to learn shortcuts & solutions and the reason why he can’t solve problems by reading a handbook is because it involves a great deal of playing around. I guess it is good to know the formalized structures in order to realize what you do know already – and what you might want to work with in the future.

My real concern is not the exercises like this, which force you to think about the hows and the whys, but some of the elements which are tacked on to fulfil a purpose. The two examples I can think of is the technology one, which I am done ranting about, but through generic exposure, could single handedly be responsible for waves of teachers being scared of playing around, finding their own solutions – nos before the yes, (and being scared of their own inboxes) and the employability one, which starts the session with “what do employers want from graduates?” rather than asking what graduates would like from employers – and negotiating something in between. Simple things install a weird culture.

So – how does my course/module design encourage student learning? Well, on reflection, I need to work harder on making sure that the exercises that I said are done ahead of the class. Perhaps, like I said above, I’ve been too forgiving with things (due my take on my position of ‘authority’) in terms of lateness and not completing classroom activities, but what I forgive at the time is lost when we get to the end of the session and we have to revisit topics which good have been done at the time, in the framework that I set out before the module began. I guess I am scared that if I structure things too much, that I’ll have a room full of students chanting the answers back at me, instead of challenging me or proposing their own interpretation of the discussion. Developing a style that is consistent with the work and own confidence with the process does take time – and I’m spinning plates a bit to try and take in as much as I can in terms of PhD research (which shapes how I look at the world.) so my expectations might be that I’m trying too fast to master the art of education and convinced there is going to be some sort of magical goal point where it will all just work in sync and student’s will just *learn*.

I *think* this is what I need to articulate in my final Unit B piece. What does the internet think? 


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Accepted at the International Olympic Academy (2nd-30th September, 2011)

Below is the abstract that I submitted to the International Olympic Academy Postgraduate Session committee back in March. I recently found out that had been accepted and I would be representing the United Kingdom this September. Stoked. The Postgraduate Session is a four week seminar space (a bit like a summer school) that is dedicated to varies aspects of the Olympic movement and Olympism. It is located in Greece, nearby to the ancient Olympia (where the first games were held) – of course, when I told my mum that I had been given this prestigious opportunity, she said that firstly, I need to work out what to wear (because I am essentially the typical pale and translucent blogger, not used to the sunshine of Greece) and secondly, to behave. Of course I’ll behave! Because it is a good opportunity, new media is rarely explored but very important for the future of the Games and I can’t wait to spend 4 weeks geeking out over my research interests. Having attended the alumni meet up of the IOA participants, it was really nice to be within the small and dedicated group of people who conduct research in this area and to share discussions about all things Olympics. I have heard good things and I am well excited by this opportunity.

So there you go. Roll on September.

18th International Seminar on Olympic Studies for Postgraduate Students

Harnessing the ‘Twitter Olympics’:
The Use of New Media from Vancouver 2010 to London 2012
by Jennifer M. Jones

Recent transformations in media production and delivery demonstrates a model of communication which is seen to shift consumption from a ‘one-to-many’ mass audience paradigm, to a ‘many-to-many’ multi-niche experience. This is characterised by the convergence of broadcast media such as television and newspaper journalism, emerging internet technologies such as access to low-cost computing and mobile equipment and wider adoption of broadband, and trends towards participatory media cultures, signified by user generated content and multiple platform audience experiences (Jenkins, 2006: 2) By creating new kinds of interaction between people, via augmented reality devices and pervasive mobile culture, changes in media participation are allowing audiences to become part of the production process, giving rise to a proposed new power relationship between audiences, broadcasters and journalists.

It is widely understood that the financial implications of the Olympic infrastructure is heavily reliant on the revenue negotiated through the sponsorship from the Olympic program (TOP) and the broadcasting rights of event (IOC Marketing Factfile, 2010: 6). This has remained the case since the IOC’s financial crisis in the 1980s, allowing for corporations carry the bulk of the cost of delivery. Nevertheless, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have taken confident steps towards embracing digital media within their existing communication and media strategies, demonstrated in October 2009, when one of their core themes at the 13th Olympic Congress being devoted to the “Digital Revolution.” Previously, innovation in such areas had been driven by the Olympic partners. For example Samsung’s “Wireless Olympic Works” 1 launched during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, showcasing early advances in mobile internet, designed to help ATHNOC officials and Games organisers to access important, digital information on the move. Similarly, Beijing 2008 was billed as being the first truly digital games, thanks to media partners such as the BBC and NBC, who introduced full online and high definition coverage of the games, revolutionising the way in which the sport was experienced by their audiences. Indeed, it is reasonable to claim that, from Games to Games, sponsors aspire to achieve greater ‘personal bests’, as do the athletes. Yet, the IOC Congress brought the IOC’s work in this area to the foreground. Martin Sorrell’s recommendations towards a digital revolution spoke about the power of improved broadcast quality and reached out to the potential of utilising participatory media (such as social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter) and actively encouraging Olympic fans to recount their experiences of previous games by advising the release of archival clips on video-sharing platforms on YouTube to encourage fan-generated content through remixing and responding.

With the proposed transformation of communication technologies, the media population during games time has diversified. For example, since Sydney 2000, there has been the emergence of host city sponsored, non-accredited media centre providing facilities and access to visiting journalists/bloggers without IOC media accreditation. (Miah, Garcia & Zhihui, 2008: 453) More recently during the Vancouver Winter Olympics, as well as a British Columbia government hosted centre, there were at least three declared independent centres that were acknowledged and formalised prior to the Games, to report stories from within Vancouver and the surrounding region. The space each organisation occupied had differing access to media production facilities, from providing physical space for work and discussions to existing purely online, choosing not to subscribe to physical representation of their institution.

This paper discusses this case and looks specifically at this substantial and online media presence, I use examples of past Games media outputs and combine them with ethnographic stories from Vancouver 2010, along with analysis of the online platforms from several case study groups working as new media collectives during games time. The focus will be on four key organisations, who provided a form of media accreditation throughout the games period: The Vancouver Organising Committee (accredited), The British Columbia Media Centre (non-accredited), W2 Arts and Culture House (independent media centre) and True North Media House (online only, self-accreditation).

I consider two major dimensions of this phenomena. Firstly, it is necessary to explore how those within the case networks identity themselves and with each other, either through the content that they have produced for an online audience or the ways in which they use media rhetoric to strengthen the authority of their reporting and of their position. Second, it is important to assess what opportunities arise through participation as an organised citizen media network, and how this may have an effect on their ability to analysis or critique narratives and events.

Together, this data provides preliminary theoretical assessment of citizen media in the context of media events, which will be used to inform future embedded research toward the coordination of #media2012, a citizen media network for London 2012. Through analysis, questions remain about whether such transference of media power is actually occurring, or whether these stories simply become part of a new cycle that gives them currency. Indeed, it is unclear whether the new communities of ‘citizen reporters’ who are beginning to occupy the privileged position that accredited Olympic media has within the central broadcasts are genuinely transformative of media culture.

IOC (2009) XIII Olympic Congress Theme 5: The Digital Revolution (September 2009) Available at: http://bit.ly/IOCdigitalrevolution [Accessed 14th of March, 2011]
IOC (2010) Olympic Marketing Fact File. Available at http://www.olympic.org/Documents/IOC_Marketing/IOC_Marketing_Fact_File_2010%20r.pdf [Accessed 14th of March, 2011]

Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture: Where New Media and Old Media Collide. New York: New York University Press.

Miah, A., Gracia, B., & Zhihui, T. (2008) We are the Media: Non-Acredited Media Centres in Price, E M. & Dayan, P. (2008) Owning the Olympics: Narratives of the New China. University of Michigan Press: USA: pp 452-488

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Social Media Surgery for @UniWestScotland on 24th May (10-12pm)

Next week is our school’s (Creative and Cultural Industries) showcase week- with a number of undergraduate and postgraduate activities happening and on show at the Centre of Contemporary Arts in Glasgow. As part of this, I’ve decided to run a “social media surgery” for the University on the 24th May (10-12), in order to offer a informal space for staff and students to ask questions/get solutions around social media and web 2.0 within their department and faculty. All I ask is people keep me in black coffee…

Similarly, if anyone wants to help out and volunteer with the surgery, let me know and then they’ll be more of us. And more is fun, right.

“Work or study at the University of the West of Scotland? Puzzled/curious by social media and web 2.0? Do you already have a web site that is difficult or expensive to update? Are you looking for an easier way to promote your teaching/research/admin activities or to share information, photos and videos online? Would you like to know how to use blogs, video clips, photo sharing sites, Facebook, Twitter or other free web tools? Between 10-12pm on the 24th May, 2011 I will be running a informal drop-in session at the CCA offering free advice for those who may wish to blog and promote their work on social media, send a tweet for the first time or help find answers to questions that you may have been too scared to ask. There will also be the opportunity to register with the faculty blogs, learn how to use the group accounts on twitter and facebook to share information online with colleagues.

No prior knowledge required, bring your laptop or just come down for a coffee and a chat.”

There will also be an afternoon event entitled “3x3x3″ where PhD students and research staff will be answering the below question in 3 minutes, followed by discussion and drinks. Should be pretty good.

How are you approaching the relationships between practice and research in your PhD project?”

More details available on the UWS Practice Research blog.

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Hack, Disrupt, Occupy: Some thoughts on what I presented/ranted at #platpol11

I have to admit that I did not know what I was going to say prior to the event. I tend to react to what is being said, which makes me glad that I am presenting near the end of the schedule. To begin I need to talk about my own position as a researcher in order to understand how I have came to this position around the idea of networked politics OR as a researcher in a space where I am a active node in the network. I am concerned about space and how space is considered within the process of being human and the hows and the whys in which we interact with each other. My connections and my routes that I take as a researcher is based on the connections and the offline activities that I participate within. So to understand the context in which I exist within is probably the most important thing in increasing and disseminating my ideas around this space. Blogging (or free writing) or tweeting or letting the inner monologue run wild are a ways that I work out the idea around this area, my work and how I work conflicts with the structures of universities expectations and institutional hierarchies. Similarly, the process of listening to a personalized experience, therefore a twitter feed is a space that cannot be replicated or understood in the same way by anybody else. Although we can see networks, and visualize them with data, we cannot see or experience what that individual is experiencing through that data. We can argue that we are doing it right or we are doing it wrong. We can only speculate.

This is why I am approaching this as somebody has been nourished by the theory and critique that I have been exposed to over the last couple of days at the Platform Politics conference. It has been a worthwhile experience and I am grateful for Joss and Jussi for inviting me to speak – as this was really meant to be a poster. And I don’t know *how* I would be able to convey my work and my workings out on a piece of A0 paper. Not unless it was a picture of a coffee lol

My PhD research is around pre-approved events, situated in a time and space that cannot be changed, therefore everything else has to move for it. Therefore, the purpose and the space of the University in the context of my work plays on my mind throughout the process which should be a structured, linear process of research questions and research results – and within a set time-frame, dictated by funding factors and approval from committees and management, positions in league tables and my own ability to pull in money to support my own research interests (and to cover bills). Similarly, for me to be here [in front of an audience], situated within this space, as a lone voice to many, has political implications and troubles me some what. In fact, I don’t know what it means for me to be in Cambridge. I found myself wandering the streets with a new friend (who I met from my twitter network) until 1am trying to work out what “cambridge” is and what could be done to disrupt the pre-prescribed history of the space. I find myself working within similar external spaces in the same way that my ‘research subjects’ seek hope to find alternatives. I’m involved in cooperative education spaces, much like Michel Bauwen’s philosophy behind the P2P foundation, and I feel that I must *be* within this space, without necessarily knowing the whys behind that justification. Therefore, my paper should be seen as a story or a narrative towards something more, or perhaps an example of where much of the ideas discussed over the timeframe of the conference can be applied, rather than something of theoretical, philosophical or empirical. 

In the context of the Olympic research, the media event theory grounds the analysis of the phenomenon in historical theory (Dayan & Katz, 1994: 35). They are now so big that it is no question that it wont happen, instead it is more how it will go about happening and what messages will be transformed through the media of the Olympics (Dayan, 2008: 392) . Furthermore, the Olympics (and other media events) are used by the media to signify change or transformation. The journalists and broadcast media who cover these events are not inclined to say anything critical or indeed, analytical about the event as they must convey the privilege of being invited to cover the event – if it wasn’t them, it would be another media company that gains access. To be honest, reading about this from a book written in 1994 (having approached my work from a new media background – a story of freedom, alternative democracies.) it surprised me that we still see this in 2011.  I mean, look at the recent display of power displayed through the royal wedding, a media scale of this scale cannot be disrupted. So what can you do?

For me, the Olympics is not about sport. And I guess most people who are at this event can be easily convinced by this idea as well. What I present normally depends on how much pre-ample I need to give about the Olympic Games within the group I am speaking to. It is a powerful brand. It is one of the largest brands in the world, recognised on a global scale and interpreted on a local level. It separates its self from other sporting events because it comes with its own philosophy of Olympism. This philosophy concerns notions such as solidarity, friendship and respect (you get the picture) – which means that everything the Olympic Movement does is apparently done in the name of ‘equality’ (pick a value. any value.) It is hard to knock an event that cares. Or at least that might be what their Olympic Program (TOP)may think (that’s the corporate sponsors by the way.

This makes the phenomena a extra special place to assess as a media scholar. When the media organisations such as NBC which pays 53% of all broadcast revenue, and are suspended in critical analysis (like they ever were in the first place.) what can we make of a institution that can guarantee a location for their event seven years in advance of opening ceremony, securing their message and history in 14 years chunks? What does it say about the society that we live in. These events do not exist in a political vacuum – it might sound nice to talk about solidarity and respect and friendship, but do we feel so cuddly when large groups of people are being displaced from their communities and pots of money for public services are sidelined on behave of a little bit of support. Not to mention how those who challenge, occupy or disrupt that space are treated outside of the media frame. The pre-emptive arrests and removal of facebook groups ahead of the royal wedding should give us an indication of what we might expect during the Games times. That is, if we know where to look…

Similarly, the experiences of being ‘within’ an Olympic city during games time is an opportunity to expose some of these inequalities or alternative perspectives. There are times of great extremity – and make for an environment where particular instances can emerge, where they might not be able to emerge during other circumstances. It is difficult to behave as it if it s ‘business as usual’ and there is nothing usual about a mega event of this nature. It still surprises me how little it took to wipe the surface of the sport and to find something much more interesting and much more frightening under the layer of PR and media coverage.

Yet, to research activism, without encountering the feeling what it means to be active and to be political when what you might uncover has a transformative effect about how you think about the world is something worthy of a headfuck. You are within an area, and therefore a network where the politics that you assess and debate are happening at the very same time, and quite rapidly within your own system. It is impossible to remain outside of it as to be outside of is to never understand what motivates somebody to participate within these online spaces, the hope that people might feel where their messages might get out their to a wider ‘audience’ than their own communities or the optimism subscribed to being able to take a platform and use it in a way that is not often considered to be ‘correct.’

This last year might be the last year where we might be able to discuss this openly. This year might be the last time where we will be able to have these conversations as part of an official stream relating to higher education institutions in the united kingdom. Certainly, having discovered today that I am currently enrolled at the “worst university in Britain” according to the Guardian league tables (something the university hasn’t subscribed to in the past- since becoming UWS) it only makes me wish to use that position to fight harder. My three themes to address will involve hacking, disrupting and occupying – because that is what my research ‘subjects’ might do and the only way to give credit to the spaces and communities in which I study is to learn from them. Would I be allowed to do this at a University that was looking to maintain it’s position as ‘something’ on a list of ‘nothings’ – probably not.

Where I am now has came to me only through being at University and for somebody seeing that I had potential to take on a PhD. I fear, I know, that we might not be able to retain that motivation – and perhaps I will fight a losing battle if it is against filling out my postgraduate ‘satisfaction’ survey (should PhD leave you feeling ‘satisfied’ like a good meal? At least it leaves you a strange form of curious/angry/angsty/anti-social – and I prefer that to ‘satisfied’) or using my PGCert in Higher Education coursework as an excuse to write critical essays about standardisation in the classroom. I would be more depressed if I was to simply tick the boxes. Education should make you feel excited/nervous/angry. 

So, what I suggest, and you don’t have to listen to me, I am just a PhD student – one which will graduate into a space where I have no choice but to support the corruption and decay of the university if I am to exist here in the next 18 months. If I am to be here, I need to have places where I can feel like I can have this conversation, this debate, not feel that I should be ground down into submission. That is why I will stand by my colleagues on the picket line, despite having no permanent contract to speak of, but I will not leave academia when I finish my PhD because one the best ways to fight it (so I hear) is to occupy it from the inside. What I do next? I have no idea. I’m ill and should be in bed. :-) (Although now I have a reading list as long as my to-do list so better get cracking…)



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