The Digital Ethnography Research Centre (DERC) fosters cross-cultural, interdisciplinary and multi-sited research, especially in relation to the Asia-Pacific region. Through research and critical engagement, we collectively seek to push the boundaries and possibilities of ethnographic practice in, through and around digital media. DERC is a research centre in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University, affiliated with the Design Research Institute. Read more about digital ethnography. Sign up for our mailing list.

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Tristan Thielmann Masterclass - Mobile Media: Methodological Considerations and Explorations

Date: September 29th, 10:30am - 1:30pm

Venue: Pavilion 4, Level 10, Building 100 (Design Hub) 3065

Mobile media has changed the way we work and live imperceptibly, but at the same time fundamentally, and present media studies with new challenges. Research in mobile media studies requires inventive methods and practice theories as more and more epistemic, social and material things become networked and smart, as infrastructures are rendered visible, and as digital technologies increasingly become assistive, wearable and context-aware. This master class will unleash the potential for exchanges between media studies, social theory, science and technology studies, and research in mobile human-computer interaction. An interesting concept introduced within this context by some large scale studies on mobile application usage is application chains, where users switch from one application to another in a chain of activity. These “application chains” are essential for our understanding of the streamlined, linear experience of mobile web users today, as the mobile screen experience of smartphones and handhelds is designed to follow a series of visual patterns. In this master class, we will investigate to what extent browsing patterns, such as the launching of applications, the swiping of lists, the logging in and signing up via Facebook, the rotating of content, the searching for locations, and the target-orientated watching through a camera lens, are adapted from older cultural techniques, as proposed by mobile app developers. By this means, we will discuss several kinds of important historical milestones in the development of mobile media technologies in order to pave the way for a better understanding of alleged new media. To this end, the master class will explore how methods of digital ethnography, material socio-technical analysis, and software studies can be used to gain a profound understanding of contemporary media practices.







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Tristan Thielmann Talk - Operative Images: The Pasts and Futures of Locative Media

Date: September 30th, 2:30pm - 4:00pm

Venue: Pavilion 1, Level 10, Building 100 (Design Hub) 3065

Although augmented reality navigation using smart phones or smart glasses appear at first glance to be something completely new, they are in fact based on a very old cultural technique. Virtual travel through pre-recorded spaces can look back at least to the year 1905, when the first attempt at capturing residential streets of select routes in photographs took place. The idea was to make them available as ‘photo-auto guides’, with superimposed textual and pictographic route instructions. Moreover, these guides were designed as ‘ social media’, with empty lines under each photograph allowing the preservation of photo- related memories. The navigation instructions were layered within a series of photographs, as if arrows had been drawn in the dust of the streets. The object of this lecture is photography that is turned into layered operative imagery through inscriptions. These ‘graven images’ are operative in two ways: On the one hand, the presented photographs have been subjected to operative changes through embedding information in their surface; on the other hand, these photographs have been taken and compiled in such a way that they are part of an operative practice: the practice of autonavigation. The material historical ethnography of several used, marked, and tattered photo-auto guides shows that there is a sense of mobility and user-generated operability within layered image-space which challenges our inherited definitional assumptions of location-based photography. Most former approaches to locative media have neglected the changes in objects as they move and circulate through networks and have remained content to trace the lives of objects or humans attached to objects. In these movements, while there are significant translations in cultural form and meaning, the tracked objects maintain an aesthetic integrity. However, what if we take the algorithmic construction of images seriously and dig deeper into the movements within an artifact instead of the artifacts in motion? This lecture demonstrates that locative media using augmented reality always have had qualities that are far more diagrammatic than representational.





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The Art of Play

Date: July 3rd to September 6th

Venue: Centre for Contemporary Photography, 404 George Street, Fitzroy Vic 3065

More details at

Have you ever wondered what games people play in their homes? And whether play practices have changed that much beyond mobile interfaces? And what is the connection between art, games and play?

From cats on lounges playing the Friskers® game on an iPad to old, disused console devices-as-sculptures adorning bedrooms, playful media saturate our lives. These playful objects move in and out of the background of our everyday, reminding us play is integral to wellbeing, being creative and resilient.

In The Art of Play, audiences are invited to consider connections between contemporaryand older forms of playful media. Drawing from a three-year ethnography into Australian households and their use of mobile gaming as part of broader socio-cultural practices, The Art of Play seeks to connect the histories of play by exploring the entanglements between online and offline, and past and present.

Riffing off the highly successful Minecraft game along with older styles of play (such as the material construction of Lego), The Art of Play invites audiences young and old to partake in playful encounters. Audiences can construct their own playful intervention in the space and then capture and share these via their camera phone apps. Each week the audience’s adventures will be printed and continue to fill the wall until the end of the exhibition. The audience collaborates with Playbour Projects. The Art of Play will also consist of a series of play and wellbeing workshops with primary and high school children. These workshops are part of the Young And Well CRC ‘creative and connected’ stream and seek to provide participatory templates developed by young people for young people.


Engaging with religion and the Internet in Indonesia: an autobiographical journey

Date: July 15

Venue: Pavilion 4, Level 10, Building 100 (Design Hub)


In this talk Leo reflects on the relationship between religion, academic discourse and the Internet through his own research trajectory. To this end, the discussion focusses on two projects conducted at my Leo’s home institution: (1) the Indonesian Interfaith Weather Station (IIWS) - an early warning system for interfaith relationships - and (2) the Internet as a religious public sphere in Indonesia.

Leonard Chrysostomos Epafras (PhD, 2012), is a core doctoral faculty in the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies (ICRS), Universitas Gadjah Mada Graduate School, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Presently he is an Endeavour Fellow at the School of Philosophical, Historical, and International Studies (SoPHIS), Monash University. His areas of research interest are inter-religious interaction, Jewish-Muslim interaction in history and Digital Humanities.

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Why We Post

Date: Tuesday June 16th, 6:30 - 7:30pm

Venue: RMIT Europe - Carrer de Minerva 2 08006 Barcelona, Spain


This talk will present the results of a large scale project in digital ethnography. This comprised nine simultaneous 15 month ethnographies in eight countries looking at the use and consequences of social media. The sites vary from a Turkish town on the border of Syria, to the vast migration of rural Chinese into factories, and the rise of Indian IT workers. From towns in Trinidad and south Italy, an English and a Chinese village to new towns for Chilean and for Brazilian workers. The results challenge the conventional way academics often study the internet and new media making universal claims from specific studies on the grounds that that is science. The unusual scale of this project, which will produce eleven volumes of results, has many implications, including an opportunity to rethink the potential dissemination of ethnographic findings, the nature of collaborative and comparative work and a debate over what constitutes a proper anthropological generalisation. But the main focus is on our results. What in the light of this work can we say about contemporary social media and why we post, is there a general history of Facebook, and how in turn can studying social media help us in the larger task of understanding the contemporary world and what it is to be human?

Daniel Miller is Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology at University College London, UK and an Adjunct Professor of Media and Communication at RMIT University (2013-2016) and. He has published 35 books including Digital Anthropology (with H. Horst, eds, Berg, 2012), Tales from Facebook (Polity Press, 2011), Migration and New Media: Transnationalism and Polymedia (with M. Madianou, Routledge, 2011), The Cell Phone: An Anthropology of Communication (with H. Horst, Berg, 2006) and The Internet: An Ethnographic Approach (with Don Slater, Berg, 2000). Other recent books include Blue Jeans (with S. Woodward, University of California Press, 2011), Consumption and Its Consequences (Polity Press, 2012) Stuff (Polity Press, 2009) and Webcam (with Jolynna Sinanan, Polity Press 2014). Professor Miller has received numerous honours in recognition to his contribution to anthropology, including the Henry Lewis Morgan Lectures (the most prestigious lecture series in Anthropology) and the Rivers Memorial Medal awarded by the Royal Anthropological Institute. He is also an Elected Fellow of the British Academy. He and a team of anthropologists are currently carrying out a five-year study of social media funded by the European Research Council.

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Social Media Research Masterclass

Date: Tuesday May 26th, 9:30am-1pm

RMIT City Campus (Room TBC)


Social media may conceptualised as a tool for investigation, a space, an object of study, or a set of practices. This poses both opportunities and challenges for emerging researchers when designing and embarking on ethical and productive research across a range of disciplines. It challenges how we think about who our participants are, what their media practices are, and how we conceptualise our research spaces and the boundaries of our fields and disciplines.

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Public coupling: Imageries of domestic intimacy among Influencers on social media

Date: Wednesday May 13th, 11:30am-1pm

Venue: Pavilion 4, Level 10, Building 100 (Design Hub) - cnr of Swanston and Victoria Streets, RMIT City Campus


In Singapore, young couples who wish to apply for the heavily subsidized public housing, which accommodates over 80% of the national population, have to meet tight stipulations as regulated by the government. At the same time, predominantly female Influencers in the 'lifestyle' genre have increasingly been cast as role models among young people, given the extent of their influence over cohorts of Internet users on various social media platforms since 2005. This presentation draws together these two phenomena to investigate the emerging hyper-publicity of domestic intimacy between young couples as negotiated on social media. It investigates some of the early discourse and imageries staged, circulated, and contested in the life course of a romantic relationship including homemaking in third spaces, the materiality of love tokens, and the spectacle of dating milestones.

Crystal Abidin is pursuing a PhD in Anthropology & Sociology, and Communication & Media Studies at the University of Western Australia, Perth, and was most recently a Visiting Doctoral Fellow at the Media Management and Transformation Center (MMTC) at Jönköping University, Sweden. While Crystal primarily researches Internet culture, her academic interests include gender & sexuality performance and identity, social media commerce, youth uses, and mixed race studies. She has most recently published on disorder and intimacy with technological devices, and the commercial appropriation of Instagram. Crystal can be contacted at

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From Dodgeball to Geotagging: A Locative Media Masterclass with Lee Humphreys

Date: Monday May 11th, 10am-1pm

Venue: Pavilion 4, Level 10, Building 100 (Design Hub) - cnr of Swanston and Victoria Streets, RMIT City Campus


Lee Humphreys’ research aims to understand the impact and role of mobile and social media in the world. To this end, her research can be divided into three main areas: 1) integration of mobile media into everyday life, 2) historicizing mobile and social media, and 3) mobile media and privacy. This masterclass will draw on two of Lee’s readings to discuss the use of mobile media as well as issues of surveillance. The goal of the discussion is to draw connections to various streams of research related to media identity, social interaction, and publicness.

Lee Humphreys is an Associate Professor in Communication at Cornell University. She studies the social uses and perceived effects of communication technology. Recently her research examines historical media practices, everyday conceptions and practices regarding privacy on social media, and cultural differences in mobile social network use. Her research has appeared in such journals as Journal of Communication, New Media & Society, Information, Communication & Society, and the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. With Paul Messaris, she co-edited the book, Digital Media: Transformations in Human Communication (Peter Lang, 2006). She is currently working on a book for MIT Press entitled The Qualified Self: Social media and the cataloging of everyday life. She received her Ph.D. from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania in 2007

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3D Disability: Remaking Digital Technology and Culture

Date: Wednesday May 6th, 11:00am-12:30pm

Venue: Pavilion 4, Level 10, Building 100 (Design Hub) - cnr of Swanston and Victoria Streets, RMIT City Campus


Decades in the making, in recent years 3D printing has emerged on the scene as a sought after and transformational technology. Praised for its versatility and capacity to design and make a wide range of objects, 3D printing has been talked about, and talked up, for its potential to revolutionize manufacturing, logistics, and everyday ‘making’. A common way that 3D printing is represented and talked about involves disability — but as yet it has received little critical attention.

When it comes to 3D printing, what’s still newsworthy — in the tech press blogs, tech lifestyle coverage, as well as in general public affairs — are stories of people (often children) printing their own artificial limbs or hands. Forbes’s T. J. McCue dubs this phenomenon as ‘prosthetics meets printers’ (McCue, 2014). New initiatives have been established to harness the power of online communities, open source designs, distributed 3D printers, and crowd funding to make and distribute prostheses.

3D printing promises to dramatically cut costs of prostheses, a focus of many individual and group efforts, including the Open Hand project ( Other examples include the e-NABLE community (, and 3D Mechanical Hand-Maker Movement, giving away 3D-printed hands and fingers to children in third world countries. 3D printing also features prominently in new directions in disability and technology, such as the exoskeleton, acclaimed in its trials for helping people ‘walk again’. The ‘maker revolution’ often comes with strong claims of broadening and democratising the means of production — redolent of the utopian claims associated with digital technology generally. Such ideas resonate with disability also, including the argument that 3D printing has potential to make ‘making’ accessible (Hurst & Kane 2013). Add to which 3D printing has great scope to customise and personalise disability technology, delivering on the promise that ‘each leg needs to be as unique as its owner’ as US designer William Roots puts it (Flaherty, 2015).

Against this backdrop, how might we recognise and understand the links between 3D printing and disability? Does 3D printing help ‘disability justice’, or just create a smoke screen with ‘cyborg fantasies’ (Beitiks, 2011) — implicated in the creation and policing of narrow notions of normalcy, and different bodies and identities? What are the realities and materialities of people with disabilities’ participation in the new maker cultures of 3D disability (something increasingly raised in relation to gender, race, and class in digital technology and maker movements)? What does 3D disability have us to tell about about the politics and cultures of additive manufacturing that have emerging? How can we find better theories of technology to account for the complexities of disability and culture? How can 3D printing be a resource in imagining disability — and society — differently, given that technology and design is so pivotal to contemporary social life and belonging? And what kind of research — including digital ethnographies — might we articulate and activate for such socio- technical transformations?

Gerard Goggin is Professor of Media and Communications, the University of Sydney (gerard.; @ggoggin). He is also an Australian Research Council Future Fellow, studying disability, digital technology, and human rights. Gerard is widely published on digital technology, including Locative Media (with Rowan Wilken) (2015), Routledge Companion to Mobile Media (2014), Global Mobile Media (2011), and Cell Phone Culture (2006). Gerard has a longstanding interest in disability and media, with books including Disability and the Media (2015; with Katie Ellis), and, with the late Christopher Newell, Disability in Australia (2005), and Digital Disability (2003). With Katie Ellis and Beth Haller, Gerard is editing the Routledge Companion to Disability and Media (2017).

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Configuring Light/Staging the Social: A new research agenda

Date: Thursday March 26th, 4-5pm

Venue: Building 9, Level 3, Room 6, RMIT City Campus


This talk introduces the Configuring Light/Staging the Social project, a multidisciplinary research programme of social science interventions into the configuration of light. Being both critical material and infrastructure for social life, light is registered across a range of urgent contemporary concerns such as environmental issues, health and wellbeing, technological innovation and creative industries, urban planning and regulation as well as aesthetics and heritage. Despite this centrality, light is relatively invisible in social research. Focussing on light as one of the most fundamental features of social life, Configuring Light/Staging the Social aims at forging an integral dialogue between social sciences, design, architecture and urban planning by developing a range of interlinked projects that explore the ways in which light as both material and lived practice is configured into built environments – and with what consequences.

Don Slater is associate professor (Reader) at LSE Sociology and works with Mona Sloane and Joanne Entwistle (Kings Colledge London) on the Configuring Light Programme at LSE Sociology. His research focuses include the relation between culture and economy, ethnographies of new media and digital culture in the third world, and visual culture. Within Configuring Light, he draws on actor-network theory and material culture studies to investigate how light, as a material, is configured into social, technical and spatial forms. He is currently developing a comparative research project on urban lighting in the Global South.

Mona Sloane works on the Configuring Light/Staging the Social research programme as programme manager and researcher. Based at LSE Sociology, she develops new projects for Configuring Light and runs the programme’s wide range of activities. She is also a PhD candidate in LSE Sociology where she holds an LSE scholarship and works and publishes on the sociology of design and urban planning, material culture and aesthetics and economic sociology. Mona holds an MSc in Sociology from the LSE and has a background in communication and cultural management.

This talk is co-sponsored by RMIT's Design Futures Lab.

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Technologies and Cultures of Posthumous Performance

Date: Thursday March 26th, 10:30am-1:30pm

Venue: Building 9, Level 3, Room 6, RMIT City Campus


This workshop will consider various perspectives on posthumous performance (for example, holographic performances that include dead artists such as Michael Jackson or Tupac Shakur). The workshop approaches the posthumous theme from a number of different angles of interest to RMIT staff: sound technology (what are the contours of the long history of reproducing the voices of deceased performers?); visual culture (how is video technology used to bring the dead proximate to the living in performance?); legal frameworks (what are the legal structures and concerns—principally in relation to copyright and trademark law, the right to publicity, and estate law—that condition collaborations between living and dead performers?).

Jason Stanyek teaches at the University of Oxford where he is Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology and Tutorial Fellow at St. John’s College. Before arriving to Oxford he was Assistant Professor at New York University, Visiting Associate Professor at Harvard University, and External Faculty Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center. A primary strain of his research is on music technology. The two-volume Oxford Handbook of Mobile Music Studies (co-edited with Sumanth Gopinath) was published in early 2014 and “Deadness: Technologies of the Intermundane”—co-written with Benjamin Piekut and published in TDR—was given the Association of Theater in Higher Education’s Outstanding Article Award in 2011 and was also named by MIT Press as one of the 50 most influential articles published across all of its journals over the past 50 years. In 2013 he delivered keynotes for two international conferences (“Music, Digitisation, Mediation: Towards Interdisciplinary Music Studies” and “Functional Sounds: The First International Conference of the European Sound Studies Association”). He also frequently writes on Brazilian culture. His research on Brazilian music and dance has appeared in a range of academic journals and edited volumes. He edited an interdisciplinary issue of the journal Critical Studies in Improvisation on Brazilian improvisation and was guest producer of an hour-long radio show called “The Brazilian Diaspora in the United States” for Public Radio International’s programme Afropop Worldwide. An volume on bossa nova (co-edited with Frederick Moehn) and an ethnographic monographic on Brazilian performance in the United States are forthcoming in 2016. He currently serves as Reviews Editor of the Cambridge University Press journal Twentieth-Century Music and as general editor for Bloomsbury’s new series 33 1/3. Brazil, an offshoot of their long-running 33 1/3 series.

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The Sensorization of Listening

Date: Tuesday March 24th, 5:30-6:30pm

Venue: Building 80, Level 2, Room 2 (Swanston Academic Building), Ground Level - Swanston Street, RMIT City Campus


Beginning in the first part of the twentieth century with the portable gramophone and portable tube radio and continuing with the transistor radio, the boombox, the Walkman, the portable CD player, and the iPod, a range of mobile consumer products were developed, all with the primary function of outputting sound to human ears. These were devices that were listened to, actuating a variety of sonic worlds. Over the past 10 years or so, common consumer electronic products have begun to include an increasing number of sensors, and these devices now have the capacity to listen with us, taking in sound and processing it in real-time. Using a few case studies (noise cancelling headphones, music identification apps, activity trackers, wearable music composition interfaces), this paper examines the aesthetic and political ramifications of what might be called “the sensorization of listening.”

Jason Stanyek teaches at the University of Oxford where he is Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology and Tutorial Fellow at St. John’s College. Before arriving to Oxford he was Assistant Professor at New York University, Visiting Associate Professor at Harvard University, and External Faculty Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center. A primary strain of his research is on music technology. The two-volume Oxford Handbook of Mobile Music Studies (co-edited with Sumanth Gopinath) was published in early 2014 and “Deadness: Technologies of the Intermundane”—co-written with Benjamin Piekut and published in TDR—was given the Association of Theater in Higher Education’s Outstanding Article Award in 2011 and was also named by MIT Press as one of the 50 most influential articles published across all of its journals over the past 50 years. In 2013 he delivered keynotes for two international conferences (“Music, Digitisation, Mediation: Towards Interdisciplinary Music Studies” and “Functional Sounds: The First International Conference of the European Sound Studies Association”). He also frequently writes on Brazilian culture. His research on Brazilian music and dance has appeared in a range of academic journals and edited volumes. He edited an interdisciplinary issue of the journal Critical Studies in Improvisation on Brazilian improvisation and was guest producer of an hour-long radio show called “The Brazilian Diaspora in the United States” for Public Radio International’s programme Afropop Worldwide. An volume on bossa nova (co-edited with Frederick Moehn) and an ethnographic monographic on Brazilian performance in the United States are forthcoming in 2016. He currently serves as Reviews Editor of the Cambridge University Press journal Twentieth-Century Music and as general editor for Bloomsbury’s new series 33 1/3. Brazil, an offshoot of their long-running 33 1/3 series.

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From “the player” to “the crowd”: Locating the subjects of a digital ethnography

Date: December 17th (1pm-4pm) & 18th (10am-4pm)

Venue: Pavilion 4, Level 10, Building 100, Design Hub, RMIT City Campus


This workshop will explore how we might approach our digital ethnographic work in ways that upend easy notions of the individualized subject. It will explore methodologies for analyzing distributed systems, doing ethnography up close and at scale, and probe how we might weave in considerations of institutions, organizations, and technologies as key nodes of inquiry critical for our work. The workshop will be structured around shared readings and discussion, the presentation of works in progress by the participants, and two lecturers – one by T.L. Taylor (MIT) on ethnography and play and one by Mary L. Gray (Microsoft Research) on ethnography and work.

Mary L. Gray is a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research, New England. She maintains an appointment as an Associate Professor in the Media School, with adjunct appointments in American Studies, Anthropology, and Gender Studies, at Indiana University. Mary studied Anthropology before receiving her Ph.D. in Communication from the University of California, San Diego in 2004. Her research looks at how media access and everyday uses of technologies transform people’s lives. Her last book, Out in the Country: Youth, Media, and Queer Visibility in Rural America (New York University Press, 2009), which won awards from scholarly societies in anthropology, media studies, and sociology, looked at how young people in the rural United States use media to negotiate their sexual and gender identities, local belonging, and connections to broader, imagined communities. Mary’s current book project, co-authored with Computer Scientist Siddharth Suri, examines digital workforces and the future of employment through case studies of present day crowdwork on four different crowdsourcing platforms, comparing workers’ experiences in the United States and India. More information about the project can be found at: Mary served on the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association from 2008 through 2010 and is the Executive Program Chair for the Association’s 113th Annual Meeting.

T.L. Taylor is Associate Professor in Comparative Media Studies at MIT. She is a qualitative sociologist working in the fields of internet and game studies. Her work focuses on the interrelations between culture, social practice, and technology in online leisure environments. Her book Raising the Stakes:E-Sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming (MIT Press, 2012) chronicles the rise of e-sports and professional computer gaming. She is also the author of Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture (MIT Press, 2006) which used her multi-year ethnography of EverQuest to explore issues related to massively multiplayer online games. Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: A Handbook of Method, her co-authored book on doing ethnographic research in online multi-user worlds, was published by Princeton University Press. She is currently at work on a book about game live-streaming.

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Lino Lizards & Carpet Dwellers: lessons learnt in/out of Silicon Valley

Date: December 17, 11:30am - 12:30pm

Venue: Pavilion 1, Building 100 (Design Hub), RMIT, City Campus


For the last 15 years, Genevieve Bell has made her way up through the ranks of one of America’s largest technology companies. She is one of a small number of women who have succeeded in Silicon Valley, and one of an even smaller number of social scientists. In this talk, Bell reflects on her time working beyond the academy, and on lessons learnt.

Genevieve Bell is an accomplished anthropologist and researcher who has spent the better part of the last 15 years working in Silicon Valley. A senior leader at Intel Corporation, she is a Vice President and director of Corporate Sensing and Insights in the company’s newly formed Corporate Strategy Group. She is also Intel Fellow, the company’s highest technical rank. In addition to her position at Intel, Bell is a highly regarded industry expert and frequent commentator on the intersection of culture and technology. Bell’s first book, “Divining a Digital Future: Mess and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing,” written in collaboration with Paul Dourish, was published by MIT Press in 2011; she is currently working on a project around fear, magic and technology. Bell holds a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree in anthropology from Bryn Mawr College and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Stanford University, where she was also a lecturer.

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Everyday Adventures in the Land of the Living

Date: December 16th, 10am

Venue: Level 3, Room 12, Emily McPherson Building (Corner of Russell and Elizabeth Streets)


Ethnography can be understood as simultaneously a fieldwork science::documentary art in the way it attempts to address fundamental questions about human existence but grounds these in the everyday lives of persons in different societies across the world. It employs practical research methods in the field to generate new knowledge about human beings and is largely a text based discipline that relies upon written accounts and arguments—and to a lesser extent film, photography, sound recordings, drawings and material artifacts—to document and communicate its theories and findings to academic and non academic audiences. Consequently, this presentation will draw on recent classic and experimental works that have been produced under the rubiric of the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology, including film and sensory ethnography, experimental and multi-media works, photo essays and graphic art, sound and voice research, performative methods and ethnofiction.

Andrew Irving is Director of the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology at the University of Manchester. His research areas include sensory perception, time, illness, death, urban anthropology and experimental methods, film and multi-media. Recent publications from 2014 include “Whose Cosmopolitanism?” (2014: Berghahn Books), "Beyond Text: Critical Practices and Sensory Anthropology” (2014: Manchester University Press). Other works in 2014 include “The Man Who Almost Killed Himself” a play in collaboration with Theatre Director Josh Azouz that was shown on BBC Arts, at the Odeon Cinemas and the Edinburgh Fesitval, and which can be seen here:

Brought to you on behalf of Screen Cultures and the Digital Ethnography Research Centre.

Geert Lovink Masterclass: Issues in Critical Internet Studies

Date: December 15 & 16, 10am-6pm

Venue: RMIT City Campus (Room TBC)

Applications now closed.

Geert Lovink returns to RMIT to facilitate a two-day Critical Internet Cultures Masterclass in the School of Media and Communication. Divided into six sessions, the masterclass will engage a myriad of topics including: the state of arts net criticism; critical social media research; cultures of searching; Wikileaks-Anonymous-Snowdon and other net activist strategies; revenue models for the arts (from crowdfunding to bitcoin); book 2.0 and digital publishing strategies; Wikipedia research and; the politics and aesthetics of online video. The masterclass includes a 20 minute, one-on-one conversation in which individual research proposals can be discussed. Participant places are strictly limited.

Geert Lovink is a Dutch media theorist and net critic. He received his PhD from the University of Melbourne and worked at the University of Queensland as a postdoc. In 2004 he became a researcher at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, where he is founding director of the Institute of Network Cultures. Lovink is author of Dark Fiber (2002), My First Recession (2003), Zero Comments (2007) and Networks without a Cause (2012). Since 2004 his institute has organized (online) publications, conferences and research networks on emerging topics in critical internet culture such as search, social media, Wikipedia, online video and the critique of the creative industries (recent conference: November 20/21 2014 in Amsterdam. URL: He is also Professor at the European Graduate School where he supervises PhD students and an Advisory Board member of the Digital Ethnography Research Centre.

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Collective design, utopias lost and futures made by Pelle Ehn

Date: December 9th, 6-8pm. Please arrive at 5.45pm for a prompt 6pm start.

Venue: RMIT Design Hub, Lecture Theatre (Level 3), corner of Swanston and Victoria St, Melbourne.

RSVP: All welcome.

Pelle Ehn has been instrumental in establishing the field of Participatory Design (PD), which was born out of movements towards democratization at work in Scandinavia, and the belief that those affected by the introduction of new technology should have a say in the design process and joint decision-making. His work spans over four decades and he still continues to be a leading light in related fields like User Experience, Interaction design and more recently in Service Design.

The lecture will be followed by a panel discussion with Pelle, joined by Ann Light (Northumbria University, UK), Paul Dourish (University of California, Irvine, US) and Anne Galloway (Victoria University of Wellington, NZ).

Pelle Ehn is a professor at the School of Arts and Communication, Malmö University, Sweden. He has committed four decades in the field of research on participatory planning and design. His research projects include: DEMOS from the seventies on information technology and work, UTOPIA eighties on user participation, and during the last years MALMÖ LIVING LABS, design workshops for social innovation. His publications include Computers and Democracy (1987), Work-Oriented Design of Computer Artifacts (1988), Manifesto for a Digital Bauhaus (1998), co-author of Design Things – an Innovative View of Design Thinking and Design Practice (2011) and Making futures – marginal notes on innovation design and democracy (2014).

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Digital Ethnography and Spain's indignados movement: research challenges and opportunities

22 October, 2014

Since 2011 we have witnessed a long series of waves of protest and mobilisation in many parts of the world, with the Arab Spring, Spain’s indignados, Occupy Wall Street and more recent events in Turkey, Brazil or Hong Kong as some of the better known examples. In this talk we draw from ongoing ethnographic research in Spain to explore the digital media dimensions of the Spanish indignados (15M) movement, with particular reference to (a) the leading role played by internet activists and (b) the movement’s potential for civic education and political change. We also discuss some of the methodological challenges and opportunities involved in the ethnographic study of rapidly changing, digitally mediated social movements.

John Postill is a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Media and Communication and a member of the Digital Ethnography Research Centre at RMIT University.  He is currently co-editor of the Anthropology of Media series (Berghahn) and on the editorial board of Anthropology Today published by the Royal Anthropological Institute. He is a member of the Association of Internet Researchers, the European Association of Social Anthropologists and the Media Anthropology Network. Contact: Webpage: media/anthropology

Angel Barbas is a PhD candidate at Spain's National Distance Education University (UNED) where he was awarded a scholarship in 2012. His project is an investigation into new communication practices among Spain's indignados (15M) movement. He is currently visiting RMIT for two months in order to work with Dr John Postill on this topic. Contact:

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Digital Ethnography Design Workshop

9th October 2014

How do ethnographers engage with the changing form of culture as it becomes increasingly mediated by digital ethnology? This workshop explores emerging digital methods for collecting, analyzing, visualizing, and narrativizing ethnographic materials. In the first hour, Wendy will introduce the utility of digital tools and computational approaches – including webscraping, mapping, and visualization – for ethnographic inquiries. Drawing empirical examples from her research on Asian American musicians’ digital diaspora and the street music-culture in Taiwan, Wendy will discuss the affordances (and limitations) of the digital extensions of participant-observation. The second hour of the workshop will be a speculative research design lab where participants collectively explore touch points with the digital in the participants’ own research processes and come up with potential research designs.

Wendy Hsu is an ethnographer, musician, and community arts organizer who engages with multimodal research and performance practices informed by music from continental to diasporic Asia. Her work engages with Nakashi street music-culture in postcolonial Taiwan and practices of music and mobility of Taipei’s urban underclass. She has published on Taqwacore, Asian American indie rock, Yoko Ono, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Bollywood, and digital ethnography. As an ACLS Public Fellow, Dr. Hsu currently works with the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. Bringing together her research and arts organizing experiences, Hsu is working to rethink and design DCA’s information and data paradigms with a goal to augment the department’s digital relevance and public engagement. An active performer, Dr. Hsu is a founding member of ethnographic ghost pop band Bitter Party, vintage Asian rock band Dzian!, improvised music trio Pinko Communoids, and Yoko-Ono-inspired noise duo Grapefruit Experiment. She also co-founded engaged innovations collective Movable Parts and experimental music group HzCollective. Website:

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Design + Ethnography + Futures workshop 4: Speculative design through food

22nd September 2014

Eating keeps us alive, but also necessitates the death of other organisms. In our urbanised living, many of us are removed from the birth and death of the majority of the things we eat. But what if we could design a 'zero food miles' system filled with organisms that we could grow and kill ourselves, in our own homes? Join us for a workshop with chef and ex-DERC member Helen Addison-Smith, where we work, think and eat our way through speculative food design. She will lead us through a 3hr workshop through making, sharing and eating food as a way to explore some of the deeper questions that confronts as well as motivate what we do. Be prepared to get your hands dirty, challenge your personal boundaries through intimate eating, and learn from an 'ethnography of ingestion' that may offer new ways of thinking and doing! Please bring something alive and also edible to share.

As with all of our Design + Ethnography + Futures workshops, this is not a 'how to do design ethnography' methods workshop or one that seeks to impart knowledge. We invite you to enter it with as few pre-conceived ideas as possible, including expectations for this workshop to achieve predefined outcomes. What you make and take away is therefore, entirely up to you+us. As such, we invite you to try and be comfortable with the random, experimental, improvisatory nature of uncertainty and let the process of discovery unfold ;-)

This event is supported by the Digital Ethnography Research Centre, Design Futures Lab and the Design Research Institute.

Onlife ethnography: researching technologically mediated worlds

August 20, 2014

Edgar’s paper will be divided in two parts. The first part will present some general thoughts about digital ethnography by reflecting on his fifteen years of experience doing ethnographic work with digital objects of enquiry. The second part engages with what Edgar terms onlife ethnography - a concept that is meant to elucidate the complexities at the heart of doing research with digital technologies and their users. The paper is underpinned by two research projects: digital photography practices between 2008 and 2010 in Barcelona and Oxford, and Edgar’s latest fieldwork with young users of ‘Studio 12’, a media initiative dedicated to working with 16-30 year olds out of education and employment. The Studio 12 ethnography is the first of three discrete ethnographic projects about screen cultures. Drawing on the data gathered across these projects, this talk will focus on the role of the ethnographer in mediated settings, the construction of the field and object, ethical decisions and the tools used to gather, analyse and present data. Here, Edgar will argue that the concept of onlife ethnography is a useful tool to grasp the complexities of contemporary ethnographic fieldwork with digital topics.

Edgar Gomez Cruz is a Research Fellow at the School of Media and Communication at the University of Leeds. He has published widely on a number of topics relating to digital communications, particularly in the areas of digital photography, digital culture, ethnography and visual culture. His recent publications include the book (in Spanish) From Kodak Culture to Networked Image: An Ethnography of Digital Photography Practices, and several articles on digital photography and ethnography. Edgar’s current research investigates screen cultures and creative practice, which is funded through a RCUK digital economy grant.

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Spatial Dialogues

Date: July 18 - August 14, 2014

Spatial Dialogues is a project that seeks to draw attention to the rising global tensions over water by extending our sense of urban space to include the regional and global ecologies upon which cities are dependent. The artists and cultural theorists on this team see water not only as a significant, contestable resource, but also as an element essential to all life and, as such, replete with deep cultural values frequently overlooked in the expedience of everyday urban life. The three key cities in the project occupy quite different environmental contexts and arise from diverse historical legacies. Yet these three portal cities also have things in common, and the Melbourne team aims to connect with artists in Shanghai and Tokyo to explore how water prevails as something crucial to us all. In these ways the team seeks common ground through social network systems for a dialogue on global environmental questions and the adaptation to climate change. The project is based at RMIT University in Melbourne, and has received substantial support from two major Australian companies: Grocon, Australia’s leading privately owned development and construction group, and Fairfax Media– one of Australia’s largest diversified media companies. These companies have joined with the RMIT team as part of their aim to actively engage the public in civic dialogue on contemporary environmental questions that affect us all. The Spatial Dialogues project was awarded a category one research grant by the Australian Research Council.


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Myths of the Near Future: Social Experiences Mediated by Phone

Wednesday 11 June

More than ever, people live through and are mediated by mobile phones. Via collective storying, an ethnographic method in design, this workshop will open the phone as a mediated collective zone where participants share stories about changing social interactions and how mobile phones are implicated in these changes. A pre-workshop activity involves shadowing a friend using their mobile phone. In the workshop, we’ll discuss what we saw in the shadowing experience and describe our own phone usage over the previous week. These activities will inform some collective storying about phones. The second half of the workshop offers the opportunity to develop visual narratives with found photos and/or collaboratively create photos of mediated moments with the phone. By interacting with and composing found materials the photos can make legible selected mobile interactions, and the fleeting emotions they invoke. In other words, the workshop collects and produces narratives about mobile phones and images the emotional landscapes they trigger. It will explore how the phone is the prompt and the subject/evidence of our social activity/mediated communication, and maybe even our sole design instrument.

This workshop will be led by Katherine Moline, College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales. Katherine’s research on experimental practices in art and design is published in journals such as Studies in Material Thinking and Craft and Design Enquiry, and can be found in exhibitions she has curated, including ‘Connections: Experimental Design’ and the forthcoming ‘Feral Experimental’ at Galleries UNSW.

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Indigenous digital creativity and storytelling

Tuesday 6 May

This symposium will look at two case studies of how digital technology acts as a medium for indigenous creativity and connection.

Miyarrka Media curator and co-founder, Jennifer Deger, will talk about the challenges and possibilities of the Gapuwiyak Calling exhibition, which was presented by a new media collective based in the community of Gapuwiyak in northern Australia. Inspired by the ways that mobile phones have generated a new era of indigenous media and art practice, this exhibition aimed to do more than simply collect and display Yolngu phone-made material as cultural artefacts: the aim was to activate the performative aesthetics and poetics of Yolngu phone media in a museum setting.

Fran Edmonds’ paper will discuss a recent pilot digital storytelling project conducted with a group of Aboriginal young people in Melbourne’s inner north. The project included young people working with older Aboriginal community members, with an Aboriginal artist and with a filmmaker, to create their own stories using a range of digital technology and multimedia. The project enabled Aboriginal youth to reveal their expertise in manipulating and controlling digital media, including mobile devices, for their own purposes. However, while these young people, like youth generally, displayed high levels of digital literacy, this project demonstrated that ‘not all media ecologies are equal’.

Jennifer Deger is an anthropologist, filmmaker and curator.  Currently an ARC Future Fellow and Tropical Leader at the Cairns Institute, James Cook University, Deger has worked with Yolngu in Australia’s northeast Arnhem Land on collaborative video and art projects for almost twenty years.  She is the author of Shimmering Screens: Making Media in an Aboriginal Community (University of Minnesota Press, 2006).

Dr Fran Edmonds is an ethnographer, with an interest in the history and anthropology of Australian Aboriginal culture. Fran is a member of the Research Unit in Public Cultures, and is currently the research fellow on the Australian Research Council Linkage Project, Aboriginal young people in Victoria and Digital Storytelling, which is partnering with Australian Centre for the Moving Image, VicHealth and Sista Girl Productions.

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The Prosaic Image: Cultural Patterns in Ubiquitous Media Use

Thursday 17 April

This paper will outline the research approach to a recently completed project on ubiquitous media use in Hong Kong, focusing especially on camera phone images, describing an approach that draws upon ethnographic method, visual analysis and pattern recognition in order to identify significant transformations in vernacular image uses and content in ubiquitous devices.

The presentation will suggest the significance of these changes as an instance of a specific everyday creativity (a 'general aesthesia') that transcends the designed uses of devices, pinpointing what Mark Weiser referred to as the overlooked ‘non-technical part of what ubiquitous computing is all about’. This, as Weiser saw it, has profound implications for the design of technology. The research argues that ubiquitous media and user-created content establish a new perception of the world that can be called ‘particulate vision’, involving a different relation to reality that better represents the atomization of contemporary experience especially apparent in social media.

Helen Grace is an artist who has been active in cinema, photography, cultural studies and education in Australia and Asia for 30 years and is widely published. After many years teaching at the University of Western Sydney and UTS, she moved to Hong Kong in 2006 where she established the successful MA Programme in Visual Culture Studies at Chinese University of Hong Kong – the first programme of its kind in Hong Kong.

For the last two years she has been a Visiting Professor at National Central University in Taiwan and has just returned to Australia. Her work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Art Gallery of South Australia and the Art Gallery of Western Australia as well as private collections. She authored the CD-ROM, Before Utopia: A Non-Official Prehistory of the Present (2000) andco-authored Home/World: Space, Community and Marginality in Sydney’s West (Pluto Press, 1997). She edited the collection Aesthesia and the Economy of the Senses (UWS, 1996), and co-edited Planet Diana: Cultural Studies & Global Mourning (1997). Her new book, Culture, Aesthetics and Affect in Ubiquitous Media: The Prosaic Image (Routledge, 2014) has just been published.

How we do ethnography: digital worlds

Tuesday 29 April

This symposium will look at two case studies of ethnographic research concerning the production and consumption of digital technologies.

Jo Tacchi will speak about the Digital Rhythms project, and how an ethnographic approach is being applied in a study into the way that digital media and technology is transforming the lives of everyday Australians. Conducted by researchers from DERC in collaboration with KPMG, the project is revealing the kind of insights that are not possible through more common market research approaches such as surveys. Jo will discuss some of these insights into the ways in which digital media and content is used across diverse households. The research explores some of the ways that people of different ages and backgrounds think and feel about how digital media is changing the way that they live and their relationships with others.

Debora Lanzeni will discuss her research for the Smart City project which examines the various labs that are producing new technologies such as Internet of Things, Sensors and 3D printing both in companies and makerspaces in Barcelona. Situated at the intersection of design, anthropology and innovation (Suchman 2012), this project will explore how ethnographic research can elucidate the ideas various social actors have about what they do/make, definitions of innovation and visions about the future.

Jo Tacchi is a Professor in the School of Media and Communication, and Director of Research in the College of Design and Social Context. She is an expert in media anthropology and communication for development and has developed innovative uses of ethnography for applied research, including ethnographic action research ( Tacchi’s early media ethnography of radio and domestic soundscapes remains one of a few fully-fledged ethnographic accounts of media audiences. Her recent publications include Evaluating Communication for Development: A Framework for Social Change (Oxford: Routledge, 2013).

Debora Lanzeni is a PhD candidate and junior researcher at IN3 (Internet Interdisciplinary Institute) Program of Knowledge and Information Society. An anthropologist by training, Debora’s research focuses upon understanding how digital technology and its processes of creation, imagination and production are being made from an ethnographic perspective. She is interested in material culture and moral order. She is also a trained filmmaker, and works with visual and digital anthropology.

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Spaces of Innovation - connections, lines and collaborations

Date: 3 April 2014

Creative spaces driven by citizenship and institutions blossom all over around the world. Urban labs, City labs, FabLabs, Hackerspaces, Makerspaces, co- workings, hubs and so on, are the new centers where people converge to think, create, make, experience, participate and share knowledge in the cities that they dwell. This is a new setting where the dynamic of creation is much more intertwined with the social everyday life, thus unfolding non-traced innovation paths. A context in which, from relations in movement, emerge new qualities that are not defined so far. These qualities could be envisioned as a place/space from where we think up open futures.

In this workshop we aim to connect, reshape and rehearse different ways to draw a space revolving to make togetherness, innovation and permanence. We will explore this through playful practices with yarn, wires and mental networks. Because the lines are the trails along which life is lived and novelty occurs.

This workshop will be led by Elisenda Ardèvol and Débora Lanzeni, from the Mediaccions Research Group at the UOC, Barcelona. It will be supported by the Design Futures Lab, the Digital Ethnography Research Centre and the Design Research Institute.

Emergence of Game Culture: a Case Study of Diablo III

Date: 10 April 2014

Come see our visiting scholar, Héctor Puente Bienvenido from the Complutense University of Madrid (Spain), talk about his massive digital ethnography of Diablo III. Héctor holds a Bachelor Degree in Sociology (with honours) and a Master´s Degree in Methodology of Research in Social Sciences. Since 2009 he has carried out research on game studies and game culture, cultural emergence in video games, players, styles of play and applied methodology of research (virtual ethnography). He has been visiting Scholar in Georgia Institute of Technology (GaTech, USA) and IT University of Copenhagen (Denmark). Find out more about Hector.

Research innovation in Digital Culture in the EU context: some notes from the ethnographic field

Date: 17 March 2014

Digital culture, like other “things” we do with bits, is at the core of our contemporary societies. Digital technologies are usually thought as the motor for innovation, economic development and social change, and the role of Social Sciences in this complex and dynamic panorama tends to be located in the analysis of the impact of these technologies in society. However, digital culture also is about doing things in a particular way: participation, co-creativity, sharing and remixing are some of the key elements that, rooted in p2p production and free software practices, are shaping contemporary cultural production. To explore this milieu, Elisenda Ardévol will look at the ‘Free Culture’ movement in Barcelona.

‘Free Culture’ is a globally based Internet movement inspired by Lawrence Lessig that advocates for the neutrality of the net and its basic structure (end-to-end and openness) as key principles for cultural creativity and innovation. Free Culture mobilizes people in the ‘creative class’ and generates different local events, such as the annual Free Culture Forum, the Creative Commons Film Festival or the Mini Maker Faire in Barcelona, which attract participants all over Europe and abroad. Instead of trying to understand this ‘participatory culture’ in terms of new hybrid figures or as a clash of ‘grass-roots´ and ‘market’ models, Ardévol will propose an ethnographic perspective that takes into account motivations, moral values and hopes that are put into play in and through their creative and sharing practices. Finally, Ardévol will connect these explorations with some reflections about the current debate in Europe around research innovation, digital media and citizen engagement.

Elisenda Ardévol, Associate Professor at the Department of Arts and Humanities, at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. Her main research lines are related with digital culture, visuality and media in everyday life. Currently, she is exploring creative processes and collaborative practices in digital media.

Masterclass: Writing up research for multiple audiences

Date: 18 March 2014

Scholars are called upon to share research findings with multiple audiences. Most of us strive to present our work in academic conferences and to publish in scholarly journals. But we are also called upon to write grant proposals for funding agencies and to discuss our findings with members of a broad public. What we write and speak about can shape agendas for policymakers and can provide a catalyst for journalists and opinion leaders who want to reframe popular discourse. Sometimes, these audiences do not understand the tensions involved in data analysis and we are asked to share our findings before we feel fully confident in doing so. The environment of digital and mobile media further adds to the stress of the timely demand for research. In an era of digital sharing, we are able to provide our colleagues with versions of our work through blogs and other means before we feel that our analyses are “fully baked”.

When and with whom are we to share our research? And how might scholarly arguments change over time in relation to the shifting environments in which we as scholars find ourselves? This master class is led by Professor Lynn Schofield Clark and Senior Research Fellow Heather Horst, both of whom have extensive experience in publishing and speaking for a wide range of audiences. The class is designed to explore dilemmas related to the processes of writing up research in relation to the shifting environments in which those of us in higher education find ourselves today. Because we are both qualitative researchers, we are particularly attentive to the challenges of writing up and sharing qualitative research, although many challenges of writing are shared across research paradigms. We invite participants to bring research projects at various stages of development for the discussion of how, when, and with whom research might be shared, and for what ends.

Lynn Schofield Clark is Professor in the Department of Media, Film, and Journalism Studies and Director of the Estlow International Center for Journalism and New Media at the University of Denver. In 2014, she is serving as a Visiting Fellow with the Digital Ethnography Research Center at RMIT, and as Visiting Professor at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. Her publications include The Parent App: Understanding Families in a Digital Age and From Angels to Aliens: Teenagers, the Media, and the Supernatural.

Required readings:

  • Umberto Eco, “Reincarnation, translation and adventure” in On Becoming a Writer.
  • Henry A. Giroux (2000) "Public Pedagogy as Cultural Politics: Stuart Hall and the Crisis of Culture". Cultural Studies, 14:2, 341-360.
  • Mimi Thi Nguyen on establishing a digital reputation as a new form of academic labor.

Recommended Readings:

  • Academics and managing online reputations.
  • Kristoff’s column.
  • Response to Kristoff and academics engagement with the public.
  • Stuart Hall.

Lynn’s visit is sponsored by the RMIT Foundation International Visiting Fellowship.

Dr Heather Horst is a Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Digital Ethnography Research Centre in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University. An anthropologist by training, Heather’s research focuses upon understanding how digital media, technology and other forms of material culture mediate relationships, communication, learning, mobility and our sense of being human. Her books examining these themes include The Cell Phone: An Anthropology of Communication (Horst and Miller, Berg, 2006), Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with Digital Media (Ito, et al. 2010, MIT Press) and, most recently, Digital Anthropology (Horst and Miller, Eds., 2012, Berg). Her current research explores the emergence of new mobile media practices such as mobile money and locative media across the Asia-Pacific region.

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Intimate Arrangements in Urban Gay Scenes: framing sex via online hook-up devices

Date: 13 March 2014

A presentation by Associate Professor Kane Race, Chair, Department of Gender and Cultural Studies, University of Sydney.

Over the past two decades online cruising sites have become part of the sexual infrastructure of gay life in many locations. Since 2009 their capacities have been extended by the introduction of geo-locative applications such as Grindr. This paper considers how certain functions of these online hook-up devices are participating in the emergence of new forms of sexual relation, new distributions of intimacy and new sexual arrangements. Kane will argue that online hook-up devices generally act in gay culture as ‘framing devices’, framing sex as a ‘no-strings’ encounter via their default application. But these frames are variously rejected, reconfigured, re-embedded or confounded by participants; they become subject to various forms of overflowing. Understanding this dynamic – its typical forms of connection and estrangement – is pivotal for grasping the emergence of new forms of sexual community and new sexual publics among gay men – and/or ‘un-community’, as some have put it. Kane’s analysis prompts a series of methodological reflections wrought from the encounter it stages between queer theory and Science and Technology Studies. He will discuss how STS promotes a non-deterministic approach to identity while extending this premise to the performance of non-human actors.

Kane Race’s work has explored embodied engagements with medicine across various different contexts and cultures of consumption: HIV/AIDS; sexual practice; drug use (both licit and illicit); and more recently, markets in bottled water. He is the author of Pleasure Consuming Medicine: The Queer Politics of Drugs (Duke University Press, 2009), and (with Gay Hawkins and Emily Potter), Plastic Water (MIT Press, forthcoming). As part of an ARC Discovery Grant on Changing Spaces of HIV Prevention, he is currently exploring the use of online hook-up devices within gay culture, focusing on their participation in emergent subjectivities, sexual practices, and distributions of intimacy


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Public Lecture: The Parent App: Understanding Families in a Digital Age

Date: 11 March 2014


How is family life changing as digital and mobile media create opportunities for both more connection and for more interruption? In this talk that is designed for parents, educators, and policymakers as well as scholars, Professor Lynn Schofield Clark discusses interviews and observations she’s conducted with U.S. parents and children over the past ten years that are discussed in her book, The Parent App: Understanding Families in a Digital Age. Drawing upon her research and recent work in the sociology of the family, she discusses the fact that families experience the risks and opportunities associated with new technologies in ways that echo the increasing stratification in the U.S. and the western world along the lines of race, class, and gender. She also considers how emergent patterns of parenting that emphasize flexibility, interconnectedness, and non-hierarchical relationships seem to echo the affordances of these technologies themselves – and may suggest a way forward for our families and for our societies.

Lynn Schofield Clark is Professor in the Department of Media, Film, and Journalism Studies and Director of the Estlow International Center for Journalism and New Media at the University of Denver. In 2014, she is serving as a Visiting Fellow with the Digital Ethnography Research Center at RMIT, and as Visiting Professor at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

Clark is author of The Parent App: Understanding Families in a Digital Age (Oxford University Press, 2012), From Angels to Aliens: Teenagers, the Media, and the Supernatural (Oxford University Press, 2005, winner of the Best Scholarly Book Award from the National Communication Association’s Ethnography division), and coauthor of Media, Home, and Family (Routledge, 2004). She also edited Media, Religion, and the Marketplace (Rutgers U Press, 2007) and coedited Practicing Religion in the Age of the Media (Columbia University Press, 2002) and has served as a guest editor for numerous journal special issues. She also serves as a blogger contributor at Psychology Today.

Lynn’s visit is sponsored by the RMIT Foundation International Visiting Fellowship.

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Patchworking Publics-in-the-Making: Design, Media and Public Engagement

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Date: 11 February 2014

Åsa Ståhl, from media and communication studies at the School of Arts and Communication at Malmö University, Sweden, will present the collaborative practice-led interdisciplinary thesis that she has written together with interaction designer Kristina Lindström. As answers to calls for new ways of knowing, in social science and interaction design, the two have developed the concept patchworking, which they describe as interventionist, collaborative, staying with and writing together across disciplines. In relation to their artwork Threads – a mobile sewing circle, where participants are invited to embroider text messages, they have developed the concept publics-in-the-making, which in short implies publics that come out of making things together, and that issues, relations, actors and more are not pre-given but in the making. The thesis Patchworking Publics-in-the-Making: Design, Media and Public Engagement can be downloaded at

Åsa Ståhl is an artist and a researcher who has, in her decade-long interdisciplinary collaboration with Kristina Lindström, through artworks such as Threads – a mobile sewing circle and UNRAVEL/REPEAT explored how hands-on making can facilitate collaborative co-articulations of emergent issues of living with mundane technologies. She has exhibited and presented her work internationally in contexts spanning hacking, e-waste, cultural heritage, participatory design, feminist technoscience and media archaeology.

International mobile phone film screening and symposium

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Date: 9 December, 2013

With the rise of smartphones and the proliferation of apps, how the citizen user and creative professionals represent, experience and relay the everyday is changing. Because of the plethora of camera phone apps that allow everyday users tools and techniques once available only to professionals, how we take and share images (still and moving) is shifting into new spaces. With the overlay of location-based services, these experiences and representations are providing new social, creative and emotional cartographies.

The Digital Ethnography Research Centre, in partnership with the Mobile Innovation Network Aotearoa (MINA) presented a symposium and a screening of mobile filmmaking projects that emerged from and reflected on such practices.

The screening showcased short films produced with smartphones, mobile and pocket cameras. These films were also shown at the New Zealand Film Archive in Wellington (NZ) and AUT University in Auckland (NZ).

The symposium discussed the prospects of the proliferation of mobile and digital filmmaking opportunities, which has led to the rise of the videographic citizen journalist form of digital, networked and transmedia collaborative filmmaking, and the embedding of filmmaking and photography in social media practice. The symposium looked at this form’s potential as an egalitarian filmmaking tool and technology,as well as its resonances with approaches and practices known from the fields of experimental documentary and avant-garde photography. The outcome of this symposium is to be an edited book with a reputable academic publisher.

MINA, the Mobile Innovation Network Aotearoa, is an international network that promotes cultural and research activities to expand the emerging possibilities of mobile media. MINA aims to explore the opportunities for interaction between people, content and the creative industry within the context of Aotearoa/New Zealand and internationally. MINA have worked in collaboration with Ohrenblick Mal (Germany), the iPhone Popup Film Festival (UK), the International Mobile Film Festival and iPhone Film Festival (USA) to produce this event.

Gert Lovink Masterclass

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Date: 16 - 17 December, 2013

Geert Lovink, a preeminent media theorist and net critic, returned to Australia to hold a two-day Masterclass. He is the founder and director of the renowned Institute of Network Cultures in Amsterdam and author of the books ‘Dark Fiber’ (2002), ‘My First Recession’ (2003), ‘Zero Comments’ (2007) and ‘Networks without a Cause’ (2012).

This workshop was a rare opportunity to spend a full two days with Geert in a masterclass that engaged with state of arts net criticism, critical social media research, cultures of search, Wikileaks, anonymous and net activist strategies, digital publishing experiences, Wikipedia research and the politics and aesthetics of online video. This masterclass was open to post-graduate and ECR academic staff and held in the new Design Hub building at RMIT.

Geert Lovink received his PhD from the University of Melbourne and lived for four years in Australia. He is Professor at the European Graduate School, researcher at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, where he is founding director of the Institute of Network Cultures. Up until June, 2013 he was also Associate Professor in Media Studies (new media) at the University of Amsterdam. Since 2004 his institute has organized(online) publications, conferences and research networks on emerging topics in critical internet culture such as search, social media, internet currencies, Wikipedia, online video and the critique of the creative industries.

Geert Lovink -

Institute of Network Cultures -



Hybrid Social Media Practices and the Roles of Women Activists in Occupy Wall Street Movement

Date: Thursday 14 November, 2013

This talk explores the hybrid nature of contemporary social movements and the ways in which activists engage in networking and social change through overlapping ‘online’ and ‘offline’ practices. Through a series of interviews with female participants the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement from 9 North American OWS sites/cities, this research project investigates the ‘hybrid’ and horizontal leaderless structure of activist organizing which blur such distinctions as social/political, offline/online, and social movement/social outcry.

Presenting findings from a three-year funded research project entitled “Social Media in the Hands of Young Citizens,” this talk explores new visions and practices of participatory democracy. The project investigates motivations of first-time and veteran OWS participants, focusing on uses of social media by women participants, and the diverse purposing of Facebook within the OWS movement.

Megan Boler is Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Social Justice Education, at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. She is Affiliate Faculty of the Center for the Study of United States, the Knowledge Media Design Institute, Cinema Studies, and Institute for Women’s and Gender Studies also at UT. Her books include Feeling Power: Emotions and Education (NY: Routledge 1999); Democratic Dialogue in Education: Troubling Speech, Disturbing Silences (M. Boler, ed.,Peter Lang, 2004); and Digital Media and Democracy: Tactics in Hard Times (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2010). She is co-editor of two forthcoming books, DIY Citizenship: Social Media and Critical Making (MIT Press, 2013) and Discerning Critical Hope in Educational Practices (Routledge 2013) eds. Bozalek, Leibowitz, Carollissen and Boler. Dr. Boler is currently working with her research team on a funded SSHRC project “Social Media in the Hands of Young Citizens,” (2011-14). See more at:

How we do ethnography: exploring the digital, exploring with the digital

Date: Tuesday 8 October, 2013

For ethnographers, the increasing ubiquity of digital technology has meant both new ways of recording subject material, and new fields of study. Does the rise of the digital mean that we can more accurately perceive and analyse the world? Or do digital systems only create particular and partial epistemologies?

In this seminar, Anna Harris and Jolynna Sinanan will present findings from their current projects, which use both digital and analogue ways of knowing the world.

Anna’s sensory ethnography is an examination of medical sounds. She looks at how doctors are taught, and engage in, listening to sounds (of the patient’s body, of instruments, of the hospital environment). In this seminar, she will discuss the role and relevance of traditional instruments used in listening practices, such as the stethoscope, as well as the various digital media that are now available to doctors. Her work is part of a larger research program supervised by sound studies scholar Karin Bijsterveld entitled Sonic Skills: Sound and Listening in Science, Technology and Medicine, 1920s – now.

Jolynna will discuss the integrated ethnographies that are a part of the Global Social Media Impact Study, which is a European Research Council project examining the impact of social media. The primary methodology of this study involves simultaneous 15 month ethnographies conducted in small towns by eight researchers in seven different countries. She will reflect on the advantages and challenges of conducting more ‘traditional’ ethnography alongside digital ethnography for the purpose of a comparative study.

Anna is a postdoctoral researcher in the department of Technology and Society Studies (TSS), Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University in The Netherlands. She studies the materials, skills and places of medical practice, largely using techniques of ethnography. Her previous research examined the phenomena of online genetic testing, and she has also studied the relationship between art and medicine, migrant doctors and medical museums.

Jolynna Sinanan is a post-doctoral research fellow in Anthropology at University College London (UCL). She has recently completed coauthoring a book 'Webcam' with Professor Daniel Miller. Jolynna has a PhD in Development Studies at the University of Melbourne. Her thesis examined the nature of engagement with development by 'beneficiaries', drawing on case studies that centred on microfinance and the trafficking of women in Cambodia.

Life on ‘The Farm’:work, life and ethnography at Intel

Date: Thursday 22 August, 2013

Ken Anderson works on Intel’s Jones’ Farm campus. The talk will cover the current research practices as they relate to corporate objectives. Never before secrets will be revealed about what Intel does, how they do it, and why. Work is not just about research practices, however, but also involves an understanding the context for these practices, as well as changes in personal biography. Get a peek “over the cube wall” into an ethnography and ethnographer’s life in the wild.

Big Data and Ethnography: a workshop with Ken Anderson and Mark Andrejevic

Date: 21 August, 2013

In this workshop, Ken Anderson from Intel will sharing his insider knowledge on ethnomining. He will be joined by discussant Mark Andrejevic.

Ken Anderson is an iconoclast by nature and a symbolic anthropologist by training. Over the last 25 years, his research has explored the relationship between identity, culture and technology. Ken spends a good portion of his time in field research to observe, document, and analyze the rich tapestry of everyday life. Recent work has included a focus on ownership, cultural temporalities and everyday entrepreneurs highlighting a cultural flux approach to research. This work has highlighted the changing nature of key cultural values and the importance of these in use, design, new product development and strategic marketing. Currently, he is leading a a series of projects exploring an emerging Data Economy.

Mark Andrejevic is a media scholar who writes about surveillance, new media, and popular culture. He is interested in the ways in which emerging forms of surveillance and monitoring enabled by the development of new media technologies impact the realms of economics, politics, and culture. His most recent book,’Infoglut’, explores new ways of sense-making associated with the cascade of data generated by digital technologies. His first book, ‘Reality TV: The Work of Being Watched’ (2003), reveals the ways in which this popular programming genre equates participation with willing submission to comprehensive monitoring. His second book, ‘iSpy: Surveillance and Power in the Interactive Era’ (2007), considers the role of surveillance in the era of networked digital technology and explores the consequences for politics, policing, popular culture, and commerce.

Readings for this workshop

Anderson, K, Dawn Nafus, Tye Rattenbury and Ryan Aipperspech. "Numbers have Qualities Too: Experiences with Ethnomining".

Intel Fuels a Rebellion Around Your Data.

Nafus, Dawn. "This one does not go up to eleven: the quantified self movement as an alternative big data practice"

Rosenburg, Daniel. "Data before the fact".

Practices of television, consumption and production: ethnographic research from Mexico and the Philippines

Date: Thursday 15 August, 2013

This workshop will present some preliminary comparative findings from two ethnographic research projects that Anna has undertaken in recent years: the first, a study of television consumption practices in southeastern Mexico, and the second a study of television production practices in the Philippines. In both places, some clear parallel aspects of what television ‘does’ can be found. Among these parallels, the role of entertainment television in the practices of everyday domestic life, and the relationship of television to projects of modernity, will be discussed in some detail. Yet the cultural specificity of the cities, histories, politics and cultures that shape these two places in different ways also merits careful exploration. The goal of this workshop would be to consider the benefits and limitations that comparative research yields for ethnographers; in this case, the comparative dimensions are multiple, and include the comparison of production with consumption as well as that of the Philippines with Mexico, or even more broadly, Asia with Latin America.

Anna Cristina Pertierra is an ARC Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies, University of Queensland. Anna is an anthropologist with interests in media, consumption and the material culture of everyday life. Her current project is a comparative study of television in Mexico, Cuba and the Philippines from 1980 to the present era. Recent publications include “Locating Television: zones of consumption” (with Graeme Turner, Routledge 2012), “Consumer Culture in Latin America” (with John Sinclair, Palgrave 2012) and “Cuba: the struggle for consumption” (Caribbean Studies Press 2011).

Postgraduate Masterclass: Fantastic Ethnography and Speculative Design

Wednesday 3 July, 2013

Ethnographers have long grappled with questions of empiricism, cultural representation and performance, but these debates almost exclusively maintain the assumption that ethnography is, and should remain, a realist endeavour. Even ethnographic fictions are expected to resemble stories that could actually have happened, or might actually have been uncovered through ethnographic research. But what could ethnography become, and do, if it maintained its interest in partial truths but was not bound by realist aesthetics? What could the subjects—and objects—of ethnography become? And by moving beyond the literal writing of culture, what worlds could we make?

Raymond Williams wrote on science fiction as a form of “space anthropology” and Ursula K. Le Guin has created anthropologically rich fantasy worlds that offer pointed cultural critiques. Le Guin also argues that fantasy is valuable precisely because it dares to put the nonhuman on “equal footing” with the human, and that it seeks to “assert and explore a larger reality than we now allow ourselves…that there is somewhere else, anywhere else, where other people may live another kind of life.” Similarly, speculative designers are interested in creating and exploring alternate worlds. UK-based designers Dunne and Raby practice “critical design,” which takes inspiration from 1960s avant-garde architecture and design, and seeks to question today’s status quo. Critical or speculative design “rejects how things are now as being the only possibility [and] provides a critique of the prevailing situation through [material] designs that embody alternative social, cultural, technical or economic values.”

Using examples from speculative fiction and design, this postgraduate masterclass will explore what making things and making things up can, and cannot, offer the practice of ethnography. In particular, we will look at what fantastic ethnography and speculative design can bring to our understanding of complex cultural issues and the decline of human exceptionalism.

Dr Anne Galloway is Senior Lecturer in Design Research at Victoria University of Wellington. Trained in sociology and anthropology, Anne’s work focusses on emergent media technologies and the importance of human/nonhuman relations in processes and products of cultural (re)production. Since 2011 she has been leading a NZ Royal Society Marsden Fund project that combines ethnographic methods and speculative design practices to explore possible futures for ubiquitous computing, mobile media and livestock farming. When not hanging out with sheep, Anne fights with her cat over who gets to play video games on the iPad. She can also be found at and on Twitter @annegalloway.

Ethnographic Film Workshop

Date: Tuesday 30 April 2013

Time: 4.00 – 7.00pm

Venue: RMIT Design Hub lecture theatre, corner of Victoria and Swanston Streets, Melbourne 

Join world-renowned ethnographic filmmaker David MacDougall and British ethnographer, researcher and author Sarah Pink in an exploration of ethnographic film practices.

Free, but places are strictly limited.


Mobile Media Ethnographies Workshop

Date: Saturday 25 May

Time: 11.00am – 3.00pm

Venue: Research Lounge, Building 8, level 5, RMIT City Campus


Presented by Heather Horst and Larissa Hjorth

Preparation for the workshop:

  1. Students are required to read three four articles on camera phone, mobile gaming and ethnography. We will be conducting a series of in-class exercises that assume that you have read the articles. 
  2. Students need to bring along an A4 paper with two camera phone pictures describing where, when and why they were taken and shared. Do not put your name on them. These will be distributed in class as the first in-class exercise. 


  1. Camera phone exercise in groups of 2-3 students: Bring along an A4 paper with two camera phone pictures describing where, when and why they were taken and shared. Do not put your name on them. These will be distributed in class as the first in-class exercise. 
  2. ‘Big games’ exercise in groups. Each group devises a game that involves mobility, place and play. The ideas are voted upon in the general group and then played.

Structure of workshop:

  1. “Getting to know you” via material cultures 
  2. Outline of the historical and interdisciplinary evolution of mobile communication to mobile media; how mobile media can be understood as a set of practices, artefacts and as a research tool; and the relationship between ethnography and mobile media.
  3. Camera phone exercise 
  4. ‘Big games’ exercise in groups.


  1. Kato, F. (2013) ‘Learning with mobile phones as research tools’, in G. Goggin and L. Hjorth’s (eds) The Routledge Companion to Mobile Media, London: Routledge. 
  2. Horst et al. (2012) ‘Rethinking Ethnography’, MIA, 145: 1-8. 
  3. Sun, W. (2012) ‘Amateur Photography as Self-Ethnography: China’s Rural Migrant Workers and the Question of Digital-Political Literacy’, MIA, 145. 
  4. Okabe, D. & Ito, M. (2006) ‘Everyday Contexts of Camera Phone Use’, in Höflich, J. & Hartmann, M. Eds.Mobile Communication in Everyday Life: An Ethnographic View. Berlin: Frank & Timme. 
  5. De Souza E Silva, A. & L. Hjorth (2009) ‘Playful Urban Spaces: A Historical Approach to Mobile Games’,Simulation & Gaming, 40(5): 602-625.

Please note: Ethnography is not just a type of practice drawing from sociology, anthropology and cultural studies, it is also a type of theoretical lens or frame in which to think about reflexive knowledge production.

Digital Interventions Seminar 3

Wednesday 15 May

This seminar will preseted the work of two scholars for whom documentary digital video is part of their research. Juan Francisco Salazar (UWS) talked about an ethnographic approach to geographies of place-making in Antarctica. Martin Wood (RMIT) spoke on the topic "Resisting the limits of form or simply pissing in public?". Leo Berkeley and Antonio Castillo acted as discussants.


Digital Intervention Seminar Two

Date: Wednesday 17 April 2013

Time: 4.00 – 6.00pm

Venue: Seminar Rooms 1&2, Level 7 Storey Hall, (Building 16) RMIT City Campus

The Design Research Institute is pleased to invite you to the second in the series of the Digital Intervention (DI) Seminars hosted by Sarah Pink, Professor of Design - Media Ethnography.  

The April event will feature two presentations: "Design, Speculation and Eventuation: On Idiotic Methodology" by Professor Mike Michael, University of Sydney and "Resource Man: performing the smart energy consumer" by Dr. Yolande Strengers, RMIT Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow.

Mike Michael is Professor of Sociology and Social Policy in the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Sydney. His interests include the relation of everyday life to technoscience, and biotechnological and biomedical innovation and culture. Recent research projects include an examination of the ethical aspects of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (with Marsha Rosengarten), and the interdisciplinary exploration of energy demand reduction through sociological and speculative design techniques (with Bill Gaver and Jennifer Gabrys). He has published widely on such topics as mundane technology and social (dis)ordering, animals and society, bioscience and futurity, public understanding of science, and materiality and sociality.

Yolande Strengers is a Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University. She is based at the Urban Research Centre, where she co-leads the Beyond Behaviour Change (BBC) research group with Cecily Maller. Yolande holds a social science PhD on smart metering demand management programs. She leads a number of applied research projects focused on socio-technical change, using theories of social practices to reframe energy demand management, behaviour change and policy problems and programs in households and organisations.

The seminar will be followed by light refreshments available from 6pm. DIGITAL INTERVENTIONS explores how digital media, methods and practice are participating in contemporary and emergent processes of change. The concept of interventions is developed as an integrating and common theme running across the ethnographic, arts and design disciplines.

Practice as Research Methodologies Workshop

Date: Monday April 8

Time: 1:30 - 4:30pm

Venue: Multipurpose Room, Level 1, Design Hub, Building 100, RMIT City Campus, Cnr Swanston and Victoria Streets

This workshop is developed in collaboration between the VCA (University of Melbourne) and RMIT's Design Research Institute. It is aimed at University of Melbourne and RMIT research postgrads/emerging researchers with an interest in practice-as-research, oriented within social practice and/or sensory methodologies.

We will start with a networking lunch at 1:30, and this will be followed by the workshop from 2 - 4:30 pm

Digital Intervention Seminar Series Launch

Date: Wednesday 27 March 2013

Time: 4.00 – 6.00pm

Venue: RMIT Design Hub, Building 100, Lecture Theatre, Level 3, Corner Victoria & Swanston Street, Melbourne

The Design Research Institute is pleased to invite you to the launch of the Digital Intervention Seminar Series,featuring a presentation by Professor Paul Dourish on reconfiguring sociomateriality.

This seminar series explores how digital media, methods and practice are participating in contemporary and emergent processes of change. The concept of interventions is developed as an integrating and common theme running across the ethnographic, arts and design disciplines. A Digital Intervention is an action, series of actions, or form of practical activity in the world that is intended to make some kind of change for the better. It may be derived from applied digital ethnography, it might be a form of public art, it could be design practice or it might be a form of activism. Digital Interventions explores how digital media, methods and practice are participating in contemporary and emergent processes of change. The concept of interventions is developed as an integrating and common theme running across the ethnographic, arts and design disciplines.

Professor Paul Dourish: Reconfiguring sociomateriality:an ethnographic investigation of robotic deep space science. 

Recent years have seen increasing attention to questions of materiality in the development and use of digital technologies, and attempts to recover a sense of the material foundations for the rhetorically ineffable stuff of the digital world. However, empirical accounts of the way that sociomaterial entanglements arise in and shape social practice remain relatively scarce. Paul will draw on materials from a multi-year ethnographic investigation of robotic deep space exploration. He has been working with an international team of scientists and engineers who have devoted decades to planning, developing, and flying a robotic spacecraft currently exploring the outer solar system. In particular, he'll use these to argue for a reconsideration of the topics of sociomateriality, shifting from a conventional focus on locating agency to an alternative account that starts from an account of figuration, configuration, and reconfiguration.


Paul Dourish is a Professor of Informatics in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at UC Irvine, with courtesy appointments in Computer Science and Anthropology, and co-directs the Intel Science and Technology Center for Social Computing. His research focuses primarily on understanding information technology as a site of social and cultural production; his work combines topics in human-computer interaction, ubiquitous computing, and science and technology studies. He has published over 100 scholarly articles, and was elected to the CHI Academy in 2008 in recognition of his contributions to Human-Computer Interaction. He is the author of two books: Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction (MIT Press, 2001), which explores how phenomenological accounts of action can provide an alternative to traditional cognitive analysis for understanding the embodied experience of interactive and computational systems; and, with Genevieve Bell, Divining a Digital Future: Mess and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing (MIT Press, 2011), which examines the social and cultural aspects of the ubiquitous computing research program. 

The seminar will be followed by the Digital Interventions launch event with light refreshments available from 6pm.

Visiting Professors: Tom Boellstorff and Bill Maurer

From the 18-21 March, Professors Bill Maurer and Tom Boellstorff from the University of California, Irvine visited RMIT University in March as part of the Money, Media and Contemporary Culture series. Events included public seminars, small interactive workshops and one-to-one meetings. 

Tom Boellstorff is professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine. From 2007 to 2012, he was editor-in-chief of American Anthropologist, the flagship journal of the American Anthropological Association. He is the author of many articles and books, including The Gay Archipelago: Sexuality and Nation in Indonesia (Princeton University Press, 2005); A Coincidence of Desires: Anthropology, Queer Studies, Indonesia (Duke University Press, 2007); Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human (Princeton University Press, 2008); and Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: a Handbook of Method (with Bonnie Nardi, Celia Pearce, and T.L. Taylor, Princeton University Press, 2012).
Bill Maurer is a cultural anthropologist who conducts research on law, property, money and finance, particularly new and experimental financial and currency forms and their legal implications. He is the Director of the Institute of Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion and the Co-Director of the Intel Science & Technology Center for Social Computing at the University of California, Irvine. He is the editor of six collections, as well as the author of Recharting the Caribbean: Land, Law and Citizenship in the British Virgin Islands (1997), Pious Property: Islamic Mortgages in the United States (2006), and Mutual Life, Limited: Islamic Banking, Alternative Currencies, Lateral Reason (2005). The latter received the Victor Turner Prize in 2005. Professor Maurer served as Special Advisor to the Royal College of Art's Future of Money project.


Professors Boellstorff and Maurer’s visits were made possible through an International Visiting Fellows grant from the RMIT Foundation. We gratefully acknowledge the financial and administrative support of the RMIT Foundation, Global Cities Research Institute, Graduate School of Business and Law, School of Media and Communication, the Digital Ethnography Research Centre, ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative  Industries and Innovation and RMIT University.


Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion (workshop)

Date: Monday 18th March

Time: 10am-2:30pm

Venue: GSBL Boardroom, Building 13, Level 4, Room 2, RMIT City Campus

This workshop involved a presentation and informal conversation with Professor Bill Maurer regarding his work at the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusions. Professor Tom Boellstorff also discussed his recent work on financial inclusion in Indonesia. It also included short presentations by RMIT researchers. 


10.00 am: Welcome by Prof Mark Farrell, Head of Graduate School of Business and Law

10.05 – 10.45: Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion, presented by Bill Maurer
10.45 - 11.00: Mobile Money in Indonesia, presented by Tom Boellstorff

11.00 - 11.15: Coffee

11.15 - 11.30: Financial inclusion and financial literacy, presented by Roslyn Russell

11.30 - 11.45: Microfinance and empowerment in Australia, presented by Anuja Cabraal

11.45 - 12.00: Financial exclusion among Indigenous Australians, presented by Vinita Godinho

12.00 - 12.15: Mobile money in Cambodia, presented by Jeff Fang

12.15 - 12.30: Millennium development goals and the Pacific, presented by Simon Feeny

12.30 - 1.15: Lunch

1.15 - 1.30: Migrants, Mobiles and Money on the Border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, presented by Heather Horst

1.30 - 1.45: Remittances and microenterprises in Bangladesh, presented by Shahadat Khan
1.45 - 2.00: Payday lenders, presented by Marcus Banks
2.00 - 2.15: Financial Inclusion and Globalisation, presented by Supriya Singh
2.15 - 2.30: Closing remarks, presented by Bill Maurer

Sponsored by the RMIT Foundation and the Graduate School of Business and Law at RMIT University.


The unbearable persistence of binarisms: On the ontology of the digital (public lecture)

Date: Monday 18th March

Time: 4:30-6:00pm: Public Lecture

Venue: GREEN BRAIN - Storey Hall, Building 16, Level 7, RMIT City Campus

In this talk Tom Boellstorff conducted a meta-analysis of  his research in Indonesia and in virtual worlds, as well as the research of a number of other scholars, to make a big claim: the most fundamental issue in all of social theory is the unbearable persistence of binarisms. He  explored how a rethinking of dichotomy is essential to addressing the most politically, theoretically, and methodologically significant issues in regard to digital culture. In doing so, he examined a reframed dualism as the gift of the virtual, manifested in several ways including overlay, that provided crucial insights into the ontology of the digital.

Sponsored by the RMIT Foundation, School of Media and Communication, the Digital Ethnography Research Centre and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative  Industries and Innovation.

The awkward history of payment technology and financial inclusion (public lecture)

Date: Tuesday 19th March

Time: 4:30-6:00pm

Venue: GREEN BRAIN - Storey Hall, Building 16, Level 7, RMIT City Campus

Presented by Professor Bill Maurer.

Despite their importance and ubiquity, payment infrastructures are little studied outside the payments industry, and within the industry the rapid development of new systems of value transfer exceeds the ability even of experts to keep up. The talk addressed the question of the public interest in payments – the public good provided by the means of value transfer, and whether and how the state’s monopoly of the legitimate means of exchange (state-issued currency) is challenged by new, private payment infrastructures, which often “ride the rails” of public systems. The case study is mobile phone-enabled banking and payment, heralded as a boon for "financial inclusion," the formalizing of informal or the "cash only" world.

Sponsored by the RMIT Foundation and the Global Cities Research Institute at RMIT University.

Sexuality in Southeast Asia: Past, Present and Future (workshop)

Date: Thursday 21st March

Time: 11am-3pm

Venue: Building 9, Level 2, Room 12, RMIT City Campus  

This highly interactive workshop drew upon Tom Boellstorff’s extensive work in Southeast Asia to explore the past, present and future of sexuality research in the region. 

Sponsored by the RMIT Foundation, School of Media and Communication and the Digital Ethnography Research Centre at RMIT University.

What we talk about when we talk about “alternative economies”: From Islamic banking to local currencies (public seminar)

Date: Thursday 21st March

Time: 4:30-6:00pm

Venue: Seminar Room 1&2, Building 16, Level 7, RMIT City Campus

Presented by Professor Bill Maurer.

In the wake of the global financial crisis that began in the summer of 2008, many commentators, critics and visionaries have looked anew at contemporary and historical alternatives to dominant financial paradigms. Alternatives, it is thought, might point a way out of the current predicament, provide options for those who wish on an individual or collective basis to stand outside of mainstream finance, or inspire new blueprints for the possible. For an anthropologist, the quest to discover, adapt or adopt such alternatives is familiar enough to give pause. Drawing on examples from Islamic banking and finance and local currency movements, this talk explored the various modalities of alternative, the potential of plural and diverse economies, and the analytical assumptions inherent in separating the alternative from the modal or normative.

Sponsored by the RMIT Foundation and the Graduate School of Business and Law at RMIT University.  

Japanese Music Lectures, Sydney

As a part of the Japanese Foundation Sydney's Japanese in Stereo series, one of our members, Shelly Brunt, gave a talk on Post-War Pop: Karaoke favourites of the golden generation.

Anyone who has walked through downtown Tokyo’s drinking alleys after dark will no doubt recognise the distinctive vibrato of enka, the fist-clenchingly sentimental brand of pop song that boomed in post-war Japan. A researcher and avid follower of Japan’s biggest annual popular music event, Shelley Brunt shares her favourites from the world of tear-jerking kitsch.

Further details at


Sarah Drummond talk and workshop

Our good friends at Service Design Melbourne are hosting Sarah Drummond who is from one of the most interesting service design and social innovation outfit in Scotland, UK, called Snook (

Her talk will focus on public realm service design and Snook's approach to designing new futures with citizens and governments. For example, Do-tanks for governments can use design thinking techniques and service design process as a way to innovate public services and turn policy into action in their own countries. Snook see service design as a powerful tool to solve complex social issues and designing new futures.

Sarah will cover what service design is from Snook's perspective, highlighting core principles of how they work. Various project examples demonstrate how they design inside the system (eg. Redesigning the Post 16 Learner Journey with Scottish Government) and from outside the system (eg. The Matter). Ideas such as Jams and Idea Labs are way to solve problems and collaborate across sectors. Sarah will discuss the mindset shifts needed to move towards a design-led approach to social innovation.

Sarah Drummond is the Co-founder and Director of Service Design Social Innovation outfit Snook. Sarah focuses on making social change happen by re-thinking public services from a human perspective. With a Masters of Design Innovation from Glasgow School of Art, Sarah is a social entrepreneur, unashamedly proving the value of design in central government and defining a meaningful role for designers in the public sector. Her work challenges the role design can play within the public sector, and as the winner of the first Scottish Social Innovation Camp, Sarah is ambitiously challenging the way governments operate and make policies through initiatives such as MyPolice.

Sarah's visit was hosted by DESIS-lab Melbourne, Design Futures Lab Research Group and the Design Research Institute.

Mobile Filmmaking 2.0 - presented by Dr. Max Schleser

Date: Thursday 13 December, 2012, Time: 11.00am to 1.00pm

Venue: Building 9, Level 3, Room 10, RMIT Melbourne city campus

Over the last decade mobile documentary filmmaking evolved from an underground and art house into an egalitarian moving-image practice. In an international context, mobile films and mobile-mentaries (mobile documentaries) can provide access to filmmaking tools and technologies for a new generation of filmmakers. Simultaneously mobile devices are transforming the mediascape. This process is reflected in a number of changes in the production of documentary films afforded by mobile devices (including mobile phones, tablets and flip cams). Mobile filmmaking expands the tradition of experimental documentary, which is continuously innovating moving-image practice and theory. Mobile-mentaries challenge the linearity of production, distribution and exhibition of film and video production, which can account for new forms and formats of ‘life caught unawares’ and digital storytelling. Max will review the developments in the last decade of mobile filmmaking through the networking projects FILMOBILE and MINA, the Mobile Innovation Network Aotearoa. MINA aims to explore the possibilities of interaction between people, content and the emerging mobile industry. With reference to the International Mobile Innovation Screening 2011 and 2012, which took place in the New Zealand Film Archive in Wellington, he will discuss the multiple vectors that drive the constant innovation process in mobile filmmaking.

Dr. Max Schleser is a (mobile) filmmaker, who explores mobile devices as creative and educational tools. His portfolio includes various experimental and collaborative documentary projects, which are screened at film and new media festivals internationally. His mobile feature film Max with a Keitai is included in the public film archive in the Forum des Images in Paris. Before joining Massey University, Max lectured at the University of East London and the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology in London and Kuala Lumpur. Max organizes the international mobile creative network FILMOBILE and the Mobile Innovation Network Aotearoa, MINA. Max's publications include Journal of Media Practice, VJ theory, Culture Visuelle, HZ Journal, a chapter on "Mobile Creativity" in Mobile Learning: Pilot Projects and Initiative book (edited by Retta Guy) and “Collaborative Mobile Filmmaking” in Handbook of Participatory Video (edited by Claudia Mitchell et al.). He is reviewer for the Informing Science Press, Journal of Creative Technologies and member of the Informing Science Institute. Find him at Linkedin and Vimeo.

Walking to design in rural Africa - presented by Nicola Bidwell

Date: Monday 26 November, 2012, Time: 11.00am to 12.30pm

Venue: Building 9, Level 3, Room 10, RMIT Melbourne city campus

Walking in rural Africa has sensitized me to how walking contributes to sociality and the legibility of relationships in social and physical fabric of settings, and also relates to acoustics. Walking contributes to our literacy in the traces and rhythms that walking creates. Meanings associate with, and are shaped by, daily and seasonal cycles, activities and rituals, and by social bonds, structures, institutions and protocols. Identity, social roles and sense of personhood are formed along converging and diverging spatial and temporal paths of inhabiting. Recognizing, identifying and sharing meanings about sound and voices, along these many paths, contributes to continuity with the past and belonging to a social collectivity. In this presentation I draw on insights that relate walking to perspectives about the use of community-based solar powered cell-phone charging, in Eastern Cape, South Africa and to wisdom about herbal medicine, Omahake, Western Namibia. I consider some of the relationalities that are produced in walking and their implications for designing for sustainable communities and environmental sustainability, such as the need to reconcile strategies with an African rural tempo and the consequences of virtual mobilities. I also propose a simple new concept to explore meaning making. This 90-minute workshop on walking and design in Africa is split into three parts: Walking in Rural African Communication & Knowledge Systems, Orality, Audio & Post-Colonial Design, and Pace & Rhythm in Designing for Sustainable Communities.

Nicola Bidwell is a Principal  Researcher at CSIR-Meraka and Assoc. Professor affiliated with Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa. Since 2003 her research has focused on designing interactions with technologies for rural settings and Indigenous and African cultural contexts. She applies situated, ethnographic and participatory methods and usually lives rurally - for the past few years in a geographically remote African village. Most of Nic’s 90 peer-reviewed publications relate to designing interactions with mobile devices, information systems and simulated environments that suit the needs of inhabitants of, and visitors to, rural and often impoverished places. This includes research in Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and far north Australia. Nic takes a critical design perspective in her practice and seeks to design for envelopment, a word coined by Michael Christie to express using technology for local priorities. In 2008 she chaired the first international conference in HCI (OZCHI08) that  included a panel on Indigenous Led Digital Enterprises and emphasized non-urban contexts. In 2011 she was founding chair of Indigenous Knowledge Technology Conference: Embracing Indigenous Knowledge Systems in a new Technology Design Paradigm. Nic also serves on the program and editorial committees of major mainstream  conferences and journals in HCI.

Researching the Mobile Phone (and other Digital Futures - presented by Bart Barendregt, Leiden University, in conversation with Heather Horst (RMIT)

Date: Wednesday 21 November, 2012, Time: 2.00pm to 3.30pm

Venue: Building 9, Level 3, Room 10, RMIT Melbourne city campus

Today, a majority of people worldwide, with most users situated in the poor South, access the Internet and other electronic information not through a personal computer but through their cell phones. A burgeoning literature on mobile phones shows how the use of mobile phones in various cultural contexts away from the West has led not only to genuine customization of cell phone technology and its associated practices but also to a plurality of expectations about what it is to be mobile and connected in the near future. Indonesian cell phone use provides a good illustration of both. This talk will offer a brief introduction to the digital revolution in an Indonesian context, paying attention to the question of why mobile phone practices have found fertile ground here. However, even within this one country, a plurality of digital worlds coexist. Three different cell phone practices illustrate not only how some of these practices have been genuinely Indonesianized but also how they serve as multiple imaginations of an Indonesian digital future.

Bart Barendregt is an anthropologist who lectures at the Institute of Social and Cultural Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands. He is coordinating a four-year research project (Articulation of Modernity) funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) that deals with popular music, modernity and social chance in South East Asia. As a senior researcher, he is also affiliated with an NWO project titled The Future is Elsewhere: Towards a Comparative History of Digital Futurities, which examines Islamic ideas of the information society, halal software and appropriation and localization of digital technology in an overt religious context. Barendregt has done extensive fieldwork in Java, Sumatra, Malaysia and the Philippines and has published on South East Asian performing arts, new and mobile media and popular culture.

Situating digital media use now for an imagined future - presented by Kerstin Leder Mackley, Loughborough University (UK) and Sarah Pink, RMIT

Date: Thursday 15th November, 2012, Time: 11.00am to 2.00pm

Venue: Building 9, Level 3, Room 10, RMIT Melbourne city campus

The notion that we live in a ‘media-saturated’ world has almost become a common-sense appreciation of the digital era. This seminar explores media-saturation in relation to everyday digital media engagements in the home, examining how a situated understanding of these engagements might inform the production of digital design interventions aimed at helping families reduce their domestic energy consumption. In contexts of technological transition continuities often emerge as people seek to interweave old and new practices and technologies.

Therefore, understanding what families already do with digital media in the home is central to imagining and introducing future possibilities. In this seminar, to explore these issues we draw on a series video ethnographies in which we investigated how media are embedded in everyday domestic routes and routines across 20 UK households. In doing so we will both present new routes of studying media’s place in domestic life through sensory ethnography, and illustrate a spectrum of ‘media- saturation’ that shows how the balance between novel and traditional technologies and practices is a complicated one to strike.

Dr Kerstin Leder Mackley is a Research Associate at the School of Social, Political and Geographical Sciences, Loughborough University, UK. Prior to her role at LEEDR, she studied the social implications of tagging technology and digital object memories on the interdisciplinary TOTeM project at Brunel University, London. Kerstin’s general background lies in qualitative audience research from a broad media and cultural studies perspective. She is a member of the Editorial Board of Participations: Journal of Audience and Reception Studies.

Professor Sarah Pink is Professor in Design (Media Ethnography) at RMIT University. She joined RMIT in August 2012 from Loughborough University, (UK) and leads the ethnographic strand of the LEEDR project. She is author/co-editor or 11 books and over 100 articles and book chapters. Sarah’s work, rooted in anthropology is interdisciplinary, and seeks to make connections between theoretical scholarship and applied practice, and usually involves the use of digital and visual methodologies. Her most recent books are Situating Everyday Life (2012), Advances in Visual Methodology (ed, 2012) and Ethnographic Research in the Construction Industry (co-ed 2012).

The research discussed in this seminar is part of The interdisciplinary LEEDR (Low Effort Energy Demand Reduction) project, at Loughborough University, UK). It is jointly funded by the UK Research Councils’ Digital Economy and Energy programmes (grant number EP/I000267/1). For further information about the project, collaborating research groups and industrial partners, please visit

Ducks, Dolls and Divine Robots: designing our futures with computing - presented by Dr. Genevieve Bell


 Date: Friday 28th September, 2012, Time: 11.30am to 1.00pm

Venue:  Conference Rooms 1 & 2 Level 7, RMIT Storey Hall, Building 16, 336-342 Swanston Street, Melbourne

Co-Sponsors: Digital Ethnography Research Centre and CCI Network

We have relationships with technology – we always have had. And these relationships have regularly strayed beyond the merely functional, or rational. Whether anthropomorphising all manner of objects from steamships to guitars, or systematically attacking and breaking machines out of fear and loathing, we have had strong emotional connections with technology. Furthermore, this emotionality is not only borne out of daily activity, it also has its origins in the realm of fiction, myth and even legend. As such we can tell a story where Excalibur, the Luddites, The Turing Test and Cyberdyne share a common genealogy – they are all about our relationships with technology.

Today we inhabit a world in which there are many pieces of technology in our lives, our homes and our places of work, worship and leisure. Early mechanized objects like looms, pianolas and wireless radios have given way to digitally connected computational devices, but have we developed a new emotional register with which to engage with these objects? In this talk, Genevieve offers a meditation on the nature of our relationships with computing, locating them within this larger conversation, and offering a much wider space for human-computer relationships to flourish.

Dr. Genevieve Bell is an Australian-born anthropologist and researcher. As director of User Interaction and Experience in Intel Labs, Bell leads a research team of social scientists, interaction designers, human factors engineers and computer scientists. This team shapes and helps create new Intel technologies and products that are increasingly designed around people's needs and desires. In this team and her prior roles, Bell has fundamentally altered the way Intel envisions and plans its future products so that they are centered on people's needs rather than simply silicon capabilities.

In addition to leading this increasingly important area of research at Intel, Bell is an accomplished industry pundit on the intersection of culture and technology. She is a regular public speaker and panelist at technology conferences worldwide, sharing myriad insights gained from her extensive international field work and research. Her first book, 'Divining the Digital Future: Mess and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing,' was co-written with Prof. Paul Dourish of the University of California at Irvine and released in April 2011. In 2010, Bell was named one of Fast Company's inaugural '100 Most Creative People in Business.' She also is the recipient of several patents for consumer electronics innovations.

Moving to the United States for her undergraduate studies, she graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1990 with a bachelor's degree in anthropology. She then attended Stanford University, earning her master's degree (1993) and a doctorate (1998) in cultural anthropology, as well as acting as a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology from 1996-1998. With a father who was an engineer and a mother who was an anthropologist, perhaps Bell was fated to ultimately work for a technology company, joining Intel in 1998.


Digital Media and Social Theory - the launch of Professor Couldry's new book by ARC Future Fellow Professor Stephanie Donald (UNSW) followed by a lecture by Professor Couldry

Date: Wednesday 20 June, 2012, Time: 5:00pm to 6:30pm

Venue:  Building 9, Level 1, Room 24, RMIT University, city campus

Co-Sponsors: Digital Ethnography Research Centre and CCI Network



In this lecture, Prof Couldry will ask: what is the contribution of social theory to understanding the social transformations that the digital media explosion is generating? What type of social theory do we need, and is it the same as the social theory that is sometimes on offer? He will contextualise these broad questions in a review of the many, overlapping uncertainties that beset the producers and researchers of media today: uncertainties about what, who and where are media; uncertainties about what we do with media;uncertainties about the economic viability and social political status of media institutions; and uncertainties about the spatial and ethical consequences of media. The so-called digital revolution points to massive changes but these uncertainties do not resolve into one simple direction of travel. Social theory of the right sort, Couldry will argue, can help us unravel some of the complex battles that the future of ‘media’ holds.

Nick Couldry is Professor of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London and Director of its Centre for the study of Global Media and Democracy. He is the author or editor of ten books including most recently Media, Society, World: Social Theory and Digital Media Practice (Polity 2012) and Why Voice Matters: Culture and Politics After Neoliberalism (Sage 2010).

Complex Patterns of Engagement: A Case Study in the Design of Socio-technical Approaches to Privacy Awareness - presented by Lizzie Coles-Kemp

Date: Friday 4 May, 2012, Time: 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Venue:  Building 9, Level 3, Room 8, RMIT University, city campus

Co-Sponsors: Digital Ethnography Research Centre and CCI Network

Socio-technical approaches to research can be complex and require broad thinking about your topic. Investigating why people do what they do with technology and information is a socio-technical subject that is increasingly touching everyone’s’ research space. This talk presents the main outputs of a UK research project, Visualisation and Other Methods of Expression (VOME), which explored the topic of privacy awareness. In describing the outputs, the talk features some of the methods of engagement used to connect with a wide range of communities during the design and evaluation of VOME’s interventions. 

Lizzie Coles-Kemp is a socio-technical researcher, interested in people’s information security and privacy practices. Coles-Kemp is affiliated with the Information Security Group, Royal Holloway, University of London. She is interested in why people do what they do with information, how they protect it and why they protect it in the way that they do. Coles­Kemp’s two main areas of research are:

1. Organisational information security and privacy practices

2. The privacy and security implications of the “information society”

 Coles-Kemp’s particular focus in each case is the interaction between humans and security and privacy technologies, how each influences the other. Coles-Kemp is primarily a qualitative researcher who is interested in research in different modalities. Current interdisciplinary collaborations include: social research extensions to formal evaluations of security ceremonies, the use of subcultural analysis in security policy design and the use of visualisations in interdisciplinary research.

Representing Financial Inclusion: The CGAP Microfinance Photography Contest - presented by Dr. Anke Schwittay

Date: Monday 16 April, 2012, Time: 1:00pm - 3:00pm                     

Venue: Building 13, Level 3, Room 7, RMIT University, City Campus

Co-Sponsors: Digital Ethnography Research Centre and CCI Network

Microfinance is a global poverty alleviation strategy aiming to provide poor people the world over with access to formal financial services in the form of microloans, savings, insurance and pension products. It came to public attention in 2006 when its founder, Mohammad Yunus, received the Nobel Peace Price, and more recently through the work of, a popular person-to-person microlending website. CGAP, a microfinance think tank housed at the World Bank, is hosting an annual photography contest to further spread awareness of microfinance; in 2011 the competition attracted over 2000 entries from 70 countries from professional and amateur photographers. In this talk I will analyze a number of winning photos to examine how microfinance is represented by CGAP. I am particularly interested in how these images legitimize particular microfinancial discourses and practices, how they mobilize affective investments and how they articulate with dominant representations of development. 

Anke Schwittay is a Lecturer at the Centre for Development Studies at the University of Auckland. Her recent research focuses on financial inclusion efforts, which aim to provide formal micro-financial services – loans, savings, insurance and pension, to poor people the world over who have been excluded from the traditional banking sector. Anke is particularly interested in the role of Information and Communication Technologies in the provision of microfinance, as well as in issues of representation and affect. Anke holds a PhD in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied global corporate citizenship programs of transnational high-tech companies. She is a Fellow of the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion (IMTFI) at the University of California, Irvine.

Silicon Valley’s New Giving 2.0: Online Social Entrepreneurship Start Ups

Speaker: Paul Braund
Discussant: Professor Supriya Singh

Date: Wednesday 21 March, 2012, Time: 11:00am - 12:00pm                  

Venue: Building 9, Level 3, Room 8, RMIT University, City Campus

This talk focuses upon the emergence of new online organizational forms utilizing Information Systems that aim to empower the poor and under-served through the provision of economic development, political change and social goods. Through case studies of three Silicon Valley Online Social Entrepreneurial Enterprise
Startups (OSEES), and their founding leadership, I focus upon the legitimation of new organizational models enabled by information platforms for social benefit. OSEES are part of an emerging social benefit network, an increasingly popular cause in Silicon Valley, which has evolved through high level of online social networking and physical mash-ups, boot-camps, annual awards, conferences at major local universities, events and high profile support from leading hi-tech corporations, foundations and philanthrocapitalist within Silicon Valley.

Paul Braund has over 25 years of experience as an educator, design innovator and ICT entrepreneur. He founded the RiOS Institute in California to support effective public- private partnerships between government agencies, multi-lateral organizations, foundations, academic researchers and Silicon Valley leaders and innovators with a focus on ICT for Development (ICTD). Paul is a frequent speaker at international and national conferences on Design, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, focusing on Information and Communications Technology for Development and Corporate Social Responsibility. RiOS is the lead partner for the United Nations in Silicon Valley for UN GAID (Global Alliance for ICT and Development) to support public private partnerships in ICTD. Paul is currently a Research Fellow at the School of Development and completing a PhD at the School of Information and Organizational Management at University of Auckland. 

Supriya Singh is Professor of Sociology of Communications in the School of Business and Law at RMIT. Her research has focused on the sociology of money and banking, the sociology of migration and remittances, user centred design of information and communication technologies, cross cultural design, and methodological issues relating to qualitative research.

Photography As a Self-Ethnography: Experience of China's Rural Migrant Workers

Date: Tuesday 21 February, 2012, Time: 3:00pm - 5:00pm                     

Venue: Building 9, Level 3, Room 9, RMIT University, City Campus

The increasingly widespread use of the phone camera among China’s rural migrant population has given rise to the practice of documenting one’s own lives with camera. This self-ethnographic impulse has become more pronounced due to the growing accessibility of the Internet and its proliferating ways of circulating, exhibiting, and archiving photographic works. This talk is ethnographic in two senses. It reviews the potential and limitations of digital ethnography as a new form of self-representation in the specific context of social inequality in China. And it does so by offering an ethnographic account of some cultural activist practices engaged by one of China’s marginal social groups. Adopting a mode of inquiry most often used in visual anthropology, the paper discusses the issues of cultural capital, class, and visibility through the prism of an extended photographic project managed by a migrant worker NGO in Beijing. The talk argues that despite the technological democratization of the visual technologies to some extent, hierarchy remains firmly in place in the field of visual production, and that production of self-ethnographic material as a form of subaltern cultural activism remains an extremely unpredictable process which is fraught with negotiation, contestation, and compromise. 

Wanning Sun
is Professor of Chinese Media and Cultural Studies at China Research Centre, UTS. Wanning is the author of two single-authored monographs Leaving China: Media, Migration, and Transnational Imagination (Rowman & Littlefield, 2002), and Maid in China: Media, Morality and the Cultural Politics of Boundaries (Routledge, 2009), and editor of Media and the Chinese Diaspora: Community, Communications and Commerce, (Routledge, 2006). Wanning is the Chief Investigator of an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery project China’s Rural Migrant Workers: Social Transition and Cultural Practice (2010-2012), and
one of the Chief Investigators of another ARC Discovery project The role of lifestyle television in transforming culture, citizenship and selfhood: Australia, China, Taiwan, Singapore and India (with Dr FA Martin, Dr T Lewis, A/Prof R Harindranath, and Prof JG Sinclair)

Privacy in Networked Places - a talk by danah boyd  

Date: Thursday 9 February, 2012, Time: 3:30pm - 5:30pm                     

Venue: Kaleide Theatre, Building 8, Level 2, RMIT University, City Campus (enter via Swanston Street)

Online Recording

There is a widespread myth that young people don’t care about privacy. Embedded in this myth is an assumption that participation in public social media like Facebook and Twitter indicates a rejection of privacy. Yet, just because people want to participate in public life doesn’t mean that they want everything they do to go down on their permanent record or to be publicized for the whole world to see. This talk will examine how young people understand privacy and the strategies they take to achieve privacy in networked publics.

Dr. danah boyd is a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research, a Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, a Visiting Researcher at Harvard Law School, and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales. Her work examines everyday practices involving social media, with specific attention to youth engagement, privacy, and risky behaviors. She recently co-authored Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media. She co-directed the Youth and Media Policy Working Group, funded by the MacArthur Foundation. She blogs at and tweets at @zephoria.


Platform Seoul - Sunjung Kim

Date: Monday 18 October, 2011, Time: 9:30am - 12:30pm                     

Venue: Building 9, Level 3, Room 10, RMIT University, City Campus

The aim of the talk and workshop is to foster discussion and future projects around alternative models for art and audience. Drawing on the analogy of ethnography, Kim will provide some models for rethinking participation and engagement within the artworld. “Platform Seoul” is a project in a flexible form, much like an assemblage or ethnography for visual practice. From 2006 to 2010 “Platform Seoul” experimented with the possible ways of thinking about contemporary art with different themes (ideas) each year. The whole project was an attempt to create a platform where art and audience can meet, where ideas could inhabit different spaces, contexts, stories and ethnographies. It had various programs encompassing commissioned works, exhibitions, artists’ talks, public lectures, workshops, and the small projects. Through Platform, Kim wanted to experiment with different global and local intersections in indirect and indirect ways. As an alternative to the limitations posed by huge exhibition models like international biennial, Platform attempted to provide new models for intersections between art and the audience.

Sunjung Kim is a Seoul-based curator and director of SAMUSO: Space for Contemporary Art. Kim is currently working for Gwangju Biennale 2012 as the co-artistic director and dOCUMENTA (13) as the agent. From 1993 to 2004, Kim worked as the chief curator at Artsonje Center, a contemporary art centre in Seoul. She was the commissioner of the Korean Pavilion at the 51st Venice Biennale (2005). In 2006, she initiated the annual contemporary art festival Platform Seoul. The first festival, titled “Somewhere in Time,” was followed by “Tomorrow” (2007), “I have nothing to say and I am saying it” (2008), “Platform in KIMUSA: Void of Memory (2009) and “Projected Image” (2010). She co-curated “Your Bright Future,” an exhibition of 12 contemporary artists from Korea presented at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Houston Museum of Fine Arts (2009–2010). Kim was the artistic director of the 6th Seoul International Media Art Biennale “Media City Seoul 2010”.