Digitial Frontiers: Going Mobile

electronic publishing,internet,media,UK — Tags: , , , — Danica @ 7:55 pm, December 13, 2012

Index on Censorship Cover[an update 13.02.2013.] you can download the article directly from SSRN database.

Who controls our free speech online? What are the limits of free expression on social media? Index on Censorship launched Digitial Frontiers, the latest issue of its award-winning magazine,  and the only publication dedicated to freedom of expression with an expert discussion on internet freedom.

I’ve contributed an article on how mobile technology plays  a vital role in activism, spreading news, and bridging digital divides. An excerpt:

…it takes more than a computer to bridge the gap. The mobile phone is emerging as a powerful tool for social engagement; mobile technology and social media applications are playing a vital role in giving excluded groups a voice. And mobile technologies are almost ubiquitous. Around 70 per cent of mobile phone users are in developing countries, mostly in the global South, according to the UN agency the International Telecommunications Union.
Mobile phones are the first telecommunications technology in history to have more users in the developing rather than developed world – with no legacy infrastructure to service, new providers are jumping straight to mobile. Advances in technology have made mobile phones an indispensable part of development. New mobile platforms are simple and portable.

Many thanks to Global Voices community for the insight information and conversations with citizen media activists, and to Simon Phipps for contributing. Subscription options are available from Index and Amazon. The publication will be available to order from December 15th.

Citation:

Radovanovic, Danica (2012). “Going Mobile: digital divides must be bridged”. In Digital Frontiers – Index on Censorship. SAGE, Vol. 41, No.4, 2012. pp: 112-116.

DOI: 10.1177/0306422012466804

Urban informatics and new opportunities for interdisciplinary exchange

As an internet researcher and social media consultant, I ask some of the guests of the Australian Science magazine and knowledge network to tell me and my readers more about themselves, their current projects, and their views on topics including internet technology, the use of the Web in science and education, and certain aspects of the digital technologies that influence our everyday lives and work. You can see the published interviews so far - here.   Earlier this month I had a conversation with Marcus Foth, the interview is published for Australian Science.

Marcus Foth is an Associate Professor and Director of the Urban Informatics Research Lab, as well as the Principal Research Fellow at the School of Design, Queensland University of Technology. He has authored and co-authored over 90 articles published in journals, edited books, and conference proceedings, as well as the Urban Informatics web site. You can follow him on Twitter.

Welcome to Australian Science. Would you, please, tell our readers a little bit more about yourself? Where do you come from, both geographically and philosophically? What is your scientific background, and your professional scope? 

Certainly. I was born and grew up in the Northern part of Germany, in a town called Lübeck, at the coast of the Baltic Sea, about an hour from Hamburg. After high school I moved what appears to be as far away diagonally as possible within Germany in order to commence a computer science degree at the University of Furtwangen in the Black Forest that offered a – at the time – unique specialisation: Medieninformatik which combined technology applications and media studies. This was in 1997. The internet was just starting to become commercially successful, and many current students were still working on kiosk installations and multimedia CD-ROMs which were the latest fad at the time.

This degree program included two industry internships as well as an opportunity to study abroad. Together with friends of mine we looked at a number of options and eventually applied for advanced standing into the Bachelor of Multimedia program at Griffith University in Brisbane where we continued our studies in 2000. Due to the credit transfer, we were able to graduate at the end of 2000. This was my first year in Australia, and I had an amazing time. So much so that I decided to take advantage of a Government initiative that made it easier for recent IT graduates to apply for permanent residency. I was also lucky that my application was processed very rapidly: I applied in March 2001 and returned to Brisbane in July 2001 on my PR visa.

I had finished all my coursework for the German CompSc degree, and all that was left to do was the graduation thesis. In the meantime, I enrolled into a Master of Arts in Digital Media program at Queensland University of Technology which was flexible enough to comprise project units that allowed me to write my thesis “Backing up the Smart State: E-Security in Queensland’s Small and Medium Enterprises.” This way I was able to graduate in 2002 with the CompSc Honours degree from Germany and an MA from QUT at the same time with only one extra year of studies.

QUT offered a great and dynamic environment. I was not part of the Faculty of IT, but the newly formed Creative Industries Faculty. So I was surrounded by colleagues from very different disciplinary backgrounds such as, anthropology, cultural studies, media and communications, visual arts, film and TV, music, communication design, etc. It was a stimulating environment to be part of, and I happily accepted the faculty’s generous offer to fund a scholarship to enable me to do my PhD with them.

This journey spanned already two very broad areas: technology (the computer science and multimedia parts) and people (the media and communication and creative arts parts). During my PhD studies I added a third area of great interest to me, that is, place. At a time when the internet was heralded as the death of distance, and policy makers and commercial entities were promoting telework, e-commerce, and distant education, I went quite the opposite way by suggesting that ‘place still matters’. My PhD thesis “Towards a Design Methodology to Support Social Networks of Residents in Inner-City Apartment Buildings” looked at the way that web-enabled technologies could be useful for local communication and interaction within community networks.

My PhD studies formed the headstone for the next couple of years: Right after graduating I was part of a great team of academics across media and communication studies, urban sociology, and architecture that won a three year Discovery grant from the

Australian Research Council including an Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship that supported my research between 2006 and 2008. We were successful with an additional two ARC Linkage grants the following year, and I spent some time at the Oxford Internet Institute as a Visiting Fellow in 2007. So these successes tremendously helped to build up momentum around what I eventually started to call urban informatics. However, this term is not my invention, it just seemed the most appropriate one.

Would you explain to our readers a bit about the Urban Informatics Research Lab, for those in the science and technology who may not be familiar with the Lab? Can you give us a story about the inception, history, work and achievements of the Urban Informatics Research Lab?

The Urban Informatics Research Lab was initially just a small but growing group of research staff and students working on a number of related grants funded by the ARC and partner organisations. This was back in 2006, and for a while we flew under the radar of the university’s administration winning research grants and squirrelling research papers.

The lab operates across the three domains that I mentioned earlier: people, place and technology, and so we house post-docs and research students from a variety of backgrounds: humanities and social science; urban planning, design and architecture; and human-computer interaction, information technology and computer science. What binds us all together is the shared focus on the nexus of all three areas. We came up with this definition of Urban Informatics that we are proud to say, was published in the CSCW 2011 proceedings on page 1. The fact that the paper appears on page 1 is actually arbitrary, but I still like to point it out ;-)

Urban informatics is the study, design, and practice of urban experiences across different urban contexts that are created by new opportunities of real-time, ubiquitous technology and the augmentation that mediates the physical and digital layers of people networks and urban infrastructures. (Foth, Choi, & Satchell, 2011).

A main driver of our work is the motivation to deliver not just rigorous research but also real world impact. We first started off with a study that significantly shaped the social sustainability strategies of the Kelvin Grove Urban Village, the Queensland Government’s flagship urban renewal project in inner-city Brisbane. The lab has also produced a number of technology innovations, such as CityFlocks – an early mobile location-based recommender system, DispoMaps – an iPhone app to temporarily share a map with your location details with others and then dispose of it safely, FixVegas – a mobile app that lets you take a photo of city assets and street furniture that require repair and submit a maintenance request to the local council, CapitalMusic – a mobile app to visually share what music you are currently listening to with people in your vicinity, and Discussions in Space – a hybrid mobile phone and public screen application that allows passersby to contribute content via SMS or tweets.

Can you share with us some personal notes regarding the Urban Informatics Research Lab, any challenges you faced along the way, and the outcome?

In the beginning our lab heavily depended on income from national competitive grants and we were lucky that the time was right for the research that we applied for. We still compete for national competitive grants, but we are also increasingly talking directly with partner organisations from the public and private sector about new research opportunities.

At the moment, we have research programs looking at urban planning and community engagement; environmenal sustainability and energy monitoring; food culture and the food interactions in the city; libraries as new hubs for digital culture and social innovation; and there are a number of applications in the pipeline and on the boil that may add new initiatives to the lab later this year and early next year.

Recently, the Urban Informatics Research Lab won the merit award in the R&D category at the iAwards QLD 2012 . Congratulations on the award! Can you describe the R&D project in particular? 

Thank you. Yes, the iAward was for Discussions in Space. We used it as a community engagement tool originally for a project with Brisbane City Council, but it has now been used successfully in a variety of other contexts, too, such as at Federation Square in Melbourne. In collaboration with FedSquare, Discussions in Space is used to engage with visitors during events such as Oprah’s visit, New Years Eve, Cadel Evans’ Tour de France victory parade, the Queen’s Royal Visit, and Thoughts for Molly Meldrum.

We are very pleased that Dr Ronald Schroeter’s excellent work on Discussions in Space has been recognised as the 2012 iAwards National Merit Recipient in the (more…)

Literature Time: Reading the Story for the Global Voices Podcast

The 12th edition of Global Voices podcast is bringing you this month some international story telling.  This edition is about literature and publishing. Newsroom journalist, host of BBC Outriders, and blogger, Jamillah Knowles gathered well-read members of the Global Voices team and created the wonderful podcast of beautiful readings of original work by GV authors and the wider community. For those who are not familiar with, I do write literature sometimes, given the fact that I come from literary and musical family, literature and arts are the part of my persona. So, I read one of my short stories. More about the background on the Global Voices podcast page.

Many of you asked and tried to guess what was the inspiration for the story (You Should Date a Woman Who Writes). I won’t tell you everything as I avoid to explain myself too much, especially in arts and literature. I’ve communicated the background to some of my Facebook friends on the network, and I thought it would be fair to share a few notes on my blog. On a personal note, the inspiration for the story was the situation from the past with a person who sent me the novel of Italo Calvino - ‘If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller’. I was totally mesmerized by it. It was my type of novel, totally written in a non linear way, very geeky and peculiar, many characters intertwining into different stories. After reading it, I just sat and wrote the story.

Also, I want to share a very interesting communication dynamics from the Facebook: one of my Internet colleagues - Nathan Matias, a poet and software engineer from the MIT Media Lab, gave a beautifully written literary review and the critic of the story. With the permission I am quoting his words here:

” (..) I really like your story’s playful, imaginative diversity of viewpoints. I love how it lingers over tumbling overflowing listed items of possibility, avoiding essentialism while staying firmly grounded in the beautiful scene in the middle. And then we’re off again, situating the “I” in the shared stories of women writers and imagining the addressee among similar if narrower possibilities as the speaker. I love how writing, in this story, becomes life itself, unfinished, open to new chapters, longing to close the gap between imagination and experience.  Wonderfully appropriate in a response to being given a Calvino novel : ) Again, thanks for sharing!”

Indeed, the story is left unfinished on purpose, in order to leave the open space for the new, future, and upcoming stories, essays and tales that have a non-linear dynamic of writing. I hope you will enjoy my reading (jump to 26.36”).

 

Connectivity Doesn’t End the Digital Divide, Skills Do #social_media

I wrote an article at the Scientific American blog highlighting digital divides – or digital inequalities, if you prefer – from other perspective, pointing out that these digital divides go far beyond pure infrastructure issues and need to become a key focus of engagement for profit and nonprofit organizations as they continue their missions to develop programs for social and digital inclusion.

Everyone’s talking about internet access: from European media to US media, stressing connectivity issues that merely compounding existing social inequalities as “new digital divides”, as if they are something new in the networked society. They are not.

According to the available measures, the selected indicators (such as gender, income, occupation, online experience, internet penetration, type of internet connection, etc.) are significantly related to the levels of (one’s country) per capita GDP, literacies, education, level of democratization, etc.  Being as one of the contributors for the forthcoming Routledge book on Digital Divide, I have presented some of the findings from my research, where I used the combined methodology: from web desktop analysis to online surveys and qualitative semi-structured interviews (N-125).
(more…)

The Internet and Social inequality: social media and digital divide

This is a post on what I was working on in the last few weeks, writing a book chapter for the great edition on the Internet and digital inequalities in International perspective including International contributors, and submitting some other papers on social networks and communication dynamics online.

Since many of you asked me on Twitter, email, Skype what the book chapter is about – I wanted to share with you a piece of it (the book is supposed to be published next year). It is individual work that is the result of several years of experience, qualitative research (semi-structured interviews), observations, recent talking and writing on different kinds of digital and social divides, social media and communication practices present on the Internet, and recently measured by quantiative (online surveys) and qualitative (semi-structured interviews, web desktop analysis, observation, etc.) research of mine. In short my focus for this book was on Internet and social media in European perspective – Balkan countries. My manuscript is theoretically grounded on social theories developed by the classical sociologists like Max Weber, Giddens, Meyorwitz and I applied them to the issues of Internet inequality.  (more…)

Digital Serendipities in Southeastern Europe – Featured Interview

I have been interviewed last month for the Open Society Foundations Blog on various topics related to digital use, online social interactions, digital divide, social networks and young adults in Southeastern Europe. I’m finding some interesting patterns that show what kinds of strategies policymakers should use to create and implement in education, government, etc.

Currently, I’m into data analysis, EDA, and writing, so you may not see me around that often. Check my Twitter updates and for the urgencies, comments, sharing, and caring feel free to email me.

[crossposting] Digital Serendipities in Southeastern Europe

Danica Radovanovic, Oxford, UK

As an Open Society Foundations Chevening scholar at the University of Oxford in 2009, and now as a PhD student at the Oxford Internet Institute, Danica Radovanovic focuses on the use of social new communication technologies in Southeastern Europe. Following her presentation on the “digital divide” in higher education at a recent Open Society Scholarship Programs conference for alumni from the Balkans, I spoke to Danica about the impact of online social interactions, especially in the Balkan region.

Why is it valuable to research online social trends, and how do you see your research contributing in that area?

It is important to understand and evaluate how people, markets, the economy and politics are moving from offline to online worlds and vice versa. I believe that research in social media and new communication technologies plays a crucial role in analyzing our society (more…)

Conference ‘The Future of Democracy in the Balkans’ and my talk on Digital Divide

I have just returned from OSF/Chevening conference where I’ve talked on the higher education panel, as the University of Oxford Alumni, the only Internet scholar, and information management specialist, on bridging the digital divide in the super connected world.
Slides of my presentation are on my SlideShare and the podcast is at my account on SoundCloud with all descriptions, credits, and tags. The recorded talk covers three major concerns in Internet and social media and higher education, all applicable in other areas: literacies, knowledge gap, and notworking/not collaboration. Interaction, thoughts, and comments of the audience are not included. I talked pretty fast, since I wanted to give more space for discussion, thoughts, sharing. I hope you will understand what I was talking about.

Ten years of Wikipedia – my personal greeting

It has been (already!) ten years since the Wikipedia started its activities as self-organized encyclopedia, global phenomenon gathering many volunteers world wide to collaborate in and contribute to this information and knowledge entity. As Social web researcher and an Internet Scholar I believe in the power of knowledge and collaborative ideas, actions as well as in free and open source information and knowledge, online communities and their power to make a difference. I’ve been writing (my Master thesis), bloggingparticipating, and contributing to this project, and for me Wikipedia is an excellent example of transparent, collaborative, and participatory information and knowledge movement and growing online community.

Working for over a decade in a related area, I perceive Wikipedia as an upgrowing phenomenon, a sustaining global change, where participation and interaction between contributors and users are very important. All of these present the future of the next generation of Web so Wikipedia has a bright future. With some concerns.

Being someone who’s involved indirectly and directly in Wikipedia and Wikimedia activities I want to emphasize three important points (not the only issues that Wikipedia has to embrace) in the years to come, as Wikipedia evolves globally sharing free information. First, it is increasingly important to have strong local chapters which are accessible to everyone. Achieving the balance is hard, but I believe that through the participation it is possible. All of you are showing every day that the focus on motivation and the mixture of the “ideology and fun” will deliver the strongest results. Beside further chapters formation, I’m also looking forward to seeing more lead initiatives in the higher education: engaging schools, universities and libraries, and social technology implemented in Wikimedia projects, which will increase the quality and the credibility of the content. And third equally important point is: I hope the focus, in the adolescence years of Wikipedia, will be on activities and projects in the developing countries, emerging, third world countries, where the access to the open and free information many times is not available. Also, I hope that the sharp divide between global West and global South and other developing ares in the world will slowly diminish.

With good hopes and good spirit, lots of good cheer, I wish everyone who is contributing to Wikipedia to stay creative, motivated, positive and inspired. I’m looking forward to collaborating with you in the upcoming years, I’m wishing you a happy birthday Wikipedia!

Sharing is caring: Open Access – Learn and Participate

“Open Access” to information [and knowledge, D.R.]– the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need – has the power to transform the way research and scientific inquiry are conducted. It has direct and widespread implications for academia, medicine, science, industry, and for society as a whole.

I have been writing earlier about the Open Access movement and its importance for the science, research and technology, as being involved in the several Open Access projects since 2005.  This year’s Open Access Week, October 18 – 24, is dedicated to the collaboration and participation through a broad range of initiatives around the globe, including many universities, research institutes, digital repositories, online databases, and other initiatives that support Open Access.

It is very important that the academic and research community continue to learn about the benefits of Open Access, since many electronic resources relevant to the education are still under locked archives, databases, and numerous valuable material stays behind the iron gates. Institutions, scholars, researchers, educators, librarians are encouraged to share what they’ve learned with peers, share their production,  and to inspire wider participation in making Open Access a new norm in research, technology, scholarship.

I’ve collected a short list of links to digital repositories, online databases with various e-resources, thesis, articles, papers. Feel free to include your list or share some interesting Open access project.

Does it matter to you? And how?

- JISC (brings advice on implementing OA to the universities and research institutions)

-OhioLINK Electronic Thesis and Dissertation website

- read at PLoSONE how Open Access increases Citation Impact for Higher Quality Research

-OpenThesis – Open Access repository of dissertations

-Collection of videos on Open Access week offical site

- SpringerOpen, open access for authors in all disciplines

- The London School of Economics. LSE Research Online

-The SOAP project

-Creative Commons and Open Access

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All views expressed on this web site are those of Danica Radovanovic and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other entity, including current and former employers. All the opinions expressed are Danica's alone, and are not influenced by sponsorship.

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