Thursday, July 28, 2005

Scholarship approved!

Well I'm pretty stoked. I found out the other day that I have been offered the International Scholarship to go to Sweden. Wow! I'm also pretty nervous and the wave of panic associated with my fear of flying hit me about 1.5 seconds after the wave of excitement upon finding out. I'm seriously considering attending one of those desensitising workshops at the airport. The only problem is they cost a bomb. Oh I so shouldn't use that word!

My proposed research for this Scholarship is an enquiry into innovations in mobile office technology by the two cellphone companies – Ericsson, of Sweden and Nokia, of Finland. The scholarship will provide me with an opportunity to conduct fieldwork for the final chapter of my PHD dissertation on mobile technologies and the ‘the office of the future’. It will also result in a series of papers and articles exploring the cultural, historical and geographical roots and context of these key mobile technology enterprises. The research will involve a visit to the headquarters of Ericsson and Nokia, which accommodate the R&D departments of both companies, to tour their facilities and conduct an interview with the design teams.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Originally uploaded by Juzza.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


The sky is fading, the blue leeched out of it like an ancient pair of stone washed jeans. The light that's left clings to the roof tops. I sit at my desk looking out at the street through the narrow terrace windows with their horizontal bars. The ink of night seems to be seeping up from the earth, erasing all detail from the gum trees and houses...oh geez, that's's dark already.

Feeling much better. My cold is almost gone. Unfortunately I passed it on to my partner who came down with it quite severely and then just as she was recovering, an opportunistic stomache virus seemed to slip in and caught her unawares. She has been really sick the last few days but is back to work today.

Meanwhile I have had bursts of energy that I've spent on preparing and painting two walls, one in the study and one in the bedroom, prior to the installation of our built in wardrobes that are being installed tomorrow!!

I'm very excited about this. Yes, storage does make me happy. The days of living with piles of boxes in the corner of each room will be over. I do like things to be put away but I'm not really fussed about cleanliness. A bit of dirt here and there, that's OK, it doesn't bother me but I really don't like clutter and mess. Where I got this preference for things being in their place is not very hard to imagine. I have tempered my mum's love of all things neat, clean and tidy to just focus on the neat and tidy bit and have rebelled against the clean.

Yesterday I handed in my application for a Postgraduate Scholarship in Sweden to take place later this year. I was in two minds about whether to apply and decided that I would focus on the application as a process in itself and I'm glad I did this because it has clarified my ideas about my PHD thesis and made me reflect on how the stuff I'm learning and researching can be applied to other outcomes such as seminar and conference papers. However, I remain concerned I may not be able to afford eight weeks in Sweden and then another month in the UK when I could be in Australia conducting field work.
Three years is such a short time to do a thesis. It only really makes sense if I can justify the trip based on its direct relevance to my PHD, in terms of material collected and research conducted. Well, I did it anyway, and who knows whether I will be successful or not. My philosophy is to make the most of every opportunity and experience because it is only three years and though it may very well result in a better thesis to spend the entire time with my head down reading and focusing on my research, I want to experience more than that during my PHD.

Talking about reading, at the moment I'm reading Kenneth Gergen's "The Saturated Self" and "Emotions in Social Life", an anthology of writings on the emerging field of sociology of emotions. I'm also dipping into "The Social Shaping of Technology" to reacquaint
myself with some of the social constructivist approaches to technology. I need to finalise my confirmation of candidature document and have sort of drifted away from the headspace I was in when I wrote it. My supervisor is arranging the committee presentation date for the first week of August. Small wave of panic...

Friday, July 08, 2005

bad cold and rambling thoughts

Not quite so early at the desk this morning. It's 10.31 am.

I shouldn't really be here at all but in bed. My sore throat has evolved into a pretty bad cold and I have all the undesirable symptoms that go with it - running nose, headache, sore shoulders, sneezes, watering eyes. Oh how lovely.

It's a wet and cold day too and snowing in Kosciusko at last check. Sometimes, like today, you can guess that it's snowing because the temperature drops and there is a chill in the air that feels like it's come off the mountains and travelled down to the coast.

Stayed up a little later than I intended last night watching for any updates on the blasts in London. My partner's sister is in London and we were in contact with her via email to make sure she was OK.

It seems very surreal, from Sydney. I can imagine it must feel very unworldly for Londoners. I've checked the BBC web site and Sydney's ABC web site. The Internet seems to come into its own during incidents such as this. One Londoner put it, "the Internet has been my window into the world during this event". I've been thinking a bit about what is different about it. What is it about the Internet and its uses today that means that during an emergency incident, it takes on a more significant role than it ordinarily does, particularly in relation to other media? My thoughts on this are a kind of cold affected ramble through the myriad of ways of thinking about this topic.

Partly, from a production perspective,
the ability to deliver information rapidly and without interruption are both critical functions of the media during an emergency event. The Internet seems to enable the collection, composition and delivery of information from distributed sites and additionally, requires less orchestration that other media forms. This means it doesn't rely on as many punctuated points in the production process. Punctuated points can be knocked out easily as a result of interrupted or partial network services, and this can effect the delivery of information anywhere along the production path. These characteristics of the Internet give it an advantage over other media forms during the coverage of an emergency incident.

The other difference is that the Internet facilitates the collection and delivery of multiple media forms without the same requirement for it to be 'packaged' or bundled to the same extent as other media forms.

Let's look at broadcast television. You do see quite a bit of improvisation - rough and ready camera footage, extra heads and torsos appearing in frame occasionally and people wandering in and out of conversations while they are being filmed.
Increasingly too, you see the incorporation of other media into the live broadcast such as personal hand held videos (the coverage of 9/11 relied heavily on personal videos). You could even argue that these aspects operate as the signature of the 'live emergency event' and perhaps define it as a genre. Ultimately though, stories are still required to be assembled and delivered ('bundled') into the rather narrow parameters of what has become expected of this media form over its lifetime.

The Internet as a media form, on the other hand, does not have quite the same limitations. It facilitates the use of data from a much broader set of media forms such as text from sms, chat, images and sound from photos and video and the composition of this data in multiple mediums (web, chat, video, radio etc) and in multiple formats (news web site, blog). This means a media response can be formulated in a broader set of spatial and temporal configurations and it can be delivered more rapidly.

So while you could argue that during the broadcast of an emergency incident, television and radio operate under a changed set of conditions and with different expectations, and that this gives these media forms more latitude for impromptu improvisation, I argue (for the sake of this exercise at any rate), that the Internet is not as 'bundled' and furthermore, because it cannot be conceived as a single medium, its properties allow it to perform an extra ordinary role in the emergency event.

However, all of these characteristics really only makes a difference for the information producer. Access to the Internet can be just as disrupted as other telecommunication services, with ultimately the same result for the end user or consumer. One of the other aspects of the Internet as a media form during the emergency event, is that it can perform multiple purposes. It can act like a poster or billboard, as a news channel, commentary site, collection of personal experiences to name a few examples. These interventions into the emergency event support and create a different set of relationships between the information producer and information consumer than that of other media forms.

So to wind up this rather long winded ramble, perhaps the defining differences come down to two main factors;

- the Internet
as a media form, must be understood not a single media that requires the conditioning and framing of information into a single broadcast stream, but as a multicast platform with multiple data streams.

- the Internet is, partly because of its multicast technical properties described above and partly because it
is less bundled or 'packaged' can:

* deliver information more rapidly
* be less prone to interruption or disruption in the production and delivery of information
* perform mutiple purposes or roles

All of these contribute to the emergence of a different set of relationships between the information producer and consumer and gives the Internet an extra ordinary role in relation to other media during the emergency event.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

nice day but sore throat

Crisp, cloudless my desk by 9.10am.

I sent off my Confirmation of Candidature (COC) document to my supervisor a few days ago. I know I could do more work on it but am now wondering if I should set it aside and start focusing on the next task at hand. I think that's the Ethics Application. Also, I think I have outgrown the format and structure of the COC in terms of developing my ideas. The thought of the thesis being the next structure to start working on is pretty frightening. I'm hoping that the presentation of the COC to the committee panel will give me some solid feedback on the research. I don't feel like I've quite got the research design sorted out. I still need to locate my research sites and I think the research questions may still be a bit vague and un-anchored somehow.

The cat is stretched out on top of my monitor. She seems to have put on a little bit of a winter tum which is sort of drooping over the top of the display at the moment and obscuring the menu on my desktop. The dog meanwhile is curled up in her bed next to the heater to my left.

My throat is really sore this morning and all my glands are up. I'm finding it hard to focus on my readings. I'm working through "Virtual Society? Technology, Cyberbole, Reality" edited by Steve Woolgar at the moment.