Friday, November 23, 2007

TASA conference 07

Finishing off that chapter took longer than expected but I finally wound it up, a bit hastily towards the end, simply so I can move on to a new one. The last few days I've been polishing a paper for the TASA conference being held in Auckland, New Zealand from Dec 4-7th. I'm feeling increasingly anxious about the election this Saturday. Particularly with the different poll results this morning. For the first year I'll be booth coordinator at one of the voting stations in the inner west. Crossing fingers that Howard is voted out!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

a chapter

It's been a slog but I think I'm getting close to the end of a chapter of my thesis. I'm not sure it was the best move to start somewhere in the middle but at least it's given me a clearer idea of what I need to cover earlier on in the thesis.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Moving closer to thesis

I wonder how close you can get to 'thesis' before writing it. I'm now so close that the only thing separating me and thesis is this blog post. Since coming back from parenting leave, I presented my research at a Postgraduate Seminar day at CCR, submitted a journal article to M/C and an abstract to the annual cultural studies conference at the end of the year. At a recent meeting with my supervisors I went over a fleshed out thesis structure/outline and I guess they pretty much validated my approach enough that I really have no excuse but to write. I've either got sufficient back story developed, or I've run out of time. Either way it's time to get down to it. So today, Monday, I'm going to start one thesis chapter. It's not at the beginning and it's not at the end. It's somewhere in the middle...

Monday, July 09, 2007

Mobile Media 2007

I've just finished attending the Mobile Media Conference 2007 held at the University of Sydney from July 2-4. The conference was truly international. I think it may have had more delegates from abroad than from Australia. This did not detract from the conference though. In fact, it felt rather special to be attending a conference as an Australian research student with such an impressive line up of academics and researchers from around the world. Many of the "heavy weights" in this emerging field of study were there, including Rich Ling, Genevieve Bell, Judy Wajcman, Leopoldina Fortunati, Gerard Goggin and Misa Matsuda. They added a depth and grounding to the conference that was very beneficial and well received by the other delegates, it seemed.

I didn't give a paper at this conference although wish that I had! At the time that papers were being invited I was about to go on parenting leave so didn't feel that it would be manageable. Nevertheless, I got a lot out of the conference just by attending, probably more than if I had presented. The first day of the conference was a bit slow in my view, although the opening key note talks were fantastic. I think the subsequent panels may have found it difficult to match the level at which the conference was opened by Leopoldina and Judy. The following two days though were very good and there was a lot of excellent and inspiring material presented. It was good that there was some attention given to mobile media as a technology in process/in definition and not something that is fixed. Assumptions made about shared understandings of central concepts is a problem that I've encountered in a few conferences that I've attended. I'm glad that Genevieve Bell and some other speakers provided an anti-dote to this tendency. I met a couple of students doing research on work and technology. I hope to see there work published or presented in the near future.

This conference probably came at a good time for me. I've completed the draft of the paper for the post graduate seminar and feel inspired to keep writing up my analysis. I'm hoping to now focus on another aspect of my findings and write these up as a journal article for the upcoming issue of M/C on the theme 'error'.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Presenting my research

I put my hand up to present at the upcoming Postgraduate Seminar day. I had to pull my own arms to do it because I'm still not feeling completely up to speed but I think it will be a good time to get some input and will help me to articulate my findings in a structured and hopefully interesting way. Here is the draft abstract for the presentation. I'm not completely sold on the title yet. "Staying ahead" doesn't quite sum up the idea. "Staying on top of things" does but it's a bit clunky. Any ideas appreciated.

Always on, Staying ahead: the culture of availability and adaptability at work

This presentation will recap on the progress of my PHD research on office workers and their daily interactions with and through their information and communication technology (ICT). I will focus on the findings of the research I conducted in two organisations; a local city council in Sydney and a global telecommunications company based in Melbourne. Two themes emerging from this research are highlighted, first a pressure experienced by workers to be available (through their technologies) to work at any time and secondly, a pressure to stay on top of changes experienced in the technologies of work as well as in the volume and flow of work. The findings demonstrate how these demands are internalised and externalised by workers in their daily interactions with technology, how they are unevenly experienced across and within the two organisations and how workers obtain and keep their '-abilities'. The findings contribute to an understanding of how employability is heterogenously configured through sociotechnical arrangements and how it manifests in contemporary office work.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Long time, no post

Wow, being a parent takes up a lot of time. How do so many parents keep blogs? It seems an amazing feat of time management to me. After taking three months leave from my PhD I'm now back on the job. I started back two weeks ago and am slowly getting the old brain cells re-activated. Not sure if they'll ever be the same though I must say, mainly due to chronic low-level sleep deprivation. Actually, S. and I are very fortunate in that regard. Casper mostly sleeps through the night with one middle of the night feed and then wakes at 6am or 6:30am. I'm a bit surprised with myself that I enjoy parenting as much as I do. It's really hard work but the rewards are great. Casper pays me in smiles and cooing. Who would of thought they'd be so valuable?

I rented a room close by in a friend's house to use as my PhD office. Going out to Parramatta campus every day seemed a long way away if there were any problems at home and also now that I'm at the writing stage of my thesis I really need a quiet and private space. I've been riding my bike to my office in Dulwich Hill the last few days. The first day I rode I got hit by a car! It was quite a shock. I've never been hit before. I was cycling along Stanmore rode and a four wheel drive approached Stanmore Road from a sidestreet. He started moving forward just as I was cycling past the t-junction. For some reason (he claimed it was the sun in his eyes), he didn't see me and slowly advanced into me. Thank goodness it was slowly. As it was, he hit the side of my bike and I fell sideways onto Stanmore Road. There were no cars in my lane behind me otherwise I'd be splat. I pulled over and yelled at the man in the 4 wheel drive but it was hard to stay being angry with him since he apologised profusely and looked genuinely mortified at what he'd done. I've found a back route that is a little safer but it's frightening how easy it is for something unexpected to happen.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Blissful moments

Originally uploaded by qwerty_the_dog.
Is that a smile? Surely it can't all be wind...

Casper Capsule

Originally uploaded by qwerty_the_dog.
Casper in the car capsule with a nappy halo to prevent head rolling.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Originally uploaded by qwerty_the_dog.
A very unsteady-on-his-feet bunny staggered into Marrickville Hetro (oops I mean Metro) to find some booze (I mean eggs). Not sure I'd want to follow this white rabbit down any holes.

marrickville metro

marrickville metro
Originally uploaded by qwerty_the_dog.
Our first shopping expedition with Casper. We walked down to the lovely Marrickville Metro. Usually not my favourite place for an afternoon out but today it was like disneyland after being in the house for the last two weeks. All three of us got cheap t-shirts from a bargain basement fashion house.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Another Onsey

Originally uploaded by qwerty_the_dog.

King Casper

Originally uploaded by qwerty_the_dog.
His regalness in deep thought about the next meal.

Casper in a Bonds onesey

Originally uploaded by qwerty_the_dog.
Thanks to a thoughtful relative, we have an almost endless supply of Bonds onesies.


Originally uploaded by qwerty_the_dog.
We are totally wrapped about our little boy, but as far as wraps go, it's impossible to match the wrap of a hospital midwife.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Welcome Casper

Casper was born at 2.15am on Wednesday 21st March weighing 4.4 kilos and we are all doing well!!! Photos coming. As Murphy's Law would predict, my internet access at home has decided to go on the blink. Stay tuned...

Friday, March 16, 2007

In the State Library

Unconcerned with arbitrary due dates set by medical practitioners and dating scans, baby is staying put for the moment, one week after its "due date". S. and I are in a state of suspense wondering just when labour will start. It's a very good exercise in patience and adopting a 'take it as it comes' attitude. Since we have a little more preparation time, S. is making the most of catching up with friends, having naps and nesting. I'm doing a bit of that too, but today I've decided to get a bit of work done on my Phd at the State Library. I'm trialling the NSW State Library on Macquarie Street as a potential place to do occasional work on my thesis while on parenting leave and more permanently from June when I return to study full time.

The jury is out yet on whether the State Library is a suitable place to work for the longer term. I am feeling more settled after a few hours but the level of disciplining of the library users here truly gives me the shites. Of course, it does depend slightly on who is working on the day, but the execution of the rules and regulations and technologies of access and control are really quite oppressive. Twice, I've heard security officers explain that some of these rules are to prevent homeless people "living in the library". Honestly, if it meant having a toilet inside the library proper instead of outside the security gates, and being able to hire overnight lockers - then I think it would be worth sharing the space with a few people who may not have permanent abodes. Why is there a problem with homeless people using the library as a home-while-they-have-no-home anyway?

Monday, March 12, 2007

City of Sydney "Master Plan" for Sydney Park

On Saturday, S., dog and I headed over to Sydney Park to attend a community consultation session run by Sydney Council (City of Sydney) on their new vision for the park. The session was staged as a "fun" event. There was a sausage sizzle and council staff handed out show bags for dogs, free plants and kites for the kids. A number of blown up maps displayed the "Master Plan" for the park and details of specific sites. The plan is to build an "all abilities playground" as well as setting aside space for a commercial kiosk near the King Street/Princes Highway entrance to the park. The plan also involves significant earthworks to reshape the Village Green into an outdoor ampitheatre. The Village Green is the most accessible of the green spaces from surrounding residential areas. A row of now established Morton Baby figs along the Village Green will have to re-located as part of the plan. There was an intention to continue the natural re-vegetation of the park and wetlands but this was given lower priority.

Sydney Park was originally managed by South Sydney Council and they initiated the bulk of the re-generation of the park from waste tip to natural wetlands. Over the years the park has been transformed from an uninhabitable wasteland (literally) to the largest open green space in the city next to Centennial park. One of the things I love about the park is that, to date, the focus has been on planting and building a wetland and native wildlife habitat and not on landscaped gardens, kiosks, picnic and bbq grounds, sports fields and playgrounds.
I'm not sure if this was the vision of South Sydney Council but over the years it has established itself as a unique city park fashioned in a different image to the landscaped gardens of the nineteenth century. The park is not like someone's backyard or a highly landscaped private residence. It's not Centennial Park. It's more like a mini national park. When you are in the park it feels as though you have left the city.

As the park has become more established, so has its popularity. It is visited by a multitude of walkers, dogs, kids, picnickers, kite flyers, ball-kickers, joggers, cyclists, rollerbladers and more. It seems clear the focus on re-generation of flora and fauna has not reduced or denied human use of the park. On the contrary, the strategy has led to use of the park by an enormous variety of people with a range of abilities. I am convinced the park has become a central hub for existing local residents as well as for the "re-generation" of surrounding commercial areas at the far end of King Street. Developers want to get a slice of the "added value" that the park offers with more and more apartment blocks being constructed close to the park. Over the last year or so, the Village Green has been leased out increasingly by Sydney Council as an outside ampitheatre for large events like "Soundwaves".

The City of Sydney has now come in with a plan that significantly changes the direction of the park and I fear that the new direction for the park won't benefit the people most effected, that is, local residents. The development will attract more commercial events, more people who "drive" to the park from regions further afield, larger groups of picnickers and more cars. Existing habitats will be significantly disrupted during the construction works including use of the park by local residents.

I suspect that the park plan is about making more money for the City of Sydney Council through increased leases of the Village Green to commercial events, renting out the Kiosk and other commercial outlets. The playground is a "sweetner" to local residents, but I'm not convinced that even this has been developed with local residents in mind. My view is that kids playgrounds are best located in the midst of high density living, for example, on street corners. Playgrounds suit very young children (I remember being over playgrounds by the age of 4 or 5) and are best located metres away from a house or apartment, not a drive away or a long walk crossing major highways. There are plenty of these urban playgrounds throughout the inner city and many of them are in dire need of repair. What about repairing these playgrounds and making them accessible to all abilities?

One of the Council reps said to me on the day, "A park is just like a house that you want to invest in and add value to". I disagree. A park is nothing like privately owned property. What Sydney Park currently offers inner city residents - a large, green, open space with plenty of trees and wildlife - is incredibly valuable, unique and a "vision" worth preserving. There is no reason to "develop the park". The continuation of the re-generation strategy and the repair of the old brickworks so they can be used safely as a park space is all that is required.

It sounds to me like this Master Plan by the City of Sydney is already a done deal. The scheduled works are due to commence in May and the Councillor presenting the development described the consultation as "refining" the park design. Perhaps objecting to their proposal is a waste of time but if you are concerned at all about their plan, as I am, I recommend writing a letter to City of Sydney as soon as possible, raising some of these issues about the park development.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Paper Dolls

Last night, S. and I walked up to the Newtown Dendy to watch the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras screening of Paper Dolls. This documentary film from Israel focuses on the lives of a troop of Phillipino transgender caregivers who have migrated to Israel as part of a foreign workers program to replace Palestinian workers no longer permitted to work in Israel after the second Intifada. The caregivers work for elderly orthodox Jews living in the orthodox quarter of Tel Aviv. By night they perform as "The Paper Dolls" in night clubs close to Tel Aviv's Central Bus Station.

It was a bit of a push for us to make it to the film. It was on at 9pm and S. is 39 weeks pregnant this Friday. She gets pretty tired in the evenings and sitting in a cinema seat for any length of time is uncomfortable. However, when I saw this film in the guide we knew it would be worth making an attempt to see it since it's the kind of film that will probably not get a mainstream release. This film was really touching and delved into a number of issues thoughtfully and sensitively. I found it quite confronting to see up close the experience of foreign workers living and working in a society in which they are not able to fully participate and which does not provide any of the protections afforded to citizens. The harsh migration policies that govern the status and movement of the foreign workers in Israel reminded me of the current Australian migration policies covering foreign workers on 457 visas. On top of this hard hitting political dimension, the film also revealed the difficulties and tenderness in the relationships between the caregivers and their Jewish employers and the various ways that the Paper Dolls negotiate and maintain their transgender identities and how the elderly clients come to accept them. I enjoyed it tremendously and highly recommend it.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Back at home

I'm back at home and the humans, the dog and cat have finally re-established their domestic routines. It's easy to underestimate how unsettling it can be to pack up all your belongings, move out for a while, have the house painted and then move back in. Unfortunately, after making some really good headway on my PhD at my mum's house, the thesis has taken a bit of a back seat lately. It's not that I haven't got work done but it feels more distant and not at the forefront of my thoughts and activity. I'm not too worried about this. The amount of work I'm doing is about as much as I can handle under my current circumstances. I have managed to complete the processing of all my interviews and have moved on to the indexing of them into a single document. A number of themes have emerged which have guided a new thesis structure that I'm reasonably happy with at the moment.

I haven't announced the particularities of my circumstances on my blog yet, but feel that now is the right time to do so, what with the due date in clear view. My partner and are having a child. S. is due to give birth on March 9th and baby is packing on as much weight and other physiological goodies as it can in the final days before it emerges into the world. We are of course excited (the obvious emotional state that everyone expects) but are also experiencing an enormous spectrum of other emotions. I guess excitement is the easiest one to pinpoint, understand and share with others, particularly strangers. But other feelings such as terror, trepidation, anticipation, curiosity, nervousness, pride, strangeness, suspense, a kind of inward melting (love?) and wonder are just some of the other feelings that toy with me on a daily basis. What I find so odd is how emotions around birth and becoming a parent are often presented to be quite simple and well, universally positive and 'natural' when in actuality, when you are touched closely by the experience either through a member of your family, close friend or through direct personal experience, there are just so many different emotional states and shades of feelings that people experience that expressing this complexity is close to impossible. Perhaps this is why we resort to platitudes such as "we are so thrilled" or "they must be so excited", when we refer to child birth and why so much cultural labour goes into presenting it as simple and 'natural'.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Holiday from home

This morning I dropped off our cat at a local cattery and the dog at my partner's parents place and then drove over to my mum's house, where I unpacked the car and spent a bit of time settling in to her spare room. We're staying here for just over a week while our house is painted and the back of the house next door is demolished.

It was kind of a shock to discover that our neighbour's renovations were to start so soon, but we've decided to make the most of it and so booked the painters to do our place while they do the worst of the demolition work next door. We weren't keen to stay there, not just for the noise, but also because the neighbour has an outshed with asbestos lining. We have been assured they are taking the correct precautions to eliminate asbestos dust but we've had difficulties with this neighbour in the past and after her architect was rude and unhelpful on the phone, funnily enough, we didn't feel assured at all. We warned the painters and have asked them to look out for any dust plumes. If they spot any I'm on to Workcover so fast they won't see what's hit them.

So here I am - staring out at the yachts bobbing about on the bay and the occasional ferry chufing past - a very different side and view on Sydney than the charming, higgly-piggly innerwest I'm so used to. I've only ever stayed here overnight. That was a few years ago when my partner and I returned from a holiday early after fires started in the Kosciusko National Park where we were camping. That was a few years ago now, maybe 2003 or 2004. The park was probably just starting to recover and this year it's under threat again with more summer fires.

But it's pretty nice here and very luxurious - a waterfront mansion on the North Shore. The views are spectacular and I'm hoping they will give me some extra inspiration on my thesis. I'd like to have an introduction roughly drafted for a meeting with my supervisor this Thursday. One aspect of the house that concerns me is its energy wastefulness. I have taken a rather soft stance on this in the past with my mum and her husband, not wanting to impose my views and way of doing things on them, but since I'm here for a week and half I'm going to see if I can at least get a compost and better recycling system in place. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Taking shape but still a sack

Why can't you copy and paste text from Microsoft Word for Mac into a blogger post? I have to take an indirect route by pasting text in my stickies first and then copying and pasting it into the post. I thought the problem might disappear when I upgraded my Mac OS but alas no. Anyway, that's not what I wanted to say.

I’m now up to the tenth interview processed. This process I’ve been undertaking constitutes my analysis to date. It has become somewhat systemitized as I've evolved my own special analytical method. I listen to the recorded interview, compare it to the typed up transcript and attempt to correct typos and fill in inaudible sections. This is not done very easily since whatever the transcriber couldn't make out I generally can't make out either. I make handwritten notes – to mark the main quotations and answers in the text in my exercise book. I then type up the notes by reading through the transcript again and simultaneously extract relevant and interesting quotes into examples and issues (if the quotes aren’t likely to be used in my thesis for example).

I am mindful of the kinds of issues that might be useful for the organisation in relation to potential recommendations about how to develop their IT system and strategies and note these below my other observations. I have started to index all of these example quotes and issues under major headings.

Something is starting to emerge. What it is I'm not quite sure. At the moment it’s so embryonic its difficult to say what it is or what shape it has. Maybe a sack. My thesis is a sack. My supervisor tried to help me transform it into chapter headings for my thesis the other day. I so wish the material would fit neatly under these headings and I have redone my thesis table of contents based on these headings but alas, I’m not so sure they do very well...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

First day back

Hello 2007. My first day at work on my thesis in the new year. It feels strange to be back at my desk by the 2nd of January although it helps that it's pissing down with rain and quite chilly for a Sydney summer day. In previous years I have taken a longer break over this period and often I go out of town. Last year this time I was in the UK with my partner after travelling around Eastern and Central Europe for a month. In Australia, this is traditionally the time when most people take their annual hols. This year, I've taken off just one week at the same time that my partner took her leave.

Celebrations around Christmas and New Year were great and I always enjoy the feast of food and family but after a week of it I am ready to crawl into a nice, little, solitary corner with a book and be alone with my thoughts. Some people really thrive on being surrounded by people and activity and find it an energising experience but for myself, I need to have time alone to recharge.

Just before Christmas, I had a very inspiring meeting with my supervisor recapping on what I was up to with my analysis and how to move forward with structuring my thesis. I hope I can recapture some of that inspiration two weeks on.