Presentation of the MediaMap-research method on the 32nd GMK-Forum on „Communication Culture“ in Cologne

KOMED_CologneKOMED-building in Cologne, Germany

I just got back from the really exciting and fruitful 32nd Forum on Communication Culture in Cologne (November 20th – 22nd 2015), which was on Communication cultures in digital worlds: concepts and strategies in media pedagogy and media education. The forum was hosted by the Society for Media Pedagogy and Communication Culture (GMK – Gesellschaft für Medienpädagogik und Kommunikationskultur).

Having been invited by Prof. Dr. Thomas Knaus (Scientific Director to the Frankfurt Research Center for Media Technology [FTzM]) to participate within his research workshop „Creative methods of researching digital communication cultures“, I had the great opportunity to discuss the „MediaMap“-research method that I developed in my ethnographic field research on the meanings of mobile phones in everyday life in urban Kenya (Nairobi).

A brief on the MediaMap-research method

The MediaMap

  • is an exploration of a qualitative media research-method that has developed from my ethnographic field research on the meanings of mobile phones in everyday life in urban Kenya (Nairobi)
  • it is a semi-structured, interactive combination of both an interview- and a mapping-method
  • it transcends the mere verbal level of interview-methods by adding a visual and a tactile layer
  • it aims for developing a holistic and contextualized understanding of media appropriation and media ecologies in their embedding in peoples everyday lives.

Below is a photograph of an example of a MediaMap as produced by a participant in my field research in Nairobi (Kenya):

example of a media map
© Michael Waltinger, 2014

A fully developed article on how the MediaMap exactly works as well as its theoretical and methodological framing will be published towards the end of 2016. If you are interested in the method or have any questions in the meantime, you are more than welcome to get in touch anytime.

 

 

 

„The Ambiguity of (Media-)Technology – and how to deal with it“: Expert-table @ the „Datafication of the Public Sphere“-Symposium (AIL, Vienna)

I have recently been invited to participate in an expert-table format at the symposium „The datafication of the public sphere“, which was held from May 7th – 10th, @ Angewandte Innovation Lab (AIL), The University of Applied Arts Vienna.

Essentially, the symposium – which was an inspiring and exciting event – was generally elaborating on the everyday use of smartphones from a rather artistic-scientific angle, I would say. It was great having been together in a panel with Ingrid Fischer-Schreiber and my college Leonida Mutuku from iHub Nairobi.

The expert-table starts with an introduction of all three speakers. Leonida Mutuku opens the round with a talk on the ICT-scene in Kenya (00:05:50 – 00:23:00) followed by Ingrid Fischer-Schreiber with insights into the latest (mobile)media-devleopments in China (00:24:00 – 00:59:00). Is is then my turn to speak about the ambiguities that are inherent in (media-)technology and how to deal with those from a perspective of media pedagogy and media ethics (00:59:15 – 01:14:30). The session is followed by a discussion of about half an hour.

You may download the paper of my talk here

 

Bastard CROWD [mobile] Expert-talks: Leonida Mutuku, Ingrid Fischer-Schreiber, Michael Waltinger from Angewandte Innovation Lab on Vimeo.

Expert-talks:

Leonida Mutuku,
Ingrid Fischer-Schreiber,
Michael Waltinger.

Bastard CROWD [mobile] The performative installation bastardCROWD[mobile] of choreographer and performer Daniel Aschwanden and media artist Conny Zenk, uses the text “Bastard Culture” by media theorist Mirko Schäfer as a starting point for investigating and questioning the everyday use of smartphones.

The “Selfie”-culture is only one phenomenon in the context of virally spreading digital communication devices. Aschwanden/Zenk, having performed artistic interventions in Beijing, Accra, Addis Ababa and Vienna, emphasize the global phenomenon of superposition of traditional forms of communication through new interface cultures.

The symposium “The datafication of the public sphere” examines the implications of a rapidly increasing digitalization of society and questions the limits of participation. It also asks for options how to embrace and learn about technologies when it comes to monitoring, controlling and exploiting.
08.05.2015

http://www.ailab.at

Video: Edward Chapon

Soon: Conference-participation „The Datafication of the Public Sphere“ investigating the everyday uses of smartphones

bastardCROWD [mobile]_pogramme overview

Are you interested in artistic-scientific explorations on the everyday use of smartphones? Come to the „The datafication of the public sphere“-symposium, May 7th – 10th, @ Angewandte Innovation Lab (AIL), The University of Applied Arts Vienna. I will be there, talking about the ambiguities of media and technology. I will share the paper on this blog here, afterwards.
See you there!

What? 

The performative installation bastardCROWD[mobile] of choreographer and performer Daniel Aschwanden and media artist Conny Zenk, uses the text „Bastard Culture“ by media theorist Mirko Schäfer as a starting point for investigating and questioning the everyday use of smartphones.

The „Selfie“-culture is only one phenomenon in the context of virally spreading digital communication devices. Aschwanden/Zenk, having performed artistic interventions in Beijing, Accra, Addis Ababa and Vienna, emphasize the global phenomenon of superposition of traditional forms of communication through new interface cultures.

The symposium „The datafication of the public sphere“ examines the implications of a rapidly increasing digitalization of society and questions the limits of participation. It also asks for optios how to embrace and learn about technologies when it comes to monitoring, controlling and exploiting.

Programme:

Thursday, 7 May 2015

19:00 Opening

19:30 Keynote by Mirko Tobias Schäfer

21:00 Performance: Daniel Aschwanden, Conny Zenk, Veronika Mayer

Friday, 8 May 2015

10:00-13:00 Masterclass Mirko Tobias Schäfer

14:00-16:00 Expert-talks: Leonida Mutuku, Ingrid Fischer-Schreiber, Michael Waltinger

16:30-18:30 Expert-talks: Philipp Ehmann, Wolfgang Fiel, Matthias Tarasiewicz, Stefanie Wuschitz

19:30-20:30 Performance: bastardCROWD[mobile] Daniel Aschwanden, Conny Zenk, Veronika Mayer, Raphael Michon, Indira Nunez, Nici Rutrecht

20:30-24:00 DJ sound chill-out: David Scheidl

Saturday, 9 May 2015

10:00-13:00 Workshop masterclass: Mirko Tobias Schäfer

14:00-15:00 Lecture: Konrad Becker

15:00-16:00 Expert-talks: Bogomir Doringer, Pinar Yoldas

16:15-17:15 Lecture: Thomas Ballhausen, 17:15-19:15 Expert-talks: Boyan Manchev, Andreas Spiegl

Sunday, 10 May 2015

11:00-17:00 Workshop 1: Making Artistic Technology #2: studio praxistext: playful technologies

Where? 

ANGEWANDTE INNOVATION LABORATORY (AIL)
FRANZ JOSEFS KAI  3
1010 VIENNA, AUSTRIA

The University of Applied Arts Vienna presents the Angewandte Innovation Lab (AIL) , an ambitious project whose goal is to facilitate an exchange between various disciplines such as art, design, economy, science, and technology.

Links:

Symposium: The Datafication of the Public Sphere
Bastard CROWD [mobile]
bastardCROWD [mobile] (Facebook-Event)

„Way Out“ – an artistic reflection on (mobile) digital life

Way Out from Yukai Du on Vimeo.

‘Way out’, an MA graduation film, is inspired by ‘Alone Together’ by Sherry Turkle and a reflection of modern life in this digital age. The exaggerated contrast between emotionless citizens and characterized phones reveals our over-­‐dependence on virtual communication. A dramatic and extreme consequence shows a negative attitude, for which no one can escape the trend of technology that originally comes from the endless appetence of human beings.

Please visit http://www.yukaidu.com/Way-Out-Animation to know more about the project.

Mobile phone „Call Data Records“ (CDR) for social science research (on Africa): opportunities and challenges

A person holding a phone while travelling on public transportation in Nairobi, Kenya (photo taken by the author during field research, © 2013 Michael Waltinger)A person holding a phone while travelling on public transportation in Nairobi, Kenya
(photo taken by the author during field research | ©  Michael Waltinger, 2013)

The Nordic Africa Institute (NAI) has released a brief news piece, talking about the opportunities and limitations of „call detail/data records“ (CDR), i.e. the information or metadata that is generated by the use of mobile phones, might offer for research. This big data is quintessentially used by the service providers in order to carry out accurate billing of their customers. According to NAI, such big data does not only include  information from internet browsing and geolocation, but also (mobile money) payment activities. “Since every phone is like a transmitter, CDR can show where people are and where they are going. This can facilitate studies on labour migration or people’s movement during conflicts“ say NAI-researcher Johan Kiessling.

When it comes to limitations of CDR, the NAI-article identifies two main themes:

(1) What is being tracked is not persons but rather devices (or SIM cards more specifically), and, as we latest know from James‘ & Versteegs (2007) seminal article Mobile phones in Africa: how much do we really know?, the figure of mobile phone users and mobile phone owners – especially in Africa – is not necessarily the same due to shared phone usage. For research on mobile phone diffusion, this means that there is a tendency of the figure of actual users being higher than the reported figure of registered SIM-cards (or lines, as they are called e.g. in Kenya). The latter, however, is the basis that most available longitudinal statistics (see ITU as an example) rely upon – the number of active SIM-cards as reported by the phone providers.* In relation to that, for research on the movement of people a major challenge will be that – especially in regions where shared access represents a dominant mode of phone usage – it will be difficult to pinpoint the movement of a „CDR-data point“ to a specific person. This would not only affect research on urban density or the movement of people, but also other potential use cases I do see for CDR in social science research, which is social network analysis or crime investigation for instance.

(2) The second drawback of the usage of CDR is that any conclusion that is drawn from such data is quintessentially non-representative, i.e. it allows conclusions for mobile phone users only. “CDR only tells us something about people with phones. It is likely that rich people have several phones and it is also likely that their behaviour differs from that of poor people. Thus, the information does not reflect the population at large. Particularly in Africa, many people live beyond the range of CDR and therefore it is tricky to draw general conclusions,” Johan Kiessling notes.

Generally speaking, another important question will be how such extremely sensitive data can be obtained or used anyway, which essentially is a matter of privacy, data protection and research ethics. This is, because while the availability of „call detail/data-records“ are problematic in their own right when it comes to privacy and/or security, the situation gets even more tricky when such data is merged with additional  publicly available data. An astonishing example on what such a merger might look like has been put together into an interactive graphic by the German weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT a while ago. A German green party politician had sued German telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom to hand over „six months of his phone data that he then made available to ZEIT ONLINE. [They] combined this geolocation data with information relating to his life as a politician, such as Twitter feeds, blog entries and websites, all of which is freely available on the internet“.

Click on the graphic below for the interactive map.

Interactive graphic by German weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT - click on the imagine in order to reach the interactive graphic on the publishers website

Interactive graphic by German weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT – click on the imagine in order to reach the interactive graphic on the publishers website

 

Source article: Cellphone data into research, the Nordic Africa Institute (December 2014)

 

*EDIT: While writing those lines here, I double-checked this fact for validity and found that the ITU recently changed their statistical basis, probably taking account of this weakness: as for the definitions and standards of their ICT-indicators, the ITU points out „Mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions, by postpaid/prepaid“ in the 2011-edition of their Handbook on Data Collection (see p. 33), but „Proportion of individuals using a mobile cellular telephone“ in the 2014-edition of the Handbook (see p. 60). While the former figure is based on registered SIM-cards as reported by service providers, the latter figure is derived from a survey question „Have you used a mobile telephone in the last three months? Yes/No“ (ibid.). This adaption should lead to a much clearer statistical picture of mobile phone access and usage than a ownership-based model.) 

Race-bending Disney Characters

The artist TT that runs the Tumblr Let There Be Doodles has created some truly amazing race-bent Disney characters as Women of Color. These challenge the imagination and set a reminder that non-white representations of beauty are still marginalized in the West. When asked, why TT started the „Racebent Disney series“, the answer was rather straight-forward:

For fun. I had no political agenda in mind for these edits (except maybe the desire to see a little more diversity), I just love working with character design. :)

Below, I’ve posted my favorites – some more are to be found in TT’s posts part 1 and part 2.

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tumblr_n4vpq6k64b1s0mof7o9_r1_1280  tumblr_n4vpq6k64b1s0mof7o8_r2_1280

 

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tumblr_n4vpq6k64b1s0mof7o3_1280  tumblr_n4vpq6k64b1s0mof7o2_1280

 

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Media and Development – More Questions Than Answers

defining home

wifi_home