Talk and Workshop on „Media and Cultural Education“ @Education is Relation not Output?-Conference (Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden)

Education is Relation not Output

The conference

It has been a great pleasure to attend the recent conference „Education is Relation not Output? – Scenes of Knowledge and Knowledge Acquisition“ (May 17th-19th 2016) at Linnaeus University in Växjö, Sweden.

The conference was held in cooperation with the international scientific network Tacit Dimensions of Pedagogy. The conference’s purpose was as follows:

Re-thinking the idea of university and scholarly life means to critically examine the conditions for teaching in terms of the current policy discourses and freely develop an idea of university out of an international perspectiveUniversity does not exist simply to convey information or expertise. It is a society in which everyone is responsible for in a reflected way participating in diverse relationships to him-/herself, to others and to the world, and, based on diverse forms of knowledge and representation, actively forming them. In this conference combined with other spaces for discussion perspective on university as a place for social development will be opened up by academic scholars as well as by professionals in the fields of school as well as of art.

My contribution on „Media and Cultural Education“

My own contribution was a talk and workshop that was held within the panel „Art, Visual Culture and Media„.

In my opening talk, I was aiming for tapping into the idea of shaping a perspective on university as a place for social development from an international perspective beyond simply conveying expertise, but to see the university as responsible in helping people to advance in a direction of reflectively participating in diverse relationships to oneself, others and the world.

Especially since contemporary life is happening in spaces of intense proximity, where the interdependence of the diverse nations and cultures becomes more and more obvious, it is important to empower people to competently navigate those spaces. Hence, I proposed an increased emphasis on and discussion of media and cultural education as a means to social cohesion within the university as a place of public education.

The conference paper of the talk (ca. 10 pages) can be downloaded here (pdf-file). A book publication as a conference outcome is forthcoming. My paper will be found there as an official publication then, too.

„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

10 Things Europe can learn from Kenya in Media and Innovation

1. Social Community Management
E.g. rural politics and governance via Twitter

2. Maximizing the Utility of Simple Technology (e.g. Feature Phones) that almost everyone has access to
Dating services, fan culture, market price-information, mobile healthcare, job listing-services, and many more

3. Political and Social Activism
Using widely available mobile media technology such as WhatsApp and Twitter to mobilize society e.g. against gender violence (here: #mydressmychoice)

4. Social Media for Formal Functions
Applying for a passport, locking a SIM-card, complaining about power cuts, applying for higher education college loans  – all via Twitter and SMS. And get sorted out!

5. Mobile Banking (m-Pesa)
Workforce from the cities can send money to rural relatives; pay for airtime, bills and taxes; allow for ‚online banking‘ without having access to the internet; micro-credits without complicated bureaucracy; withdraw money from mobile money agents; substitute for credit cards and formal banking while ‚banking the unbanked‘ – all via SMS and even with a simple ‚brick phone‘

6. Mobile Learning and Education
Allowing for exam preparation and revision with other students; substitute for expensive text-books in certain income levels (not a perfect substitute, though – but better than no text-book at all); child development information for young mothers for early disorder/disease prevention and support-information for raising and educating kids

7. Keeping up and Simplifying Diaspora-Home-Relations
Sending gifts, school fees or money for projects from the diaspora back home

8. Chamas (engl.: Merry-go-Round)
I.e. saving groups and small-scale bureaucracy-circumnavigating ‚community banking‘ (via mobile phones)

9. Accounting
‚Mama Mbogas‘ (grocery selling women in estates‘ streets) use phone apps to track stocks, income and expenses and do some business analytics

10. Crowdsourcing
Extending the longstanding harmabee-culture and taking it ‚online‘, e.g. a child from a certain village shall go to university and the whole community contributes to the admission/tuition-fees // crowdsourcing traffic information for circumnavigating massive traffic jams, e.g. ma3route.com // crowdsourcing information for conflict, crises or hate speech mapping, e.g. ushahidi.com

Many thanks to the colleagues from iHub, Nairobi!

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)

Africa’s Mickey Mouse: Ugandan Artists offer alternative visual worlds with local relevance

Graduates from Kampala (Uganda) have created Katoto, a whacky old man from a south-western Ugandan tribe who can be described „as your funny uncle who gets up to mischief“.

The interesting thing about Katoto is that it incorporates local relevancies (e.g. ethnicity, belonging) while at the same time tapping into more global phenomena (e.g. Katoto taking on the „Ice Bucket-Challenge“ or trying to take a „Selfie“). Notably, the format of the cartoon takes into account available local media settings; and mobile phones, like in other African countries, are among the probably most widely spread media forms. Considering that, the Katoto-cartoons are relatively short in duration (about 1 minute), so they can be easily shared via WhatsApp 1. There is also a Katoto YouTube-Channel, containing eight videos that have been watched about 133.000 times all-together at the time of writing this post.

Key to the creation of Katoto, according to its creators, are the culture and language of the Ugandan people. Katoto is a chance of a Ugandan self-portrait in an entertaining way. In order to make the strips accessible and convey meaning beyond the local language that Katoto speaks (and one that is also neither understood by all Ugandans nor by all of Katotos creators), the character and jokes are made as physical as possible, being „almost like pantomime“.

Source: „Ugandan dream to create a global cartoon character“ (BBC; Clip on YouTube)

Notes:

  1. From my own field research in Nairobi (Kenya), I have found that WhatsApp, in the last year or so, has become increasingly popular and started to be used more widely, i.e. not by upper class elites only.

The Right to Exist on a Map: The Example of Kibera

MapKibera in wired uk magazine_edited

Until some years ago, Kibera in Nairobi (Kenya) was nearly absent from the worlds online maps and atlases. No one exactly knew how vast the place really is, how its spacial structure is set up or how many people it could possibly accommodate. Some of these knowledge gaps do still persist, some got – at least partly – solved: thanks to Map Kibera, a citizen mapping and citizen media project that is based on the Ushahidi platform.

Kibera, the second largest slum in sub-Saharan Africa, was a blank spot — one that had been photographed and filmed thousands of times but that no one had ever attempted to document properly.Sande Wycliffe

It was in the year 2009 when some young Kiberans started the project with an inital mapping phase in order to create an open source digital map of their own community. „Subsequent mapping focused on specific thematic areas that were considered to be of primary importance: health, security, education, and water and sanitation. New rounds of mapping added details such as operating hours and services provided by private clinics“. In the meanwhile the citizen project has matured into a complete interactive community information project.

The benefits of the project might actually be seen as manyfold. First of all, the activities that revolve around this community media activity involve skill training (i.e. using computers, video editing, citizen journalism) for those left behind by the digital divide. Additionally, according to Sande Wyclif, „several Map Kibera volunteers now have new social skills and greater comfort in public speaking and encountering strangers. This is both within Kibera, where they have had to reply to general inquiries about the activity, and in greater Nairobi, where they have been invited to participate in functions such as meetings and conferences about technology“. Secondly, Map Kibera is an outstanding opportunity to get important accurate data of the dwelling that is mainly useful for the community itself, but might as well be of interest to certain other groups such as researchers, policy makers, and so forth. Last but not least, „the project has been widely embraced as the realization of something previously missing, yet clearly fundamental: the right to exist on a map.“

Sources: 
Map Kibera – Making the Invisible Visible (Project Website)
„Mapping Kibera“ by Sande Wycliffe (Blogentry on the Voice of Kibera-Blog)

„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.) 

Binyavanga Wainaina on „helping“ Africa

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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