(May 2003 - March 2007.) Tama's thoughts on the blogosphere, podcasting, popular culture, digital media and citizen journalism posted from a laptop computer somewhere in Perth's isolated, miniature, urban jungle ...

Network Media Symposium Report

Monday, September 13, 2004
On Friday and Saturday past, UWA's Institute for Advanced Studies facilitated a symposium under the title Network Media: Code, Culture, Convenion. The symposium was organised largely around Mark Poster's visit to the IAS where he is currently residing as a Professor-at-Large. Mark opened the symposium with a wonderful lecture on Globally Networked Media and Postcolonial Theory which, among other insights, argued for analyses of specific media in relation to the postcolonial. Then, on Friday and Saturday, six papers were presented by: Ross Gibson from UTS, Majorie Kibby The University of Newcastle, Terry Flew Queensland University of Technology, Matthew Allen from Curtin University of Technology, Trevor Barr from Swinburne University of Technology and Carolyn Penfold from UNSW. Instead of running through a summary of each paper, I thought I'd share a few insights and ideas which came up during the conference which had an impact on my thinking:
  • Ross Gibson pointed out that while digital media may be convergent, it is also divergent in that it can always be taken apart and return to it's consituent elements; there is no really "locked off" product in digital media. Ross argued for a "forensics" of contingent meaning which might be facilitated by new media and looking at his demonstration of his new media dramatic database Life After Wartime, I think Ross might be on to something!
  • Majorie Kibby reminded me that while information might want to be free, the media industries wish they'd never made music into digital information!
  • On a related tangent, Terry Flew pointed out that the summer of Napster (2000) is a long way in the past and is going to perhaps become a mythical memory as the Free Trade Agreement becomes the backdoor facilitator for the US Digital Millenium Copyright Act in Australia!
  • Matthew Allen asked the question as to what exactly is this content thing we're all hearing about and who exactly is responsible for the creative content which is supposed to attract millions of Australians to broadband? (Matthew also noted, with many Australia users already making the change, "broadband, it seems, has arrived").
  • Trevor Barr did a run through of the potential look of the Internet in 2010 and had a large emphasis on gaming both in terms of teaching&learning, and in terms of major sources of revenue.
  • Finally, Carolyn Penfold pointed out that despite the seemingly restrictive nature of Australia's regulations regarding the internet, nothing much has really changed. It was odd, though, to learn that all online content is considered film for the purposes of classification (have you enjoyed reading this cinematic blog?), except for video games.
  • Also, in summing up the symposium, Mark Poster warned that the overuse and undertheorisation of "the user" as a concept may lead to nasty generalisations and presumptions of passivity.
So, I'd say, in two days, I learned a number of really interesting things and met some amazing thinkers!


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