CFP: M/C Journal – ‘mobile’

M/C Journal
Call for Papers: ‘mobile’
Edited by Larissa Hjorth & Olivia Khoo

Convergence has become part of burgeoning mobile media. The mobile phone
has come of age. As an integral component of visual media cultures, camera
phone practices are arguably both extending and creating emerging ways of
seeing and representing. In media footage of late, camera phones have been
heralded as providing everyday users with the possibility of self-
expression and voice in the once unidirectional model of mass media. In
addition, the “exchange” and gift-giving economy underpinning mobile phone
practices (Taylor and Harper 2003) is further enunciated by the camera
phone’s ability to “share” moments between intimates (and strangers)
through various contextual frameworks and archives from MMS, blogs, virtual
community sites to actual face-to-face digital storytelling.

This is particularly the case in the Asia-Pacific region, where mobile
practices in locations such as Tokyo and Seoul have brought about new forms
of media use; for example, mobile phones are increasing being deployed to
connect to, among other things, Web 2.0’s burgeoning landscape of social
software. In much of the rhetoric of current media criticism, users are
being interpellated as prosumers (producers plus consumers), but what is
the reality behind this so-called agency? Do users really feel empowered by
the structures of immediacy connected to user-generated content (UGC)? Are
they ‘liberated’ by the multi-media functions of the mobile phone or is the
increasing convergence of mobile media causing more complications than

This issue of M/C Journal seeks papers exploring the role of convergent
mobile technologies in the Asia-Pacific region. The issue aims to explore
the socio-cultural particularities of various adaptations of mobile media,
from case studies on mobile communication in the Asia Pacific, to cross-
cultural analyses of the transborder flows of mobile media production,
representation and consumption. Topics may include:

– Convergent mobile technologies
– The use of mobile technologies in the construction, regulation and upkeep
of social software and virtual communities
– Pervasive mobile gaming
– Mobile communication case studies in the region
– The role of co-presence and maintenance of intimacy and community through
mobile communication
– The “future” of mobile media
– Creativity and mobile media; the aesthetics of mobile media
– Critiques of prosumer rhetoric in mass media
– Emerging forms of techno-nationalism and governmental policies around
‘mobility’ and digital convergent cultures
– The changing role of temporality and spatiality in contemporary case
studies of mobile telephony

Submit your essays of 3000 words in length to the editors at

Article deadline: 17 January 2007
Issue release date: 14 March 2007

PS, yes I am still alive, but as my supervisor says, I am ‘great with thesis’ so no time for whimsical blog entries just now. Expect a Big Announcement in the next few weeks.

dawn of the organised networks?

From the introduction to what Geert Lovink et al call ‘new network theory’, presented as part of the first call for papers for a conference next year under the same name. This passage, under the heading ‘Dawn of the Organised Networks’, stood out for me among many other interesting and provocative ideas:

Community is an idealistic construct and suggests bonding and harmony, which often is simply not there. The same could be said of the post-9/11 call for ‘trust’. Networks thrive on diversity and conflict (the notworking), not on unity, and this is what community theorists were unable to reflect upon. For them disagreement equals a disruption of the ‘constructive’ flow of dialogue. It takes an effort to reflect on distrust as a productive principle. Indifference between networks is a main reason not to get organised, so this aspect has to be taken seriously. Interaction and involvement are idealistic constructs.

Passivity rules. Browsing, watching, reading, waiting, thinking, deleting, chatting, skipping and surfing are the default condition of online life. Total involvement implies madness to the highest degree. What characterizes networks is a shared sense of a potentiality that does not have to be realized.

Millions of replies from all to all would cause every network, no matter what architecture, to implode. Within every network there is a long time of interpassivity, interrupted by outbursts of interactivity. Networks foster, and reproduce, loose relationships – and it’s better to face this fact straight into the eye. They are hedonistic machines of promiscuous contacts. Networked multitudes create temporary and voluntary forms of collaboration that transcend, but not necessary disrupt the Age of Disengagement. The concept of organised networks is useful to enlist for strategic purposes.

Interesting to put this in dialogue with the dominant idealisation of ‘naturally’ determined chaos, no?

Web 2.0 crowdsourcers tossing coins to the crowds

Via CNet via Rachel’s

Saturday saw the launch of, a site that promises to share a percentage of the site’s revenue depending on how many viewers a video clip attracts.

CNet positions this as a ‘challenge’ to youtube. Read the full article for the rest of the hot air and vapours.

Now, because I am very old, I remember the late-1990s, before any talk of Web 2.0, when user-contributed music websites like were ‘the future of the music industry’, because they would allow undiscovered talent to bypass the gatekeeping mechanisms of the record industry. (Bearing in mind that conventional wisdom also suggested that these sites were really a workaround – a way for the companies concerned to stake out marketshare for digital music sevices without having to wait until the copyright mess was cleared up).

The idea ostensibly was that artists made their tracks available for free download and used the architecture of the network to ‘virally market’ their music, and that the cream would rise to the top in an unmediated, democratic fashion. Sound familiar? so far, so Youtube. But the business model for the artists (not for the site, which was based on an eyeballs-to-advertising model) relied on converting browsers’ attention into bums on seats at real-world gigs and online record sales – you could sell CDs via the site, a service offered in exchange for a small percentage of the sale price. There were some notable success stories – Darude’s single ‘Sandstorm’ became hugely popular on and effectively launched him, which he talks about in this interview. I had some of my electronic music up there, and even though hardly anyone ever downloaded it, I did get some radio play and some gigs scoring games (that you would never have heard of) and flash websites out of it.

Then along came a couple of smaller competitors, like, which announced that they would offer per-download ‘royalties’ to artists in exchange for the insertion of short audio advertisments at the beginning of each track. In the case of, this never really got off the ground because they apparently couldn’t settle on a workable system for this, and got embroiled in agonistic debates with the artist community that eventually stalled, and the site merged with a few months later. eventually integrated a pay-per-download system, but then also introduced payola schemes that effectively delivered a competitive advantage to the fat end of the long tail (e.g. ‘platinum’ membership which resulted in your tracks being prioritised in search and browse pages). It was a strangely schizophrenic and yet, in hindsight, entirely predictable pattern. More (from a younger, idealistic and more bitter me) on the demise of here, here and here. This model hasn’t died – for one, is still going strong, but I haven’t looked closely at its business model for a while.

So I’m wondering, a little tongue in cheek, just what does ‘Web 2.0’ have that is new for participatory culture, except for broadband video and RSS and apple-esque design elements like tabs and rounded corners? As Anne pointed out recently in relation to ebay, the trajectory I describe for digital music portals above is increasingly looking like a familiar pattern – it speaks to the question of just how far the neoliberal ethics behind business models that promote ‘participatory culture’ can sustain their tenuous links with cultural democracy once their platforms actually start to work in the ways their developers dreamed they would.

MS Office integrates CC licensing

Talk about the clash of cultures…

License your office (documents)

Microsoft has released a tool for copyright licensing that enables the easy addition of Creative Commons licensing information for works in popular Microsoft Office applications. The software is available free of charge at Microsoft Office Online and will enable the 400 million [PC-based] users of Microsoft Office Word, Microsoft Office Excel, and Microsoft Office PowerPoint to easily select Creative Commons licenses from directly within the application they are working in.

Not available for Mac though.

Crowdsourcing as Free Labour

I love Wired, it is just so blatant:

For the last decade or so, companies have been looking overseas, to India or China, for cheap labor. But now it doesn’t matter where the laborers are – they might be down the block, they might be in Indonesia – as long as they are connected to the network.

Technological advances in everything from product design software to digital video cameras are breaking down the cost barriers that once separated amateurs from professionals. Hobbyists, part-timers, and dabblers suddenly have a market for their efforts, as smart companies in industries as disparate as pharmaceuticals and television discover ways to tap the latent talent of the crowd. The labor isn’t always free, but it costs a lot less than paying traditional employees. It’s not outsourcing; it’s crowdsourcing.

In the most cynical of worlds, this is the payoff of the ‘creative commons’. Not cultural democracy, not universal cultural enfranchisement, but this. Well, what did I expect, I guess.

the uses of participation

Ross Mayfield has made a nice graph of a continuum of participation in social software and online communities:

I use something similar in my PhD, talking more specifically about ‘creative’ and ‘network’ literacies. But I was struck by the way that the continuum moves from ‘passive’ consumption through to mastery and control. Something that I’ve struggled with all along in my research is theorising the pay-off of increased literacy and cultural participation – that is, participation in what? and what for?

So, I was thinking, what if the pay-off was something other than (or in addition to) the growth of profit for social software developers, or even ‘innovation’ and ‘knowledge creation’? What if I started again and thought about how cultural participation through consumer-created media might actually have positive implications for cultural citizenship? Would the graph look different? So I made this to try and think it through:


Current thesis word count: 25,355

Seminar: The Gendered Ties that Bind

The Gendered Ties That Bind the ‘New Global Governance’ to the ‘New Information Economy’

Associate Professor Lisa McLaughlin


Thursday 20th April, 2.00-3.30pm

CCCS Seminar Room, Level 4, Forgan Smith Building, University of Queensland St Lucia Campus

As the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) illustrates, the ‘new multi-stakeholderism’ and public-private partnerships work in concert to advance the ‘corporatization’ of international development initiatives. In this presentation, Assoc Professor McLaughlin maintains that the gender mainstreaming advocated by the UN and various gender-oriented organizations necessitates that summits such as the WSIS actively include gender advocates who adhere to formal, governmental modalities while passively excluding those who actively oppose market-led approaches to development, and she will link this to an agenda in which women of the Global South are offered the potential for emancipation and mobility through access to technology but instead are apt to become place-based informational labor.

About the Presenter:

Lisa McLaughlin is an Associate Professor at Miami University-Ohio, USA, where she holds a joint appointment in Mass Communication and Women’s Studies. She is also Director of Graduate Studies for the Master of Arts in Mass Communication Program. McLaughlin is editor of Feminist Media Studies, an international peer-reviewed journal published by Routledge. She teaches courses in international communications, global media governance, and feminist media theory and practice. Her recent work focuses on ICTs and the corporatization of development as it has emerged under the auspices of the United Nations. At present, McLaughlin’s research concentrates on Cisco Systems’ Networking Academy Programs and the corporation’s Gender Initiatives that have originated as public-private partnerships brokered through the UN.

Members of the university community and the general public are invited to attend this free seminar with refreshments to follow. For further information please visit the website at


JumpCut is another new player in the “creative online community” business – the idea is to not only upload, share, and discuss, but also edit, collaborate and remix images and video online.

You can automatically import sets of images from flickr, too.

After having a quick play around with the editing interface, it seems pretty powerful and elegant. It’s set up to make quite sophisticated slideshows, with control over individual image duration (by manually entering values, though) and transitions, so it would also be relatively straightforward to use JumpCut to make and publish a very simple digital story using stills and an uploaded voiceover track. e-Festival of Ideas e-Festival of Ideas
:: April 4-8 2006::

Mark it in your diary now, ‘cos you’re invited to the second annual e-Festival of Ideas – a conference with a virtual, democratic twist.

Unlike most physical conferences,’s e-Festival of Ideas is unfettered by geographic locality, free to participate in, and you can have your say at any time during the festival, day or night. It’s a conference taken online and democratised.

It’s an opportunity for everyone – expert and non-expert – to share perspectives and insights on issues that matter to you, from global poverty to identity, the media, art and travel. These nine lively panels will feature guests such as –

Peter Garrett – Federal MP & musician

Mary Mycio – Environmental author & journalist

Courtney Gibson – Head of Entertainment, ABC TV

Alan Kay – Software guru

Malcolm Long – Director, AFTRS

Ryan Heath – Author, ‘Please Just F* Off, It’s Our Turn Now’

Megan Spencer – Resident film geek, jjj

Andrew Charlton – Co-author, ‘Fair Trade for All’

Michael Agar – Director, Popcorn Taxi Film Festival

Erin Free – Editor, Filmink

In addition to stimulating debate, feature articles, blog posts and relevant resources, there’ll also be some great contributor prizes up for grabs, so get online and jon the conversation!

More details at