New journal article> A very public cull: the anatomy of an online issue public

Twitter

I am pleased to share that a paper that Rebecca Sandover, Steve Hinchliffe and I have had under review for some time has been accepted for publication. The paper comes from our project “Contagion”, which amongst other things examined the ways issue publics form and spread around public controversies – in this case the English badger cull of 2013/14. The research this article presents comes from mixed methods social media research, focused on Twitter. The methods and conversation have, of course, moved on a little in the last two years but I think the paper makes a contribution to how geographers in particular might think about doing social media-based research. I guess this, as a result, also fits into the recent (re)growth of ‘digital geographies’ too.

The article is titled “A very public cull: the anatomy of an online issue public” and will be published in Geoforum in the not-too-distant future. Feel free to get in touch for a pre-print version.

Abstract:

Geographers and other social scientists have for some time been interested in how scientific and environmental controversies emerge and become public or collective issues. Social media are now key platforms through which these issues are publicly raised and through which groups or publics can organise themselves. As media that generate data and traces of networking activity, these platforms also provide an opportunity for scholars to study the character and constitution of those groupings. In this paper we lay out a method for studying these ‘issue publics’: emergent groupings involved in publicising an issue. We focus on the controversy surrounding the state-sanctioned cull of wild badgers in England as a contested means of disease management in cattle. We analyse two overlapping groupings to demonstrate how online issue publics function in a variety of ways – from the ‘echo chambers’ of online sharing of information, to the marshalling of agreements on strategies for action, to more dialogic patterns of debate. We demonstrate the ways in which digital media platforms are themselves performative in the formation of issue publics and that, while this creates issues, we should not retreat into debates around the ‘proper object’ of research but rather engage with the productive complications of mapping social media data into knowledge (Whatmore 2009). In turn, we argue that online issue publics are not homogeneous and that the lines of heterogeneity are neither simple, or to be expected, and merit study as a means to understand the suite of processes and novel contexts involved in the emergence of a public. 

‘Recognition’ for peer review

I must confess. I did that lazy thing by asking on Twitter for something perhaps I could’ve found out with a little more effort (I have also been relatively lax at actually writing this blogpost about it!). However, it actually resulted in something interesting. 

I had just completed a (peer) review for a journal published by Sage and was asked if I wanted to sign up for “Publons” a system that supposedly let you gain ‘recognition’ for your peer reviewing. So, I did sign up but then thought: “hang on…” and this prompted by question on Twitter:

Click through to read the replies. It’s a great sharing of knowledge and expertise around the process of peer review, with plenty of contributions from colleagues with positions as editor in various journals. For example, this from Martin Coward begins to get at some of the issues.

I won’t try to summarise, or indeed embed, all of the things that were said, please do click through for the whole exchange. I do want to, very briefly, reflect upon this longstanding concern with making peer review ‘work’. The concerns that “Publons” purports to address are real. Peer review is the life-blood of academic publishing but is assumed, rather under-valued (by publishers, some colleagues and institutions) and, it seems, the constant frustration of editorial board members. As my former colleague Prof. Martin Weller has observed this labour represents rather a lot of unrecognised and under-appreciated investment.

An attempted ‘technological fix’ is, of course, not new. There have been various attempts to think about this over the years. When I was working with Martin on ‘digital scholarship’ (see his excellent open access book) the trial of an ‘open’ peer review system for Nature was a relatively recent talking point. 

It is not a novel argument but it seems to me that unless and until academics, publishers and institutions stop thinking about lots of forms of labour as a part of a perceived ‘exceptionalism’ and ‘privilege’ of academic life (which I think, if it did ever exist for a few people, is long gone) we are more-or-less doomed to rehearse this debate ad infinitum.

Reblog> How to Write a Peer Review for a Journal Article – Jack Gieseking

Via Jack Gieseking. Some excellent tips for new and experienced peer-reviewers alike, I think…

How to Write a Peer Review for a Journal Article

As an editorial collective member of ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies and as someone who once managed WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly for three years, I know how difficult it is to find appropriate and available peer reviewers. I often seek out graduate candidates (ABD students) who would offer that strong expertise but may not have the have reviewed journal articles or many journal articles before. I remember how awkward and nervous I was–and how many, many hours I devoted (oy)–when I wrote my first peer reviews.

Thanks to various search engines, I’ve read quite a few posts on how to write peer reviews. Many of them are written by publisherspeer review corporations (yeeghads!), or from other academics. These are all helpful in that they structure the work of peer review, but I found the former to be too detailed and formal, and then more anxiety-producing than clarifying. If they were brief, like the academic perspective, I found myself unclear about how they expected to accomplish each step. I’ve cobbled together my own thoughts about how to do a peer review that comes from my own experience as a gesture of support and solidarity for graduate students, postdocs, and early career researchers engaged in critical and radical research who wish to be part of the project of producing knowledge through peer review. My own take as a social scientist offers an organized response through the parts of–surprise!!–a social science paper, which I have not found mention of as of yet.

Before I go on, my first tip is that each peer review should take no more than two to six hours. If you spend the maximum number (6) on your early peer reviews, then that number should significantly decrease over time as you perfect your own approach to reviews. A six-hour review imagines you read the paper three times and then type up your notes. My second tip is that your entire review can be a page, preferably, or two pages long. You’re wondering if I’m serious but how would you feel if you wrote a 20-page paper over months and someone gave you five pages of single-spaced feedback? Exactly. One or two pages is a lot to chew on. Finally, as you read think about making summary comments and identifying trends (in style a la too many commas or overciting, in writing a la a vast absence of methods, etc.) rather than line edits.

Read the full blogpost.

 

Reblog> Celebrating 25 years of Gender, Place and Culture

Via the Gender, Place and Culture blog.

Celebrating 25 years of Gender, Place and Culture: a note on our celebrations and the ’25 blogs’ series, by Editor Pamela Moss

It is wonderful that Gender, Place and Culture is celebrating 25 years of publication. As part of this celebration, throughout the year, Gender, Place and Culture will be a sponsor for lectures and sessions at multiple conferences. There will be a series of reviews of some of the influential books within the discipline that give some insight into how feminist geographies came to be. We will also publish a number of journal articles that show how they have transformed the wider discipline of geography, what issues are important to feminist geographies now, and what the future may hold. If this is something that appeals to you, you can find out more about it here.

The introduction of this website for Gender, Place and Culture has also opened up a new venue for publishing. In addition to announcements and calls associated with the journal, the blog has been an opportunity to write about the things feminist geographers immerse themselves in every day – what is done well and what can be done better!

In celebration of turning 25 and in honouring our commitment to showcasing the contributions of feminist geographers in the field, Anna Tarrant and Lisa Dam have commissioned a new set of blogs to be published throughout the year that speak to the interests of feminist geographers – whether it be a reflection on the ethics of research practice, on a moment in the history of the discipline, or on how to survive the challenging times we live in. We invite you to keep up with us as we post a new blog (hopefully more!) roughly every month.

We know that the field is flourishing. And it has been mostly about you – your research, your scholarship, your reviews, your commitment, your feminism, and your interest in feminist geographies! If you have an idea that you want to blog about this year in order to contribute to our celebrations – let Anna and Lisa know at gpcat25@gmail.com.

The Guardian of automation

Still from the video for All is Love by Bjork

I have been looking back over the links to news articles I’ve been collecting together about automation and I’ve been struck in particular by how the UK newspaper The Guardian has been running at least one story a week concerning automation in the last few months (see their “AI” category for examples, or the list below). Many are spurred from reports and press releases about particular things, so it’s not like they’re unique in pushing these narratives but it is striking, not least because lots of academics (that I follow anyway) share these stories on Twitter and it becomes a self-reinforcing, somewhat dystopian (‘rise of the robots’) narrative. I’m sure that we all adopt appropriate critical distance when reading such things but… there is a sense in which the ‘robots are coming for our jobs’ sort of arguments are being normalised and sedimented without a great deal of public critical reflection.

We might ask in response to the automation taking jobs arguments: who says? (quite often: management consultants and think tanks) and: how do they know? It seems to me that the answers to those questions are pertinent and probably less clear, and so interesting(!), than one might imagine.

Here’s a selection of the Graun’s recent automation coverage:

Media Theory journal – issue 1

Marshall Mcluhan

Issue 1 of the new journal Media Theory is up. Several ‘usual suspects’ amongst the authors list but then that’s to be expected to draw a crowd perhaps. I feel a little squeamish about the “manifestos” line but I haven’t read all of that bit yet, so let’s see… Only one ‘duff’ paper in there so far in my reading 🙂

Here’s a quote from Simon Dawes introductory paper “What is Media Theory” that I think nicely summarises the ethos, which is interesting (to me anyway):

With the relative ease with which new journals can now be established, the launch of a new journal of media theory obliges us all the more to justify the need for such an endeavour (Cubitt, this issue), to argue that we do indeed need yet another journal theorising media (Shome, this issue), and to convince at least some readers that the journal deserves the name, Media Theory (Mitchell, this issue). For this launch issue of the journal, editorial and advisory board members were invited to set out their own views on the importance of (a new journal of) media theory. While the journal can hardly satisfy the occasionally conflicting and contradictory wishes of everyone on the boards, this special issue represents a pluralistic manifesto for the journal – manifestos for various possibilities and directions for Media Theory. […]

Media Theory is not, therefore, a journal that privileges any particular theoretical approach, perspective or tradition to the study of media, but nor is it simply a matter of disinterestedly presenting their diversity or that of the range of theoretical concepts or tools proposed or applied in media research. Rather, in emphasising ‘media’, ‘theory’ and ‘media theory’, the journal aims to deprovincialise media theory by bringing into dialogue and debate the diversity of ways in which media are theorised. For despite the inherently interdisciplinary histories of the various disciplines in which media is studied internationally, there remains a tendency to restrict one’s reading to one’s own field or disciplinary, geographical or linguistic bubble, applying and developing theories without sufficient knowledge of how those theories have already been debated and developed elsewhere.

Tragedy mistaken for management theory

statue of a man holding his head with his right hand

From the Verso blog, a piece by Sarah Brouillette on Kazuo Ishiguro as Nobel laureate and the ‘literary industry’.

The Remains of the Day is one of Jeff Bezos’s favourite books. He claims it is the foundation of his “regret-minimization framework” and helped him to find the courage to start Amazon. If he has noticed that the novel is about how class subordination ruins people’s lives, he hasn’t said so. The heart of the novel is the protagonist’s — and before him, his father’s — dependence on waged work. The story traces the process by which we begin to lose the ability to separate ourselves from our professional roles. It was published in 1989, and its concern with the subsumption of life by work was clearly occasioned in part by the circulation of images of the 1980s corporate crunch, with all those people working so much they forgot how to “really live.” It also denounces the British imperial project’s dependence on classed relationships: how much of the empire’s daily operation depended on people feeling that they didn’t have a right to object to their employers’ imperatives, or better, couldn’t fathom how to find another source of wealth that would allow them to say no?

Bezos wants new Amazon employees to do what Stevens never does: live life to the fullest, seize the day. He means that they should do all this at work, of course. Or, more accurately, he can assume there is no distinction for those he hires: work is life, life is work. Real leisure will just make them better employees, as will the feeling that they are pursuing their passions in all things. Bezos is glad to think that what Ishiguro’s novel fears has come to pass: the person and person-performing-at-work are now one. His use of the novel as a corporate management tool proves how easily a “follow your heart” mantra can be recuperated. Bezos isn’t reading Ishiguro right, of course. The novel concludes with a lament about precisely such recuperation. Stevens has been reading too much into Miss Kenton’s (now Mrs. Benn’s) letter; she won’t come back to Darlington Hall with him, and the love story is over. So, he plans to return to work, the only difference being that he will now practice “bantering,” which his new American employer would enjoy. This bantering for him symbolizes de-sublimation, freedom from constraint — a certain “human warmth,” he calls it, which he now admits he lacks. It is precisely by operationalizing the injunction to “enjoy life” that he will be able to keep working. It’s a tragic ending.

Reblog> Martin Dodge and Rob Kitchin, Mapping Cyberspace (free book download)

Via Stuart Elden.

Mapping Cyberspace was a formative introduction to ‘geography’ for me as an undergraduate digital arts student. It certainly influenced my (all-too-naive) BSc dissertation ideas… It’s great this is available, it documents so many things that seemed so vital at the time and that now appear almost like peculiar mirages.

Martin Dodge and Rob Kitchin, Mapping Cyberspace (free book download)

Mapping Cyberspace – Martin Dodge & Rob KitchinMartin Dodge and Rob Kitchin’s 2001 book Mapping Cyberspace is now available as a free download. There is also a website about the book here.

Mapping Cyberspace is a ground-breaking geographic exploration and critical reading of cyberspace, and information and communication technologies. The book:

  • * provides an understanding of what cyberspace looks like and the social interactions that occur there
  • * explores the impacts of cyberspace, and information and communication technologies, on cultural, political and economic relations
  • * charts the spatial forms of virtual spaces
  • * details empirical research and examines a wide variety of maps and spatialisations of cyberspace and the information society

has a related website at http://www.MappingCyberspace.com.

This book will be a valuable addition to the growing body of literature on cyberspace and what it means for the future.

Reblog> Three new OHP books from: Brian Massumi; Steven Connor; and Érik Bordeleau, Toni Pape, Ronald Rose-Antoinette and Adam Szymanski

open access spelled out with books

Via Gary Hall. All of the books are available for free download. Follow links below.

We are pleased to announce the release this month of two new titles in Open Humanities Press’ Immediations series:***

Brian Massumi’s The Principle of Unrest explores the contemporary implications of an activist philosophy, pivoting on the issue of movement. Movement is understood not simply in spatial terms but as qualitative transformation: becoming, emergence, event.

Available for free download at:

http://www.openhumanitiespress.org/books/titles/the-principle-of-unrest/

 

***

Nocturnal Fabulations/Fabulations nocturnes by Érik Bordeleau, Toni Pape, Ronald Rose-Antoinette and Adam Szymanski with an Introduction by Erin Manning.

This collective, bi-lingual project is animated by a shared curiosity in the pragmatics of fabulation and its speculative gesture of bringing forth a people to come. In an encounter with Apichatpong’s cinematic dreamscape, the concepts of ecology, vitality and opacity emerge to articulate an ethos of fabulation that deframes experience, recomposes subjectivity and unfixes time.Available for free download at:

English: http://www.openhumanitiespress.org/books/titles/nocturnal-fabulations/

French: http://www.openhumanitiespress.org/books/titles/fabulations-nocturnes/

***

We are also pleased to announce the latest book in the Technographies series:

Steven Connor’s Dream Machines

Dream Machines is a history of imaginary machines and the ways in which machines come to be imagined. It considers seven different kinds of speculative, projected or impossible machines: machines for teleportation, dream-production, sexual pleasure and medical treatment and cure, along with ‘influencing machines’, invisibility machines and perpetual motion machines.

“This is an engaging and imaginative exploration of various forms of writing, thinking, and fantasizing about dream machines, an endlessly fertile topic probed here from just about every possible angle “¦ a major intervention into current understandings of technology, literature, and identity.”

Matthew Rubery – Queen Mary University of London

“”¦ a deeply original contribution to the history and philosophy of technology and the cultural history of the imagination “¦”Laura Salisbury – University of Exeter

Available for free download at:

http://www.openhumanitiespress.org/books/titles/dream-machines/

With our best wishes,

Sigi, David, Gary