Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Boston Bombing - Amy Osborne, a 23 year old on Social Media

Amy Osborne is a former student of mine in Boston. Here are some thoughts from her on the Bombing and Social Media.

April 18, 2013

We Stand Strong Generation
I am a 23 year old young professional. I was in 7th grade when two planes struck the Twin Towers in September of 2001 and have been a Boston resident since 2007. Despite this fact, I am not na├»ve enough to say I’m a Bostonian, or to believe I ever will be.
I am not a product of the 1960’s – an era synonymous with peace, love, and tolerance.  I did not protest the Vietnam War beside young, like-minded activists, and I will not recall to my children where I was when one of our most beloved President’s – John F. Kennedy - was assassinated. I often wish that these memories marked my youth; because, however marred by their own misfortune, most fondly recall these as much simpler times.
Four days after what is now called the “Marathon Bombing”, I continue to process feelings of grief, anger, confusion and anxiety. In the early mornings, as the city lays silent under the cover of darkness, I feel vulnerable and the loss suffered by so many following Monday’s tragedy hangs heavy on my heart. As I go about my day, I suppress these unwelcome emotions as they arise in erratic succession. Boston Strong. I may not be a Bostonian, but this week “we are all Boston” and I stand proudly with my city.
For me, processing “the Marathon Bombings” involves a lot of talking. Spontaneous and unfiltered discussion with coworkers, friends, family, even the woman sitting next to me on the T. I realize this is not an original response and it is largely necessary as we come to terms with reality, cope with our grief and begin to envision how our world – how our everyday lives – has changed.
But through these conversations, I am surprised by a new awareness of myself and of my generation. I recount my experience on Monday as a series of real-time tweets, incessant text messages and startlingly graphic photographs taken from every angle of the bomb site. Immediately following the news, I called my parents to assuage their fears for my safety – but newscasters had not yet arrived at the scene, and so, they were completely unaware.
Since Marathon Monday, I have vented my frustration at the media’s relentless use of unapproved and unconfirmed Facebook photos, tweets and bystander reports as the basis of their newscast. The result has been repeated, erroneous reports and an embarrassingly public display of widespread chaos; none more telling than 1,000 reporters besieging the Moakley courthouse in hopes of being among the first to capture the suspect who would never emerge.
As much of the nation turns on their television to learn “what happens next”, I shut it off. I’ve fallen silent on Twitter and Facebook for fear of glimpsing ‘trending’ photos of victims’ wounds and hate statuses proclaiming America’s supremacy. I realize the resulting chaos from this tragedy is homegrown. Our generation demands graphic imagery, real-time reports and live-stream videos recounting and replaying every detail, theory and ‘clue’. And we pride ourselves on personally submitting photos and relayingnupdates because we believe we are key players in this evolving saga. But our demands for immediacy and inclusion have very real consequences, and can ultimately detract from the honor and integrity of those most impacted by this tragedy.
In explaining my frustration to my father, I tried to appeal to empathy: “Imagine I had died in this bombing, and they went on my Facebook and broadcasted my face all over the globe!” Although I believed this justified my outrage, his reaction was less poignant. And I realized, perhaps he couldn’t understand - He just watches the news, he doesn’t participate.
Growing up in the post-9/11 era, I know I am not the only 20-something who has considered what picture might be used if I’m ever a victim of a tragedy like this - or of a university shooting, a movie theatre massacre or even a stray glass fragment at my favorite bar. “Times were simpler then,” my parents remind me in their sweet, however futile efforts to empathize.
What is it like to grow up knowing that my city, my university, my hometown or my happy hour might be next? Are our demands for immediacy and inclusion through social media really surprising, as a generation plagued by constant, underlying fear and responsibility for our own vigilance?
I am a 23 year old young professional. I believe in the value of social media to connect, enlighten and empower, and also in the power of print and broadcast media to challenge, inform, and engage. I acknowledge the world is a dangerous place, but I refuse to succumb to fear. I believe in the prevailing good of people and that as long as we believe they will never win. I am a product of the “We Stand Strong” generation. And I am both grief-stricken and proud knowing that today, we are all Boston Strong.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dynamics of Virtual Work - European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST)

April 8-10, Darmstadt, Germany, first COST Action. Invited as a non-EU COST member, funded by the Australian Academy of Science.

23 years after Arjun Appadurai's essay Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy appeared this COST Action offers a concerted way forward for the discussion of work and labour. Article link While Appadurai's five dimensions of global cultural flows are still relevant -  ethnoscapes, mediascapes, technoscapes, financescapes, ideoscapes - the context has changed. The European Union and the US are counterbalanced by the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Multipolar economies operate at a ridiculously rapid speed, offering less rather than more space for comprehending how the systems fit together. That has produced rather less comfort for regulators and the public interest, as private interests sometimes with the active support of national governments have aggressively encouraged wage / labour arbitrage. Massive profits have become typical of this new context, while government oversight has been minimal.

One thing we know for certain is that labour is under stress and in desperate need of new theory, better insights and public policies that address the challenges of the connected world.

This meeting in Darmstadt marked the start of four years of deliberations. About 50 people attended the discussion. Ursula Huws, Professor of Labour and Globalisation from University of Hertforshire Business School and Christian Fuchs from Communication and Media at The University of Westminster are the chair and deputy chair of the Action.

Below are some of the key issues from the EU agreed Memorandum of Understanding.


ICTs have had a major impact on the content and location of work. Digitisation of information has

transformed labour processes whilst telecommunications have enabled jobs to be relocated globally.

But ICTs have also enabled the creation of entirely new types of 'digital' or 'virtual' labour, both

paid and unpaid, shifting the borderline between 'play' and 'work' and creating new types of unpaid

labour connected with consumption and co-creation of services. This affects private life as well as

transforming the nature of work. Because of the gender division of labour, this affects women and

men differently.

The changing geography of virtual work and the emergence of new value-generating virtual

activities have major implications for economic development, skills and innovation policies.

However these are poorly understood because they have been studied in a highly fragmentary way

by isolated researchers.

This Action will distil knowledge to enable policymakers to separate facts from hype and develop

effective strategies to generate new employment and economic development in Europe. It will bring

together experts in the fields of communications, innovation, management, digital media, creative

industries, technology, employment, economics, sociology, geography, gender studies and cultural

studies to consolidate theory, map this emerging field, support early stage researchers and develop

new research agendas.

Here are some comments I made before the meeting that were included in a Press Release from Bond University.

"A Bond University expert on the impact of the internet on society has been invited to take part in a newly established European Union policy group looking at how the virtual workplace will impact the labour market and in the future.

Marcus Breen, Professor of Communication and Creative Media in Bond's Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, will travel to Darmstadt, Germany next month to participate in a high level European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Concerted Research Action, looking at the emerging field of the virtual workplace.

The invitation is a significant accomplishment for Bond University, not only involving one of its academics in a major international collaborative discussion on an important global issue, but also establishing a formal connection between Bond and the European Union. Professor Breen’s participation is funded by the Australian Academy of Science under a special non-member agreement with the COST Secretariat in Brussels.

Professor Breen said the first meeting of the action group would be defining how it planned to operate and which areas of the international workplace it would cover.

"It will be trying to recommend effective strategies to harness the power of technology and communication businesses to generate new employment and economic development in Europe," he said.

"But we may also be looking at aspects related to the cost of labour and questions which arise about where low cost centres are located.

"It will be making a contribution to the development of policies for the European Union on what governments can and should be doing to regulate the virtual movement of labour from one country to another or one economy to another.

"It will look at how struggling economies are affected by the virtual movement of labour internationally and across borders."

The EU COST group has been formed to consider the impact technology has had on the content and location of the workplace, with digital information transforming labour processes and telecommunications enabling jobs to be relocated globally.

Professor Breen said the deliberations of the action group would have a major impact on government policies in Europe and the rest of the world within the next decade.

He said it had particular implications for the future of the workplace, the future of education, and for economic development, skills and innovation policies.

"These issues have not been studied in a cohesive way, and this group will distil knowledge to enable policymakers to establish facts and develop effective strategies to generate new employment and economic activity," said Pro Breen..

"The public debate has already started on questions about taxation that should be paid by major transnational technology firms and service providers such as Google and Yahoo and the impact of the virtual players on the real, material economies.

"Regional and national governments are already trying to work out how to regulate and manage labour and employment opportunities for working people.

"The objective of this project is to begin the process of delivering recommendations and ideas to the governments of Europe and other parts of the world about the best way to manage the impacts of virtual work."

Professor Breen is about to embark on his own virtual workplace, having been invited to be the editor of the International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, a US based publication which examines innovative theories and practices relating technology to society.

The journal provides a meeting point for technology researchers with a concern for social issues. Professor Breen's involvement as editor will complement his participation in the EU research group."