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Papers and presentations

Re-evaluating the form and communication of social robots presented by Eleanor Sandry

Eleanor Sandry, Vimeo presentation for the ‘Robo-Philosophy 2014 – Sociable Robots and The Future of Social Relations’ Conference, Aarhus University, Denmark, 20–23 August 2014.

This presentation re-evaluates what constitutes a social robot by employing a range of communication theories, alongside ideas of anthropomorphism and zoomorphism, to analyse how different forms of robot are interpreted as socially aware and communicative. A critical assessment of the development of humanlike and animal-like robotic companions is juxtaposed with a consideration of human relations with machine-like robots in working partnerships. Although some traditions of communication theory offer perspectives that support the development of humanlike and animal-like social robots, these perspectives have been criticised by communication scholars as unethically closed to the possibilities of otherness and difference. However, an analysis of human relations with Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) robots and with AUR, the robotic desk lamp, demonstrates that machine-like robots are interpreted by humans as social and communicative others. This interpretation is supported by processes of tempered anthropomorphism and/or zoomorphism, which allow people to communicate with machine-like robots while also ensuring that a sense of the otherness of the machine and respect for its non-human abilities is retained. View Eleanor’s presentation.

Noongar Knowledge Networks and Minority Languages on the Net

John Hartley presentation at the Swinburne Institute for Social Research, Thursday 14 August, 2014.

Abstract: This presentation reports on a new ARC Indigenous Discovery Project, won by Len Collard (UWA), Kim Scott, the late Niall Lucy and John Hartley (Curtin). It starts from the observation that there are no Australian-Aboriginal language versions of Wikipedia, although minority-language versions do appear elsewhere, including Welsh, Upper Sorbian, Cree and Maori. It seeks to create the first “Noongarpedia”, using the Noongar language of SW-WA to model and assess the extent to which minority languages can thrive by using globally accessible Internet technologies.

Mapping identity through Instagram

Tama Leaver and Tim Highfield presented a paper, ‘Mapping the Ends of Identity on Instagram’, at the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) conference held at Swinburne University, July 2014.

Abstract: While many studies explore the way that individuals represent themselves online, a less studied but equally important question is the way that individuals who cannot represent themselves are portrayed. This paper outlines an investigation into some of those individuals, exploring the ends of identity – birth and death – and the way the very young and deceased are portrayed via the popular mobile photo sharing app and platform Instagram.

View slideshow  OR  listen to their presentation.

Merging VOC and WA history with new media

WA historian and anthropologist, Dr Nonja Peters, is helping to make Dutch and Western Australian history more widely accessible through the Dutch Australians at a Glance (DAAAG) online portal.  Her recent joint Centre for Culture and Technology (CCAT) and Australia-Asia-Pacific Institute (AAPI) May 2014 presentation focused upon: The impact of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) on the history of the Indian Ocean Region and its impact on Western Australia. View her slide show.

Nonja has been awarded the Centenary Medal and a Dutch Knighthood for the preservation of immigrants’ cultural heritage.

CCI Symposium: CCI in retrospect and prospect

CCI Symposium, ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, 1–2 April 2014

‘Knowledge innovation’ session presentations:

John Hartley and Jason Pott’s contribution is based on research from their forthcoming publication Cultural Science: The Evolution of Meaningfulness to be published by Bloomsbury in mid-2014.

‘Creative economy: idea, evidence, debate’ session keynote presentation:

Cardiff University, through Ian Hargreaves, and Curtin University through CCAT Director John Hartley, are collaborating partners on the Creative Citizens project. (Learn more:

Outcomes include:

Hartley, John. “Urban semiosis: Creative industries and the clash of systems.” International Journal of Cultural Studies. 1367877914528120, first published on May 8, 2014 as doi:10.1177/1367877914528120.

Big data + twitter

Tim Highfield, CCAT Research Fellow

View Tim’s seminars and presentations: Big data + Twitter / Social movement research and big data: critiques and alternatives / Appropriating breaking news? The evolving twitter coverage of the Lance Armstring doping scandal / news via voldemort? The role of parody and satire in topical discussions on Twitter / #wavotes: tracking candidates’ use of social media in the 2013 Western Australian election / #oo activism: uses of Twitter within the Occupy Oakland movement / Tweeting le tour: connecting the Tour de France’s global audience through Twitter / #auspol, #qldpol, and #wapol: Twitter and the new Australian political commentariat.

Ethopolitics Against Extinction

Matthew Chrulew, invited presentation at Thinking Extinction: The Science and Philosophy of Endangered Species and Extinction, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, 14–16 November 2013

Abstract: What remains of life in the Anthropocene? What becomes of it? In the tension between these two verbs we can track a battle over nature and the human whose trauma we still inherit. Endangered species reintroduction provides an exemplary case study of counter-extinction practices in our postnatural, biopolitical condition. In the problems such efforts face, all the familiar reductions of the animal (machinic, instinctive, genetic, programmable) are confronted with their crippling flaws. Can we adequately understand and enact multispecies survival and flourishing without theoretically or indeed actually consigning managed animals to be human artifacts? It will require attending not only to the political investment in life as such, but also to “behaviour” as a domain of power, knowledge and intervention. Disclosing this domain will be the task of a philosophical ethology that seeks to interpret and cultivate new hybrid communities in which life’s remnants will yet become.

VIEW Matthew’s presentation

The Search Industry’s Five Percent Gamble

Thomas Petzold, The Society of the Query # 2 conference presentation, Amsterdam, 7 November 2013

To support five per cent of the world’s languages suffices to reach the majority of the world’s population. This is the five per cent gamble made by the digital technology industry on global information and knowledge markets. Take Google Search as an example: although it is offered in a wide range of languages, more than ninety-five per cent of the world’s languages remain unsupported. A considerable gap remains, which is at best only partially addressed by the industry. Because of the investment costs needed in language support, the five per cent gamble is the direct outcome of the Return on Investment calculated by the industry in the overall context of internationalization and localization. In outlining the situation, Thomas looks towards social and technical innovations to allow for better knowledge capacity building. This is an opportunity for both private and public players to try innovative social and technical measures to serve more users in more meaningful ways.

VIEW conference presentation and conference blog

Knowledge Unlatched: Enabling Open Access for Scholarly Books

Presented by Lucy Montgomery  – Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow, QUT and Deputy Director, Knowledge Unlatched – Curtin University, 4 November 2013

Abstract: Although digital technology has made it possible for many more people to access content at no extra cost, fewer people than ever before are able to read the books written by university-based researchers. This workshop explores the role that open access licenses and collective action might play in reviving the scholarly monograph: a specialised area of academic publishing that has seen sales decline by more than 90 per cent over the past three decades. It also introduces Knowledge Unlatched an ambitious attempt to create an internationally coordinated, sustainable route to open access for scholarly books. Knowledge Unlatched is now in its pilot phase.

VIEW slideshow of Lucy’s presentation.

Interacting with history using virtual environments

Eric Champion: 2013 Leipzig eHumanities seminar, 23 October 2013

Abstract: We lack digital history projects that are meaningful and engaging learning experiences. The conventions of how to play the games are known to a wider number of people than frequent computer gamers, and these conventions typically provide engaging and challenging goals, strategies, and performance feedback which taken together help people to find some form of internal meaning and purpose in interacting with a virtual environment.

VIEW Eric’s presentation as he outlines the major issues and sketches out possible solutions. For other talks and presentations, visit Eric Champion’s Interactive History and Digital Culture website.

CCAT seminar: Send in the Robots

Presented by Eleanor Sandry, Curtin University, 23 October 2013

Abstract: Robots are sent into dangerous situations in relation to work, war, disaster and exploration. Some of these robots are completely autonomous, deciding what actions to take based on their perceptions of the environment and knowledge of the task. More often, they are partially controlled by a human operator, and the relationship between the human and robot must be negotiated as it alters from full human control to full robot autonomy and back. Successful human-robot interactions are often understood to rely on the creation of humanoid robots that communicate in humanlike ways. However, the majority of the robots discussed in this seminar are not humanlike in form or communicative style. In spite of this, they form successful multi-skilled teams with humans. How do humans and robots communicate and work together in these contexts? What ethical issues are raised by the formation of these close-knit human-robot teams?

VIEW Eleanor’s seminar presentation.

CCAT seminar: Birth, Death and Facebook

Presented by Tama Leaver, Curtin University, 25 September 2013

Abstract: While social media services including the behemoth Facebook with over a billion users, promote and encourage the ongoing creation, maintenance and performance of an active online self, complete with agency, every act of communication is also recorded. Indeed, the recordings made by other people about ourselves can reveal more than we actively and consciously chose to reveal about ourselves. The way people influence the identity and legacy of others is particularly pronounced when we consider birth – how parents and others ‘create’ an individual online before that young person has any identity in their online identity construction – and at death, when a person ceases to have agency altogether and becomes exclusively a recorded and encoded data construct. This seminar explores the limits and implications for agency, identity and data personhood in the age of Facebook.

VIEW  slides with recorded audio

Other 2013 presentations and papers by Tama:

  • Angry Birds as a Social Network Market
  • Visualising Locative Media with Foursquare’s Time Machine
  • Who Should be the next Doctor?
  • Digital Culture Links
  • Joss Whedon, Dr. Horrible, and the Future of Web Media?
  • RIOT gear: your online trail just got way more visible

The Fifth International Digital Storytelling Conference and Exhibition, Turkey

Digital storytelling is a multimedia form of communication that combines self-expression (ordinary non-professional people telling their own stories) with facilitated workshops where experts can help participants to hone their skills in both storytelling and digital media. Many  different types of organisation offer workshops, including arts and cultural institutions, educational, healthcare and therapeutic agencies. Digital storytelling has also been used to powerful effect by activists and advocates, including community organisations, women’s groups, Indigenous people, GLBTI groups, people concerned with conservation, the environment, and many others.  There is a growing body of scholarship specialising in self-representation, DIY media, and digital storytelling. One of the first books on the scene was edited by John Hartley and Kelly McWilliam, Story Circle: Digital Storytelling Around the World, published by Wiley-Blackwell in 2009.

VIEW John Hartley’s digital storytelling presentation for  ‘Create, Act, Change: The Fifth International Digital Storytelling Conference and Exhibition’, held at the Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey, from 6-10 May 2013.

Distinguished Professor Hartley’s talk focused on how advocates can shift digital storytelling from self-expression to signalling, in the context of competition from many other digital attractions. What can self-expression learn from scaled-up communication?

There is an active international research network, with regular conferences held across the world. The 2013 Ankara conference was hosted by Dr Burcu Şimşek who has pioneered digital storytelling among women’s groups in Turkey. The 6th International Digital Storytelling Conference, Digital Storytelling in Times of Crisis, is to be held in Athens from 8-10 May 2014.

CCAT will continue to collaborate with digital storytelling initiatives internationally and in Australia. John Hartley is a chief investigator on a current ARC Linkage project, ‘Digital Storytelling and Co-Creative Media,’ which links researchers from QUT, Swinburne, and Curtin with partners including the Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne, and Goolarri Media Enterprises in Broome.


Who cares if we are ‘post-’? The question is, What might we be ‘pre-’?

And what (to raise a question that must always remain open in view of what always remains to come) might that ‘pre-’ be? At a time of increasing social and technological complexity, what are we becoming? What is becoming, for example, of our cities, of nationhood, of publics … if we are all now user-producers and globally networked ‘friends’?

If we are all ‘new’ citizens today, in the era of social media, social networks and user-generated content, what forms might ‘new citizenship’ take in the future? If we are always ‘on’ (online, plugged in, available), what is to become of solitude, of privacy? And why are media now ‘social’? Hasn’t sociality defined the history of media? If not, is it now arriving? Are we witnessing its ‘pre’-sentment?

Such provocations inform the theme of Renewal discussed in Melbourne (April 13, 2013) by a range of invited speakers (including artists, writers, academics and public figures) in conversation with a general audience.

VIEW the concluding Roundtable, featuring John Hartley, Nikos Papastergiadis (Chair), Marcus Westbury and David Pledger discussing issues raised throughout the day.