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Around The World Symposium On Digital Culture

These notes will be written after the fact about the Around the World Symposium. I'm tweet thoughts live.

My opening comments covered:

The Around the World Symposium on Digital Culture is an experiment in global dialogue.

The Kule Institute for Advanced Study is committed to sustainable research on a global scale. We are experimenting with ways of using the internet to connect Alberta to the world.

This is, I hope, the first of an annual event. We are thrilled by the partners from Japan to Ireland that have taken the leap and organized speakers and panels for this symposium. We hope to build on these founding partners to create a symposium which is inclusive of different voices.

Today's event started at 6am with a live presentation from Virginia about the Neatline tools and using the internet to create visual arguments. Then we went to Ireland where were heard a panel of scholars talking about fascinating projects in cultural heritage and analytics. We are learning a lot already from this experiment and what works in this medium. It is interesting to listen to streaming video and respond over Twitter. And I have learned a lot about international time zones.

There are many people to thank. First of all, I want to thank our Arts Resource Centre who did all the difficult work. Clare Peters organized and managed the video conferencing - we've had over 200 hits on the stream with an average of 25 to 35 people listening in at any time. Grant Wang shot our prerecorded videos and edited them. Dr. Justine Gill has been the project manager of this project. Without her there would be no partners and no dialogue. She has tirelessly worked in the background building up the web site, corresponding with people and gently nudging them. Melania Ru'Aini did a lot of technical work on the web site.

Next I would thank Oliver Rossier, who just started as the Coordinator of KIAS in January and had this along with all sorts of other project dropped in his lap. He has embraced this project with all its details.

I should also like to thank Kamal Ranaweera of ARC. He helped set up our web site and add the plug-ins needed. Last night around 11:30pm we noticed that the server was down and called him.

Now I would like to say a few words about the format.

  • This symposium travels around the world in that we have panels and speakers from Canada, the USA, Brazil, Ireland, Japan and Australia with speakers in this locations also talking about other regions like Africa.
  • As I mentioned, the Symposium actually started at 6am
  • Some of the panels are live and some were prerecorded.
  • We are recording the event and will be putting up an archive with slides and a record of the tweets and comments. We expect there will be a long tail of viewers coming in to view materials.

The panel here at the University of Alberta includes three colleagues interested in different aspects of digital culture. They will speak for about 10 minutes each and then we will have a conversation. I'll be asking questions that we developed together so there are no surprises. I'll introduce our speakers once.

  • Dr. Julie Rak is a Professor in the department of English and Film Studies. With Anna Poletti she has put together a collection titled Identity Technologies: Constructing the Self Online.
  • Dr. Ofer Arazy is an Associate Professor in the School of Business in Information Systems. His research is into how technology and affordances enable new forms of organizations.
  • Dr. Maureen Engel is the Graduate Coordinator of the MA in Humanities Computing program here. She is a co-investigator in the Edmonton Pipelines project that is interested in deep narratives and deep mapping.

In short we have speakers interested in identity, space and organizations in the digital age.

Identity, Privacy and Expertise

  • Who are we on the internet? How does the internet change how we

present ourselves?

  • What do you think of all the "life tracking" technologies that let

people quantify aspects of their life and publish logs?

  • Has the internet changed how we view expertise? How do you know

expertise on the net?

  • Do different systems produce different users and structure identities

and interactions? For example, what do you think of Google Glass and do you think it will change how we interact with others?


  • Can we talk about digital culture or digital cultures? What is a

culture and is there culture on the net?

  • What does it mean to be private or public in this digital age?
  • Is there a way for those who build the platforms digital culture run

on (the engineers and programmers) to engage with those who study culture (the humanists and social scientists)?

  • How have the digital humanities and informatics conceived of digital

culture? How can we do a better job of conceiving it?

  • Are things changing faster or is more a matter of perception of speed?


  • What do we want to enable through the design of the digital? What has

been deliberately enabled?

  • How does failure enter into our planning and design of digital culture?
  • How is the internet affecting scientific and academic production?
  • How can we think and engage in research using the internet and other

digital technologies?



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