Special UDC issue of The Political Economy of Communication

Of all the things I have participated in during my academic career I am most proud of the 2015 UDC Conference in Toronto. Alongside my comrades Nicole Cohen and Gretchen King, we put together a fantastic conference highlighting the circuits of struggle. Subsequent to this, I have had the honor of working alongside Jessica Lapp as the special guest editor of the IAMCR journal The Political Economy of Communication. It is now a pleasure to announce the publication of a special issue based on some of the proceedings from the 2015 UDC Conference. The authors include Harry Cleaver, Nick Dyer-Witheford, John Sullivan, Ian Davis, and Patrick MacInnis—as well as an editorial by yours truly and Jessica Lapp. See the special issue here: http://www.polecom.org/index.php/polecom

Tomorrow morning radio interviews talking copyright and the Android box injunction

For all you early birds:

June 15, 2016

Toronto–Metro Morning
Matt Galloway – Host
Twitter (show): @metromorning
Twitter (host): @mattgallowaycbc

Host: Craig Norris
Twitter: @cbckw891

Sudbury – Morning North
Markus Schwabe – Host
Twitter (show): @MorningNorth
Twitter (host): @cbcmarkus

Quebec City – Quebec AM
Host: Susan Campbell
Twitter (show): @cbcquebecam
Twitter (host): @susancbcquebec

Goose Bay (Labrador) – Labrador Morning
Matt McCann & Bailey White – Host/Tech
Twitter: @CBCLabrador

Corner Brook – West Coast Morning
Bernice Hillier – Host
EARLY AM Host/operator Brian Mchugh
Twitter: @cbccornerbrook

Gander – Central Morning
Leigh Anne Power – Host
Twitter: @centralmorning

Yellowknife – The Trailbreaker **IP**
Loren McGinnis- Host
Twitter: @TheTrailBreaker

Whitehorse – A New Day
Sandi Coleman – Host
Twitter (show): @cbcanewday

Calgary–The Eyeopener
David Gray – Host
Twitter (host David Gray): @graydio1
Show: @cbceyeopener

Kamloops – Daybreak Kamloops
Shelley Joyce (Host)
Twitter: @cbckamloops

Saskatoon — Saskatoon Morning
Leisha Grebinski – Host
Twitter: @cbcsaskatoon

Mile Marker 405: For Kylie


Custom ring by Jilian Maddin: http://www.jmaddin.com/

Just south of Nashville lies one of the most splendid stretches of road in the United States. The Old Natchez Trace is 440 miles of unspoiled countryside running through Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. Traveling down the trace is like stepping back in time and catching a glimpse of pre-industrial America. There are no billboards, no gas stations, no big rigs, no hotels, no strip malls, and no towns. The speed limit is 50 miles per hour the entire length. Driving the trace is something like a spiritual saunter through the Upper and Deep South. It’s the perfect panacea for those poor souls among us who were raised on concrete. The trace is replete with hiking trails, scenic overlooks, picnic areas, waterfalls, historical sites, and nature areas. The extraordinary charm of this place must be experienced first hand. Words can do it no justice. The trace invites you to slow down and experience life for what it actually is.

For Kylie:
This was a highly orchestrated day. I wanted everything to be perfect but I worried that it may not go according to plan. When we continued south from the hotel in Bowling Green I anxiously eyed the morning clouds. And later as we ate breakfast in the car, I rehearsed everything in my mind. Repeatedly.

baker_bluffWe entered the Natchez Trace Parkway at mile marker 444 and the countdown began. At mile 442 you and I were already taken aback by the natural beauty of this place. At mile 438 we crossed Birdsong Hollow on the double-arched bridge. Though the view was great, it was little more than a preview of things to come. By mile 435 the gray gave way to blue skies and my heart began to soar. At mile 428 you were too spellbound by the trees to notice the tear welling in my eye when I said, “Today is a perfect day.” At mile 420 I silently asked that this moment would last forever. At mile marker 405 we pulled off the road and my life changed forever under a tree atop Baker Bluff Overlook.

Before we met I was searching for you Kylie, through smoke and ash. I glanced upward and asked for someone considerate and compassionate; someone spiritual and moral; a loyal and healthy person; someone with a loving and supportive family. And then there you were. You have waited patiently as I have healed, as I have gradually let my guard down, as I have come to understand all that is wonderful about you. In truth, you had me at hello. I was just too dumb to realize it.

“Today is a perfect day. I want a lifetime of perfect days with you Kylie. Will you marry me?” I don’t know much about marriage. But I doubt every day is perfect. What I do know is that after a lifetime of shared experiences with someone, at the end of the day you are still separate people. And if you aren’t careful you may become strangers along the way. So I will not take you for granted. I don’t deserve you. I am just going to have to earn it each and every day. I promise you Kylie that I will honor and love you to the fullest. I will do my best to challenge and nurture you every step of the way. I will be honest and keep an open heart. And I will do these things for a lifetime.

If memory serves, I believe I promised you a nice country club dinner in Vicksburg at the end of that perfect day. Regrettably, it was late when we finally left the trace. Maybe we lingered under that tree with our popcorn and wine just a little too long. Maybe I drove a little too slowly, trying to see every square inch of scenery. Maybe I don’t regret lingering at all. It’s okay. We’ll probably get around to that dinner soon enough. How many more miles can we travel together in a lifetime Kylie? Who can say? All I know is we have mile 405. We are forever atop that bluff, you and I. Do you understand? The whole world can go to hell and there we will be, under that tree, for all eternity. Traces remain.

Friend, if you ever find yourself driving between Natchez Mississippi and Nashville Tennessee, do yourself a favor. Slow down. Get off the interstate and head out onto the Natchez Trace. And if you pass mile marker 405, pull off the road. It’s the best damn view this side of the Mason-Dixon line. Take a load off under the tree. Stay a while. Breathe it in and soak it up. Know life for what it really is. The trace is a straight shot but you can get lost in all that beauty—if you let yourself. I did.


Troubled Waters: Structural Inequalities, Structural Responses Union for Democratic Communications 2016 conference

Hosted by the Union for Democratic Communications at Wayne State University,  September 29 – October 1, 2016

Deadline for submissions: May 2, 2016

As global inequality reaches staggering levels and capitalism becomes increasingly unstable, people of color increasingly face disproportionate impacts of environmental degradation, pauperization, and state repression. Media and communications systems play an important role in enabling and resisting such phenomena across the globe, from Europe’s refugee crisis, to police violence in the U.S., to the illegal occupation of Palestine, to the displacement of people across the Global South due to climate change.

The global phenomenon of racialized inequality has poignantly played out  in Detroit, the site of this year’s conference. The city, once a symbol of the United States’ industrial dominance, has been reconstructed over the last 40 years as one of decay in the popular imaginary. From lead-tainted drinking water to crumbling schools, southeastern Michigan has felt the suffering that stems from the failures of the corporate state and institutionalized racism. Unfortunately, Detroit’s experience is not unique, but rather must be seen as part of a broader war on the working-class and people of color under neoliberalism, facilitated by utopian myths around digital technology and the post-industrial economy.

Though these problems are the result of varied historical and deep-seated racial and social injustices, their continued existence is not a foregone conclusion. This UDC conference will draw attention to the relationship between neoliberal culture and ideology and institutional racism, both domestically and internationally. Specifically, the conference organizers encourage submissions that examine how systematic, institutionalized racism shapes our physical, social, cultural, ecological, and mediated environments; we also encourage submissions that identify promising avenues of institutional and social transformation.

We invite abstract submissions to this year’s conference from new and emerging scholars, graduate students, artists, activists, and media practitioners. We welcome proposals for paper presentations, workshops, theme panels, film screenings, artistic interventions, and other formats.  Abstracts should be between 300-500 words.  Graduate students who want to be considered for the Brian Murphy Student Paper Award should submit a full paper along with their abstract.  All submissions are subject to double-blind review and can be submitted at via EasyChair.

Deadline:  May 2, 2016.

If you have questions about this process, please contact the Steering Committee.

New Publication: Crisis of Command: Theorizing Value in New Media

Communication_TheoryMy latest contribution to theorizing value in new media is now available online from Communication Theory.


Theorists of free labor have argued that users produce value directly for capital through unwaged participation in online social media platforms. I argue that this interpretation of value is misguided. I begin with a brief overview of the labor theory of value as it has been developed by political economists in the context of new media. I then use Marxian crisis theory to demonstrate the limitations of the concept of free labor. I also elaborate how value is created within media markets through a complex set of interactions among media firms, market researchers, advertisers, finance capital, and unwaged content producers. I conclude with a discussion of the consequences of free labor theory for Marxian politics.

Alternate Routes: upcoming issue on precarious labor



Precarious Work and the Struggle for Living Wages will feature orginal articles by Wayne Lewchuck, Stephanie Luce, Ian Cunningham, Patricia MacDermott, John Bellamy Foster, Jamil Jonna, Tanner Mirlees, Stephen McBride, Jacob Muirhead, John Shields, David Livingston, Don Wells, Charlie Post, Christian Fuchs, Brett Caraway, Jeff Noonan and many others.Forthcoming January 2016!

Come join me for Surplus3: Labour and the Digital

Untitled-3I am participating in this wonderful symposium celebrating the publication of Nick Dyer-Witheford’s most recent book Cyber-Proletariat: Global Labour in the Digital Vortex. Participants will have 3 minutes to speak to a given concept. That’s faster than green grass through a goose folks. Sounds fun! See you at the Bahen Centre for Information Technology, Tuesday October 20th at 7pm.

New publication: OUR Walmart: a case study of connective action

OUR Walmart: a case study of connective action, by Brett Caraway
This article analyzes communication practices within networked social movements by exploring the network structure of an organization responsible for numerous labor actions and campaigns targeting the retail giant Walmart. This case study of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) represents an initial attempt to map the network structure of an emergent form of labor organization. To better understand the relationship between communication and collective action, I utilize Bennett and Segerberg’s [(2012). The logic of connective action: Digital media and the personalization of contentious politics. Information, Communication & Society, 15(5), 29] model of connective action to examine the organizational structure of OUR Walmart. I conducted semi-structured interviews with a dozen union representatives, OUR Walmart members, and current and former Walmart employees. My intention is to (1) delineate the network structure of a new and significant organizational form of class struggle and (2) consider the utility and validity of the logic of connective action. I conclude with a consideration of the limitations and affordances of the network structure of OUR Walmart for workers engaged in struggles for better working conditions and higher wages. This research finds support for Bennett and Segerberg’s model of large-scale action networks. Moreover, this research suggests that organizationally enabled networks are an effective means of coordinating class struggle.

Full article available HERE

World Book and Copyright Day

Come join me as I do a reading for World Book and Copyright Day!


A Collaborative Literary Performance in the Public Domain

Thursday, April 23, 2015, 9:00 am – 7:30 pm, or until finished

Robarts Library, 2nd floor lobby

Free Admission | Open to the public

Join us for a public and collaborative reading of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in its entirety in celebration of World Book and Copyright Day. World Book and Copyright Day is an event in honor of authorship and literacy and raises awareness about authors’ rights and users’ rights.

Brought to you by University of Toronto Libraries’ Scholarly Communications and Copyright Office and the University of Toronto CAPAL student chapter.

Loss and a Little Dog

liloo1My father is fond of telling the tale of how Liloo once caused a stampede. It was about 15 years ago when Liloo was still a pup. I can’t remember why, but at the time we were running two bulls with the herd. Liloo happened upon the bulls in a field next to the red barn and began circling them and barking loudly. At first the bulls just stared blankly at her. Gradually they became agitated and charged her, trying their best to stomp her under hoof. There was little I could do other than yell at Liloo as I watched events unfold. She paid me no mind as she weaved figure eights in and around the bulls, all the while barking. Eventually the bulls became spooked by her tenacity and began to run. They ran about a hundred yards down to the creek and then up a steep embankment on the other side. Liloo was snapping at their heels the whole way. They rejoined the herd on the far side of the creek and it was at this point that the stampede began. If I recall correctly, it was only about 15 to 20 head of cattle, but that is more than enough for a potentially dangerous situation. I continued to yell in vain as Liloo chased the herd into the hills beyond. She was little more than a small black dot when she disappeared over the event horizon. I stood there waiting for a good 5 minutes before that Continue reading

Come join me for Conscious Activism Documentary Series

web_tile_docseriesI’ll be taking part in a panel around a screening of #Chicago Girl at Hart House as part of the Hancock Lecture Series on February 9th from 6-9pm.

Come witness the new kind of revolution manifested in recent years through computer technology and social media with #ChicagoGirl: The Social Network Takes on a Dictator. This documentary tells the story of teenager Ala’a Basatneh who helps to coordinate the Syrian revolution from her Chicago home through Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Google maps, and camera phones. Through these means Ala’a helps to network activists on the ground in Syria to gain momentum in facing a dictator and to gather evidence through camera technology to inform the world of the human rights atrocities occurring.

This documentary illuminates how technology and media that have become part of everyday living for many young people can be used as tools for activism and solidarity with causes occurring all over the world.

Watch the trailer: http://www.chicagogirlfilm.com/#!trailer/c1aol

For more info: http://harthouse.ca/events/documentary-series-chicagogirl-the-social-network-takes-on-a-dictator/