I am very appreciative of this year’s recognition. I learned long ago from my mentor that teaching is the most impactful and gratifying aspect of being a professor. And ICCIT students make it seem easy somehow.
This award from the ICCIT students means more to me than just about any other professional accolade. I am honored to be their Professor.
We at the Union for Democratic Communications are excited about the upcoming 2018 UDC Conference in Chicago, Illinois, May 10th-12th. For conference details and registration information see the following link: http://www.democraticcommunications.org/
I am very excited to be presenting one of the keynote addresses at this year’s Open Institute V2 in Funchal, Madeira island’s capital, Portugal. I will be speaking on the limits to mobilization. More on the event theme below.
Open in a Time of Closure
Many of the ideals around ‘open’ in the last two decades are facing dramatic retrogression. The open Internet is under threat, already lost in much of the world. Borders are closing in the West; negative impacts of the closed scientific/academic publication system are becoming clearer; public speech and transparency are suffering throughout the world. Meanwhile, states are imprisoning principled practitioners of agonistic openness like Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and Texas native Reality Winner with a vigor not shown since the enlightenment.
How do the last few years challenge or reinforce the need for openness? Can principles of openness developed in prior decades survive closure? Are new techniques necessary?
Open Institute V2, “Open in a Time of Closure,” seeks to explore these themes with an emphasis on extreme or agonistic approaches to free/open practices.
This great media project was put together by Jake Miller as part of our Critical Histories of ICTs graduate course in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. Enjoy!
This article outlines a socio-political theory appropriate for the study of the ecological repercussions of contemporary media technologies. More specifically, this approach provides a means of assessing the material impacts of media technologies and the representations of capitalist ecological crises. This approach builds on the work of ecological economists, ecosocialist scholars, and Marx’s writings on the conditions of production to argue that capitalism necessarily results in ecological destabilization. Taking Apple’s 2016 Environmental Responsibility Report as a case study, the article uses the theory to analyze Apple’s responses to ecological crises. The article asserts that Apple’s reactions are emblematic of the capitalist compulsion for increasing rates of productivity. However, unless the matter/energy savings achieved through higher rates of productivity surpass the overall increase in the flow of matter/energy in production, ecological crises will continue. Ultimately, capital accumulation ensures continued ecological destabilization.
Read more HERE
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
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.
My 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.
I am working with grad student Brian Lau this year on a biophysical economics project. He put together a manifesto this semester and I am truly proud of his work. Please have a look!
COMING SOON: PRECARIOUS WORK AND THE STRUGGLE FOR LIVING WAGES
|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!|
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
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.
I’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
Lunch and Learn: How to Kickstart Your Own Slacktivist Movement
Details: Speakers will be invited to share their experience with social media in non-profit and fundraising realms in an informal lunch setting. Students will be prompted to discuss practical applications of their skills and passions, discuss possibilities and limitations of social media activism, and network with illustrious speakers in a comfortable environment.
Speakers include Sheila Sampath, founder and editor of Shameless Magazine and Brett Caraway, Professor of Digital Media and Cultural Studies at UTM and iSchool.
When: Wed., Jan. 21, 2015, 11:30 am-1: 30 pm
Where: South Dining Room, Hart House
Cost: Free / Lunch provided / Register online