Oh, to have seasons again! The fact that summer only lasts a handful of months in Canada adds to its pertinence – and even more for profs whose summer is marked by the temporal boundaries of semesters finishing and commencing. Anyways, all that to say there was a lot to do and some adventures were had. Here’s a recap:
My international conferencing took place in May and early June this year. It was quite a rush to land in Prague for the International Communication Association‘s annual conference following the semester, especially after a re-directed flight and missing luggage. The European heat wave and thousands of scholars distributed between two hotels made this conference feel like it was buzzing with non-stop activity. I presented a new take on the microcelebrity-like strategies that some of my participants demonstrated on Instagram and Vine. This was for our panel “Platforms at Work,” featuring the fantastic Jeremy Morris & Austin Morris speaking about app stores, Anne Helmond and Fernando van der Vlist talking about platform APIs and third-party integration networks, Brooke Duffy and Ngai Keung Chan presenting on the self-branding of college students and job-seekers, and the extremely insightful David Hesmondhalgh as our respondent – Google all those names if you’re not familiar with them, you won’t regret it! Amidst this intensive conferencing, I also managed to see some sights, eat a Trdelnik filled with ice cream, and have one of the best cappuccinos of my life at Onesip Coffee.
At ICA, we celebrated the launch of Zizi Papacharissi’s Networked Self series. These books build on Zizi’s cutting-edge 2010 A Networked Self edited collection and discuss the impact of networked technologies on life, love, and sentience, among other topics! If you’re picking up the Platforms, Stories, Connections collection, you can find my chapter, “The more I look like Justin Bieber in the pictures, the better”: Queer women’s self-representation on Instagram.
After ICA’s intensity, it was a pleasant change of gears to join a smaller gathering of scholars for Roskilde University’s Intimacies Online, Online Intimacies conference. It consisted of two fantastic days of presentations and chats with scholars similarly immersed in questions concerning digital technology and sexuality, gender, intimacy, kinship, and identity. I gave a talk about the intimate networked counterpublic of queer female Viners that once existed. I asked those present to ponder with me what kind of platform infrastructures, policies, and practices are conducive to the formation of such collectives and where else they might emerge across the web, apps, or platforms.
Arriving back in Montreal, it was time for Concordia University’s Interdisciplinary Summer Institute. This year’s theme focused on examining hateful ideologies and hate-speech, especially in online contexts. As part of a team of experts, I taught about platform moderation and policies relating to hate-speech and censorship as well as technocultures that give rise to harassment and discrimination against marginalized users. It helped that the day before my presentation, my paper with Jean Burgess and Nic Suzor about “patchwork platform governance” was published in Convergence. In it, we discuss inconsistent platform governance mechanisms, which often sustain cultures of practice that are conducive to harassment and the censorship of queer women’s self-representations. I also taught the walkthrough method for analyzing apps to attune the students to biases that become programmed into software.
Then I was off to Brisbane to visit family, friends, beaches and to stop by the Digital Media Research Centre (DMRC) at the Queensland University of Technology. Visiting the same office space where my PhD had taken shape was definitely nostalgic! But the centre is also changing and growing, so I’m excited about the future possibilities this opens up for digital media research in Australia and internationally. I gave a presentation to the graduate students about the North American job market, sharing about my experience of the application and interviewing process. Having deferred my graduation ceremony the previous year, I finally crossed the stage in my floppy hat and robe! Nothing like tradition and celebration to bring closure to such a significant and transformational period of life.
And a proud pic with my supervisors Jean Burgess and Elija Cassidy:
Returning to Montreal in August, I hit the ground running with four weeks of intensive French classes! Administered through Concordia Continuing Education, our fantastic instructor Florence brought energy to the morning classes, which were filled with interactive activities. The course reminded me of the full spectrum of being a student, from the expectations, the hope, and the pride that comes with rising to a challenge all the way to the exam stress and fatigue. Having a fresh view of these feelings will add to my perspective in the upcoming semester as I aim to be attuned to the full range of highs and lows involved in the learning process.
I’ve scurried to get some grant writing and paper drafting completed before the semester starts, amidst enjoying the beauty of Montreal’s summer and never-ending festivals -including a very rainbow-filled Pride. Now the air is a little more crisp and the hallways are increasingly busier. I’m excited to roll out my new syllabus for the undergraduate research methods course I’m teaching this fall and I’m looking forward to many ambitious plans taking shape!