Last week in Brisbane, Australia, I had the opportunity to participate in the Association of Internet Researchers Conference and the pre-conference gathering of the Young, Creative, Connected Network. We met on the beautiful urban Gardens Point campus of Queensland University of Technology (QUT), adjacent to the Botanical Gardens, in Brisbane city center. Both events created wonderful opportunities to connect with researchers whose interests and expertise connect with my own and whose unique disciplinary and international perspectives stretched my thinking.
The YCC Network is a group of international scholars interested in youth digital media, broadly defined, and they’ve gathered four times in recent years, as I understand it. Organized by Catherine Beavis and Julian Sefton-Green (Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia), Michael Dezuanni (QUT, Brisbane, Australia), and Stuart Poyntz (Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada), with key involvement from a host of other researchers from the U.S., Canada, U.K., and Australia. They organized two days of thought-provoking keynote speakers, provocation panels, productive workshop time, shared meals, and socializing, around the theme of “Trust, Young People and Digital Media.” Together, we constructed an active Twitter backchannel on #YCCNetwork2019, sharing resources, capturing reactions, and extending our learning.
My contribution was to participate in one of the provocation panels, in which we responded to the question: “How do questions of trust intersect with fandom, media play and learning?” It seemed only right (and timely) to call on work done by former students, now colleagues, Valerie Marsh and Martha Hoff, who just so happened to have their article about the assumptions of trust in online spaces published in the current issue of E-learning and Digital Media. As with each of the panels/discussions organized for this event, the other panelists brought interesting perspectives on the question, from different disciplinary and digital media contexts. I was intrigued by Daisy Pignetti’s experience of establishing trust in the research(er) and recruited her to join the fishbowl conversation that I co-organized later in the week for the AoIR conference.
Other highlights from these two days included a talk from Dr. Kath Albury about how she works with sex education teachers about “young people’s practices of digital self-representation, and the role of user-generated media (including social networking platforms) in young people’s formal and informal sexual learning.” Not really my wheelhouse in terms of research focus, but I was inspired by the way she works with teachers to build understanding about young people’s digital media practices and to make classroom instruction more relevant. I see great potential in adapting her research and professional development model for the goals I have for my research. Many of us in the room were also very inspired by the questions that Dr. Jacqueline Ryan Vickery posed as she got us to think about which products of young people’s digital media production we share or get excited about in our research, and which the young people themselves find most enjoyable. Really, there were so many interesting talks and research projects being shared during the two days, that I cannot do it all justice here. But, I’ll close this reflection about YCC by saying that I appreciated how the organizers created many different opportunities to talk and share ideas that may lead to interesting future collaborations. I met some really interesting people doing fascinating and meaningful work in a range of digital media contexts and we used our time together at the conference, over shared meals, and walking around Brisbane to discuss a variety of opportunities that would allow us to continue these conversations at future events, in publications/research projects, and beyond! I cannot wait to see what we might be able to build together.
The AoIR conference picked up the conversations and learning for me, beginning with a pre-conference workshop about methods for analyzing Twitter and YouTube data, using different data visualization tools. This definitely stretched me that first morning. Over the remainder of the week, I sat in on a range of sessions that explored the conference theme: “Trust in the System.” The keynote address opened my eyes to some of the ways that Australian Indigenous people use social media and left me with actions to take as an ally to support those who experience hateful, racist abuse online. The plenary address the second night offered an interesting collection of global work exploring notions of trust (or lack thereof) in online spaces, media outlets, and governments. And, a particularly resonant panel of speakers talked about pedagogy and digital media production and platforms, which got me thinking about all kinds of connections to my own work as a teacher educator.
My contribution to the conference continued the conversation that started at AoIR 2018 in Montreal about research ethics, and is a component of the ongoing collaboration I have about the topic with some of my literacy research colleagues. I co-facilitated a fishbowl discussion that explored the dilemmas that researchers navigate in conducting ethical online research, with Jen Scott Curwood and Cindy Tekobbe (with input from our collaborators Alecia Magnifico and Amy Stornaiuolo, who couldn’t make the trip to Australia). So many different ideas, experiences, and resources were shared in our discussion. It was a timely and vibrant discussion for us, and for the organization as well, because AoIR will soon be releasing its Ethics 3.0 document to help guide online researchers in our work.