We performed our academic FIFO (Fly In Fly Out – thanks for the insights here Jolynna) duties recently at the first University of Sydney and Hong Kong University symposium, expertly crafted by Professor Heather Horst and Dr Tom McDonald.
During the one day symposium, all researchers were asked to respond to the somewhat broad theme around the concepts of cross border media flows and social imaginaries – in thinking through these two areas, it is a lovely way to bring sociology and media studies (communication if you will) together:
Media of various forms, and the infrastructures and communities that are associated with them, have often been strongly determined by national boundaries. This is particularly the case in different countries dispersed across the Asia-Pacific region, where media organisations are often owned by government entities and/or large companies. Such media organisations also frequently have political or commercial roles that, arguably, make them less susceptible to the kinds of disruption that have been witnessed by their European and American counterparts in recent years. At the same time, the movement of people, goods, capital, information and ideas are undergoing shifts and intensifications, owing to broader geopolitical changes, state-led infrastructure projects and the aspirations of individuals and communities shaped by such regional transformations.
Against this context, media flows are being created, worked and reworked, facilitated by new infrastructures, imaginaries and understandings. These flows frequently cross, circumvent or come up against borders, both domestic and international. For instance, countries such as China and the US increasingly compete to export infrastructures across the region through the promotion of platforms, technologies and services. Online shopping, logistics, blockchain and fin-tech are fostering new cross-border flows of goods and money. Media content is increasingly consumed internationally, posing new opportunities and challenges for media companies, regulators and governments. Users and consumers of the media are also witnessing the reworking of their media environments because of these changes, and are adopting inventive responses to and adaptations of the media in return.
This symposium, and the planned journal special issue that will result from it, explores these changing circuits of media in the Asia Pacific region. We ask contributors to consider: How are media flows redefining understandings of borders? What kinds of novel communities are being created by cross-border media flows? What forms of social imaginaries accompany the emergence of new infrastructures from “outside”? How are boundaries and borders being made, unmade or remade within and across the Asia-Pacific region?
Personally, it was a unique opportunity to apply my recent thinking around digital intermediation to the concept of social imaginaries to understand how geopolitical borders are constructed, de-constructed and enforced and reimagined – there is no better place in the world than Hong Kong to get that sort of thinking on.
If you are interested in the research I have started in this space, you can access my presentation here:
But enough about me, the better work was all around! Here are some notes and reflections from the research presented:
Sylvia Martin – Imagin(eer)ing peace: Simulations and the state
- Holograms and military uses of them
- USC and Shoah Foundation
- Hologram shown in front of young students and they ask him questions
- Filmed in a multi-camera environment
- Statistical classifier to find the best answer to the questions
- “The Girl and the Picture”
- IBM Watson to do the classifier for the woman filmed in The Girl in the Picture
- What enables the production of survivors who have crossed the borders?
- There is a close connection between the state and industry – building larger goals into the process
- There are a number of agencies involved in this process
- Leads to the ‘Imagineering’ of content – this is the link to the hologram
- The industry in Hollywood has shifted to military content –
- The emergence of the Silicon Beach – the increase of tech etc in Venice Beach
- Institute of Creative Technology (ICT) – military, academia and entertainment
Joyce Nip – Friends and foes: China’s connections and disconnections in the Twitter sphere
- While much of the social media is blocked, “foreign hostile networks taking over the regions”
- @XHNews – one of these ‘blocked’ Chinese Twitter accounts
- CGTN, SCMP, Xianhwa News
- Looking at #SouthChinaSea
- Interestingly @XHNews have set the frames around “Aircraft Carrier”
- There may be not artificial warfare, but other computational forces at work
- Hub account – I think this means the sorts of large betweenness centrality
- @9DashLine and @AsiaMTI758 are the most retweeted accounts
- What is the correlation to the US based news services then picking up the ‘new’ framing of the events?
- Hub accounts are super important
- So are Russians more interested in global news than other countries?
Heather Horst – From Kai Viti to Kai Chica: Debating Chinese influence in Fiji
- Chinese aid has been welcomed in Fiji, in anticipation of APEC 2018
- Cable net offer from Oz around the islands, to ward off Chinese influence
- Strong connection with the last coups between China and Fiji
- Fiji states it is a relationship, not influence
- The 28 WG Friendship Plaza building has difficult Chinese/Fiji relations
- First instance of fake news in Fiji – China will take the island of Kadavu to recover the $500m debt
- Fiji has an informal censorship process in its media system
- The Wikipedia page has been adjusted to say a ‘Province of China’ but was changed back ‘quickly’
- Oz support is participatory government (aid cultures), Chinese has been infrastructure support
- A common thread between all papers of influence through infrastructures and countries?
- What is the broader impact of social media on the Chinese influence?
‘Great Power Rivalry’ – some nation states are more important than others. This promotes the idea of what are we missing? What if you don’t have a ‘state’ formed around you? Jewish context and the Chinese massacres contexts. Non-state actors (not ISIS, but the anarchist forms).
China is not one – There are a number of Chinese (Mainland, New Territories, Hong Kong)
Bunty Avieson – Minority language Wikipedias for cultural resilience
- Privilege has moved online, through connected communication
- Cognitive justice – beyond tolerance is something that we need
- Localised knowledge practices contribute to cultural production – this is a form of resilience
- Pharmacon – a cure and a killer
- Wikipedia paints one aspect of the unity of users, knowledge,
- Wikipedia is drawing information from Wikipedia
- Anyone can edit is a myth – Wikipedians are white global north, Christian, under 30, technical competent
- Oral cultures – only 7% have been written down
- Positional superiority (Said), long tail of colonialism
Tom McDonald – One Country, two payment systems: Cross-border digital money transactions between Hong Kong and Mainland China
- WeChat Advertising campaign that rolled out across Hong Kong during the time of protest
- Immigration has increased significantly during this period
- One country/two systems – the border remains constant
- There is a focus to engage communication technologies to secure the future
- 2016 the Money Authority gave the right to five operators to launch digital wallets (Alipay, WeChat, Octopus, OlePay, TapnGo)
- Users are using WeChat and/or Alipay to transfer funds and then purchase things for cheaper (better rates) in Hong Kong
- WeChat groups are emerging for money transfer
- Culture is always changing, cultural dynamism is a better term
- More explanation of microplatformization, and digital intermediation
- Can oral Wikipedia help solve the Bhutan problem?
Jolynna Sinanan – Mobile media and mobile livelihoods in Queensland’s coal mining industry
- What access do miners have when away from home?
- Three areas of contestation: they are not allowed to have mobiles while working, They are often in remote areas with low coverage, connection to home is no one’s responsibility
- mobilities and families – digital media characterized by mobilities
- Literature says: Digital media is how families do everything together, this is how users make sense of each other and their context while they are apart from each other
- Social transformations are under-developed
- Jhow mobilities make sense. through ‘work’ and ‘home’
- Drops ‘cashed-up bogan’ as a term to describe the impact of the stress on the workers
- FIFO Life as a producer of memes
- How is this different to pilots? They fly in and out, have similar digital media tools, but are vastly different in how they react with their family?
Tian Xiaoli – No escape: WeChat and reinforcing power hierarchy in Chinese workplaces
- WeChat users often think about superiority online – who is senior? Who is younger? This is reflective of offline lives
- Hierarchy and behaviour studies as a background for the workplace
Jack Linchuan Qiu (Chung Minglun & Pun Ngai) – The effects of digital media upon labor knowledge and attitudes: A study of Chinese vocational-school students
- School students from poorer backgrounds – being trained for vocational jobs (blue collar)
- Effects study on the rights
- The border between social classes
- A study on human capital (Becker, 1964) – the internet economy, the knowledge economy,
- How is the schooling process outdating, or distracting, or are they adding to the education process?
- Passive use of internet versus active use (net potato (Kaye, 1998))
- A process that leads to individualistic usage (Ito), hyper-individualistic
- Village well (Arora, 2019)
- Increased consumerist activity does not necessarily relate to decreased labour subjectivity
- Media literacy encourages reflective thinking
- Is consumerist worry an elitist position?
- What is the labour subjectivity if the user is Reflective/individualistic? for example
Tommy Tse – Dream, dream, dream: The interwoven national, orgnaisational, and individual goals of workers in China’s technology sector
- Sociology pays more attention to the practice beyond the theoretical
- Cultural practices and how they play out in labour practices
- Chinese dream versus Alibaba Dream versus individual dream