“Ways of Being in a Digital Age - Review conference" took place at the University of Liverpool on 10th and 11th October. The aim of the event was to share ESCR project’s findings and to consult them with a group of "digital researchers".
The conference programme was packed with presentations relating to my academic research and personal interests in digital communities and social change. Among all presentations, there were three that interested me the most.
1) "1215 in 140 Characters: Magna Carta as an affective slogan for national identity in Twitter dialogue" by David Farell-Banks
While considering my personal interested in the digital world, I was fascinated with the work of David Farell-Banks and his project called: "1215 in 140 Characters: Magna Carta as an affective slogan for national identity in Twitter dialogue". David explored online post-Brexit narratives and the concept of national identity. Although his presentation mainly covered his literature findings, it was clear that the topic was important to many people in the room (including myself). David's presentation also reminded me of my recent conversation with Tanis Grandison, who has recently joined Napier's School of Computing as a PhD research student. In her Master’s work, Tanis examined the notion of “digital empathy” and its presence (or lack of it) in #Brexit related social media discussion. There is no doubt that the digital world in the time of post-Brexit reality, has produced interesting data for researchers.
2) "Democracy, citizenship and critical digital literacy" by Gianfranco Polizzi
In the context of my academic research, which focuses on the social impact of youth digital culture co-creation, I was intrigued with the work of Gianfranco Polizzi.Gianfranco is based at the London School of Economics, where he works on his PhD project called:Civic, political engagement online and users’ perceptions of the potential of digital media.
His presentation taught me two important things. Firstly, it allowed me to finally organise my thinking around the notion of 'digital literacy' (so often used as an impact indicator for digital youth initiates). Gianfranco presentation explored digital literacy in the context of democratic and political engagement. It's something that I've been interested in for a long time - both in youth and adult's contexts. However, I never had a chance to spend enough time studying digital literacy on its own. Ginfranco's paper has definitely clarified some of my confusions in this area.
The presentation was extremely well-structured, organised and clear (huge contrast to my colourful storytelling style). Although Gianfranco's slides were packed with theory and literature review, it was surprisingly easy to follow its narrative.
My presentation: Digital culture co-creation: capturing the social impact of small-scale community projects.
My presentation explored the social impact of small-scale digital community projects. The findings, which I had identified during the 1st year of my research, clearly show that co-creation of digital culture and its social impact evaluation requires further research.
I began by sharing my Halloween evaluation horror story [as Sabo (2008) puts it – “nearly everyone has an evaluation horror story to share”]. Right from the start, I could sense that most people in the room found my story a familiar one…
The aim of my paper was to reflect on the challenges related to social impact evaluation processes at present. I emphasised the importance of VOICE and asked whether community’s voice can be heard in the evaluation stories/reports. Here, I described my conceptual understanding of digital culture co-creation and its roots in the literature.
The questions and comments after the presentation were both thought-provoking and reassuring that my work is needed. What I’ve learned from this very recent experience is that sharing my work helps me to question some of my assumptions and believes, and to improve my work in the future (sounds super vague, but its true). Yes, #sharingIScaring!
Overall, I think that “Ways of Being in a Digital Age” conference is certainly one of my favourite and I consider it as one of the most inspiring so far.
If you are interested in ESCR research findings, you can learn more here:https://waysofbeingdigital.com/research/.