26 October 2006

AoIR conference 2007

Internet Research 8.0: Let's Play!

International and Interdisciplinary Conference of the Association of
Internet Researchers

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Workshops: October 17, 2007

AoIR conference: October 18­20, 2007

Deadline for submissions: February 1, 2007

Let's Play

The Internet ­ better, internet/s - is at once part of the background hum of the developed world and an exotic realm of fantasy and play. It is an essential, mundane part of daily life, and simultaneously radical,revolutionary, profane, and fun. Internet/s invite us to play. We surf, blog, role play, and chat in the interest of work, learning, and play. Serious technologies and applications invite playing around as a way to learn how to use them. Playful applications take root in serious business,as online chat becomes a business communication tool. Games find applications in education, business, and war. Playful blogging evolves into a social and political force to be reckoned with. We play with our identity online, shaping current and future roles offline. The play goes on?

Our conference theme of play invites empirical research and theoretical reflection on how human beings "seriously play" with one another on, via and through internet/s, on local, regional, and global scales. We call for papers that explore the intersection of the serious and the playful, the sacred and the profane, the revolutionary and the mundane, and fantasy and the reality.


We call for papers, panel proposals, and presentations from any discipline, methodology, and community, and from conjunctions of multiple disciplines, methodologies and communities, that address the (playful) blurring of boundaries online. The following TOPICS are suggestions simply intended to spark initial reflection and creativity:

- Mundanity implies normalcy, and thereby, the efforts to understand and regulate online interactions in ways that are analogous to and consistent with offline practices and norms (e.g., privacy protection, norms for community interaction, efforts to regulate information flows involving pornography, hate speech, etc.). As internet/s become interwoven with ordinary life on multiple levels, in what ways do these alter ordinary life, and/or how do prevailing community and cultural practices reshape and "tame" such internet/s and the interactions they facilitate?

- Global diffusion: how do internet/s, as they exponentially diffuse throughout the globe facilitate flows of information, capital, labor, immigration ­ and play ­ and what are the implications of these new flows for life offline?

- eLearning: how can such practices as distance learning and serious games utilize the liminal domain (the threshold world of dream and myth, in which important new skills, insights, and abilities are gained in the process of growing up) to go beyond traditional ways of learning? Are they necessarily better, or easier, to use or to learn from?

- Identity, community, and global communications: how will processes of identity play and development continue, and/or change as the role and place of the Internet in peoples lives shift in new ways ­ including the expansion of mobile access to internet/s?

- E-health: what do new developments in sharing medical information online and expanding telemedicine technologies into new domains imply for traditional physician-centered medicine, patient privacy, etc.?

- Digital art: from downloading commercially-offered ringtones to facilitating cross-cultural / cross-disciplinary collaborations in the creation of art, internet/s expand familiar aesthetic experiences and open up new possibilities for aesthetic creativity: how are traditional understandings of aesthetic experience affected ­ and how do new creative / aesthetic / playful possibilities affect human "users" of art?

- Games and gaming: the average gamer in North America is now a twenty-something whose lifestyle is more mainstream than adolescent. As games and gamers "grow" up ­ and as games continue their diffusion into new demographic categories while they simultaneously continue to push the envelopes of Internet and computer technologies ­ what can we discern of new possibilities for identity play, community building, and so forth?

Sessions at the conference will be established that specifically address the conference theme, and we welcome innovative, exciting, and unexpected takes on that theme. We also welcome submissions on topics that address social, cultural, political, economic, and/or aesthetic aspects of the Internet
beyond the conference theme - e.g., in CSCW and other forms of online collaboration, distance learning, etc. In all cases, we welcome disciplinary and interdisciplinary submissions as well as international collaborations from both AoIR and non-AoIR members.

We seek proposals for several different kinds of contributions. We welcome proposals for traditional academic conference papers, but we also encourage proposals for creative or aesthetic presentations that are distinct from a traditional written paper.

We also welcome proposals for roundtable sessions that will focus on discussion and interaction among conference delegates, as well as organized panel proposals that present a coherent group of papers on a single theme.
- PAPERS (individual or multi-author) - submit abstract of 500-750 words
- CREATIVE OR AESTHETIC PRESENTATIONS - submit abstract of 500-750 words
- PANELS - submit a 500-750 word description of the panel theme, plus 250-500 word abstract for each paper or presentation
- ROUNDTABLE PROPOSALS - submit a statement indicating the nature of the roundtable discussion and interaction

Papers, presentations and panels will be selected from the submitted proposals on the basis of multiple blind peer review, coordinated and overseen by the Program Chair. Each individual is invited to submit a proposal for 1 paper or 1 presentation. A person may also propose a panel session, which may include a second paper that they are presenting OR submit a roundtable proposal. You may be listed as co-author on additional papers as long as you are not presenting them.

Detailed information about submission and review is available at the conference submission website http://conferences.aoir.org [available December 1, 2006]. All proposals must be submitted electronically through this site.

Several publishing opportunities are expected to be available through journals, based on peer-review of full papers. The website will contain more details.

Graduate students are strongly encouraged to submit proposals. Any student paper is eligible for consideration for the AoIR graduate student award. Students wishing to be a candidate for the Student Award must send a final paper by June 30, 2007.

Prior to the conference, there will be a limited number of pre-conference workshops which will provide participants with in-depth, hands-on and/or creative opportunities. We invite proposals for these pre-conference workshops. Local presenters are encouraged to propose workshops that will invite visiting researchers into their labs or studios or locales. Proposals should be no more than 1000 words, and should clearly outline the purpose, methodology, structure, costs, equipment and minimal attendance required, as well as explaining its relevance to the conference as a whole. Proposals will be accepted if they demonstrate that the workshop will add significantly to the overall program in terms of thematic depth, hands on experience, or local opportunities for scholarly or artistic connections. These proposals and all inquires regarding pre-conference proposals should be submitted as soon as possible to the Conference Chair and no later than March 31, 2007.

Submission site available: December 1, 2006
Proposal submission deadline: February 1, 2007
Presenter notification: March 31, 2007
Final workshop submission deadline: March 31, 2007
Submission for student award competition: June 30, 2007
Submission for conference archive: July 31, 2007

Full papers and a conference registration by at least one of the paper authors must be in place by July 31, 2007 for papers to be presented.

Formatting: Please submit papers in PDF with simple formatting, using sans serif font and in-text referencing. If you can't submit in PDF, use DOC or RTF format.
Submission process: Submit full papers to aoir2007@gmail.com by July 31, 2007.

Program Chair: Dr. Mia Consalvo, Ohio University

Conference Chair: Dr. Richard Smith, Simon Fraser University

Vice-President of AoIR: Dr. Charles Ess, Drury University
Association Website: http://www.aoir.org
Conference Website: http://conferences.aoir.org

01 October 2006

How to be in a novel without writing it

Still working on a Literature Review, and that won't get me anywhere near a novel, neither writing it nor even reading it. But if I had some money to spare, I could be in one...

How to be a character in a novel

22 September 2006


After Stephanie’s attemptto refine a definition of “blog”, danah boyd is today fighting the good fight with terminology, and more particularly the term “social networking site”, commonly used in print media. She points out that only adults use those terms, young people prefer to refer to the sites they use by name. I have noticed the same trend amongst young Irish bloggers, who refer to their LiveJournal, or their Bebo, not their blog or their social networking site/page. Danah proposes to continue the use of social network, and to refuse the verb which, she says, hints at voluntary search for new and unknown internet users, raising once again the fear of predator in the mind of the media/parents.

These posts are very timely for my own research, as I am struggling with terminology in the first part of my literature review. For the supervisor’s whip has been raised, and write I must. Preferably now. Instead of writing a blog post. Which I rarely do, unless I have a deadline…

04 September 2006

Metablogging - Endings

A week-end spent browsing my favourite blogs revealed the announced end of two of them, both Irish blogs: Blank Paige has been blogging for a year; she started as a bet to herself (and her doubting sister) that she could sustain the discipline of daily writing. Now, a year later, she intends to stop:

I hope that you will excuse my discontinuing as a blogger. I genuinely don’t feel worthy of the description owing to my lack of original talent.

This seems to be a very personal view on her writing, certainly not shared by her readers/commentators, who protested in the comments box. Interestingly, some suggested that she "reinvent herself" and start a new blog (with a new identity?).

At the same time, another blogger, also Irish, also a woman, decided to put an end to three years of blogging, and successful blogging at that (she received last year's Best Personal Blog Award at the Irish Blog Awards). That Girl decided it was Time for a Change and will only maintain her business blog, leaving more time for her PhD research.

Both of them dedicated a post, their last one, to a farewell message and explanation of their decision. In both cases, it seems to be a genuine concern for the readers, a sense of responsibility for the blog, and not a subtle fishing for compliments. However, many other bloggers just end their blogs with a wimper, or nothing at all. A lot of the young people's blogs I had marked as favourites and possible participants for my research have just stopped blogging. One day's ordinary entry becomes, de facto, the last entry; no way of knowing why the blog was abandonned.

One of first blogs I ever read was written by an American middle-aged woman from Oregon. Her blog was a very personal diary, a book of days, reminiscent of older times; she wrote down every meal she cooked, sometimes adding a recipe, she listed the items provided in her husband's lunchbox, the chores she had accomplished, the books she read. She was also, to my mind, a very good writer, and she kept the online diary for over 5 years. Then, one day, she deleted it. It was a very old-fashioned diary site, with no facilities for comments, but I had emailed her once or twice, to let her know I was reading, and who I was. She had answered very pleasant messages, and knew she had a (very small) readership. A change in computer means I have lost her email address, and so will never know why she stopped writing and deleted the journal. Such is online life, where people can disappear from communities, leaving the others wondering . I really feel this woman's blog was more a technological memory than an opening to the world.

Yesterday, reading through The Big Brother's Leaving Cert English book, I found a quote from Derek Mahon, written about poetry, but that I find eminently suitable to blogs:

Whether we mean to or not, we offer ourselves and our works, such as they are, as illustrative symptoms of a period – the later 20th Century, say – and in that sense, everything has value, however slight. No doubt poetry, good or bad, is a waste of time; but waste, drift, contingency are the better part of wisdom. If it serves any useful purpose, it might be to retrieve the lost stuff: lost experience, lost ideas. Whatever proves uncanonical is at least documentary, evidential. We are all contributors. What was once true is true for ever. What seemed like a good idea at the time retains the cautionary or diversionary function; and “failure”, much
under-rated, is where all the ladders start.

03 September 2006

A post of days

Back home, back in college, everyone (or nearly) back at school. And hopefully, back blogging, and blogging properly. I missed Blogday, where bloggers were encouraged to link to five international blogs of their choice. It was a nice idea, but naturally you wonder about language and the new borders it creates.

It also got me thinking of all the International * Days, and where do they come from? Some googling on a rainy Sunday morning came up with the UN's list of International Days . Hmm... No blogday. So more googling, going well beyond the first four results that we all apparently stick to. Found an International Day of Action for Rivers, an International Museum Day, an
International Migratory Birds Day , even - probably my favourite, an International No Diet Day . And I also finally found the Blogday. But no International Biking Day . It would seem you cycle on your own...

15 August 2006

Summer rain

Back to grey skies and summer rain. I arrived back on Sunday and have been sleepwalking ever since, trying as usual to fit back into my Irish life. Experience tells me it will take a week. I don't have a week, as I will be flying to a doctoral workshop in Sweden, exciting and scary...

Mr. Seldom rang me this morning from his car, saying the Minister for Education was being interviewed on the radio, and was talking about Bebo and blogging; I missed it and will listen online this afternoon. I do wonder which studies she bases her reactions on, as I have been unable to find any studies or reports on Irish adolescents' use of social networks and blogs. After listening to the interview, I realised it was the usual cyberbullying lark and danger in the cyberhighways. The Minister also spoke of the "isolationist" nature of the internet, due to increased online communication, which, to her mind, hinders their face2face communication. I could hear my supervisor's voice saying "reference?"

I hadn't been reading blogs for a month, and discovered on my return that one of my regular reads, Petite Anglaise , had been sacked from her job in the parisian office of an English firm for "faute grave", the serious misconduct of blogging.

03 July 2006

Trundling along

It has been a long time, yet again. Progression meeting came and went, with much work beforehand, and certainly the realisation of how much work is still to come; Big Sister’s exams came and went, and we start the long wait for results; Even Bigger Sister’s exams are long gone, results any day now. And the Little One is on holidays. He is at a summer camp here on campus, which forces me to work from 9.30 to 4.30, when I pick him up and we go home. There is a big pile of books on my desk, and a notebook at the ready.

07 June 2006

Exam nerves

The Big Sister is sitting her Leaving Cert English exam at the moment, and I swear I am more nervous than for any exam I ever sat. The fact that I have to finish a report by Friday has suddenly become irrelevant, as butterflies the size of small eagles are haunting my stomach. Time for coffee. Again. And then try to work, and wait for the phone call.

01 June 2006

This is just a test, to see if I am totally insane or not. I don't seem to be able to update my French blog. Is it a sign of the gods, a punishment for not speaking my own language?

31 May 2006

A PhD in two weeks!

I was going to post something totally different, probably excuses for long silence and such, but I checked my comments box - usually a quiet enough place, and lo and behold!

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What am I waiting for? Why am I spending days and days reading, and agonizing over conceptual frameworks, and drawing neat little triangular triangles, when all I have to do it act now, and my future will owe me nothing. Could I have an MBA with my PhD, please? And no wild punctuation in it, please, or should I say No Wild Punctuation IN IT!!!!

20 April 2006

Of time and socks

I remember a time when time lasted forever. Sundays particularly seemed to stretch into an infinity of boredom. Something happened, though. I must have wasted time, or spent it all, because it’s gone. There is no time for lazing around, no time for reading novels, not enough time for my work, no time at all for housework. Nights are gone in the blink of an eyelid, and days are over before they start. I still manage to steal some time, from an unknown source. I snatch a little here and there for Ice Age 2 with the Little One, or some long tea drinking with the Older Ones. Kate Thompson wrote a novel about some fairy people stealing time from our world, but I’m not sure I buy that; the kids and I think there is a locked room somewhere, probably in an alternate universe, where everything we ever lost could be found. The Big Sister’s black pebble, the Very Big Sister’s ring, the Little One’s lightsaber (don’t ask), the Big Brother’s keys (although they occasionally visit our universe, only to leave again), one million and five odd socks, and time. I have lost time, if you find it, please send it back.

13 April 2006

A tale of water and dust

One night last week, I decided that The Little One was in dire need of a bath. The bath, however, was blocked, and rather than wait for Mr. Seldom to wield the plunger, I dived in (metaphorically only); kids in the kitchen started screaming "whatever you're doing, stop it!" It was raining in the kitchen, no soft April shower, but real monsoon rains. A plumber was called; he said he'd be in soon; he wasn't; he rang to say his van broke down. Do they not teach them better lies at plumbers' school? Another plumber was called; he came and looked and said "that's a big job; we need to cut the ceiling in the kitchen to reach the problem". Great, I thought. Plumbing and mayhem for Easter; then again in the summer, when we had planned a major facelift for the aging and decrepit bathroom. Decisive we were. The Big Job. The plumber was (miraculously) available, as well as his friends the builder, the electrician and the tiler.

Which leads me to today, the second day in our lives with Luke the Australian builder, Dave his Irish sidekick, and the newly acquired Ed the taciturn carpenter. John and Robbie the plumbers won't be with us until Tuesday, for the grand opening. In the meantime, we wash in the downstairs washand basin, or the sink if we feel brave. The whole house is decorated in a fetching coating of dust, and the smell of new plaster permeates the air.

Today, I gave in, rang my SIL and drove to her house for a shower. I am clean, and happy. My bathroom is neither, but it will be wonderful next week...

04 April 2006

Happy roundabouts

I recently heard a puzzling sentence in a conversation : « They know I’m gay as a roundabout. » I thought and thought, and various explanations came to mind; first, it could be a very culture-specific reference, understandable to those more versed in gay culture than I am; then, the image of the Magic Roundabout came to mind with Florence the boring girl (in my memories anyway), Dougal the orange dog and Zebedee the strange bouncing character; and I thought, yes, happy, funny roundabout, so gay in a roundabout way. But neither explanation was satisfactory. I asked around me, unsuccessfully. Then, the Very Big Sister came home and laughed at my ignorance. The expression, apparently, is “straight as a roundabout”, and was obviously changed by the speaker. I like his version better, and think it should be adopted by all.

06 March 2006

Bad starts

The week did not start well.

Yesterday was a nondescript type of day, marked by the dragging of old sofas, beds and assorted junk to the driveway, whence they would go this morning to the path, to be collected by the Household Goods Refuse people. So far so good, very nice to be able to get in to the shed again.

This morning, however, started a different story. I opened one eye, saw some sun peeping through the curtains, and smiled to myself in the lovely expectation of a lazy Sunday morning. A little voice in the back of my head started grumbling. “Of course, it’s not really Sunday, because, really, Sunday was yesterday, yesterday was a lazy morning, but of course, today is MONDAY!! MONDAY ALERT! MONDAY ALERT!” , screamed the now screechy voice in my head. I slowly jumped out of bed and woke the Little One. The Big Sister was up, grinning at my Monday face. Teenagers. So it was Monday, and we were late. The Big Sister left for the bus. Made lunch, rushed the Little One, screamed at Mr. Seldom and the Very Big Sister that I was off, bundled Little One in the car, and noticed that The Household Refuse People were at the end of the road. Looked around, everybody’s stuff was on the path, started wondering whether I had time to bring Little One to school and come back to rouse Mr. Seldom, or whether I should risk being even later and go back in. Decided on school first, and reversed my car right into Mr. Seldom’s car.

The day has since progressed to a dull but insistent headache, I stayed at home to do some work, seen as I’m supposed to hand in 30 pages on Friday. The headache has just got worse.

03 March 2006

I'm dreaming...

I woke up this morning to Christmassy scenery of white and frost, and to the news on the radio that some villages in Donegal were still snow-bound, or at least their schools were closed. So I dreamed of a house in Donegal, snow-bound if possible, a turf fire (with the possibility of turning on the central heating) and a pile of good books. My vision included a very comfortable armchair, a sleeping cat (well, I have that anyway, sitting in the only vaguely comfortable armchair in the house), and no sign of a pile of ironing or of a kitchen to be cleaned. At that stage, my vision became a bit too real and I drove to college, still vaguely dreamy.

21 February 2006

Stylistic analysis and the use of briquettes

The Little One is a great fan of Roddy Doyle's children's books (better than JK Rowling), and we had had a serious conversation last night, during a long evening walk. Little One offered some stylistic analysis of his own on the work:

"He's getting better with every book, and I'm going to write books like his, probably when I'm 11, so I have time to have a brainstorm. And I'll use lots of brickets."

"Brickets?" I enquired.

"Yes, brickets, you know, to tell people something is happening. Like: he opened the door (slowly). Brickets."

"Hmmm. Those are usually called brackets."

"OK; and three dots, too. He uses three dots when someone interrupts him when he' s writing."

(Hmmm. Three dots should be well used when I write then, I thought, in a cunning use of brickets).

So Little One wrote a letter to The Author, expressing his admiration for "the bit when the snails want to take over the world", and refrained from taking him to task over writing all those books for grownups when his real audience were waiting and having to read The Meanwhile Adventures for the 10th time.

I think the Author liked it.

20 February 2006

Existential readings?

This I read in the Sunday Times (I know, but it came with a free Donnie Darko DVD...):

From "Mrs Mills solves all your problems":

Existential dilemma

I'm 15 years old and considering buying a black beret. Do you think it would be a good purchase, or would I just look silly?

Answer: Are you trying to sell onions from a bike? No? Forget it, then.

I beg to differ. May I respectfully point out that a black beret is only mandatory for selling garlic from a bike. When it comes to onions, I would recommend a straw hat (wide-brimmed).

05 February 2006

The possibility of a reader

My other blog, on the other side, has been having major problems; they are not due to me, I hasten to add, but to a change in hosting services. I am not blameless, though; I have been neglecting both blogs, and the reason why will require me to wade a little deeper in the strange and murky waters of internet, psychology, truth and reality. Even though this blog is so far a readerless one, I am strangely reluctant to link it to my real life. As soon as I write this sentence, I see one problem with it: I don’t know if it is readerless; I know it is comment-free. In fact, I know 4 people might be reading it, because they are linked to my real life, and I gave them the address. There is, however, the possibility of a reader (to paraphrase the title of a book I haven’t read…) There is indeed the necessity of a reader, if this is to become the ethnographic experience my research requires. The adolescents’ or young adults’ blogs I read have a ready-made audience of the real-life of internet friends, which grows exponentially through linking and “friending”. Very rarely is there a reflexion on the reader, his/her presence and responsibility, except obliquely, when a blog becomes locked – this is usually due to real-life acquaintances becoming readers. I also read blogs from older authors, and those seem to reflect more on the notions of audience, responsibility and “contract”, as in Lejeune’s “pacte autobiographique”. Indeed Lejeune is quoted in a discussion in Christie’s blog. Interesting, and it allowed me to avoid another personal post…

17 January 2006

Blogging thoughts

A long silence filled with Christmas cake and Christmas cheer, and some January blues. I'm now enthusiastically back at work, long may the enthusiasm and energy last.

Today I came across an article in the Washington Post on teenager bloggers, called Teens' Bold Blogs Alarm Area Schools. It brought to mind a lot of other articles, now saved on my computer, mostly from the French and American media, and which are universally negative. It seems that young bloggers will either fall prey to perverts or will torture their friends and teachers. Pick your poison. Is this a demonisation of technology, or a demonisation of youth?