Call for AoIR2021 Conference Host

The Executive Committee of the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) is now seeking expressions of interest from prospective Conference Hosts for the annual meeting of the Association in October 2021. The AoIR conference draws an international group of 500-600 researchers and practitioners to present and discuss work at the cutting edge in understanding the social and cultural aspects of the internet and related technologies. In line with our regular rotation schedule, the 2021 conference will take place in North America, and expressions of interest are therefore limited to prospective Conference Hosts in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

We seek expressions of interest from organisations or consortia to serve as Conference Host for a future AoIR conference. The Conference Host is an organisation or group of organisations that serve as a liaison to AoIR, assisting in the identification of conference spaces, hotels, catering and reception options, local sponsorships, and ways to feature the local intellectual community and culture. They may also propose a Program Chair: an individual who helps to develop the conference theme and to identify keynote and plenary speakers, oversees the submissions and review process of papers, panels, workshops, and preconferences, and schedules the conference sessions. The Program Chair may be a member of the organization that acts as Conference Host.

Dedicated AoIR staff including the Association Coordinator and Conference Coordinator will lead much of the conference planning, including negotiating contracts with hotels, meeting venues, catering, and the like, and handling the administrative details of the conference, such as registration, reception and meal planning, AV and wifi provision, and book vendor displays. The role of the Conference Host is to advise on this process, provide crucial local knowledge and connections, and where possible provide venue space at cost or for free.

Organizations or consortia that may be interested in serving as Conference Host should contact President Axel Bruns at prez (at) aoir.org by 1 March 2019 with a brief expression of interest. The document should include the following:

  1. the organization(s) involved;
  2. your connection to internet research and to AoIR;
  3. a description of any prior experiences you have had with organizing or hosting a conference and the role you played in this;
  4. an argument to support the proposed conference location, especially with respect to ease of travel for AoIR’s multinational community of conference participants;
  5. initial thoughts on local venue options and associated costs (AoIR has in the past held the annual conference at a variety of venue spaces including universities, conference centers, and hotels);
  6. prospective conference dates, keeping in mind any major local, national, and international holidays, semester schedules, or other aspects that might affect the timing of the conference;
  7. a firm indication of whether you will be attending AoIR 2019 in Brisbane and are available to meet for further discussions about hosting AoIR 2021.

#AoIR2018 Best Student Paper Award

The Best Student Paper Award for #AoIR2018 Montreal goes to David Myles for his paper Anne Goes Rogue for Abortion Rights! Exploring Discursive Materialization Across and Beyond Online Platforms. This presentation examines the social media campaign #SupportIslandWomen that was undertaken by reproductive rights activists in Prince Edward Island (PEI), the last Canadian province to offer abortion services. Drawing from socio-material approaches and actor-network theory, the paper analyzes ‘discursive practice’ as a nexus of various actors (both human/nonhuman, symbolic/material) that intervene in interaction and generate certain effects. The program committee was impressed by the relevance of the topic to the conference thematic and he author’s deft and nuanced deployment of theories and methods that represents an exemplary confluence of the material and imaginary in the paper’s argument and analysis.

You will be able to hear more about David’s paper and speak to him in Montréal, Saturday, 13 October 2018: 9:00am – 10:30am.

Travel Scholarship Recipient #AoIR2018 – André Mintz

Each year, through the generous donations of AoIR conference attendees, we are able to fund several travel scholarships for junior scholars to attend the conference. We want to recognize our scholarship recipients and share with you a little bit about them and their interests.

Who are you?
I am André, a doctoral candidate at the graduate program in Communication of the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil, and a CAPES foundation scholarship holder. I graduated from this same institution back in 2010 and have been working across the fields of digital media and media art ever since. I have previously worked with audiovisual production, particularly in experimental formats. I have also taught digital art and programming at a vocational school, managed a hack lab, and produced immersive videos for a planetarium. I hold a masters in Communication from the same institution to which I am currently affiliated, and I also took a masters in Media Art Cultures with a grant from the Erasmus Mundus joint program formed by Danube University Krems (Austria), Aalborg University (Denmark), and Lodz University (Poland).

Where are you from?
I am from Belo Horizonte, which is one of the largest metropolitan centers of southeast Brazil. Less known than other parts of the country, it grew as one of the main mining regions in the 18th century – an activity which, unfortunately, continues to be a rather significant share of the region’s economy. The university and program I am currently affiliated with is one of the main of its kind in the country, having grown and diversified in recent years. There, I am part of the Intermedia Connections Research Group, which gathers a strong group of researchers working on internet and digital media.

What is your current area of study?
Currently, I am devoted to the topic of the digital image in connective media environments. My research has a methodological orientation, with an interest in devising a digital methods approach for studying the dynamics of images’ online circulation and association but, also, the epistemic implications of applying such approaches – machine learning in particular – to our understanding of what images are and their role in contemporary communication. I believe these are becoming crucial questions as computer vision technology for image analysis become mainstream and start to alter also how image are made and put into circulation. In short, my topic is the datafication and the algorithmic treatment of the visual within online culture. Therefore, I would situate myself within the broader field of digital methods and STS, but in an intersection with the fields of aesthetics and visual culture.

Describe the research you will present at #AoIR2018.
At the conference, I will be presenting a research I have conducted with my supervisor, Carlos d’Andréa, which is titled “Studying ‘live’ cross-platform circulation of images with a computer vision API: an experiment based on a sports media event”. The study applies an experimental methodology for tracking the live circulation of images shared during the Final Draw Ceremony of FIFA World Cup 2018. We used a commercial API provided by Google which operates as a reverse image search tool for the web, with which we tracked visuals shared on Twitter. The study showed some potentials for this approach in describing different circulation dynamics across online platforms and also across geographical settings. However, the results also suggested many questions as to the inherent limits of the approach, particularly due to some opacity regarding the tool’s functioning. Besides this paper, I will also attend the doctoral colloquium, in which I will present aspects of my dissertation research.

Have you presented at AoIR in the past? If yes, what has been your experience? If #AoIR2018 Montréal is your first AoIR conference, what made you choose this conference? What do you expect from it?
This is my first time presenting at AoIR. It seems that it is a rather automatic choice for those of us researching online topics, so there was not really that much thought put into it. It is clearly one of the main places to attend at some point in one’s research track. I expect the days in Montreal to be quite busy and having a really hard time choosing which activities to attend during the conference, and I am very much grateful for the support given by AoIR as I would likely not be able to go without its support.

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