Eighth Brown Bag of the Semester – March 28, 2014

Lindsay Ems, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Telecommunications, Indiana University

Approaches to Amish technology use: Toward preserving cultural autonomy in the digital age

ABSTRACT:

Among information communication and technology for development (ICT4D) researchers, communication technologies like cell phones, computers and the internet are seen as essential for improving economic conditions and general well-being among members of marginalized communities. In this talk, ethnographic research conducted among the Amish will be presented that complicates such assumptions. Dissertation fieldwork will be described in which Amish business and church leaders were interviewed in two Amish communities in Indiana regarding their views on and experiences with new information communication technologies. Generally a conservative religious group known for its members living pre-modern lifestyles, the Amish do not take a hard line against all new technologies, as some may think. They do typically reject electricity supplied via the public power grid, television, radio, automobiles, and modern clothing fashions. However, among the diverse population of American Amish today, it is not uncommon to see people roller-blading, families enjoying time on the lake in a motorboat, construction workers using power tools, homes with solar panels on the roof, businesses with websites and Facebook pages and Amish folks using cell phones to talk and send text messages. Though at first glance these choices may seem contradictory, they are actually the result of a sophisticated internal process in place to calibrate the link that connects them to the global network society. They view this processes as critical to the sustainability and empowerment of their community over time. One particular approach to calibrating the Amish link to the outside world involves privileging the human body as an optional, ideal communication medium. The implications of this include an intentional geo-spatial design of everyday life to encourage human-to-human contact and discourage human contact mediated by technology.

 

Polar Blasts and Dissertation Fellowships

By Edo Steinberg

This year, Telecom achieved something quite remarkable. Two Ph.D. candidates won dissertation fellowships from the College of Arts and Sciences. Nic Matthews won a $20,000 Dissertation Year Research Fellowship (see post below) and Lindsay Ems won a $25,000 Dissertation Completion Fellowship.

Lindsay says that familiarity with the process of applying for a fellowship is very important. “The process started for me with conversations with Harmeet, who is my advisor. I started sending him paragraphs and he would say ‘you need to dig deeper’ or ‘what do you mean by X, Y or Z,’ and then we distilled the essence of the dissertation.”

“Eventually, you submit everything to the department,” Lindsay says. “The selection committee ranks everybody’s proposals and then they send them on to the College. The College has its own selection process.”

“It says a lot to me about the department,” Lindsay says about the fact that two students won awards this year. “I wouldn’t have gotten this had Harmeet not been so active in helping me write my essay. Also, Andrew Weaver and David Waterman, who served on the selection committee, provided comments and feedback on the essay. This would be impossible without the departmental support.”

Writing the 500 word application essay about her research was an interesting exercise for Lindsay. You need to say what your dissertation is about, why it’s important, how you can do it, and prove you are capable of accomplishing it. “It served two purposes. It helped me clarify my own thoughts on my dissertation topic, but it also helped me write it so other people could understand. That’s probably the most important part of applying for this.”

Since the people reading fellowship applications come from all fields in the College, you should not assume judges are familiar with your area of study. “You have to make sure you don’t lose yourself in your topic. It has to be accessible to people who have no idea what your field, background or methodologies are.”

Keeping your writing accessible isn’t just important for fellowship applications. “This is very helpful for Ph.D. students like us to keep in mind when we’re writing our dissertations,” Lindsay says. “I think the exercise of writing the application essay is very useful for everybody, even if you’re not applying for the fellowship. If you’re trying to distill your dissertation idea, or any thesis idea, it’s good practice.”

Lindsay will use the fellowship to start analyzing and writing up her research. She spent the winter doing fieldwork with the Amish in Indiana, studying their use of communication technology. Other than the usual barriers to interacting with a population uninterested in contact with the outside world, the harsh weather put up additional obstacles. “Driving around through the Polar Vortex was also a challenge to gaining access,” Lindsay laughs. “Once, an Amish lady had to push my car out of the snowbank. On a different occasion, my car battery died because it was so cold and I had an Amish man jumpstart my car with a skid loader, which is like a forklift.”

Lindsay will present her latest research on March 28 at T600. Should be interesting!

Tech, Amish Style

by Teresa Lynch

Amish admiring NiagaraRecently, the Graduate and Professional Student Organization (GPSO) reviewed applications for its 2013 Research Awards. The GPSO uses a rigorous and competitive, double-blind, peer review process to select award recipients. This year, Doctoral Candidate Lindsay Ems received the competitive funding for her dissertation “What’s in a boundary? Exploring the subcultural dynamics that protect the Amish way of life in a high-tech world.”

Linsday says “[her] dissertation focuses on understanding how Amish people draw boundaries around their communities through their technology use. Rules governing technology use for the Amish, in general, are the result of a set of compromises. They must maintain financial viability in a competitive, modern economy in order to sustain their community over the long term. And, at the same time, they do not want the outside world to influence their moral, ethical and religious values/practices or their intimate human relationships.”

In order to perform her study, Lindsay will need to visit Amish communities around the US to conduct interviews and do observations. She plans to use the Research Award primarily to cover travel costs. Of her chosen locations, Lindsay says “[Lancaster County, PA and Shipshewanna, IN] are the largest and third largest populations (respectively) of Amish people in the country. Daviess County [IN] is an Old Order (more conservative) community to which I could drive and come back in the same day. And, Kalona [IA] is a unique community in Iowa, known for their more progressive approach to technology adoption.”

In particular, she’s interested in addressing the role of digital technology in identity and protection of subcultures. Because of their balance in using tech at work, but not in other aspects of their lives, the Amish provide an excellent opportunity for Linsday’s research area. She says, “this conflicted arena, I think, will reveal some of the complexities of balancing technology use and the preservation of morals, ethics and intimate human relationships. These, obviously, are issues all of us face on a daily basis. Through talking to Amish people about their technology use and observing them at work, I hope to gain some insights into how they are drawing community boundaries and achieving balance (if they are) between technology use and the preservation of their community values and intimate relationships.”

Aside from carefully and thoroughly describing all of the theoretical, logistical and methodological details, Lindsay suggests being concise and focusing on the greater relevance and contribution of the research. “All of us are concerned about the impact of communication technologies on our intimate social relationships,” said Lindsay. “I made the connection between this and my research. I think writing about your work with that in mind is a good way to help your application stand out.”

Signs of Life in the Winter

by Teresa Lynch

Winter running at the lake

Photo courtesy of Lindsay Ems.

When the skies get gray, the snow starts falling, and the air gets frigid in Bloomington, it’s very easy to stay inside warm and cozy. That is, until you start getting stir-crazy from staying inside too much.

But, in Bloomington, there’s ample of opportunity to get out. Some folks, such as doctoral candidate Lindsay Ems, never allow themselves to get to that cabin-fever point. “I think one of the tricks for living in Indiana and for surviving the winters here is participating in winter outdoor activities. Otherwise you get cabin-fever, you’re inside all of the time. That’s why I run outside…so I don’t go crazy,” Lindsay laughed.

Celebrating signs of life in the winter

Cross country skiing and finding a sign of life in the winter. Photo courtesy of Lindsay Ems.

Winter sports are nothing new to Lindsay. She’s been a snowboarder for 13 years, learning initially on the slopes at Paoli Peaks, south of Bloomington. But, primarily, Lindsay runs. Because she lives out on Lake Monroe she hits trails out at the lake four to five days a week. When it gets too snowy to run, she cross-country skis on a thirty year old pair of skis she was given by her grandparents. She also runs (year-round) with the Interdisciplinary Frontal Lobe Maintenance Association, the faculty-graduate student running group started by members of the Telecom department.

Lindsay says she loves the running group in part because people interested in joining the runs are given plenty of latitude to pursue their own agendas saying, “we give a time period when we want to start. You can come run a mile and a half or a three mile or more…some people are doing ten minute mile pace and some people are slower. I think it’s very amenable to everyone.”

In terms of staying motivated to get outdoors in the winter, Lindsay cites running with the group as motivation, but she admits there’s some personal, psychological motivation for her.

Run along frozen Lake Monroe

Frozen Lake Monroe. Photo courtesy of Lindsay Ems.

“Running in the winter – you imagine that it’s harder to do – so it becomes more of a challenge and thus more enticing… We have to trick ourselves a little bit to do it and I think the adrenaline of going out when it’s dark contributes. I mean, I run with a headlamp sometimes because it’s so dark and it’s cold and it’s a weird experience…in your mind, you’re thinking ‘I shouldn’t be doing this,’ but it’s a challenge and you start thinking ‘I just want to do it more.’”

Often, whether running by herself or with the group, Lindsay says the cold and dark are thrilling. The combination also comes along with different experiences than warm weather running.

Solid Awesome

Solid Awesome. Photo courtesy of Lindsay Ems.

“One of the amazing things about running in the wintertime is that the air is so cold, when you breathe and sweat it just freezes. The moisture attaches to your hair and freezes, so you have these crazy, white, frosted pieces of hair…At one point, Betsi [Grabe] sent out this picture – an inspirational quote – that referred to sweat as ‘liquid awesome’, so of course we’ve started calling the frozen sweat ‘solid awesome’.”

This past weekend, Lindsay hit the slopes to do a bit of snowboarding, but she’ll be back to freezing running soon. Be assured, if it’s winter, Lindsay will be carrying on in the spirit of solid awesome.

Tenth Brown Bag of the Semester – November 30, 2012

The audio from last Friday’s seminar can be found here: Brown Bag 10 (Lindsay and David)

Lindsay Ems

What’s in a boundary? Exploring the subcultural dynamics that protect the Amish way of life in the modern world.

Today, all kinds of subcultures are congealing online—from fan groups to protest movements, to knitters, political ideologues, runners, tinkerers, and foodies, etc. Prior to industrialization, humans largely lived in and made sense of the world through an association to a tribe or small group, so this tendency may not be surprising. The reasons people are drawn into subcultural associations today, however, are different from before. In addition to kinship ties, styles of dress, and language, today, shared technological practice acts to identify members as part of a subculture. The dynamic process of subcultural boundary-making through technology use are illuminated in this project by drawing on ethnographic data collected on preliminary site visits to Indiana Amish communities. The Amish provide a particularly illustrative example of the dynamic mechanisms that govern subcultural boundary-making today because of their history of developing (often enigmatic) rules about technology use that govern their interactions with people outside their subculture.

Lindsay Ems is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Telecommunications at IU. Her research is aimed at understanding subversive uses of communication technologies by small clusters of people like hackers, protesters and the Amish.

David Nemer

Digital Inclusion Practices in Vitoria, Brazil

David Nemer’s research critically investigates Brazil’s access to digital technologies (DT) programs. Brazilian policy has recently been informed by a techno-enthusiastic vision, emphasizing access to digital technologies (DTs) as a right of citizenship in the information age. Consequently, a number of programs have been instituted to promote access to DT use and decrease a perceived “digital divide.” Scholars have disputed such technological deterministic visions, which presume that mere access to DTs is sufficient to promote digital inclusion leading to social and economic transformation. They argue that such approaches simply reflect pre-existing social divides and, sometime, even widen them. In his investigation of Brazil’s access to DTs programs, David explores both potential and pitfalls they entail in practice. He is particularly concerned to illuminate the complex relationship between digital and social inclusion—whether such programs actually lead to social inclusion of the marginalized, if so, how, and in which dimensions (health, education, democracy, financial, etc.). His method is qualitative exploration of state-supported LAN Houses and Telecentros located inside slums and low-income neighborhoods in the city of Vitoria.

David Nemer is a PhD student at Indiana University at the School of Informatics and Computing, concentrating in Social Informatics. He received a Master of Science degree in Computer Science from Saarland University, Germany and also hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from FAESA, Brazil and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from UFES, Brazil.

Team Telecom Runs, Awards and Fellowships Workshop, Younei Soe’s Dissertation Award, Ron Osgood’s Presentation, Brown Bag

Team Telecom Runs, by Mike Lang

A few years ago I remember sitting in the movie theater and an advertisement for one of the branches of the armed services came on. A bunch of athletic guys in black shirts and camo pants ran through an obstacle course, and occasional close ups showed their various exertion induced grimaces. At the very end, brushed chrome letters appeared reading, “pain is weakness leaving the body.” Every time I see a runner chugging through campus with that similar grimaces, I’m reminded of those brushed chrome letters as I recount the agony of my few running experiences. Running is pain, yet a number of those within our department fight through it in their quest for camaraderie, a healthy lifestyle, new challenges, and charity.

Established at the Jill Behrman 5k last year, Team Telecom brings together the runners in our department. While most races fall into the 5k category, there are also 7ks, 10ks, mini marathons, and marathons. Although the races are timed, the only competition Team Telecom advocates is competition with yourself. As Matt Falk says, one of the mottos of the group is “start together, finish together.” Although everyone runs at a different pace, those who finish at the head of the pack stay around to cheer on those further behind. In some cases, they even turn back to run with them to the finish line. Nicky Lewis, who started running in races last fall at Betsi Grabe’s insistence, was apprehensive at first about running in public with a bunch of more experienced runners. However, after crossing the finish line for the first time, and seeing the amount of support from her teammates, she caught the bug. Falk characterizes Team Telecom as a successful anarchy. There are no rules or leaders, but things get done.

Reed Nelson is currently training for a marathon.

In the wintertime, organized racing comes to a halt but not Team Telecom. On a few occasions, the group collaborated and set up informal races of their own. As Lindsay Ems tells me, the group established a 3.5 mile route that they would all run. Walt Gantz served as the official timer, driving from mile marker to mile marker and providing encouragement along the way. They made sure to end the route in front of Bloomington Bagel Company so they could enjoy breakfast with each other afterwards.

Although all run the same race, everybody’s running style and reason for running differs substantially. Nicky Lewis, for instance, hates running but loves listening to music, and running gives her that opportunity while engaged in a health enhancing activity. Practically married to her iPod, Nicky sets up playlists that correspond to both the total time she wants to run, and her projected mile time. Relying on a website that uses a song’s tempo to determine how fast runners would run a mile if they ran to the beat of the music, Nicky has been able to cut her mile time down by a full minute. Likewise, Matt Falk uses music in ways that correspond to his body’s needs while running. Using GPS and a heart rate monitor, Falk is able to accurately track changes he feels his body undergoing, and he creates his playlist to match those changes. For instance, he might start off with some fun peppy music to get him started. When he hits the brick wall around 10 minutes, he can program Slayer’s “Angel of Death” to pump him up enough to get over the hump where he enters the cruise phase of his run and programs some chill electronica. For Lindsay, running is a challenge. Although she doesn’t particularly like the running part, she likes overcoming the pain. Likewise, Rob Potter runs to stay fit. While the styles and reasons may differ, all enjoy the camaraderie that the team provides.

While running provides Team Telecom with an opportunity to hang out, exercise, and have fun, they also run for a purpose.  Each race has an entrance fee which is donated to support various causes. Team Telecomm has aided breast cancer research, raised awareness about violence and assault, and supported organizations like Habitat for Humanity.

During the spring and fall races occur almost every weekend. For those interested in running you can visit the Team Telecom’s Facebook page, or contact one of members.

Team Telecom members: Matt Falk, Nicky Lewis, Lindsay Ems, Betsi Grabe, Mark Deuze, Mark Bell, Sean Connolly, Reed Nelson, Teresa Lynch, Rob Potter, Tamera Theodore, Shannon Schenck, Susan Kelly

Telecom PhD Workshop:  Seeking Dissertation Fellowships and Other Funding as a Graduate Studentby Ken Rosenberg

Professors Rob Potter, Andrew Weaver, and Harmeet Sawhney shared insights into dissertation fellowships and other funding opportunities in the “sausage making” mode.  The evening was broken into following three sessions (1) Dissertation Year Research Fellowships and Future Faculty Teaching Fellowships, (2) Travel Grants and Doctoral Workshops, and (3) Teaching Awards and Fellowships.  The students were given copies of three winning proposals. The faculty and students worked through one of the winning proposals in the sausage-making mode starting with the first draft, going through the comments and revisions cycle, and ending with the final proposal.  The workshop participants also saw the video component of Mark’s teaching portfolio that got him to be IU’s nominee for Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools’ (MAGS) 2012 Excellence in Teaching Award.

Younei Soe’s Dissertation Award, by Ken Rosenberg

Younei Soe, who defended her dissertation last year, recently received the Herbert S. Dordick Dissertation Award from the International Communication Association. In his nomination letter, Erik Bucy, Younei’s advisor, characterized her dissertation as “an absolutely first-rate piece of original research” that “sheds considerable new light on the civic consequences of new media use.” It all began with a moment that is familiar to scholars, the time when your current professor of interest asks you that innocent-yet-hopelessly-complex question: what interests you?

‘I’m interested in democracy,” said Younei, years ago. Back then, she had no idea how to make an original theoretical contribution on that front. From there, she began to establish herself in the academic community, doing research to forward the cause of democratic citizen education. Now, she has offered her own contribution, which Busy believes “will be embraced by researchers in the area of information technology and civic learning when they are introduced to the literature.” Future students may very well find her work to be required reading.

Like many politically-minded media scholars before her, she wanted to know how young adults use new media to understand political information and public affairs. If news and other politically-focused media are key for maintaining a healthy democracy, then it is necessary to analyze how people use media and how it impacts their knowledge and efficacy.

There are many studies that measure media usage, but her goal was to find a link between usage and proficiency and, for that, it was necessary to do more than survey people. For two years, she collected data from students of media and political science—individuals already encouraged and equipped to discuss these sorts of issues—in the form of surveys, focus groups, and in-depth interviews. For another two semesters, she did nothing but interview people. She showed clips of politicians; she tested people’s knowledge of politics and media institutions. With over 200 participants and more than 30 focus group sessions, the task of transcribing was onerous. To handle the epic workload, she did what most academics prefer: she hired undergrads to transcribe. Even with a team, it still took several months to complete the transcriptions. It was always important to make sure the data was processed properly but, since Younei intends to make everything publicly available in a collected dataset, consistency and formatting became even more important.

Most important, though, is Younei’s ability to express her findings with precision and clarity. She borrowed some terms and created others. Participants were ranked either high or low in “public affairs sophistication,” a multivariate concept encompassing political interest, media use, media knowledge, and political knowledge. “Media knowledge” is in particular an interesting concept as it does not concern the information that people get from the news but, rather, the awareness people have about news-reporting organizations. An example question: “How is The New York Times different from other newspapers?” The concept of political knowledge is a bit more straightforward—in theory, anyway—as it involved simple questions of fact, like “Who is the leader of Russia?” However, answers to questions of this nature were just as variable as any other. “It was amazing to see how people responded,” Younei said. Another important concept Younei developed is “public affairs efficacy,” a combination of political self-efficacy (“My vote matters in the election.”) and political information efficacy, the latter of which is a measure of one’s confidence in knowledge about politics. Humorously, males scored high in efficacy, but women scored higher in actual knowledge.

To receive the award, Younei will fly to Arizona and attend ICA’s Communication and Technology Division business meeting. This will be her first time back in ten years to Arizona, where she completed her first program of master’s studies. “I’ll be very happy to see my dorms,” she said.

As for the future, Younei wants to pass on what she has learned in her area of interest—and she will get her chance sooner rather than later. Starting in June (in the Summer II session), she will be teaching S542: International Information Issues in the School of Library and Information Science as an adjunct faculty member. The course is structured around three main themes: everyday civic life, systems of access and use, and culture and institution. Younei would like to thank the professors who helped her in crafting the syllabus. She would also like to remind everyone that her class has no pre-requisites and is currently open for registration. So, if you would like to know more about the relationships between individuals, media, and society in terms of politics and civic life, go ahead and sign up!

Ron Osgood’s Presentation, by Harmeet Sawhney

Last Friday Ron Osgood presented “The Vietnam War/American War: Stories from All Sides” in the Institute for Digital Arts & Humanities (IDAH) seminar series.  This was Ron’s third and final presentation for the two year IDAH fellowship he had received to work on an interactive documentary on the Vietnam War.

Ron has collected a treasure trove of materials (photos, slides, film, maps, documents, and interview transcripts, among others) through his interviews with 40 American, 35 North Vietnamese, and 2 South Vietnamese veterans.  His project has also benefited from unexpected gifts from people inspired by his previous work on the Vietnam War.  For instance, after seeing Ron’s Vietnam War documentary on WTIU, one of viewers established contact with Ron via WTIU because he wished to gift his personal collection of 2500+ slides and over 8 hours of film he had created while serving in Vietnam as a doctor.  Ron was amazed to learn that all this material has never been publicly shown before.

Ron’s challenge is to present this material in such a way that is accessible to a wide range of people.  In particular Ron took great care in his choice of terms.  They had to resonate with the sensibilities of the veterans and at the same time be understood by undergraduates.  He is now working on modalities and sensibilities that would be inviting for veterans to share their stories and materials on the website.

You can access the site in the current testing state at  vietnamwarstories.org

Once the interface is functional and data has been fully entered Ron plans to modify the project as an iPad app.  He will be proposing a T575: Directed Group New Media Design Project for fall for graduate students interested in this type of development work.  The project will provide opportunities for gaining experience with researching content, design, and programming.  Please contact Ron (osgoodr@indiana.edu) if you would like to take this T575 with him.

Random Distnguished Comment of the Week

I (Rob Potter) was walking down the atrium hallway the other morning. Classes were in session and so the hall was empty except for two students looking at the faculty images in the display case. One of them was standing on tip-toe to look up very closely at one of the pictures.

The other said, “Distinguished Professor … wonder what that means?”

“Apparently,” says the one on tip-toe, “it means you don’t want your picture taken …”

Brown Bag

Media Accountability and Transparency in Europe: First Results from a Comparative Study

Huub Evers (Presenter), David Boeyink (Discussant)

Professor Evers spoke about MediaACT: a comparative study in 14 countries featuring analyses of the status quo of media self-regulation and media accountability in Europe (in comparison with exemplary Arab states), analysis of innovative media accountability instruments online, and a representative survey of journalists’ attitudes towards media accountability.

Bios:

Huub Evers is full Professor of Media Ethics and Intercultural Journalism at Fontys University’s School of Journalism in Tilburg, the Netherlands, and a freelance media ethics researcher and consultant. He gained his PhD in Communication Sciences from the University of Amsterdam. His thesis “Journalism and ethics” dealt with the verdicts of the Dutch Press Council. He is the author of several books and articles on media and communication ethics, intercultural journalism and intercultural competences for journalists and broadcasters.

David Boeyink is Associate Professor Emeritus of IU’s School of Journalism, and a recipient of numerous awards for his teaching and research, including the Frederic Herman Lieber Distinguished Teaching Award, the Gretchen Kemp award, and the Brown Derby Teaching Award. Professor Boeyink’s research focuses mainly on ethics and ethical decision making in journalism. Boeyink is currently finishing a research project that will explore ways journalism students think about objectivity and the effect journalism classes have on their conception of objectivity.

The audio file from last Friday’s seminar can be found here: Brown Bag (April 13, 2012 – Evers and Boeyink)

Super Sundays, Mark Bell’s Teaching Honor, Russell’s Movie Collection, Brown Bag

 A Sunday to Remember, by Mike Lang

On Super Bowl Sunday MA student Sean Connolly received a text message. In town for the baptism of his friend’s firstborn son, he jokingly thought he would be the only person in Indianapolis not at the Super Bowl. When the message sunk in, he didn’t know how to respond. Someone was offering him a Super Bowl ticket. A friend of his in advertising had purchased a block of tickets and overbought in case someone important might want to come along at the last minute. As kickoff inched closer and she realized nobody that fit the bill was coming she sent out an email to her friends back in L.A. “Do you know anybody in Indiana who might want to go the Super Bowl.,” to which she received the response, “Isn’t Sean in Indiana?”

Always looking out for others, Sean inquired about scoring a ticket for his friend. He was celebrating the baptism of his first born son after all and what better way to celebrate than with Super Bowl tickets. At 4 o’clock the call came in. They were both Super Bowl bound.

Inside the stadium MS student Sophie Parkison was hard at work. An opportunist at heart, Sophie had stumbled across an opportunity too good to pass up. In early October IU careers posted an announcement about a merchandising job at the Super Bowl. The details were vague. But the chance at getting to a hometown Super Bowl without the astronomical price tag was too good to pass up.

In January the company held an informational meeting. The team would man the merchandise booths inside the stadium during, before, and after the game. The day would start at 6 am and end 20 hours later, well after the teams had loaded into their buses and departed. Instead of an hourly wage, the workers would split 1% of the total profit. The math would work out well below minimum wage, but it’s the Super Bowl.

Sophie crashed at her sister’s place in Speedway Saturday night and braced for an early rise and the long day ahead. The alarm sounded at 4:30, and they left with enough time to catch the 6 o’clock shuttle from the airport which would bus them into Super Bowl Village. The morning was slow and allowed plenty of time for exploring the scene. She never had she seen so many different jerseys in one place. She even managed to talk her way onto the NBC set.

As the game inched closer Sophie made her way to her assigned merchandise booth where the line grew longer and longer. Expecting a bunch of well-off East Coasters willing to spend some money, she happily directed their attention to various products which they snapped up with fervor. One guy spent over a $1,000 on merchandise between two trips.

By the time Sean made it into the stadium, Kelly Clarkson was belting out the national anthem. Seated in Section 404, five rows back from the banister, Sean had a premiere view of the North Endzone. As one of America’s premiere cultural events, many of the attendees could care less about football. It’s a place to see people and be seen. The crowd indeed seemed a bit more placid than a typical regular season game.

For those disinterested in the game, the Super Bowl offered plenty in terms of multimedia entertainment. The Super Bowl commercials were pumped in over the jumbotron for those worried about missing them. Likewise, the scoreboard broadcast Twitter pics taken by fans at the game as well as brief shots of celebrities.

However, no Super Bowl event creates a stir like the halftime show.  Fans, as usual, took their halftime bathroom/food/drink break a few minutes early so they wouldn’t miss the show featuring Madonna and a slew of guests including Cee-Loo Green, LMFAO, MIA, and Nicky Minaj. They missed seeing Patriots drive down the field in the final four minutes of the half.  But the halftime show was worth it. “It blew anything live out of the water that I’ve ever seen. It was so well done.”

During the game the lines died down and Sophie had brief moments of downtime and she discovered the camaraderie among Super Bowl workers.  At the beginning of the game, the concession stand workers approached her and her team to let them know that workers get a free drink, and if they wanted one, they just needed to come and ask. A security guard told them they they could pop over to his section and watch the game. While she wasn’t able to watch much of the game, she did get to watch kickoff and halftime.

The final seconds ticked off the clock in the 3rd quarter and the place transformed. Sean, pulling for the Giants, joined the crowd as the dignity and the reservation disappeared and the crowd turned into a bunch of hardcore football fans. With every big play the crowd roared louder and louder.  Those not quite sure who to root for or why started feeling the tension and began pulling for a team. Down 21-17 with 9 seconds left Tom Brady chucked up a desperate 55-yard Hail Mary pass into the end zone. Sitting on the opposite side Sean heard the crowd erupt but couldn’t tell what happened. He was too far away. Had the Patriots pulled the upset? Had the Giants taken down the Patriots again? As the jumbotron played the replay, the crowd roared its approval. This was a Giants crowd.

Everyone stuck around for the Lombardi trophy presentation and the confetti dropped from the ceiling. Shouts of “Go Giants” echoed through the stadium as happy football fans filed out of the stadium. Even though broken hearted Patriots left with their heads hanging, they weren’t harassed by the Giants faithful. The crowd was overwhelmingly positive, a stark departure from most football games where visiting fans have to keep their head down win or lose.  “I was surprised. I was expecting Brady hate. I know Boston. I know New York. I was expecting a rumble” Sean said.

Sophie watched the confetti fall as she tallied up her credit card receipts and cash from her booth. It was 1:30 in the morning and the game had been over for hours. She descended the stadium steps to find a number of people in suits down on the field kicking field goals, drinking, and making snow angels in the confetti. It was an adult playground.  Following suit shedropped to the Lucas Oil field turf and made snow angels in the confetti commerating the Giants for winning Super Bowl XLVI.

With a Little Help From My Friends, by Mike Lang

Last Semester Ph.D candidate Mark Bell had the honor of serving as the instructor of record for T205: Introduction to Media and Society and his exceptional work in the classroom did not go unnoticed. In December Tamera sent out an email alerting Telecom grad students to the Midwest Association of Graduate Schools Excellence in Teaching Award. Teaching has always been a source of pride for Mark, and figuring he had done a fairly good job in T205, he decided to apply. Maybe he could be the department’s nominee. That would be a nice line for the CV.

Because the application process required immediate attention, Mark went to work assembling his package as quickly as possible. He worked with Tamera to get his student evaluations back before the application deadline. He also leaned on friends and family. Working with his business professor wife and a slew of friends who have won teaching awards, he composed a teaching statement, something he had never done before.

He submitted the application and promptly forgot about it until Rob Potter, member of the Graduate Committee’s Awards and Fellowships Subcommittee,  sent him an email informing him that he had been selected as the department’s nominee. Mission accomplished.

Mark then got another email from Harmeet Sawhney, grad director. Don’t forget to have your video ready.  Currently an AI for T101: Media Life, he conspired with co-AI Ratan Suri and “borrowed” his class to record a short 10-minute video. He set up the video recording gear and proceeded to give his mini-lecture. By Mark’s admission it was just ok, he could have done better but at least he had his video. Sitting down outside of Ratan’s classroom he set his video camera to playback to see how had done. Nothing. He had forgotten to hit record. Sheepishly he approached Ratan after class and told him he needed to do it again. Much happier with his second take than his first, he rushed home to upload the video in accordance with the application’s strict instructions. He then moved on to other things thinking no way would he be a contender at the University level.

Awhile later, Mark had to attend a funeral in Columbus for a distant relative. He got home to an email from Tamera at around 2 o’clock in the afternoon.  The University Graduate School needed department chair Walt Gantz’s signature on his application form – an important detail he had overlooked.  No problem, he would be on campus all day Tuesday and could do it then. He sent out the reply, changed into workout clothes, and went for a run. He returned sweaty and out of breath to another email. Tuesday was too late, the form needed to be turned in today. The clock was ticking. Still in his workout clothes he jumped in his car and raced to campus. Tamera worked her magic and got the form signed, and told Mark the form had to be turned in to the graduate school, which was located behind the Union. Mark hopped back in his car and parked in front of the HPER. He cut through the Union and thought he would sneak through the back of the bookstore. No luck, that exit doesn’t exist anymore.  He ran back out of the bookstore and into the Union again. Time was ticking. The office closed at 5. He ran through the Union to the Starbucks exit. Relief, the graduate school was in front of him and he had 5 minutes.

As he exited the Union, the form flew out of his hand and flew down the street on the gusts of wind blowing that way like a scene out of a movie. Fortunate for Mark, IU is full of considerate undergrads who helped chase down that important piece of paper. He asked one of the undergrads for directions to the office and ran over.

As the clock ticked 5 o’clock he submitted the form to Yvonne Dwigans, fellowships coordinator in the graduate office. Completely oblivious to the entire procedure, he asked what the next step was. Surely the candidates needed to be evaluated and he could forget about this until then. He was told that the candidates had already been evaluated. He was confused. If the candidates had been evaluated why had he just raced around campus trying to turn in this form?  Much to Mark’s surprise, Yvonne informed him that he was the nominee, not just for the department but for IU. Out of all the talented grad students on campus he had been selected as IU’s nominee!

Soon Mark will get an email from somebody telling him he needs to go to somewhere to do something for the next stage of the competition where he has to compete with students teachers from 60 schools. Here is to hoping the process goes a bit smoother.

Russell’s massive movie collection, by Ken Rosenberg

If you want to talk about film history in a serious sense, or just rattle off your list of favorite productions, there is someone you should stop in the halls for some good discussion. Master’s student Russell McGee collects comic books and plays video games, but his biggest passion is cinema. As evidence, consider his movie collection, which he estimates contains somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 films and television series. Media scholars are guaranteed, almost by definition, to have more than a passing interest in audiovisual entertainment, but Russell takes this axiom to its furthest extent. “I easily spend over a thousand dollars a year on DVDs,” he said. Think of a classic movie, fun cartoon, or cheesy B-movie. Without knowing your choice, I can practically guarantee that Russell has a copy of it. He has almost everything with Dracula star Bela Lugosi, including the obscure 1923 film The Silent Command. Every available Hitchcock film is in this aficionado’s massive stock of movies, including various alternate versions from France and Germany.

Russell really likes Godzilla…

Russell’s first love, though, was with older horror and science fiction films; his favorite movie is the 1960 version of The Time Machine. With his grandmother, he would watch movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers on a tiny television at her home in New Jersey. Russell also remembers watching horror movies on Indiana’s Channel 4, during the “Nightmare Theater” block hosted by personality Sammy Terry, who would dress up as a ghoulish figure to introduce such classics as Godzilla and King Kong. “As a kid, they weren’t really that cheesy,” Russell explained. Of course, as he got older, the ‘quality’ of some of these movies became readily apparent. However, that does not diminish his love for these low-budget gems. In fact, it just gives Russell another way to enjoy them, by having weekly screenings with friends to enjoy the company, a drink or two, and the resultant roasting of campy flicks. For the past seven years, Russell has started off his Monday evenings by pulling out a stack of selections from his collection, to be whittled down to the night’s viewing list by his cohorts. Ironically, as a filmmaker, Russell is not interested in making anything related to horror or science fiction. As the artistic director of Starrynight Productions, he focuses on drama and other more serious fare.

Russell has engaged with films in a variety of roles. He started collecting movies in high school and cringed when he had to make the transition from VHS to DVD.  But now he has embraced the battle to keep his collection on the sharpest possible format – while still judiciously deciding which titles deserve the Blu-Ray double-dip. In his youth he worked for Suncoast Video, whose employee discount only provided further encouragement for his hobby. While at Suncoast, Russell vehemently explained that the widescreen format, while appearing to crop the image, actually shows more of the picture. “I did my part in the conversion,” Russell affirmed like a proud civil servant. As part of the projection and management teams at Spencer’s Cinema 67 drive-in theater, he got to know the owners, who allowed him to perform live tributes to Charlie Chaplin before screenings.

Russell (far right) and Emily (far left) on the set of “Popping the Question and Tying the Knot.”

Reprising his role as a lovable tramp earlier this year, Russell wrote and co-starred in a short film for a Hugo-related film contest. With the help of fellow graduate student Shannon Schenck, he edited a second of the film which he will use in lieu of the traditional “save the date” cards, entitled Popping the Question and Tying the Knot. This summer Russell will be getting married to opera singer and Ph.D. student in the music school Emily Solt. Their engagement photos will look like old lobby cards. She is definitely onboard with his stylistic choice. “I hit the motherload,” Emily thought to herself when first setting eyes upon Russell’s ridiculously large amassment of movies. She estimates that her collection of DVDs –impressive, but meager in comparison – has contributed a little less than 10% to their now-shared stock.

Those shelves are layered–there are twice as many movies than are visible in this shot. (Plus, there’s an entire third one off-camera!)

Upon merging both their movies and their lives, Russell set out to build the massive shelving system that houses their media. To make sure it was a lasting edifice, he eschewed nails and screws in favor of drilling holes and using wood pegs to lock everything into place—a laborious and time-consuming process that cost him almost six months. As helpful as those units have been, Russell might have to build more soon; they already have a surplus that has trickled into other rooms in the house. Off to the side of the home theater setup, Russell has resurrected a bit of his past: a “theater corner” of sorts where he keeps memorabilia, like his old hand-crank film projector from the 1920s and an old-fashioned popcorn machine. After making popcorn the “right” way at the drive-in for so long, Russell wanted something more authentic and better-tasting than the microwaveable stuff.

Movie buffs, beware – if you sit down with Russell, prepare to meet your match. After all, do you have the Laserdisc copy of the 1985 version of Godzilla? Didn’t think so.

Brown bag 

Where social and technological forces collide: New protest tools reveal authoritarian regimes fumbling to maintain political power

Lindsay Ems (Presenter), Hans Ibold and Joe DiGrazi (Discussants)

Due to the recent proliferation and impact of protest events in the Middle East, northern Africa, and the recent development of a worldwide Occupy Wall Street movement, scholars in a number of disciplines are beginning to examine the people, social structures and technologies that help give these social movements form.  Some theorists have focused on communication technologies, some on social forces and others argue that both of these two perspectives are essential to understanding recent phenomena. Interestingly, all authors (even those who call for a more holistic approach) view these two entities as separate. In this paper, it is suggested, that by side-stepping this distinction, a different kind of inquiry can occur – one which sees the use of a technology as a local artifact which reveals individual and institutional motivations. Aiding this analysis is the presentation of three 2009 cases in which Twitter was used as a tool for expressing political dissent by protesters around the world.

Bios:

Lindsay Ems is a doctoral student at Indiana University in the Department of Telecommunications. Her research topics deal generally with exploring how social and cultural values are expressed in the use of technologies in small groups of people. She examines media technologies and their adoption and impact on and in subcultures. Her recent work explores manifestations of political dissent, anarchy and systemic breakdown in the use of technologies in power struggles between protesters and governments. Her studies also aim to uncover cultural forces at work in shaping the use of technologies in groups of users like the Amish.

Hans Ibold is an assistant professor at the Indiana University School of Journalism in Bloomington. His research and teaching explore the ways in which the Internet is transforming journalism and social life. Previously, Hans was technology reporter for the Los Angeles Business Journal, arts editor for the Idaho Mountain Express in Sun Valley, Idaho, and online editor for the J. Paul Getty Trust¹s Getty.edu in Los Angeles. He earned a bachelor¹s degree from The Evergreen State College, a master¹s degree in communication studies from Shippensburg University, and a doctorate in journalism from the University of
Missouri.

Joe DiGrazia is a PhD candidate in the department of sociology at Indiana University and is engaged in research at the intersections of social movements, political participation, public discourse and the media.  His current research focuses on the Tea Party movement and the role of social media in organizing Tea Party activities and mobilizing participants.

The audio to last Friday’s seminar can be found here: Brown bag 4 (Feb 10, 2012 – Lindsay, Hans, and Joe)