Online@Asia-Pacific

Cultural Technologies Node

Co-ordinator: Larissa Hjorth

A workshop about online communities and networks in the region
RMIT University, Melbourne
10th December 2008

What does it mean to think about the Asia-Pacific region in terms of online communities and networks? How is Web 2.0 demonstrating new regionally-specific forms of media literacy, creativity, intimacy and labour? And how do these phenomena provide us with new insights into our region in the 21st century?

The Internet is the most pervasive and ubiquitous space within contemporary 21st century everyday life. While an important feature of the Internet is its role as a ‘global’ technology and social space, its appropriation at the local level is far from homogeneous; a fact that has been increasingly noted in Internet studies. Research into online communities is a key focus of Internet and cultural technologies studies in the 21st century, and includes consideration of such communities and media practices as Social Networking Sites (SNS) Facebook, Cyworld mini-hompy (Korea), mixi (Japan) and 2ch (Japan). This research provides critical insights into contemporary localised, nationalised and transnationalised formations in the region. The significance of the area and the workshop is the provision of new ways for Australian and regional Internet and media researchers and theorists to explore geo-social contexts away from the dominance of western and anglo-centric frameworks, moving towards understanding and analysis in one of the world’s leading centres for innovative technologies, the Asia- Pacific.

Comprising of a one-day workshop, Online@Asia-Pacific will draw from the growing pool of media scholars in Australia who are exploring Australia’s links within the region. The project aims to stimulate discussion, debate and research into the burgeoning area of online communities in the Asia-Pacific. This workshop will be followed by a European Union cofunded CRN/COST 298 one-day workshop Participation in the broadband society: emerging modes of digital storytelling, interactivity and being online. The Participation in the broadband society introduces ICT and Internet experts from Europe and the UK to Australia’s Asia-Pacific researchers.

For further details please contact Larissa Hjorth. Limited places apply. If interested, please send one to two paragraphs outlining your research interests within the context of the workshop theme along with a one paragraph bio.

Report

These two one-day workshops aimed to stimulate discussion, debate and research into the burgeoning area of online communities and new forms of digital storytelling in an age of Web 2.0 technocultures. The first workshop focused upon Australia as part of the Asia-Pacific region. The second day reframed Australia and the region in the context of international concerns as outlined by the EU funded organisation, COST 298. Various outcomes were reached including a document for COST 298 members (to be disseminated at the annual COST 298 conference in May), a special issue of Communication, Politics & Culture (formerly Southern Review), a CRN panel for Inter-Asian Cultural Typhoon conference (organised by Melissa Gregg) and a CRN lobby letter about the state of broadband in Australia (drafted by Stephanie Donald).

The workshops provided a space for experts from a variety of related areas — media, new media, communication and Internet studies along with specialists in the region (Australian and the Asia-Pacific) — to discuss issues pertaining to conceptualising the “online” (communities & networks) in the region and internationally. These workshops aimed to provide a space for Australian (and, on the second day, international) researchers — both established and emerging, CRN and non — to connect and debate matters around burgeoning technocultures, media literacy, new forms of expression and community in an informal environment. It was a wonderful opportunity to bring together such a great group of diverse experts to talk about this phenomenon.