Presenting at ISA 2017 in Baltimore

I look forward to presenting my latest research at the International Studies Association’s Annual Convention 2017 in Baltimore this week.

Panel: Social media and activism – Power and resistance in the 21st Century

When: Thursday, February 23rd, 8:15am – Where: Marriott, Stadium 4 room

This paper, which I wrote together with Paul Reilly (Information School, University of Sheffield) and Mariana Leyton-Escobar (School of Communication, American University), compares online crowd-sourced advocacy efforts that use personal stories of disabilities to affect key public debates in the UK and the U.S., including recent virtual protests that followed the inauguration of U.S. president Donald Trump as part of the Women’s March on Washington (January 2017). Here is a copy of the abstract:

Storytelling transcends cultures. It can speak to global audiences, change public attitudes, serve as policy evidence, and challenge dominant media narratives on sensitive social issues. Thus, advocacy organizations and activist networks increasingly use social media to crowd-source, co-create, and distribute personal stories, which originate in the private sphere and become public narratives online. Yet, story-based advocacy is also controversial as sharing the intimate accounts of groups that have been discriminated against may foster further stigmatization. Communication scholars have yet to discuss the implications of this global advocacy trend for digital citizenship. Whose voices do we really hear in online stories? How are they collected, edited, and re-mediated? Ultimately, who is empowered by this approach? To address these questions, this paper compares the use of personal stories in online disability rights campaigns in the UK and the United States. By combining the analysis of blog posts and YouTube videos featuring stories of disability with interviews with leading advocates in both countries, different digital storytelling practices are revealed. In particular, a trade-off between maintaining spontaneity and editing personal accounts to achieve policy effectiveness is identified and discussed in the context of different political cultures, media systems, ethical principles, and policy-making traditions.

On February 21st, I also discussed my recent book “Disability Rights Advocacy Online: Voice, Empowerment and Global Connectivity” (Routledge 2016) as part of the ISA working group on Accelerating Change in Global Governance: Enhancing the Participation of Excluded and Marginalized Voices Through Information and Communication Technology.

Presenting Two Papers at HICSS 50

This year I am presenting two papers at the 50th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS) – a new conference and network for me, as well as my first visit to beautiful Hawaii.

The first paper is entitled “Technology, Voice and the Problem of ‘Being Heard’.” I will present this as part of an exciting Symposium on Social Movements and IT on Wednesday January 4th, 1:10-4:pm in Kona 1.

The second paper, with Derrick Cogburn, Erin Spaniol and Maya Aguilar of the Institute on Disability and Public Policy at AU, is entitled “Building Accessible Cyberinfrastructure in the Global Disability Community: Evaluating Collaboration Readiness and Use of the DID Policy Collaboratory” and can be downloaded freely here.  It is part of the Global Virtual Teams mini-track on Friday January 6th from 4 to 5:30pm.

APSA 2016 Presentation – Sept. 1st

I will present some of my most recent work on crowd-sourced story-centered counter-narratives as an advocacy tactic at this year’s American Political Science Association’s (APSA) Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, PA on September 1st. In this presentation, I will discuss the mechanisms that regulate story-centered counter-narratives and how these can be an important opportunity for the empowerment of politically inexperienced citizens. Click here to access the full conference program.

9th Conference of State Parties to the CRPD

This week I will attend the 9th Conference of State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) at the U.N. headquarters in New York City as part of the delegation from American University’s Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP), of which I recently became Deputy Director. This year marks a particularly important occasion as it is the 10th anniversary of the CRPD. In collaboration with other partners, IDPP has prepared two side events to this conference. These include:

  • Disability and Digital Societies side event: Wednesday, June 15th, 8-9:30am, UN conference room 11 – click here to attend this side event remotely;
  • Accessible Global Governance side event: Thursday, June 16th, 6:15-8pm, UN conference room 11 – click here to attend this side event remotely.

More information about each event is available here.

Presenting at ICA 2016 Preconference

I look forward to presenting some new work on promotional tactics in disability rights advocacy at the 2016 ICA Preconference “Powers of Promotion.” The preconference, which is sponsored by ICA’s Political Communication, Popular Communication, and Public Relations sections, will be held at the Embassy of Finland in Tokyo, Japan on June 8th. You can access a copy of the program here and follow the conference on Twitter at #powersofpromotion.

The Ethics of Facebook Research in High-Risk Places

Paul Reilly and I recently presented a paper on the ethical challenges involved in researching social media protest in high-risk places at the “Protest Communication Ecologies” conference organised by the journal Information, Communication and Society together with City University and the University of Sassari (Italy). If you missed our session and would like to read more about our proposed typology of high-risk places and examples of ethical strategies drawn from research on Northern Ireland, you can find a copy of our presentation here.

Presenting at Protest Communication Ecologies Conference – June 2015

My colleague Paul Reilly (Media and Communication, University of Leicester) and I will present a joint paper at the ‘Protest Participation in Variable Communication Ecologies‘ conference, which is organised by the journal Information, Communication & Society together with the University of Sassari and will take place in Alghero, Italy between 24-26 June 2015. This event will focus on advances in contemporary protest and more broad activist repertoires at a time in which ‘established’ and ’emerging’ forms of mass media increasingly interact, providing a range of actors with enhanced opportunities to influence public decision-making, but also challenging their traditional tactics.

Our contribution will examine the ethical challenges involved in carrying out research between ‘streets’ and ‘screens’ in unstable and potentially risky political contexts, using examples drawn from Paul’s research on the use of Facebook during the 2013 Union Flag protests in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

ISA 2015 Paper

Sadly, other work commitments have kept me from attending the 2015 International Studies Association’s Convention in New Orleans in person this week (this is after participation to another conference in NOLA in 2012 was cancelled due to a hurricane! I start to wonder if I will ever make it to the Big Easy?!). However, my co-author Dr Paul Reilly was there to present our latest joint effort, which focused on the popularity of populist parties in Italy (Five Star Movement) and the UK (United Kingdom Independence Party) among Google users during the 2014 European Parliament election campaign.

The poster, entitled “Populist and Popular? Tracking Citizen Interest in Anti-Establishment Parties with Google Trends”, can be downloaded here.

Paper Accepted for ISA 2015 Convention

Just got news that the paper I proposed for next year’s International Studies Association’s (ISA) Annual Convention together with Paul Reilly (University of Leicester) was accepted. The title is “Populist and Popular: Using Google Trends to Track and Conceptualize Emerging Transnational Trends in Democratic Politics.” This study continues my working paper series on blending search engine data drawn from Google Trends with established political communication methods to explore emergent global phenomena in democratic politics such as the rise of populist parties and movements. Bring on New Orleans in February then, especially considering the pouring Glasgow rain outside my office window at the moment!

APSA 2014 Pol Comm Pre-conference Paper Now Online

The paper that I presented at the 12th APSA Political Communication pre-conference on the 27th of August in Washington, DC together with Dounia Mahlouly is now available on the website of the George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. Click here to download a copy (password protected – pre-conference attendees only). This is part of my Voter Ecology project on search engines and elections in the UK, the U.S., Italy and Egypt.