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Thursday, October 11 • 11:00am - 12:30pm
Space, Place and Materialities of the Digital

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Samuel Thulin
This paper addresses the coming together of soundscape studies and the internet. Since its beginnings in the 1960s soundscape studies has been concerned with the sonic environment globally, and with local, contextual aspects of sound, pointing to the material circumstances in which it is produced (Truax, 2001), while critiquing circulations of de-contextualized sound recordings (Schafer, 1977). Drawing on work in new materialisms (Barad, 2003; Coole and Frost, 2010) and sonic geography (Gallagher, Kanngieser, and Prior, 2016), I ask how the combination of sound’s material connections and online presence might reveal insights on the materiality of sonic practices, and how it might create productive frictions for thinking through relationships between distant places. Examining online sound maps and arguing that the apparent self-evidence of the relationship between audio-file and location needs to be questioned, I draw attention to the importance of the biases of sound maps and the fictional sound worlds that are created through the intentional and unintentional particularities of platforms. I investigate an accidental collection of sounds in the sound map view of one of the largest sound-sharing platforms – Freesound.org – to show the disjuncture between the material circumstances of a place represented by the map and the processes of sharing uploaded audio files. Rather than suggesting the unreliability of online sound maps for continuing the project of soundscape studies, I argue that this platform glitch provides a provocation for considering how the online circulation of audio files brings places into complex relationships rather than representing places.

Sharon Strover, Alexis Schrubbe
As community anchors and public spaces, libraries are in unique positions to serve emerging 21st century information needs for the unconnected. Some libraries have extended their technology offerings beyond basic computers and Internet to include mobile hotspot lending, which allows patrons to "take home" the Internet from the library. The research in this project examines hotspot lending programs undertaken by the Maine State Library and the Kansas State Library across 24 different libraries in small and rural communities. In the United States, rural areas tend to have lower Internet adoption because many communities face considerable barriers to competitive and fast Internet service, exacerbated by the fact that rural communities tend to be older, of lower-income, and less digitally skilled. This research examines the role of library hotspot lending and how free and mobile-based Internet connects rural communities and serves their information needs. Through qualitative and quantitative assessments this research details the scope and efficacy of programs to reach publics, the impact that rural hotspots have in communities, and the larger information and communications ecosystem in these rural communities in Maine and Kansas.

Rae Moors
This paper explores the social media activism that emerged from Flint, Michigan in the wake of the 2016 national news coverage of the Flint Water crisis. Utilizing a critical technocultural discourse analysis, this paper argues that these practices can be understood using a critical logic of connectivity: a logic that combines the connective and co-constitutive features of social media with material implications for discourse, identity, and power struggles. It finds that Flint citizens leveraged the connective features online media platforms and practices to reclaim authority over their own place and identity, and thus shape their material existence. In the case of Flint, these practices coalesced around three major themes; 1) their campaigns leverage social media in order to forward a critique of deficient journalistic storytelling; 2) they use the affective process of storytelling via social media to claim authority over their own material offline existence, and 3) they use their place-based exigency to implicate others as a witness via the global network of social media. In closely analyzing the critical logic of connectivity that features in these three themes, this paper contributes to an understanding of how communities in crisis mobilize globally networked online media in order to fulfill the needs of highly local, material existences.

avatar for Steve Jones

Steve Jones

Professor, University of Illinois Chicago
University of Illinois at Chicago - Communication & Computer Science


Thursday October 11, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 5