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MSLCE Professors Head to Japan for ICA16

Hiroshima Peace Memorial, in Japan.

By Jacob L. Nelson

Two MSLCE professors recently joined thousands of others in Japan for the 66th Annual Conference of the International Communications Association (ICA).

Northwestern professors James Webster and Aymar Jean Christian were two of about 3,000 attendees who made the long trip to Fukuoka, Japan for the five-day meeting of academics and industry professionals focused on the study of communication, held June 9-13. The conference presented just over 2,000 papers throughout the course of about 700 sessions, offering attendees the opportunity to learn about the latest and most fascinating research in the field.

Christian presented a paper he wrote entitled, “Can Corporate Social Media Open TV?: Independent Platform Development as Method in Critical Data Studies.” The project investigates how “independent and community-based organizations promote activities via corporate social media platforms” by drawing from Christian’s work through Open TV, the platform he founded that produces and distributes queer television.

“”At a time with studies and critiques of big data are on the rise, my work developing digital work locally in Chicago has shown considerable theoretical and methodological value in ‘small’ data,” Christian said. “Developing small data is a productive source of critique of big data as it pairs cross-platform quantitative social media data with field experiences.”

Webster and co-author Jacob Nelson presented a paper entitled “Audience Currencies in the Age of Big Data,” which examined the way that audience measurement data have been used to evaluate media from the first radio broadcast to the current online media landscape. By comparing different measures of online news audiences, the paper explored the consequences of a website’s success or failure being based on the number of “hits” it gets as opposed to measures of time spent with the content. The paper was recently published by the International Journal on Media Management, and a shorter version has been published by Mediashift.

An academic association for scholars interested in the study, teaching, and application of all aspects of human and mediated communication, ICA started over 50 years ago as a small group of U.S. researchers, according to the ICA website. The organization now has more than 4,500 members in 80 countries.

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