From AoIR 12: Cheeseheads, Rise Up!

I’m in Seattle right now, enjoying the great ambiance that is the annual conference of the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR). This is my third year at AoIR (the conference is in its 12th), and it’s always a pleasure to come to this conference, both for the people and for the insightful and exciting research they are doing.

Well, of course it’s real!

This year I am participating on a panel with my colleague, Annette Vee, of the University of Pittsburgh, and another colleague, Matt Gaydos, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison on some research projects regarding the Wisconsin labor protests (hereafter known as #wiunion). Entitled “Cheeseheads Rise Up! Social Media and/as Resistance in Wisconsin,” we will provide significant context for the events February and March 2011 in Madison in reaction to Governor Scott Walker’s notorious “Budget Repair Bill.”  This will include insider perspectives, as well as the situating of the events in a theoretical context and in relation to other recent resistance movements, past and present.

My own contribution will be primarily to discuss the events as they unfolded, as well as to discuss a nascent research project around the use of personal digital media (such as digital photos and video) and social media platforms (such as Twitter) to document and disseminate information about the events for both internal/local and external publics.  This investigation focuses on the impetus and motives for such media creation and dissemination, as well as documents the practice of their production and curation themselves. I am looking forward to a lively discussion, and was heartened earlier today when a colleague from Sweden both shared his interest in attending the talk but confessed that he didn’t know many of the particulars about the events that were being shorthanded elsewhere.  On, Wisconsin!