I love working with postgraduate students. UTS offers four-year PhD or two-year Masters by Research (full time) degrees (application deadlines are here). Domestic students in Australia have tuition fees paid for by an Australian Government fees offset scholarship. You can apply to have living costs subsidised by a Research Training Program stipend or external funding. I’m interested in working on projects relating to Internet governance, peer production, citizen science and open knowledge, critical algorithm and data studies, Wikipedia and global knowledge, social media events and knowledge automation relating to question-and-answer systems, smart speakers and digital assistants. Take a look at my publications and see if you’d like to work with me. Some more specific ideas for projects are below:
Journalists may write the first draft of history, and historians document expert accounts by revisiting those sources after events have occurred. But Wikipedia editors are creating accounts of historic events in ways that are more powerful and certainly more popular than any single authoritative source. Although some work has been done to study history making on Wikipedia in Australia (e.g. Avieson, 2019; Phillips, 2016), there has not yet been a systematic study of how Wikipedia represents historic, Australian events and still many questions about Wikipedia’s role in representing current events globally. This project could involve mapping articles about events in Australia on English Wikipedia and investigating how the narratives around those events are shaped according to Wikipedia’s policy, software and the logics that underlie policy and practice.
The workings, impact and ethics of smart speakers
The increased use of smart speakers to provide answers to common questions about the world provoke a series of important ethical questions that remain unanswered because of the technology’s novelty. In addition to answering questions about the weather, smart speakers are beginning to act as a primary news source, as a reference source for facts, as a way of navigating the political, economic and social aspects of our lives. How should smart speakers attribute the answers that they provide to their human users? How should the algorithms driving smart speakers deal with conflicting facts about the world? On whose authority should smart speakers rely in order to achieve the necessary prioritisation of some answers above others?
Wikipedia and breaking news
Articles about current events feature among the most popular on Wikipedia to edit and read and Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites in the world. Yet little is known about Wikipedia as both a source of breaking news and an historical record prioritised by search engines and digital assistants to provide us with authoritative facts about the world. A number of questions remain. Who writes Wikipedia articles about current events? What social and technical dynamics drive their development? How does automation advance certain narratives of an event at the expense of others?
Send me an email if you’re interested!