The Ego Media Digital Publication

In March, we heard that the European Research Council granted the Ego Media Project a six-month extension so we can produce an innovative digital publication showcasing our work.

Together with our colleagues at King’s Digital Lab, we’re working to create something that is, essentially, a new form of digital “book”. Ego Media will encompass and draw together the different strands that have comprised the Project over the five years it’s been running.

The Projects

Avatars, Alter Egos and Ventriloquists’ Dummies: Voice and Vicariousness Online
Dear Diary
Ego-media Theory and Ethnography: Surveying Research and Tracking User Practices
Identity affordances of online social platforms
Imaginative Agency: Representation and Online Selves
Imagining the future
Life and War Writing, Off and Online
Life Online Today and Tomorrow (see also Focus on Dr Alisa Miller)
Life-writing of the moment: The Sharing and updating self on social media (see also Focus on Professor Alexandra Georgakopolou)
Narrating (m)others’ lives: A narrative interactional analysis of storytelling practices related to YouTube blogging
The impact of new media on people with epilepsy and migraine
The Use of Self-Tracking Technologies and Social Media in Self- Representations and Management of Health
Representations of HIV in Contemporary South African Writings
Talking Interfaces: Literature & Conversational Media

It’s a varied suite of projects, differentiated by subject area, academic discipline, focus, research methods employed, the types of data/results generated and conclusions reached. As a result, we needed to think carefully about how one publication could encompass and exhibit these differences, whilst also teasing out and analysing those themes and preoccupations that ran through all the Ego-Media Project’s different strands

Ultimately, we settled on a two-pronged approach.

A two-pronged approach

Researcher site sections

We decided that each researcher would have a site section within which to present and explore their specific research. The Content Management System (CMS) King’s Digital Lab built for us in Django/Wagtail offers plenty of flexibility, which means that we can each mould our individual sections in ways that work for our specific content. These would be designed to showcase the diversity of the various Ego-Media Project strands

Thematic essays

To complement these individual site sections, we decided to write a series of introductory essays. These would be designed to pull together relevant findings and approaches from across the project’s various strands, exploring shared ideas, preoccupations and themes; drawing broader conclusions and posing bigger questions for future research. These will all share the same structure, although as different Ego-Media researchers are teaming up to write/edit them, we expect a lively variety of styles and tones. The themes we decided on are:

Forms and practices
Software of the Self

All are broad and open to interpretation. We also anticipate that, in the initial writing stages, there’s likely to be some overlap between the essays: we’ll sort that out in the editorial phase.

Image taken at Moving past present: digitally reanimating the Gaiety Girls, Dr Robert Gallagher’s project with the artist Janina Anja Lange

Methodologies & Interdisciplinarity

There will also be two other essays: one focussing on the methodologies different researchers used, and another exploring the team’s experiences of interdisciplinary working. Interdisciplinarity has become something of a buzzword in an academic context: an unmitigated good, that breaches academic silos and to produce increased creativity and better-designed, more effective research.

And that, interdisciplinarity undoubtedly does. However, that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of frictions. Our essay will explore and unpick some of these.

We’ll post more on the individual topics covered in the themed essays, and on the process of developing and editing the publication as it evolves.

Writing for the web

Another challenge is adapting academic writing style for an online readership. It’s become a truism that writing for the web should be “chunked”, that people don’t read longerform texts, nor do they absorb information as well as they do from printed texts.

But chunking can break the flow of an argument, reducing its overall impact. How can we best adapt our work to online media? When should we “chunk” and when resist this approach and stick with linear argument?

Because this is something of a new form, we’re taking an improvisatory, trial-and-error approach. This can sometimes feel incredibly frustrating and challenging… but, at other times hugely exciting.

We’ll keep you posted on our progress.

Written by:

Dr Lisa Gee is a Post-Doctoral Research Associate on the Ego-Media Project