Meet the speakers: Dr Fiona Martin


Meet Dr Fiona Martin, Senior Lecturer in Convergent and Online Media at the University of Sydney.

Fiona researches digital journalism and dialogic technologies, as well as the uses, politics and regulation of online media (internet, web, mobile and social media) and the implications of these technologies for media industry change. She is a member of the Digital Rights and Governance in Australia and Asia research group and a co-convenor of the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences Everyday Social Media research group. Fiona is a former journalist and is a widely published academic. She has helped put together several Swarm symposiums, including this years fantastic effort: Platform governance: creating safer online communities.

We asked her all about it – including why it’s a must-attend for community professionals.

What prompted this year’s Symposium theme?

Two things inspired this year’s Symposium theme: we wanted to respond to the Christchurch attacks and also the calls from across the world to curb the power of platforms to decide what we publish.

Internationally governments are trying to regulate major platform providers – in Australia’s case with hastily conceived, potentially ineffective laws.

At this gathering, we’re exploring the many other ways in which we can ensure safer online communities for everyone – with better information design, better tools for community management, better care for community managers and moderators, and more effective relationships with platforms.

Why should community managers participate in the Symposium?

Community managers coming to the Symposium get to hear about the latest research into their roles, their employment conditions, the laws that affect what they do in the workplace, and may other aspects of online community studies.

It’s also a chance to debate issues that are critical to them and to call for new research that can cast light on problems they’re having.

Since the first Symposium five years ago, we’ve seen new labour protections for community managers, a code of ethics developed, studies of the psychological cost of moderation and of the working lives of community managers and what influences their decision-making.

We’ve also developed a Masters course in community management to boost the quality of knowledge in the field.

So the Symposium is a chance to expand your ideas about how you can do your work and to ask questions that can trigger useful research on the problems you face.

What do you consider the most exciting thing about the community management space today?

Two things: the increasing respect given to CM roles in major companies, and the expansion of tools to help manage different types of communities.

And the most challenging?

Again two things (I’m so binary!). One is the expansion of automation and AI in the platform space, and the ways in which they can undermine community strategy if they’re introduced by platform providers without warning or consultation.

The other is the introduction of short-sighted laws or legal decisions that can affect community managers’ liability and autonomy.

Tickets for Swarm are selling fast – book yours now.

What are you reading/watching/listening to right now that you’d recommend community professionals read/watch/listen to? 

On the cerebral side, Shoshana Zuboff’s Surveillance Capitalism is a fabulous overview of digital media companies’ extraordinary impact on economics, society and culture, and the need for us to push back against their more predatory and inhumane practices.

On the more practical side, I’d recommend Swati Chaturvedi’s book I am a Troll (Juggernaut, 2016), about her investigation into India’s ruling BJP party and the frightening, transnational activities of its social media unit.

And for those of you working in media companies, I have to plug my new book: Sharing News Online (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019) which explores how social media news sharing has transformed journalism in the 21st century.

Why should community peeps come to Swarm overall?

Swarm is not just informative, it’s a whole of life-changing experience. The people you meet and the things you’ll learn will alter the way you think about the world, and work with others to make change.

Register your place at the Swarm 2019 Symposium. NOTE: Paid ticket holders for Swarm need to register their spot separately, however, registration is free of charge.

Get to know more awesome Swarm 2019 speakers:

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