PhD in Progress: Independent Tech Podcasting and Media Ecology
In July 2019, I re-entered the academic world, enrolling in a part-time Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Wollongong (UOW). Based in the Faculty of the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, I will be working—for no more than six years, hopefully—on a research project about podcasting and its place (as a platform and medium) within the ‘metadiscipline’ of media ecology. I’m aiming to share regular updates in the form of a PhD study journal, which is accessible in my archive. My two wonderful supervisors are Dr. Kate Bowles and Dr. Christopher Moore.
Regarding the research specifically, what is media ecology? The term may sound a bit lofty but it’s actually quite simple. According to Neil Postman (1970, media-ecology.org), ‘Media ecology looks into the matter of how media of communication affect human perception, understanding, feeling, and value; and how our interaction with media facilitates or impedes our chances of survival. The word ecology implies the study of environments: their structure, content, and impact on people’. Furthermore, it is a multidisciplinary field, drawing from areas such as media studies, philosophy, sociology, history, biology and more.
Complementing this study and as a form of autoethnography, I am also attempting my own podcasts: one here on Lounge Ruminator; a sporadic family history programme called Feld Notes, hosted on Micro.blog; and a collaboration with two friends, which we called Hemispheric Views . The first two were started as a part of this project, while the third has arisen separately as a result of my growing experience in podcasting and communication with others online.
I’m fascinated by the experience of spoken audio content, as podcasting shares (but also goes well beyond) many of the characteristics and tropes that we associate with radio.
Honours (2013): Branding and Fan Studies
As a part of my final year of communication and media studies at UOW, I submitted a first-class (HD) honours thesis with the title ‘It Just Works’: Rethinking Apple Brand Fandom.
Based on media studies literature by academics such as Henry Jenkins and Matt Hills, the text explores the world of Apple fandom and what it means to be a brand fan. Featuring in-depth interviews with brand fans, each of their personal experiences are shared and analysed using the method of narrative enquiry. My aim was to show how the marketing discipline could uncover more detailed information about customer experience by using qualitative research methods, rather than focusing purely on quantification and measurability.
Instead of letting it sit dormant on a drive, I have decided to make it freely available on Apple Books. It’s interesting (and somewhat amusing) to see what has and hasn’t changed in the tech world since that time.