25th November 2011: Reconstructing Disinfo.com Dossier Archives

I recently started a Google Scholar personal profile. I spent a day importing most of my academic publication history from the past decade. (There are a few gaps, such as some unpublished work I did on Clayton Christensen and Google for the Smart Internet Technology CRC in 2006-07. I’m reworking that material for peer reviewed journal articles.)

The biggest challenge was what to do with my Disinformation material, which was never peer-reviewed nor published in an academic journal.

I edited the site on a daily basis in two stints: November 1999 to August 2002, and April 2003 to February 2008. I took over from co-founder Richard Metzger who had launched the site on 13th September 1996, and Russ Kick took over from me in the interim, before launching his Alternewswire project. The first period is archived here whilst The Wayback Machine has a snapshot of Disinfo.com’s historical evolution here.

21C publisher/editor Ashley Crawford put me in contact with Metzger in mid-1998 after an RU Sirius profile. Metzger suggested I write some dossiers – partly as a therapeutic outlet to get over 21C‘s print demise and a messy relationship break-up. I emailed him profiles of Anton LaVey, George Gurdjieff, memetic engineering and space migration. When Razorfish acquired The Disinformation Company, Metzger and publisher Gary Baddeley tapped me to edit the site whilst they worked on the Disinfo Nation series for the United Kingdom’s Channel 4. 2000 and 2001 were my most productive years.

By mid-2002 I was burnt out and had turned to archival material from my La Trobe University student newspaper Rabelais, 21C and other sources. I also experimented with event-driven news reportage using lessons from information visualisation, values systems theory, media studies and political science. One day whilst drafting a dossier on the philosopher Peter Ouspensky I realised that I just couldn’t write anymore. Metzger and Baddeley had watched the content decline and reached a similar conclusion.

When he took over the daily editing responsibilities, Russ Kick brought a different, current issues sensibility to the site (Metzger excelled as a curator which he continues to do at his new project Dangerous Minds). My 2003-2008 period shifted away from writing original material to daily news coverage, as I completed graduate school and worked full-time as a researcher for the Smart Internet Technology CRC. Baddely wanted the site to be more blog-like and user-driven. I wrote a final editorial message to Disinformation’s readers that summed up the new user-driven direction, which the site continues with today.

I never kept a daily list of the specific dates that dossiers were published on. We lost several dossiers during site transfers. The early content management platforms did not have the functionality of today’s WordPress and Movable Type blogs. For instance, there were no version control or  rollback features, so articles may have been published at earlier dates than the current site version might suggest. From 1998 to 2002 I did compile an editorial master list of possible topics for the freelance contributors to explore, keyed to an old site topic structure: the Disinformation archives are thus only one of several possible sites that could have eventuated over the 1998-2003 period.

I am reconstructing a timeline of rough year dates, in order to get the bibliographic and citation data of the Disinformation dossiers and articles archived in Google Scholar (and possibly into Swinburne University’s research bank). The initial printout of the relevant dossiers and articles comes to 5 pages — larger in size than the academic research I’ve subsequently done. The material varies from excellent to failed experiments and deadline-driven messes.

It feels strange to re-engage with this material for archival and citation purposes — it feels like another lifetime ago.

23rd November 2011: Google Scholar Personal Profiles

Google Scholar has announced open citations and personal profiles.

The service is popular with academics for citation analysis and publication track records. Google Scholar’s data collection is messy: it trawls the internet and gathers citations from a range of websites and sources. It does not yet have the rigour of Elsevier’s Scopus database, for example. However, it is likely to outrank such proprietary services, due to Google’s accessibility and popularity.

My Google Scholar profile is here. For now, it is a highly selective collection — academic journal articles and conference papers, some postgraduate and undergraduate essays, and old Disinformation dossiers (see archives). I was surprised that some long-forgotten articles had been internationally cited. I have a more complete publications profile which gets updated as new academic research is published (PDF).

Several past collaborators — Axel Bruns, Ben Eltham & Jose Ramos — have their own profiles, and you should check out their personal research programs.

21st November 2011: Conservative, Pro-Life Vampires

Our Vampires, Ourselves

Rosie Cross and I saw the latest Twilight movie Breaking Dawn: Part 1 on the weekend. I interpreted Stephenie Meyer‘s story in the vein of pro-life, conservative politics: Bella Swan marries Edward Cullen at 18; has tantrika-suggestive sex; and finally gives birth-in-death to an ‘immortalist’ child, Renesmee. Slate‘s review sums up what a teen angst mess Breaking Dawn is, from wedding speeches to home medical equipment.

The New Yorker’s narrative arc from Dracula to the Cullens mentions a book I reviewed over a decade ago: Nina Auerbach‘s Our Vampires, Ourselves (University of Chicago Press, Chicago IL, 1995). What Auerbach captures is how vampires become the psychic projections of contemporary crises and flashpoints. It feels weird to revisit a 1996 review, courtesy of Disinformation’s site archives.