Academic Publications 2009

Burns, Alex & Eltham, Ben (2009). ‘Twitter Free Iran: An Evaluation
of Twitter’s Role in Public Diplomacy and Information Operations in
Iran’s 2009 Election Crisis’
. In Papandrea, Franco & Armstrong,
Mark (Eds.). Record of the Communications Policy & Research Forum
. Sydney: Network Insight Institute, pp. 298-310 [PDF pp. 322-334]. Presentation slides here.

Social media platforms such as Twitter pose new challenges for
decision-makers in an international crisis. We examine Twitter’s role
during Iran’s 2009 election crisis using a comparative analysis of
Twitter investors, US State Department diplomats, citizen activists and
Iranian protesters and paramilitary forces. We code for key events
during the election’s aftermath from 12 June to 5 August 2009, and
evaluate Twitter. Foreign policy, international political economy and
historical sociology frameworks provide a deeper context of how Twitter
was used by different users for defensive information operations and
public diplomacy. Those who believe Twitter and other social network
technologies will enable ordinary people to seize power from repressive
regimes should consider the fate of Iran’s protesters, some of whom
paid for their enthusiastic adoption of Twitter with their lives.

Burns, Alex & Saunders, Barry (2009). ‘Journalists as Investigators
and ‘Quality Media’ Reputation’
. In Papandrea, Franco & Armstrong,
Mark (Eds.). Record of the Communications Policy & Research Forum
. Sydney: Network Insight Institute, pp. 281-297 [PDF pp. 305-321]. Presentation slides here.

The current ‘future of journalism’ debates focus on the crossover (or
lack thereof) of mainstream journalism practices and citizen
journalism, the ‘democratisation’ of journalism, and the ‘crisis in
innovation’ around the ‘death of newspapers’. This paper analyses a
cohort of 20 investigative journalists to understand their skills sets,
training and practices, notably where higher order research skills are
adapted from intelligence, forensic accounting, computer programming,
and law enforcement. We identify areas where different levels of
infrastructure and support are necessary within media institutions, and
suggest how investigative journalism enhances the reputation of
‘quality media’ outlets.

A 2008 academic publication that made the Top 25 downloaded papers of the past year on Victoria University’s institutional repository:

Floyd, Josh, Burns, Alex and Ramos, Jose (2008). A Challenging Conversation on Integral Futures: Embodied Foresight & Trialogues. Journal of Futures Studies, 13(2), 69-86.

Practitioner reflection is vital for knowledge frameworks such as Ken
Wilber’s Integral perspective. Richard Slaughter, Joseph Voros and
others have combined Wilber’s perspective and Futures Studies to create
Integral Futures as a new stance. This paper develops Embodied
Foresight as a new approach about the development of new Integral
Futures methodologies (or meta-methodologies) and practitioners, with a
heightened sensitivity to ethics and specific, local contexts. Three
practitioners conduct a ‘trialogue’ – a three-way deep dialogue – to
discuss issues of theory generation, practitioner development,
meta-methodologies, institutional limits, knowledge systems, and
archetypal pathologies. Personal experiences within the Futures Studies
and Integral communities, and in other initiatory and wisdom traditions
are explored.

A Challenging Conversation on Integral Futures

The Journal of Futures Studies (Tamkang University, Taiwan) has published a ‘trialogue’ on Integral Futures between colleagues Josh Floyd, Jose Ramos and myself.

The trialogue is an exploratory method that the late ethnobotanist Terence McKenna used at the Esalen Institute and Omega Institute to cocreate new knowledge informed by interdisciplinary expertise.  McKenna’s trialogues featured mathematician Ralph Abraham and biologist Rupert Sheldrake.  More recently, Erik Davis and Douglas Rushkoff have continued the tradition.  The theoretical physicist David Bohm developed a similar method for dialogue and group work.

Floyd, Ramos and I discussed this approach in February-April 2006 after taking three different
iterations of Advanced Professional Praxis a ‘capstone’ project unit in
Swinburne University’s Strategic Foresight program.  Richard Slaughter provided a focal point as he assembled papers for a special issue of the journal Futures (Elsevier) on Integral Futures Methodologies (November, 2007).  For over a decade, Slaughter had synthesised a Futures knowledge base of new frameworks, methodologies and visions.  Informed by Ken Wilber‘s Integral vision, Slaughter proposed Integral Futures as a “broader and deeper” horizon for Futures work.  Wilber and Slaughter galvanised a new cohort of practitioners to develop new Integral Futures methodologies.  Yet new creative horizons may create new problems.

How can Integral Futures practitioners be ethically informed about their new methods?  Our trialogue proposes Embodied Foresight as one possible way to achieve this: the cultivation of ethical sensitivity, situation awareness about the Teacher-Student relationship and pedagogical barriers, and self-reflection on the transformative potential of initiatory knowledge and wisdom traditions.  Or, “foresight-in-context” may anticipate and prevent hazards that might have unforeseen consequences.

The trialogue creates a space for each of us to bring theoretical frameworks and practitioner reflections into the discussion.  Floyd brings expertise in Zen Buddhism, cognitive science and phenomenology, and a familiarity with Wilber and Evan Thompson‘s research.  Ramos brings transcultural experiences in Futures, action research, and postcolonial insights on “model monopolies”.  I added some insights from mid-1990s exploration of the Gurdjieff Work and the Temple of Set, and experiences during Masters studies, publishing and research projects.

From our trialogue’s conclusion:

Embodied Foresight offers some emergent solutions for the individual practitioner to the challenges and difficulties of Integral Futures practice. These reflexive ‘problems’ are part of diffusion, initiation and knowledge transfer in many wisdom traditions. Our ‘trialogue’ has raised several ‘reflexive’ problems-from Teacher-Student relationships and pedagogical barriers to the archetypal dangers of Phobos and Thanatos-that each of us has personally experienced within the Futures Studies community and in other initiatory and wisdom traditions.