Communication - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Structuring the field(s): user-generated tags and the archive at CBUT Vancouver

Date created: 
2010-02-26
Abstract: 

This thesis explores the potential conflict between user-generated tags and traditional archiving practices in the broadcasting industry. Changing technological configurations in the field of television news often have unforeseen consequences. The installation of a video server at Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Vancouver Television in 2007 has the potential to shape the process of accessioning records used by the media librarians by creating new possibilities for the collection of tags throughout the production process. The current information architecture consists of a data structure and a set of practices that combines descriptive metadata constructed by media librarians with automatically generated metadata gathered from the production process. Allowing user-generated data in the form of descriptive tags attached to media assets to pass through to the information architecture has the capacity to destabilize the existing taxonomy of controlled terms used by the librarians. Any move towards allowing tags into the system should proceed with extreme caution.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Brian Lewis
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

The contested convergence of precarity and immaterial labour

Date created: 
2010-05-25
Abstract: 

Labour has tended to be a relatively neglected subject in critical scholarship on communication and culture. One pathway for working against this tendency is a current of analysis and activism confronting the problematic of precarity. Circulated at the start of the 21st century by autonomous activists in Europe, the concept of precarity is defined in this dissertation as experiential, financial, and social insecurity exacerbated by the flexibilization of employment under conditions of post-Fordism (e.g., contract-based employment, freelance work, self-employment). Precarity is, I contend, a valuable conceptual tool for struggling over the meaning of contemporary transformations in the world of work. It illuminates an underside that hegemonic discourses on media, information technology, and cultural work—such as those surrounding free agency, the creative economy, the flat world, and the creative class—have been criticized for downplaying. Historical political economic context is provided through a discussion of the uneven transition from Fordist to post-Fordist capitalism. Points of departure for the inquiry are drawn from streams of labour analysis within the political economy of communication and autonomist Marxism. The dissertation is structured in two main parts. The first section profiles select aspects of the multiform precarious immaterial workforce animating industries associated with the vaunted creative economy. It introduces a schema of precarious labour personas—the autonomous worker, the precog, and the cybertariat—to explore some of the manifold mechanisms and quotidian manifestations of precarization. The second part argues that although the flexibilization of labour since the 1970s was an attempt by capital to decompose the counter-power of segments of the working class, the spread of precarious working conditions in the post-Fordist core has not entirely exhausted dissent. Through creative public protest, experimental workers’ organizations, and policy proposals, working people within and beyond immaterial production milieus have begun to collectively respond to precarity. I argue that precarity and cognate terms are not only linguistic devices that workers themselves are using to name a qualitative feature of their labour and life conditions. These terms also signal a promising laboratory of labour solidarity, organization, and imagination within and against flexploitation.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Yuezhi Zhao
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

The digital child at play: how technological, political and commercial rule systems shape children's play in virtual worlds

Date created: 
2010-05-03
Abstract: 

Over the past three decades, digital gaming has become an increasingly significant part of children’s culture. While this development has attracted significant academic attention, much less attention has been given to the technological dimensions of the games themselves. As critical theories of technology demonstrate, however, technological artifacts are far from “neutral.” Rather, technologies embody and at times reproduce the social, economic and political conditions within which they are constructed. Through the inclusion of certain technological affordances (and not others), design decisions, industry norms, legal/regulatory requirements, and programmed game rules, this thesis argues that corporate priorities and dominant discourses about children’s digital play become embedded within the very technical code of digital games. Focusing on game-themed virtual worlds, or massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs), this thesis uncovers the political and social dimensions of children’s MMOGs, and identifies the conditions these new game systems introduce into children’s play. Drawing on a multidisciplinary theoretical framework, the research methodology follows a two-level approach to children’s MMOGs as sites of struggle, in which children are in constant negotiation with the games’ formal and informal “rule systems,” which include industry trends, design choices, game rules, and government policy. A general overview of the children’s multiplayer online game environment is provided, and major trends are identified. In-depth analysis of six case studies is provided, which include Nicktropolis, BarbieGirls, Toontown and Club Penguin, Magi-Nation and GalaXseeds.Through design analysis, political economic analysis, and in-game observations, this examination reveals how systems of regulation, social assumptions and power relations are reflected within the rule systems contained within the design, management and configuration of the games and their players. The findings reveal that the games’ designs are much more restrictive than what is allowed by MMOG technologies, and that these games have adopted a rigid rule system aimed at aligning children’s play with commercial interests.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Andrew Feenberg
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Describing the contemporary sound environment : an analysis of three approaches, their synthesis and a case study of Commerical Drive, Vancouver, BC

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2004
Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Barry Truax
Department: 
Communication, Art and Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

The Canadian state-as-mediator in deep conflict : the implications of Kyoto Protocol ratification

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2004
Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Robert Anderson
Department: 
Communication, Art and Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

"'SMS' capital of the world" : a political economy of a wireless revolution in the Philippines

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2004
Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Yuezhi Zhao
Department: 
Communication, Art and Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Informatization of a nation : a case study of South Korea's computer gaming and PC-Bang culture

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2004
Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Steve Kline
Department: 
Communication, Art and Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

"She kicks ass-in heels" : negotiating representations of feminity in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2004
Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Zoe Druick
Department: 
Communication, Art and Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Nga Puni Whakapiri : indigenous struggle and genetic engineering

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2004
Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
P. Howard
Department: 
Communication, Art and Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

The discourse of neoliberalism in policy documents of British Columbia's year 2000 education reform

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2004
Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Brian Lewis
Department: 
Communication, Art and Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.