Pokémon GO and the Ludification of Culture, Mindtrek keynote

Mindtrek keynote slide
My Mindtrek keynote slides.
In Tuesday, 18 October 2016, I will be presenting an invited keynote titled “Pokémon GO and the Ludification of Culture” in the Academic Mindtrek conference in the Tampere Hall. Full program at: http://www.mindtrek.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/11/2016/10/Academic-Mindtrek-2016-Printable-program.pdf. Mindtrek is a hybrid event, and there are multiple tracks in the program, see: http://www.mindtrek.org/2016/program/

Edit: I published my Mindtrek keynote slides here: http://www.slideshare.net/fransmayra/pokmon-go-and-the-ludification-of-culture – and you can watch an unofficial Periscope recording here: https://twitter.com/pauliinamakela/status/788258441991036928

CFP: Academic Track at the 75th World Science Fiction Convention

Spreading the Call for Papers, Academic Track at the 75th World Science Fiction Convention – “100 Years of Estrangement”

9–13 August, 2017

Messukeskus, the Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre, Helsinki, Finland

Estrangement, or defamiliarization (ostranenie), has long been a crucial concept in our understanding of speculative fiction. Since its first appearance in Viktor Shklovsky’s essay “Art as Technique” (or “Art as Device”) in 1917, estrangement has made its way into the theories of prose fiction, of theatre, and of film, and it forms the core of some of the foundational works in the theory of science fiction, such as Darko Suvin’s definition of SF as cognitive estrangement.

To celebrate the centenary of Shklovsky’s essay, the Worldcon 75 Academic Track calls for proposals for scholarly presentations from any academic discipline to examine, interrogate, and expand research related to the concept of estrangement, to related terms such as cognitive estrangement, the uncanny, the unnatural, Brecht’s Verfremdungseffekt or Derrida’s différance, and to their role in the analysis of speculative fiction in any medium. We hope for a broad, interdisciplinary discussion on the many ways in which estrangement  or defamiliarization relates to the genres of science fiction, fantasy and horror, and on how those genres form a particularly fertile ground for extending our understanding of how the familiar is made new, or the strange comprehensible.

To examine these phenomena, we invite proposals addressing e.g. the following questions:

  • What is the status of Shklovsky’s original ostranenie in contemporary theories of speculative fiction (widely understood)?
  • How does defamiliarization or estrangement function in different fantastic (sub)genres?
  • What are the differences and similarities between the techniques or strategies of defamiliarization in different media (e.g. prose fiction, graphic narratives, theatre, films, games)? How does defamiliarization relate to inter- or transmedial storytelling?
  • What is the dynamic between defamiliarization, mental transportation and identification? How do estranging and fantastical effects impact the reader’s perception of the storyworld or sympathy towards the characters?
  • How do works of speculative fiction balance estranging or defamiliarizing techniques and the naturalizing effects inherent to its worldbuilding and characterization? How does defamiliarization relate to the realistic illusions created by speculative fiction?
  • How does estrangement help us to describe metafiction and formal self-reflection in speculative fiction?
  • Are there different scholarly traditions around estrangement in different academic fields (e.g. literary studies, aesthetics, film theory) and in different language areas (e.g. Anglo-American, Russian, German, French)?
  • Arising from Russian formalism and the avant-garde, estrangement has strongly political roots that have to do with the freedom of art within society. How does this political aspect of estrangement fare today?
  • How is defamiliarization used in fantastic genres to question or critique societal issues and/or social identity categories (e.g. gender, sexuality, ethnicity, age, social class)?
  • What can the study of defamiliarizing techniques offer to the posthumanist line of interdisciplinary research and its interest in the relations between humans and nonhumans?
  • What commercial functions does estrangement have, and how do those interact with its aesthetic and ideological functions in speculative fiction?

In addition to these theoretical questions, we call for analyses of the effects of estrangement in specific works of speculative fiction in any medium. Beyond the specific conference theme of defamiliarization, proposals on all other topics to do with speculative fiction are also welcome.

Submission guidelines:

Papers will be allowed a maximum presentation time of 20 minutes, with 10 minutes for discussion. All presentations will be given in English.

  • For an individual paper, please submit

–  a max. 500-word abstract, outlining your argument and the grounding of your scholarly approach

–  a max. 100-word description of your academic affiliation(s) and publications (i.e. a ‘bio note’).

  • For a pre-arranged session of three or four presentations (3×20 minutes or 4×15 minutes), please submit a proposal including

–   a summary paragraph of the central purpose of the session

–   the name of the session chair

–   the individual abstracts of all speakers

–   bio notes of all speakers.

Please note that we will accept only one presentation per scholar, but you can submit both an individual abstract and a full session proposal, if you wish.

All proposals should be sent as e-mail attachments (Word or PDF) to merja.polvinen@worldcon.fi by October 31st, 2016.

We hope to announce the selections to the programme by 30th November, 2016. All selected speakers will be responsible for their own travel and accommodation. There is no separate conference fee, but all speakers in the Academic Track must join Worldcon 75 as attending members. For more information on purchasing memberships, please see the convention website at http://www.worldcon.fi/memberships/.

About the event:

Worldcon, or the World Science Fiction Convention is the annual convention of the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS). The first Worldcon was held in 1939 and, after a hiatus during WWII, has been held continuously since 1946. The convention brings together thousands of science fiction and fantasy aficionados from all around the world, and the programming includes five multi-track days of panel discussions, presentations, workshops and art exhibitions, as well as the annual Hugo Awards ceremony. For more information on Worldcon75 and on the venue in Helsinki, please see http://www.worldcon.fi/.

The Academic Track is organised by Worldcon 75 in cooperation with FINFAR, The Finnish Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy Research. For more information on submissions, or any other aspect of the Academic Track, please contact merja.polvinen@worldcon.fi.

Looking forward to welcoming you to Helsinki!

Dr Merja Polvinen

Chair of the Academic Track committee
Department of Modern Languages, University of Helsinki

in cooperation with

FINFAR, The Finnish Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy Research, http://finfar.org/en/

Academic Mindtrek 2016 CFP

[Please spread the word, Mindtrek includes also an established game research track]

Call for Papers, Posters, Demonstrations and Workshops
17th to 19th October 2016
Tampere, Finland

Full papers, posters, demonstrations and workshops due on:
—— DEADLINE 27th June, 2016 ——

In cooperation with ACM, ACM SIGMM, and ACM SIGCHI.
Contributions will be published in the ACM digital library.


We are pleased to invite you to the Academic Mindtrek conference, 17th to 19th October 2016. Academic Mindtrek is a meeting place where researchers, experts and thinkers present results from their latest work regarding the development of novel technology, media and digital culture for the society of tomorrow.

Academic Mindtrek is part of the renowned Mindtrek business conference. Mindtrek brings together people not only from various fields and domains but also from different sectors such as companies, academia and various other institutions. This is the perfect opportunity for pushing research results in the practice and industry, as well as getting out-the-box research ideas based on the interaction with industry and practitioners. Mindtrek events are accessible for the Academic Mindtrek attendees, and vice versa.

The academic conference features the following major themes:

– Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)
– Interaction design and user experience
– Games and gamification
– Virtual, augmented and mixed reality
– Media education
– Collaboration and multimedia technologies in education
– Crowdsourcing and citizen participation
– Open data and data science
– New forms of journalism and media
– Theatre, performance and media
– Enhancing work in socio-technological environments

We are especially enthusiastic about applied research and papers related to practical work.


Human Computer Interaction (HCI) track addresses the design, development and implementation of user interfaces and the design of human and technology interaction. The track focuses on design of computer systems for human users, human requirements, usability, ergonomics, privacy aspects, trustworthiness, interaction theories, and sociological and psychological factors. The track brings together people from diverse areas that provide a multidisciplinary forum for academics, designers and practitioners to discuss the challenges and processes of contemporary topics in Human-Computer Interaction. The themes include, but are not limited to, the following subject areas:

• Interaction: e.g. interaction theories and models, new interaction techniques, multimodal interaction, multi-device interaction, social interactions mediated by technology.

• Interfaces: e.g. adaptive and personalized interfaces, usability evaluations, autonomous and proactive interfaces and interfaces as artefacts
• Technology: e.g. architectures for HCI, Cloud computing & Mobile HCI, new technology enablers like various sensors and actuators, toolkits and platforms for new interactive systems.
• Evaluation: e.g. evaluation studies of interactive systems, evaluation methods and techniques and user trials and experiments of interactive technology.
• User insight: e.g. methods for user research, ethnography, and understanding the users and contexts of use.

This track focuses on the practice of designing interactive digital products and services and the user experiences and interactions therein. As people’s quality standards tend to constantly increase, providing a delightful user experience and fluent interaction, the most relevant features have become central goals in the development of digital products and services. The areas of interest include, but are not limited to, the following areas:

• Theories, conceptualizations and reflections on user experience, consumer experience, product experience, interaction design, service design and their relations to other design disciplines.
• Understanding various aspects of user experience: e.g. aesthetics, trust and privacy, product attachment, playfulness, engagement, social elements
• Novel design approaches: e.g. experience-driven design, critical design, design visions
• Techniques, methods, tools and patterns for interaction design and service design
• Measuring and assessing user experience, user studies and user experience evaluations
• Creativity and innovation in design of interactive systems

The culture, development and business of games has become increasingly varied. The current trends range from virtual reality and wearable gaming to freemium business models and serious games. Games research is a multidisciplinary field featuring diverse approaches to understand the phenomenon of games and play.

Academic MindTrek has an inclusive approach in the Games track focusing on novel, innovative and even unorthodox games research from theoretical works, empirical case studies to constructive projects. The Games track themes include, but are not limited to, the following subject areas:

• Design (interaction, mechanics, interfaces…)
• Evaluation (game experience, playability, usability…)
• Development (tools, engines, AI, audiovisual…)
• Business (digital distribution, crowdfunding, revenue models, virtual goods…)
• Platforms (online, social, mobile, desktop…)
• Technology (virtual, augmented and altered reality…)
• Serious games (education, health, persuasive, simulations…)
• Gamification (motivation, effects, case studies…)
• eSports (culture, streaming, fandom…)
• Hybrid games (digital-physical, board games, toys…)
• Online gambling (lottery, casino, betting…)
• Players (demographics, inclusivity, accessibility…)
• Indie (innovation, modding, transgressive…)

Mixed reality refers to merging of real and digital realms in order to produce new environments where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time. We consider this broadly, covering both purely virtual realities, as well as augmented reality, where the perception of the real-world is enhanced with digital content. With new technologies for capturing, modelling, simulating and tracking the reality and for producing realistic hybrids of the real and digital, this field provides immense opportunities for novel applications in all areas of life. The main focus on this track is on the interactions between technology and its users rather than the technological enablers. Therefore, we welcome submissions related to, e.g.:

• Prototypes of applications or devices for virtual or augmented reality
• Studies of user perceptions, user experience and acceptance of new mixed reality technology
• Methods and processes for producing mixed reality environments
• Augmenting human perception and activity with mixed reality technology
• User interface solutions for mixed reality interactions

Media and IT play an increasingly central, diverse and complex role in contemporary life from early age to adulthood. The essential focus of media education is on developing media literacy linked to information and communication technology in learning, media production and critical thinking in media saturated societies. This field is of keen relevance for the development of education curricula across all levels, and especially for children and young people today. The track encourages papers on, for example, conceptual developments, practical skills that are necessary for competence in the area, learning environments and, methodological discussions.

Education is increasingly using tools and solutions to support learning and collaboration on mobile, online and distance platforms and with related applications. Furthermore, various types of multimedia technologies and solutions can be used in educational context.

We welcome submissions on the collaboration and multimedia technologies, platforms, solutions, and trials in mobile, online, and distance learning contexts as well as in developing and rural regions. Theoretical, methodological and empirical submissions are welcome on design, development, evaluation, and actual use of tools, solutions, and multimedia technologies and created data from lab to real-life context. The submissions can address contexts such as daycare, schools and higher education, as well as in professional development in continuing education, MOOCs, or in informal learning contexts. Learners’ or educators’ viewpoint, or the educational aspects and goals can also be covered in the submissions, for example.

Crowdsourcing and citizen participation have become part of everyday activities in media landscape. Crowds or citizens, can solve problems, create, contribute, share, and analyze multimedia content and data, participate and influence decision making. Crowds contributing to open data can enable creating innovative applications, new multimedia forms, novel business models and platforms by utilizing the emerging opportunities. This track welcomes submissions on using crowdsourcing and citizen participation in multimedia and open data landscape. Submissions can include design, development, evaluation and use of solutions and platforms and processes for supporting crowdsourcing and citizen participation. Topics related to the cross-section of multimedia or open data, and crowdsourcing or citizen participation, such as gamification, motivation, incentives, privacy, as well as design and evaluation by using crowdsourcing and citizen participation are welcome to this track.

Accessing, creating, analysing and utilizing good-quality data plays a central role in the development of the digital economy. The exponential accumulation of data, both sensor-based and user-created, opens new avenues for applications in, for example, various industry sectors, science, management, E-Government and E-Learning, artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, and knowledge work. But what data is interesting and where does it come from? How to access it, analyse it, make sense of it, or to build applications or ecosystems based on it? We are looking for submissions that address the challenges and opportunities related to Open data, Data science and Big Data. The submissions can, e.g., introduce computational methods for analysing, visualizing or acquiring various types of data, envision opportunities for or present developed applications that utilize open data, describe and analyse new (open) data sets, or present procedures for extracting insight from various data. In addition to the usual scientific peer review criteria, the evaluation of submissions about new data sets includes novelty, design and availability. This track is organized in association with the W3C Finnish office.

The hottest topic in journalism and publishing industry in recent years has been the “mobile first” approach. This means that particularly in the news media focus has shift more and more from print or desktop-oriented publishing to mobile-first strategies. Smartphones and tablets enhanced with the publications presence in social media are now at the core as the news media tries to meet its audience and customers at first hand. Engaging the audience with the help of these new tools is increasingly important also for non-news media, such as traditional magazines.

This track focuses on new and emerging forms of creating, distributing and presenting journalism in this new era. We have an emphasis on visual forms of storytelling and engaging audiences. This doesn’t mean other forms or genres of journalism and media are excluded.

We welcome submissions related to, e.g. use of online video, multimedia and data visualization projects in journalism, news mobile services, innovative ways of utilizing time lapse, hyper lapse, web videos, metadata, interactivity and news games. We are particularly interested in papers discussing the use and experiences of augmented, mixed and virtual reality and omni-directional video in journalism and immersive storytelling.

Discussions on the mediatization of performance and the use of theories and methods of theatre
and performance studies in media research enable new analytic paths to questions of cultural activity and representation. Human actions in the media, and the automated, semi-automated or computer-controlled processes used in creative practices generate unforeseen modes of performativity. Consequently, the fields of art and media now promote a culture of participation that calls for critical notions of transformative identity, new forms of co-creation and open performative environments, as represented by the many platforms of social media and emerging forms of non-linear/non- human game play. As components of user-centered ecologies and economies, these mostly digital phenomena suggest a cultural milieu where communicative processes, environments of operation, and shared or individual experiences are constantly performed and re-performed (created) by their users. The theater, performance and media track welcomes papers that discuss (but are not necessarily limited to) the following topics:

• The use of media in performance
• Digital / non-digital / hybrid performance
• Performances in specific media environments
• The performative aspects of media
• Performances in video games and other virtual environments
• The use of Motion Capture and other real time technologies in performance
• Live streaming of theatre performances
• Non-human performativity

The aim of the track is to present novel approaches on research of socio-digital working environments. The underlying theme is information ergonomics, yet it covers many disciplines and perspectives. The track welcomes methodological, theoretical and empirical papers on contemporary work settings.

Academic Mindtrek is organized in cooperation with ACM SIGMM, and ACM SIGCHI. The conference proceedings will be published in the ACM Digital Library, which includes full papers, posters, workshop proposals and demonstration proposals. All papers should follow the style guidelines of the conference. In the Finnish classification of publication forums, Academic Mindtrek proceedings are classified as Jufo 1.

There will also be rewards for the best papers from the academic conference.

All submissions will be peer-reviewed double blinded, therefore please remove any information that could give an indication of the authorship. The papers should contain 6-10 pages, including the list of references.

Workshop proposals should be between 2-4 pages long. We welcome you to suggest workshops as part of the Academic Mindtrek. Workshop proposals should include the organizing committee, a description of the theme and goals of the workshop, a short CV of organizers, duration, and the schedule. Workshop organizers can create their own proceedings of the accepted position papers.

Depending on the attracted number of papers for each workshop, we provide space for either half-day or full-day workshops. Previous examples include e.g. a workshop on eLearning.

Interactive experience demonstrator proposals should be either short papers (2-4 pages long) or full papers (6-10 pages) and include: a) a description and motivation of the interactive experience demonstrator; b) general architecture of the interactive experience demonstrator; c) description of the main features of the demonstrator; d) a brief comparison with other existing related interactive experience demonstrators; e) audio-visual materials to illustrate the interactive experience demonstrator (a poster or a roll-up and other material on a laptop, for example); f) the type of license (if applicable), g) the Internet address of the interactive experience demonstrator (if applicable), and h) description of the scientific basis behind the interactive experience demonstrator (e.g., a regular paper presentation). It is strongly recommended that the authors make a video of the interactive experience demonstrator available on the Internet to accompany the article submission.

Posters proposals should be between 2-4 pages long and a poster should be presented during the conference. Attendees have the possibility to exhibit their posters on a A0 poster wall during the conference.


June 27th, 2016: Deadline for full papers, posters, demonstrations and workshops submissions.

August 19th, 2016: Notification of acceptance/rejection.

August 26th, 2016: Conference registration & copyright forms submission.

September 2nd 2016: Camera-ready papers submission.

October 17th to 19th, 2016: Academic Mindtrek Conference 2016


Academic Mindtrek Conference Chair
Markku Turunen, University of Tampere

Program Chair
Janne Paavilainen, University of Tampere

Silvia Rubio Hernandez, University of Tampere

Local Arrangement Chair and Conference Management
Olli Purma, COSS Association

Mindtrek Conference Chair
Timo Väliharju, COSS Association

Ossi Nykänen, Tampere University of Technology
Riku Roihankorpi, University of Tampere
Heli Väätäjä, Tampere University of Technology
Pekka Kallioniemi, SIGCHI Finland and University of Tampere
Thomas Olsson, SIGCHI Finland and Tampere University of Technology
Anssi Männistö, University of Tampere
Sirkku Kotilainen, University of Tampere
Mikko Kanninen, University of Tampere
Marleena Huuhka, University of Tampere

For more info, contact academic.info@mindtrek.org

Please use the templates provided on the style guidelines site. A template for .doc can be downloaded from https://www.acm.org/binaries/content/assets/publications/article-templates/pubform.docx and the LaTeX guidelines can be found in http://www.acm.org/sigs/publications/proceedings-templates .

Note that since the papers will be published by the ACM digital library all authors need to sign an ACM copyright form. For further guidelines please go to the ACM copyright form website (http://www.acm.org/publications/copyright_form). The copyright form would be sent through an automated system only for accepted papers.

You can start sending in your papers from April 15th onwards.

Email: academic.info@mindtrek.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/AcademicMindTrekConference/

COSS Association, City of Tampere, Tampere University of Technology (TUT), Tampere University (UTA), Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) and SIGCHI Finland.

Money & Games blog note, #moneygames

A quick note about the Money & Games seminar, based on the first day: I was expecting the relationships between money and games to be diverse and rather complex field, and I was not disappointed by the seminar. The idea that game could be seen as a straightforward product that someone just builds, and then sells to someone else for a fixed sum of money is not how things play out – and, as the historical reviews of the seminar pointed out, is not that typical about how things have been in the past, either. For example, the entire era of game arcades was based on coin-operated games, where the economic incentive was to design for short, micropayment style transactions: every time the player failed, the was room for another coin to be spend (something that Sebastian Deterding’s ambitious “Toward Economic Platform Studies” paper and presentation was particularly emphasising). Value of games and monetary and time-based investments are intricately intertwined, and it is clear that e.g. putting a higher price tag on something can mean that pleyers are more likely to expect it to be of higher quality, or value, than a cheap game. Thus, setting the right price involves theorycrafting practice of game business economics of its own – or “valuecrafting”, like the paper presented by Mia Consalvo suggested about indie developers. Free-to-play business model and the associated monetization strategies were particularly discussed in the seminar, with several interesting case studies focusing on that, plus the more philosophically oriented paper by Olli Heimo et al. used it, plus industry advertising practices as a target of (Aristotelian) virtue ethics based criticism. There were comments expressed in the seminar that the political economy angle of the entire free-to-play sector would be something that would be valuable at this point. On the other hand, while Janne Paavilainen presented the first results from a detailed micro-ethnography in Armoured Warfare game, pointing out the multiple “dark design patterns” or manipulative tricks that tempt the free-riding player to become a paying player, Markus Montola was quick to point out that many of the analysed design choices actually sounded just like good, regular game design that is balanced and appropriately both challenges and rewards the player – and Janne agreed that Armoured Warfare is an example of good game design; free-to-play payments are just used to make an already good game to play even better. Great papers, presentations, and discussions, thanks everyone! Also, our invited commentators, Pauliina Raento and Juho Hamari, did excellent job in providing commentary and guidance, Pauliina also giving a keynote talk of her own about doing gambling studies, about the lessons she personally has learned from her history in this field, and that made the valuable point about importance of bridge building between isolated academic communities. – Link to the seminar program page: https://gamemoneyseminar.wordpress.com/program/

On university mergers, and “Tampere 3”

As UTA staff representative in the Tampere 3 steering group, I have been asked to talk next week in the UTA professors’ forum event. Much is still in the air, and open, but here are some key themes that relate to this topic:

  • The primary goals of the university merger. There has been some unclarity how various parties (state government, university administration, students, staff, etc.) see the primary aims of this merger, but often the primary driver for starting this kind of merger processes has been economic one: consolidating education, research and services into larger units will supposedly open doors for savings. The quality reasons for improvements on the other hand are commonly expressed in terms of the “big is beautiful” model: various reports and policy statements have long claimed that there are too many Finnish universities as compared to the population size of the country (the wide geographical reach is rarely commented in these) and that there is too much fragmentation – small one/two person programs or disciplines have no “critical mass” to systematically evolve and carry out high quality research, or provide strong education. (What is clear is that the effectiveness and focus provided by smaller units is insufficiently understood in these discussions.) It now seems that Tampere 3 merger is moving forward and that it has aspects that both are related to rationalizing, as well as aspects that relate to profiling: i.e. that Tampere region takes a stronger role in some areas (and is then also expected to scale down involvement in some others). There is much need for wisdom and hearing of experts while such crucial strategic decisions are being made. Professors, teachers, other staff and students all have their important contributions to make in this process.
  • Innovation potential vs. realities of work. Change is always a burden, and (if my memory serves me) in UTA for example, the number of staff has already gone down from c. 2.500 to 2.000 in a few years. As there has not been a radical drop in bureaucracy (new requirements for reporting, quality controlling, etc., rather have been introduced in this period), this has meant that numerous tasks that have previously been handled by some assisting personnel, are today handled by professors and other key staff members themselves. There is no longer someone who would quickly and efficiently take care of your travel receipts: after each trip (which there are many, if you collaborate nationally and internationally, as is expected), a professor will stay late at work to do a few extra hours to scan documents, manually input all numbers and explanations of cost items into the travel system, or otherwise fill in and check working hours or budget numbers of his team’s projects into various spreadsheets and administrative databases. This takes its toll, on top of research funding (to give another example) becoming an increasingly competitive and collaborative effort, which, in turn, also means an increase in meetings of various kinds, as well as plenty of grant and plan writing, report writing and form filling work. The university staff is already overburdened, some are seriously struggling in keeping up with the various requests coming into their overflowing inboxes and shared electronic calendars, and the atmosphere towards starting yet another radical round of restructuration is therefore not exactly optimal. In UTA, there used to be over 30 discipline-based departments and a mid-layer of faculty structures on top of that, but in 2011 this was restructured into nine larger Schools, and some aspects of that change have yet not been properly processed, and continue to create their own challenges (see: http://www.uta.fi/ajankohtaista/yliopistouutiset/1010/0510/yksikkojako.pdf). Yet, that said, there is nevertheless also genuine potential to find mutually complementing counterparts in the Tampere 3 restructuration – or at least get an opportunity to fix some of the errors that were made in the previous restructuration rounds. “Change is good” mantra might sound like a joke for a tired and overworked academic staff member, but there truly is also catalysing potential and opportunities for genuine innovation when the wide range of UTA, TUT and TAMK education, research and societal collaboration activities are brought together in sensible and clever, new ways. But this sense and cleverness requires that the best expertise in understanding complex phenomena, and the true substance of research and other academic work is used and activated as this process moves forward.
  • Resources and promises. Much of this boils down to how the extra overhead related to the merger will be resourced and managed. Many members of staff are currently cautious, due to seeing all too well the dangers of committing to overambitious objectives with insufficient resources. On the other hand, there is also pent-up energy and need for taking the next steps and building the new university: there are highly dynamic young (and older) researchers, teachers and administrators who have witnessed the societal transformations, seen the potential for innovation, who have published research or piloted new models in their individual projects, but who have not yet been provided an opportunity to apply these lessons to wider scale in their own institution. Such best experts and research-based solutions are now in crucial demand, as the excellent opportunity potential in Tampere 3 finally starts to open up in a big way. The unique profile of Tampere 3 in societal, cultural, technical and health related research areas, as well as the strong expertise in some really interesting, collaborative and experimental work that has been carried out in Tampere means that a new and interesting university can be created that can in flexible and multidisciplinary manner tackle many of the challenges related to the future societal developments. But that creation process requires a lot of work. And when work needs to be done, both energy, enthusiasm, expertise – and money – need to come together, and be channelled in a wise manner. Let’s hope that we are lucky enough to have that wisdom in Tampere, as well as in the Finnish government.

CFP: Finncon 2016 Academic Track

Call for Papers for the Academic Track at FINNCON 2016

Fantastic Visions from Faerie to Dystopia

July 1–3, 2016, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland

Finncon 2016 is one of the largest events in Europe for anyone interested in science fiction and fantasy. By tradition, it is free of membership fee, and offers you several programme tracks with presentations, panels and lectures on all aspects of science fiction and fantasy. The main language will be Finnish, but there are programme tracks also in English and Swedish. For more information, see http://2016.finncon.org/en/what-is-finncon/.

Finncon 2016 includes an academic track, organised in cooperation with the University of Tampere research project Darkening visions: dystopian fiction in contemporary Finnish literature and the Finnish Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy Research (FINFAR, http://finfar.org/en).

The Finncon 2016 Academic Track aims to bring together a wide range of scholarly perspectives on the speculative and the fantastic. We hope for a broad, interdisciplinary discussion on the many ways in which genres such as fantasy, science fiction and horror take their readers, users, and consumers to strange speculative worlds, from modern dystopias to classic fairylands.

The Academic Track now invites presentations on fairy tales and dystopia. The general theme of Finncon 2016 is fairy tales, and accordingly the Author Guests of Honour are Catherynne M. Valente (USA), Jasper Fforde (UK) and Anne Leinonen (Finland). Fairy tales are a part of the shared human cultural heritage, and each culture has fairy tales of its own. Although fairy tales are often seen as children’s culture, fairy tale tropes and motifs may also belong to a galaxy far, far away, as they have become material for popular culture in many forms.

We also wish to emphasise the fiction of dystopia. One of the most noticeable trends in speculative fiction has been the rise of dystopian themes and visions that expand from undesirable, oppressive societies to apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic scenarios of the future of the mankind and life on earth more generally. What is the attraction of these dark imaginations that also penetrate young adult fiction?

The Guest Scholar will be Raffaella Baccolini (University of Bologna), who will give a plenary lecture and comment on papers.

Proposals for scholarly papers from any academic discipline that seek to examine, interrogate, and expand research related to any aspect of fairy tales or dystopia, for any age group, in any medium are welcome. Papers will be allowed a maximum presentation time of 20 minutes.

Please submit a 500-word proposal describing the content of your proposed paper, and a few words about yourself and your research to either Saija Isomaa (saija.isomaa@uta.fi) or Jyrki Korpua (jyrki.korpua@gmail.com).

The deadline for the proposals is February 29, 2016.

Tampere is easy to get to either directly by air or by train (or car) from Helsinki. The convention location is the University of Tampere which is downtown, near the train station and a short way from several hotels, shops and markets.

If you have any questions about the Finncon 2016 or the Academic Track, please contact Liisa Rantalaiho (liisa.rantalaiho@uta.fi).

Sanna Malinen’s PhD defence

2016-01-08 14.31.49Today researcher Sanna Malinen defended her PhD thesis in the University of Tampere. The opponent in the public defence was professor Pekka Räsänen from the University of Turku, professor Frans Mäyrä acted as the custos. The abstract and download link to the full, PDF version of the dissertation, titled Sociability and Sense of Community among Users of Online Services, are below:

The dissertation explores a current and popular phenomenon referred to as ‘online communities’ from both theoretical and empirical viewpoints. Online communities are discussed in the context of a wider development in social life from small geography-based units to large and dispersed social networks, which can be mediated by technology. In this study, online communities are understood as fluid objects that are created and maintained through users’ social interactions and actual social practices. Therefore, they are not stable and fixed groups but, instead, a social process that transforms over time.
The empirical portion of this work illustrates the multifaceted nature of the research subject and consists of five case studies exploring the usage of software intended for various purposes: an online photo-sharing service, an online exercise diary, online auctions, and social-media applications for smartphones. In addition, there is a research article consisting of a literature review that synthesise research into online community participation conducted over the past 12 years. The findings from the empirical sub-studies show that community-evocative feelings and behaviors can emerge within various online settings, including dispersed networks and content-oriented sites focusing on artefacts that users produce, such as photographs. However, users can have very different orientations with respect to their interest in social networking and community-building within the context of the same site. The literature review shows that the majority of previous research on user participation has focused on the quantity of their activity. Instead of dividing users into active and passive on the basis of the amount of content they produce, research should acknowledge that there is greater variety in the ways of participating and belonging to an online community.
The dissertation vividly illustrates that online communities are a constantly changing and developing phenomenon. In recent years, the most notable technological changes have been the surge in popularity of large-scale social network sites and increased usage of the Internet via mobile devices. In order for the concept of community to be applied in description of online sociability within current technological settings, the meaning of this term and the criteria for community needs to be rethought.

The full dissertation: http://tampub.uta.fi/handle/10024/98292.