March & April in Boras, Jönköping, Manchester.

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Greetings, netizens of Böras, Jönköping, and Manchester! I’ll be heading your way to chat about social friending, hashtags, Instagram, and politician selfies. Come and say hi?

PS: Special thanks to Ameera, Barbara, Danielle, and Adi for hosting me!

See you on the Internet,
Crystal

Frenemies and cashtags: Social friending and hashtag lifecycle among social media microcelebrities

The Swedish School of Library and Information Science (SSLIS)
University of Borås

30 March 2015, Monday, 1430-1600hrs

Commercial lifestyle bloggers are among the most influential social media microcelebrities in Singapore, being predominantly self-taught young women who weave advertorials and advertisements into personal blog entries and social media posts. In essence, they are selling an aspirational middle-class lifestyle to their readers, seemingly attainable through the goods and services marketed. The bloggers depend and trade on ‘social currency’, that is, their virtual world reputation and rank in the industry. One measure of reputation is the number of ‘Likes’, ‘Follows’, ‘ReTweets’, ‘Favourites’, ‘Friends’ and ‘Readers’ a blogger can effectively garner on various social media platforms. Taking a grounded theory approach, this paper focuses on the bloggers’ individual construction and circulation of this form of social capital. Specifically, the paper discusses the bloggers’ socializing techniques and the lifecycle of hashtag use as business strategies.

Capturing Class and Curating Commerce: Monetizing Instagram

Media Management and Transformation Center (MMTC)
Jönköping International Business School (JIBS)
Jönköping University

7 April 2015, Tuesday, 1000-1100hrs
B6046, Jönköping International Business School

Make love, Make envy, Make money: Power-coupling on social media

Centre for Family Enterprise and Ownership (CeFEO)
Jönköping International Business School (JIBS)
Jönköping University

13 April 2015, Monday, 1200-1300hrs
B6046, Jönköping International Business School
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Vote for my selfie: Politician selfies as charismatic leadership
(plenary speaker) 

Selfie Citizenship
Digital Innovation
Manchester Metropolitan University

16 April 2015, Thursday, 0930-1600hrs
The Shed, Digital Innovation
John Dalton West, Manchester Metropolitan University
Chester Street, Manchester, M1 5GD
<about / programme registration / location>

Commercial lifestyle bloggers are among the most influential social media microcelebrities in Singapore, being predominantly self-taught young women who weave advertorials and advertisements into personal blog entries and social media posts. In essence, they are selling an aspirational middle-class lifestyle to their readers, seemingly attainable through the goods and services marketed. The bloggers depend and trade on ‘social currency’, that is, their virtual world reputation and rank in the industry. One measure of reputation is the number of ‘Likes’, ‘Follows’, ‘ReTweets’, ‘Favourites’, ‘Friends’ and ‘Readers’ a blogger can effectively garner on various social media platforms. Taking a grounded theory approach, this paper focuses on the bloggers’ individual construction and circulation of this form of social capital. Specifically, the paper discusses the bloggers’ socializing techniques and the lifecycle of hashtag use as business strategies.

Taking stock: 18 weeks to go.

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So, as time has willed, I’m already at the halfway mark of my stint with the MMTC. This also means it’s eighteen weeks till the submission of my thesis. ermergerd.

I often struggle with feeling like I am perpetually underproductive. It doesn’t matter how much I write, or how good or bad these words are – I always feel like I can be, and therefore, should be, doing more.

In the earlier years of my PhD on my old blog, I was trying to get a hang of my writing habits. At that point, I was also working up to six casual jobs over sixty hours a week at any given time, to pay my way through grad school as an international student. Depending on the time and day of the week, I was changing diapers, giving piano lessons, shelving books at 0400hrs in the morning, tutoring primary schoolers, grading high school English, transcribing for realtors at a dollar per audio minute with 8hr-notice deadlines, tutoring undergrads, or marking undergrad assignments.

It was a period when I hardly slept, and wrote my thesis and papers on my commute, on my iPhone, in between jobs, or in the car while being ferried around by my dearest partner. I learnt to write in little nuggets, and not to expect to have a long stretch of free time to sulk in front of the laptop in order to make words happen.

Despite this recent history being an incredibly fatiguing time of my life, I was super motivated with my PhD and writing. I made short and long term goals. I learnt about my writing habits, and attempted to reeducate the praxis of my writing. I made sense of separating myself from my work, made self-care goals, and integrated some semblance of a quality of life into my PhD rush. I learnt about what didn’t work for me, and what did. At one point in time, I was even hyper-policing my writing output to see how best I worked.

I think, by some twisted logic, the more I had on my plate, the more productive I was. I believe this is probably the same for many of the people around me?

In the last six weeks though, I have had no job obligations and have been very blessed to be able to concentrate on writing full-time. And it has been supremely blissful. However, I am also no longer on a stipend (long story), which 1) makes me anxious; 2) motivates me to want to write the best thesis ever in order to reduce my unemployment gap between the thesis submission and my first job.

I am now learning that negotiating job applications (and rejections!) requires a different sort of emotional labour altogether. I am probably going to have to manage more of that as I become more serious with my job hunt, but for now, it’s time to piece together a super kickass thesis that I would want to be proud of.

I’d also very much like to make the most of my remaining six weeks here at the MMTC. It’s been a wonderful writing retreat away from my usual responsibilities and the white noise of an environment I have grown accustomed to. My colleagues are the very mentoring sort, and often offer me advice on the job hunt (oh my dream job!), positioning myself strategically, managing family and a kickass academic career (i want five kids!), and lifehacks in general.

Too bad they also keep trying to get me to eat vegetables (!!!), and to take the stairs up six stories instead of being a lazy pudding in the lift (!!!).

The icing on the cake is the amazingly diverse faculty we have on our floor – every lunch time is an anthropologist’s dream! Imagine seven persons of seven nationalities and cultural backgrounds with seven different cuisines for lunch. The interspersing accents and vocal modulations and personal stories have also been soooo glorious. I will squirrel away pockets of these happy moments for a rainy day.

And on to work!

Dear Crystal, this is what you’ve done in the last six weeks:

Thesis chapters x2
Book chapters x1
Book reviews x1
Creative writing x3
Popular media x3
Conference abstracts x3
Conference panels x2
Talks x5
Grants x3 + Rejections x3

And this is what you plan to do in the next six weeks:

Thesis first full draft x1
Thesis second full draft x1
Journal articles x2
Popular media x1
Talks x4

In the next six weeks to come, you will struggle with your completely unrealistic goals. But presentyou hopes futureyou will look back on this post and remind yourself of the transient euphoria you once experienced at 2148hrs on a Tuesday night, and be hopeful about your kickass-thesis-to-be and the job hunt. You once thought the thesis would be an impossible task, but look how far we’ve come! We’re almost at a first full draft :) Everything always feels less dreadful and less dramatic in retrospect. You’re gonna be okay. Keep writing. Keep breathing. Keep on keeping on.

Love,
Crystal at 2148hrs, 17Mar15.

Week one.

I finally made it to Jönköping after a 31-hour commute over three flights and a bus ride, transiting from 37*C to -3*C. My coldest night here has been -8*C. My friends back in Perth are now battling a 40*C day. Mother Earth is fascinating.

It is my privilege to have been awarded a Visiting Doctoral Fellowship with the Media Management and Transformation Center (MMTC) at Jönköping University, Sweden until end-April. I was first introduced to the Center in June 2014 when I was invited by my dear friend Sara Ekberg to give a seminar.

The architecture of this campus and its city is rather dreamy and beautiful at all times of the day. My colleagues are a fairly encouraging and supportive bunch, with our most recent endeavours being my food explorations (and all the lunchtime nag about veggies and healthy eating…)

I live in a gorgeous area with an extremely kind neighbour and a fluffy co-resident.

It’s been somewhat of a productive week (probably fueled by jetlag and all the odd hours of wakefulness), although I keep thinking to myself that I should be writing at a much much quicker pace. I’m at a point of my candidature where I cannot wait to graduate and move on to other exciting projects, to grovel for a postdoc somewhere in the world, and to pursue three notebooks full of research and publication ideas. I am very much invested in my thesis, and I love my research a lot. But I am also beginning to feel as if more and more findings in my research area are going to become public knowledge, and some part of me wants to just get this out, so that I can engage on that field as well. I keep having to tell myself I don’t need my thesis to be perfect, I just need it to be done.

So ambitious. So little time. Must. Complete. Thesis. NAO.

Well, it certainly helps having this view to write to.

In short, all is well, save for the bit of me missing sprawling along the Swan River, haphazardly laying on grass, and being around some of the people I love.

I spend most days wrapped up in so many layers that I feel like a fatty penguin. Negotiating personal space on public buses is a skill I have to acquire.

May I finish up this chapter this evening. I aim to finish up another chapter by the end of next week. Every morning I just tell myself to keep on keeping on. And kick butt. Mostly kick butt.

Academica Dramatica x Motivation +1

Anette was very sweet to invite me to her dissertation defense celebrations as Sara’s plus one in June. The Swedes at JIBS sure do know how to party in style. I love that their defense/viva/quals (depending on your continent and system) are not mere standard assessments/structural necessities but also a time-honoured rite of passage with much collective effervescence and mobilizing of emotive camaraderie. I missed my little Anthropgrad community extra much that night but am very glad to be reunited with my people soon.

The day started with an intense 2-hour oral defense between Anette and her main opponent/chief examiner, and then with three co-examiners. The examiners retreated for an hour or so to deliberate, and much cake and wine and singing commenced when it was announced that Anette had successfully defended her thesis (of course!) and passed! There was even a hat wearing ceremony – a mock up of actual PhD grad gown regalia – that her supervisor, Patrik, got to put on her. “For you to have a taste of the experience before the actual ceremony months away.” I love this culture of affirmation.

The school also prepared a very adorable cake that was even designed specifically after Anette’s research topic. So much princess cake. So much sugar. So much happiness.

TBH, my favourite part of the afternoon was the constant visibility of infants, toddlers, and assorted younglings belonging to faculty and PhD students in the school. I’m only just beginning to learn about Scandinavia academia + work accommodations + work/life balance but think it is amazing that PhD students receive so much (financial + social + emotional) support to continue with other milestones in life (marriage, home-making, child-making, etc) while pursuing their PhDs. After all, your PhD is not your entire life. Really puts my struggle with chapter three (that just won’t go down, oh goodness) into perspective.

In the evening, Anette hosted a sit-down dinner for her closest friends, family, and assorted faculty/colleagues. Many speeches and vignettes of her PhD journey were shared, along with laughs and tears and wine and cake. It is always good to share cake. :)

Those fabulous looking ladies with hats? About 7-8 of them were doing their PhDs around the same period and decided to form the ‘Society of the Hat Ladies’. They wear these gorgeous headpieces to faculty functions and dissertation defense parties, trade humorous stories about their time together, and even throw in hilarious song-and-dance items. Most of them saw each other through an assortment of life milestones through the years in their network of support. Today, some are pregnant, some have infants in tow, and others have younglings running around – all while juggling amazingly established academic careers (and husbands). It is the most heartwarming thing to know they will grow old together.

Doctor Anette Johnson :) Thank you for motivating me to survive the next twelve months with much gusto! I will conquer this thesis and keep my Anthropgrad crew in my pocket forever. Sisterhood ftw.