Visiting fellow at the Centre for Research on Media Innovations

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of being granted a visiting fellowship at the Centre for Research on Media Innovations (CeRMI) at Oslo University. I have touched upon this in an earlier blog post, and here is finally a proper post about the stay and the centre. The stay was in April this year (and lasted for about three weeks), so the account is in retrospect.

Jumping to the conclusion, I recommend everyone working within the field of media innovations to apply for the fellowship in the future. Not only is it an excellent opportunity in terms of scholarly development and inspiring discussions with some truly brilliant people – it is also a very interesting department with an ambitious research agenda that you get the chance to be part of. I would do it again in a heartbeat if I had the chance.

The Centre for Research on Media Innovations is located at the Department of Media and Communication at Oslo University and is headed by Charles Ess, whom one of his former colleagues at Aarhus University once (rightfully) characterized as “just about the kindest man on the planet.” The centre “explores how changing technologies and changing modes of usage and engagement with media bring about media innovation and transformation of the media sector”, and it is populated with some of the best within that field; be warned, you never feel like the smartest guy in the room there.

Every year, the centre welcomes a visiting fellow, and I was the first to come under this visitors program.

I applied for a number of reasons: many Norwegian media organizations are ahead of Danish ones I research in terms of adapting to the digital age, and I wanted to talk to them; I wanted to have the time and occasion to meet with some of the individuals who are leading within my research fields; and – perhaps most importantly – I simply wanted to be part of this centre, which does research in the front line of my field. Plus I think Oslo is a great city.

As a visiting fellow, you participate in the everyday of the centre and the department. You discuss ideas over the coffee machine, you struggle with connecting to the printers. You get your own desk in a large office for guest researchers as well as privileges to the university library. What you give in return is (as a minimum) a presentation at a research seminar.

I experienced everyone as extremely welcoming and interested in talking about my research and ways to advance it. A number of future collaborations were established, and I am confident more will follow. I met with people whose company I enjoy immensely, and who I will want to keep in contact with for years to come. And I got feedback that will no doubt shape and improve much of the work I am doing now and onwards.

The visiting fellowship is certainly something you should consider if you work within this field. However, if – for some peculiar reason – you do not want to go to Oslo for a period of time, be sure to consider some of the other activities of the Centre for Research on Media Innovations. For the centre also publishes the Journal of Media Innovations (which currently has a call for papers for a special issue on “Social Media Use and Innovations” out) and co-organizes the annual International Symposium on Media Innovations. Both are great venues for the continued conversation on how innovations and developments in media and technology influence culture and society.

New grants for research into cultural criticism and media economics

These weeks have been very good in terms of getting funding for future research.

First, I am part of a research project called “From Ivory Tower to Twitter: Rethinking the Cultural Critic in Contemporary Media Culture“, which succeeded in landing 6.2 m DKK from the Danish Council for Independent Research. The collaborative project is headed by Nete Nørgaard Kristensen from the University of Copenhagen and aims at exploring current changes and transformations in the practice, authority, and status of cultural criticism and critics. It is a project, I and some of the other participants have been working on for a couple of years, actually, in different constellations (e.g., in the international research network Cultural Journalism in the Nordic Countries) and in connection with a coming special issue of Journalism Practice (more on that in a later post), but this large grant is a game-changer in terms of pushing this research agenda forward.

In addition to Kristensen and myself, the research group consists of Unni From (Aarhus University), Helle Kannik Haastrup (University of Copenhagen), Erik Svendsen (Roskilde University), Troels Østergaard (The Danish School for Media and Journalism), and one PhD fellow.

Second, I participate (though much more peripherally) in a Norwegian research project called “Digitization and Diversity – Potentials and challenges for diversity in the culture and media sector“. This project is housed by the Centre for Creative Industries at the Norwegian Business School in Oslo and landed 15 m NOK for researching (among other things) the business models of digital news over a three-year period. My part in this project is a minor one, but the grant will fund at least a one month stay as Visiting Fellow in Oslo.

Both of the projects deal with subject matters, which are already on my research agenda, and so the new funding does not fundamentally change my priorities. What they do is that they improve the working conditions and offer new possibilities – and they also allow me to go back to Oslo for an extended period of time, which was most rewarding for me last time.

So, happy times and bright outlooks. Have a nice summer, everyone.