white papers and reports

Automated Society Working Group white papers:

2020 – ASWG #01 – Australian Attitudes to Facial Recognition: A National Survey
This white paper reports on our survey of the Australian public in terms of their thoughts and expectations about facial recognition.

Our main observations are that the Australian public:

  • is ambivalent towards the use of facial recognition generally;
  • is happier with facial recognition the further it is from their lives;
  • would prefer facial recognition to work as a security tool, with a negative response to use in advertising and commercial contexts.
  • generally does not understand how facial recognition works, nor how it is different from other facial detection services;
  • do not understand their rights (or lack thereof) with regards to facial recognition;
  • is generally unaware of what policies and infrastructural changes have occurred in the last few years around facial recognition.

2020 – ASWG #02 – Unregulated and Segmented Dark Ads on Social Media
This is a summary of our research into the influence of Facebook advertising in Australian civil society. This work was generously funded by ACCAN.

We have the following main findings:

  • on Facebook:
    • social disruption is being mobilised via the Facebook ads platform;
      • we see this mainly in terms of shady, exploitative, or unethical advertisers using the platform to promote political agendas or to exploit users’ financial insecurity or demography;
      • this is aided by a platform that is invested in facilitating targeting along speculative demographic or economic lines
    • Facebook is resistant to regulation or scrutiny and directly resisted our attempts to study their platform despite our work not breaching terms and conditions
    • new regulation needs to be implemented to cover digital advertising, especially insofar as much of Facebook’s transparency tools assume a US-based regulatory system, and some tools are not available outside the US or are less effective without the corresponding regulation.
  • on users:
    • users generally do not understand how advertising is targeted ad them, and have low digital literacy;
    • users generally have a strong set of myths around surveillance and tracking that they use to explain their ad experience

NSI papers:

The Networked Society Institute was a Vice-Chancellor’s Strategic Research Initiative at the University of Melbourne. The NSI and its predecessor, the Institute for a Broadband-Enables Society, funded me as a PhD student, employed me as a Research Fellow, and provided me with support to study 3D Printing and to study esports. I also ran a doctoral academy here; this was a competitive entry doctoral program with skills training and development for doctoral students from across the university. The NSI was extremely successful, bringing in large amounts of material and diplomatic support for the University. It was effectively closed down in 2019 as its mandate ended and its operations were folded into other university systems.

2018 – NSI – E-Sports

This report provides an overview of the status of esports in Australian civil society. This includes a summary of many teams attached to universities, and an analysis of some major esports leagues and games.


2016 – NSI – 3D Printing – civic practices and regulatory challenges

This report covers some of the key regulatory challenges that 3D printing poses. The main barrier is the fact that 3D printed content is a digital technology, but it works quite differently from other digital systems insofar as it materialises digital objects. This has complications in terms of insurance and responsibility, but also in terms of intellectual property. This is a challenge for risk, oversight, and management of appropriate use.

other white papers:

2019 – SISR – Doing Better for Vulnerable Young Parents

This report is the summary of our project exploring how a tech platform might be able to help vulnerable people and social work organisations operate more effectively.

In short, it is difficult (but not impossible) to imagine an effective user-centric digital service that would help social workers caring for vulnerable people.

For this report, I worked for the Swinburne Institute for Social Research in partnership with the social work organisations Family Life and Life Without Barriers. Family Life and Life Without Barriers are organisations that seek to help families who are in really tough situations: dangerous living conditions, homelessness or insecure housing, living with addiction issues, intergenerational trauma, and other matters

Social work organisations involve a great deal of volunteer workers, and social workers themselves do not prioritise technology in their work. As a result, many people involved in social work have highly varied digital literacy skills.

People in vulnerable contexts already have a great deal of commitments and obligations placed upon them. many social workers perceive digital device use by clients as a barrier to effective care.

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