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Discovering old Balestier with a map and an app

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By Joy Ng, CNM Alumnus, Bachelor of Social Sciences, 2013

I didn’t know what I signed up for when we agreed to use Balestier Heritage Trail as the theme for this field-study by CNM’s Interactive and Digital Media Institute.  This is by far the most tedious and intensive field-study I’ve undertaken. Walking up and down Balestier Road 22 times in a span of two weeks, orientating and interviewing 22 participants for an hour each, and pushing up to four study sessions per day.  Now I fully understand why research textbooks discourage scheduling more than three interview sessions in a day.  It’s so tiring that the interviewer just wants to end the interview as soon as possible instead of actively striking a conversation.  Deadline was tight, and the sweltering heat this June was not helping for my cause.  My objective was to find out how people experienced places in a trail using mediated device. We had two types of mediated devices, a mobile app that we designed from scratch (  in iTunes App Store), and the default National Heritage Board’s (NHB) paper brochure.

“So… how’s your experience?” was my first question to greet the unsuspecting participants as they walked through the door at McDonald’s Balestier Shaw Plaza. Honestly, I didn’t have an intelligent answer to what is experience.  I had posed the question after participants had gotten their first sensation of cool air in an air-conditioned building after an hour in muggy weather. They usually say, “It was hot”; “Not too bad”; “Interesting”.  To probe, I got participants to draw their experience.  While some naturally took on the task, others were reluctant to use the pencil to describe their experience. Experience is complex, they said. But I wasn’t going to give up. With a little bit more pushing, three themes of drawing quickly emerged with 1) drawing how they feel and what they see/do on the trail 2) a mental map of their trail and 3) drawing about their connection with heritage.  Besides drawing, participants had to talk-aloud to the GoPro camera that they wore on their chest.  We had video footages of their trail experience, but due to privacy issues, I can’t share it here.



Using the drawing as a basis for verbal interview, themes for our findings started to appear

Serendipity and contradictions

“Yes, I will like a more guided path in the trail, but not so guided”.  “Yes, getting lost is fun, but I don’t want to get lost”. were some of the contradicting statements that appeared from our findings.  Through this study, we now understand how experiencing places is done through tensions and contradictions.  We found out that memorable experience are usually made up of participant’s own discoveries beyond the designed trail.  However, the most challenging part was people’s resistance to step beyond their comfort zone to seek that serendipity.  How should trail makers then design such experience to lead visitors to make discoveries “on their own”?  Moreover, was it the serendipitous discoveries or was it the participant’s aptitude for adventure that made up memorable experience?  There were limitations in this field study and we can only learn from this to design a better study the next time.

Experiencing places through mediated devices
One of the differences between users of mobile app and users of brochure is that the latter tend not to read the description of the places. They choose to focus on the map section of the brochure instead.  Mobile app facilitated reading on-the-go when user went from one place to another, but boredom kicked in when they were on the way to another place. Leaving “shout-out” comment on the app while doing the walk was undesirable as it took away the experience of immersion. The “check-in” function was a both a chore and thrill, depending on whether the place was deemed as boring or interesting.

Perhaps, the most interesting findings were on the issue of trust in a mediated device. Both group of participants trusted the devices, but the reason differed. The brochure was initially deemed trustworthy because participants could see a lot of research and money invested in the NHB brochure. The mobile app, on the other hand, was trustworthy because of the crowd-sourced content; it felt like other people were sharing their personal experiences having been on the trail.  So far, we have been talking trust beliefs. And our designed trail had provided us an opportunity to test trust intentions.

DrinkBalestierThere is an odd-interesting place with an old water kiosk in the trail. The water kiosk (the precedent of water cooler) has been around the area for three decades, serving free water and tea to poor labourers in the past. Curious passer-bys today continue to help themselves to its supplies. As one participant described it: “That is the equivalent of our modern Coke kiosk”. Honestly, the first sight of the stainless steel water canisters with a red mug at the side just look dodgy to me.

The description on the mobile app and brochure differs with the added sentence on the app: “In retrospect, I regret not trying the water”.  That influenced the acceptance and tasting of the water for the mobile app users.  And going back to the issue of serendipity, we found that the venturing out of comfort zone to try the water actually made more memorable experience.

Intuitively, we knew that our mobile app had the advantage of interactivity and the potency from crowd-sourced.  However, we also got the sense that not all things technology is good.  Brochure users rarely felt “lost” in the trail, because there wasn’t a GPS (global positioniing system) to consciously poke them to check their directions.  It’s the same idea behind why time seems to pass slower when you keep looking at the watch.  While technology is what we are pushing for, how t do we design for intelligent technology versus an intrusive technology? We started with one question in mind, and ended up more. The one question that I can answer for certain is probably my own experience of the trail.

“So… how’s my experience?”
The longest participant took six hours to walk the trail, and the shortest was 35 minutes. While they explored, I scouted the area too, spending a good 10 hours on average daily in the outdoors.  My experience of Balestier was bitter-sweet. I saw heritage sites; both the modern over-renovated ones and the old, rundown ones. The old buildings have lost their meaning and people.

The film studio is the origin of the Singapore Cinema, and it’s almost tragedy to see it in this neglected state.

The film studio is the origin of the Singapore Cinema, and it’s almost tragedy to see it in this neglected state.

The former Shaw Brothers Malay Studio, especially, was memorable for me. It has been fenced-up and the gate is   always locked.  There was this one time when the doors were wide open and I spent a good 30 minutes talking to the Malay caretaker and looking at the studio antiques.  Our conversation was in simple short English phrases and non-verbal language.  Mostly non-verbal language actually, since I can only say, “Jalan jalan”(walk in Malay). The pak cik(uncle in Malay) showed me his flower pots and the little garden that he planted.  He had adopted an abandoned peahen, which he affectionately named as Mina.  According to him, Mina is not very friendly to any one female. In fact, she defecated in protest the moment she saw me.


Other than the buildings, the elderly population in Balestier left me a deep impression. This heritage area is 180 years old and has a fairly high ratio of aging population per square foot.  I saw an 80 year-old uncle working as cleaner in the famous Whampoa Food Market.  He was well dressed with long pants and shirt, neatly combed silver hair, and a Nokia 2G phone in his chest pocket.  Without a belt, his pants hung loosely on his waist, and every step he took seemed to have taken a lot of effort.

The ongoing NHB’s Balestier Heritage Trail project is a success, but the people who are part of that heritage narrative are being neglected as are the buildings. If you haven’t been on the Balestier Heritage Trail, experience it for yourself!  See the buildings and encounter the people.  Try it this weekend!  If you like, try it with our mobile app – Crowd Trails (available for both iOS and Android platforms).  If you are lucky enough to see the Shaw Studio gate open, walk through and talk to its caretaker!  This gentleman might just give you an exclusive tour of the place.

Written by Mary Lee

June 28, 2014 at 7:16 am

Posted in News

Professor Mohan J Dutta recognised as Provost’s Chair Professor

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Professor Mohan J Dutta, Head of CNM, was recently recognised as a Provost’s Chair Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in recognition of his outstanding and impactful scholarly accomplishments, which are internationally acknowledged.

Professor Dutta’s recognition as Provost’s Chair Professor recognizes his recent work with the culture-centered approach and with setting up the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE). In his scholarly work, Professor Dutta has published over 170 articles and book chapters, and seven books.  He has won multiple research and teaching awards, including the Lewis Donohew Outstanding Health Communication Scholar Award and the University Faculty Scholar Award from Purdue University.


In 2012, Professor Dutta published his book “Voices of Resistance: Communicating Social Change” with Purdue University Press.  Drawing upon social change processes rooted in imaginations of alternative forms of global and local organizing ranging from the Zapatista movement to the Occupy movement to the “Save Niyamgiri” movement, the book foregrounds the voices of communities at the margins of the globe. Through the presence of marginalized voices in dialogue, it foregrounds political, economic, social and cultural thought that challenge the market-driven principles of neoliberal globalization.





2013 also marked the release of Professor Dutta’s edited book “Reducing Health Disparities: Communication Interventions” co-edited with University Distinguished Professor Gary Kreps and published by Peter Lang.  The book outlines a variety of communication interventions covering multiple levels of health disparities.

pic2 In 2013, Professor Dutta published over 10 journal articles, including the article “Voices of hunger: Addressing health disparities through the culture-centered approach” published in the Journal of Communication.  The article outlines the culture-centered approach in addressing food insecurity, documenting the communication processes through which communities at the margins participate in partnerships with academics to develop locally meaningful solutions addressing hunger.  Through in-depth interviews, community dialogues and PhotoVoice exhibits, opportunities are created for listening to the voices of the food insecure who are otherwise absent from the discursive spaces of policies and programmes.

Pic3In his leadership with the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE), Professor Dutta continues to experiment with his ethnographic fieldwork with the culture-centered approach to social change, seeking to contribute to the theory, methodology and practice of social change communication.  The “Voices of Hunger” projects emerging from this research address a wide range of locally rooted problems through the participation of marginalized communities, who collaborate together to develop locally meaningful solutions. In the ongoing work with the indigenous tribes in the Jangalmahal region of West Bengal, Professor Dutta is working with local communities on co-creating irrigation systems to meet community needs.  Yet another ongoing project growing out of this work focuses on building a community creative center as a space for celebrating local cultural performances, arts, sports, and physical activities.  CARE currently houses 12 active projects and two completed projects.

Pic4Through over a decade of experience running field projects, Professor Dutta has distilled the key tenets of the CCA, and mapped out a methodological framework for carrying out grassroots –driven interventions of social change.  Through collaborations with successful grassroots transformative projects, a number of projects have tested the key conceptual tenets of the CCA.  The project collaboration with the team of Dr. Nina Wallerstein, the original proponent of the concept of community-based participatory research, demonstrates the impact of CCA across the globe.  Prof. Dutta has advised 26 PhD dissertations that have empirically tested the theoretical framework of the CCA in various marginalized settings ranging from rural women in Nepal to Burmese refugees in the US.  Currently, at NUS, Professor Dutta is advising four doctoral students and one MA student who are working on the CCA.

Prof Dutta hopes to continue the community-driven grassroots work of the culture-centered approach that envisions social change through structural transformation.

Written by Mary Lee

June 23, 2014 at 10:35 pm

Posted in News

The Dot Big Bang is coming!

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By Elizabeth Cardoza, Adjunct Asst. Professor, CNM

I teach the NM modules “Copyright and New Media” and “Media and Communication Regulation” and recently attended the Annual Meeting of the International Trademark Association ( in Hong Kong. Amongst the things I picked up at the conference, the most exciting topic must be what is called the “Dot Big Bang” – the new gTLD (generic top-level domain) programme that effectively impacts brand owners worldwide, ever-keen to create and invest in digital domain assets that show a return on investment.

The Internet domain name system has operated since 1998 as a hierarchy with 22 gTLDs such as ‘.com’,’.net’ and ‘.org’.  ICANN’s (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) new gTLD programme may well be the largest singular change to the Internet.  This liberalisation of the root zone allows brand owners, community groups and entrepreneurs to own and operate their own suffixes like ‘.london’, ‘.paris’, ‘.nyc’ to ‘.web’, ‘.shop’ or even ‘.ninja’ and represents more than 1000 new TLDs. Opportunities and threats loom large and warrant sophisticated trademark policing strategies from brand owners who will have to monitor this increased range of domains for increased risks of brand damage, fraud and counterfeiting.

To learn more about generic top-level domains, please view the Youtube clip Cybersquatting and Internet Domain Names from WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Written by Mary Lee

May 30, 2014 at 7:35 pm

Posted in News

CNM participation at FASS Open House 2014

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By Zai Muhd, Year 3, NM Major

Open House 1

CNM Society members, staff and faculty spent the Saturday of May 17, 2014 on their feet fielding questions from streams of prospective NM students and their parents at the FASS (Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences) Open House.

The department’s booth at The Shaw Foundation Building on campus was teeming with CNMers and visitors who had come to find out more about CNM’s multidisciplinary curriculum, pedagogy and culture. The most popular questions posed were, “How is CNM different from other communication schools in Singapore?”, and “What are the career paths a CNM graduate can take?”. The visitors got their answer when the CNM hosts explained the department’s broad and flexible curriculum and the myriad of professions and industry sectors our graduates are now in. They had also liked that CNM offers internship opportunities and that we rank among the world’s top 10 communication and media studies departments.

Open House 2014- 2

Pameline, 18, who will be matriculating in the coming new semester, said that she’s been waiting for the FASS Open House to find out more about what the NUS Communications and New Media degree can offer her.

“Right now, I’m really keen on the publications and design modules. I  may even want to try the advertising strategies module,” said Pameline.

We wish to assure Pameline that, come August, she and her fellow freshmen will be spoilt for choice!

Written by Mary Lee

May 19, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Posted in News

Youth to trek Himalayan range for a cause

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By Chandini Manoharan, Year 1, Electrical Engineering

Ashik (left) and Ashok after an intense training session for their upcoming expedition.

Ashik (left) and Ashok after an intense training session for their upcoming expedition.

These days, it is not often that one hears of youth risking their lives for a good cause. But by attempting one of the world’s toughest treks, and during the monsoon season, in order to raise funds for the Society for the Physically Disabled, Ashik Ashokan, a Communications and New Media student in NUS and his friend Ashok Kumar, an undergraduate from the Singapore Institute of Management, are going to do just that.

The 23 year-olds aspire to complete the Annapurna circuit in Nepal, which includes an arduous trek of 220km around a Himalayan mountain range and a summit point with an incredible altitude of 17, 769 feet – all without the assistance of a climbing guide. The climb is made all the more challenging by having to carry a 15kg load on their backs for 21 days and having to brave hostile weather conditions and reduced oxygen levels at high altitude.

However, to Ashik and Ashok, the challenges that they face are only paralleled by the challenges of the physically disabled face, day in, day out. For their endeavour, they hope to raise S$50, 000 for the SPD.

“We have built a campaign, Heart2Climb to raise awareness about the challenges our physically disabled friends face everyday, and to inspire other youth to step out of their comfort zones and give back to society,” said Ashok.

Ashik added: “While many people hold a desire to make a positive difference in the world, only few have the courage to accomplish it. We believe, however, that if one puts all of one’s heart into a good cause, one will have the strength to make it through”.

Written by Mary Lee

May 8, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Posted in News

Meaningful Media at Media Rise, Singapore

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By Jacqui Hocking, Creative Director @LateNiteFilms & @GoneAdventurin in @HUBsg

Earlier this month, I received a phone call from a passionate women, Srivi Ramasubramanian. Srivi is the Executive Director of Media Rise, an incredible organisation that began in Washington DC.


Her goal was to connect into the creative community in Singapore to start some important conversations around the Media’s role is social and environmental impact:


2013 Media Rise Festival

I was asked to speak at their first event in Asia, as part of their #EarlyRise movement to discuss my perspective on creating meaningful media to accelerate social change. I would be speaking alongside two other people in the space; social entrepreneur Grace Clapham and social justice documentarian Julio Etchart.

From left to right: Grace, Julio and myself

The idea of #EarlyRiseSG was to help connect people already inspired to make an impact and ignite collaboration and conversation.

The three main objectives are:

  1. CELEBRATING success stories of how content creators, storytellers, designers and educators use media for social good;
  2. EMPOWERING media to integrate human values, such as compassion, connectedness and respect for all; and,
  3. ENCOURAGING partnerships among media professionals and change-makers to accelerate social transformation at the individual and community level.

What did I get out of the event?

Singapore is an amazing place, which is full of events for creatives and social innovators. As someone that works out of Hub SG, I’m constantly surrounded by inspiring organisations that focus on purpose before profit. There are even some organisations like Our Better World that focus on media and storytelling. What made #EarlyRiseSG so special, was that it was an inclusive event which invited not just creatives, not just corporates or academics, but everyone from across all backgrounds.

                             Live networking session at Early Rise Singapore


I spoke with corporates from within big multi-nationals such as P&G, producers from TV networks, and academics studying media / online behaviour and psychology. It was a real mixed crowd.

Grace Clapham’s presentation talked through her organisation “The Change School” / “Change” which helps individuals realise their ideas and passions.

I connected with this presentation on an individual and consumer level.


Julio Etchart spoke with vast experience about his work in social justice and the environment. He has lived with tribes battling against the corporate powers and spoke with passion about the hope of sustainable eco-tourism in pristine wilderness. Julio has pioneered the practice of photovoice with NGOs and has facilitated workshops in participatory image-making with grassroots communities in many countries in the majority world.

I connected with this presentation from a community level.


So  — with the consumer and community represented, I decided to shift the focus of my presentation to a key missing element — and one I feel most passionate about in recent years. The role of business for good and the potential for collaboration with multinationals and for-profit organisations. So, I presented from a corporate angle.

CSR is a common theme in big companies — but what we’ve developed here in Singapore is a new idea:

Corporate Social Possibility. The possibility, (which has been noticed by CEO of Unilever, Paul Poleman) of corporations DOING WELL by DOING GOOD.

Possibility. That is the key. Potential for communities, consumers and big multi-national companies to work together for a common goal.

                                                 A slide on how our enterprise works from the ground up


It’s something which cannot be achieved individually, without the authentic connection and collaborations between each party. We also need to utilise and combine a number of different areas: Non-Profit, CSR and Marketing.

That’s how our enterprise, Gone Adventurin, was founded.

Next Steps?

This is only the beginning. I’m super excited to be connected into the MediaRise community and to continue building a strong network of collaborators in Asia. I’ve been told there will be a follow up of the first #EarlyRiseSG event soon — and I hope to see more people across all the different areas and connect online with more people from across the world — to see how we can all contribute to make the world a better place to benefit all.



This blog entry has been reproduced from

Written by Mary Lee

May 1, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Posted in News

In conversation with Dr. Srivi Ramasubramanian, Visiting Associate Professor

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By Keefe Chin, Year 4, CNM

In this post, CNM Honours Year student, Keefe Chin speaks to Dr. Srivi Ramasubramanian, (Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University) a visiting professor from Texas A&M University who is on a sabbatical with the CNM Department this semester. Read on to find out more about the woman who studied communication at a men’s university in India; who goes on to contributing to a global discourse on using communication for social good; and who now also has some advice for CNM undergraduates.

What got you started in communication as a field of study?

Srivi I grew up in Chennai in South India for the most part of my life and I had no idea about communication as a field. It was      very new and I had originally done science, maths, physics, chemistry and biology. One day, a neighbour said she wanted to take an aptitude test for communication. But the course was offered only in a men’s college and she was hesitant to go there by herself, and asked that I accompanied her. As it turned out, she didn’t get in but I got in. My father said, “Instead of being one of the thousands of engineers or doctors why don’t you go into communication? You obviously have an aptitude for it, which is why they picked you.” There were only 40 people in the class and my father thought that made the course special,  believing that it would allow me to combine my artistic talents with my scientific training. I agreed with him and so, in spite of objections from my teachers, I signed up!

My teachers advised against enrolling for a communication course, because in India, the bright ones always go for the sciences. The social sciences are not seen as something that is scholarly and done by the brighter kids in school. However, I found that the human sciences to be such an important part of learning, I am so glad I chose to be part of it. I was not only one of the very few people to have done communication in India in the nineties, I was also one of the few women to be studying it in a men’s college. The experience shaped my research interests later on in gender and race.

What are your current interests and direction?

My work comes broadly under media psychology. I am interested in media representations, especially of race, gender, ethnicity and nationality and how the media shape our attitudes, beliefs, feelings and opinions about ourselves and others. So, I am very interested in things like inter-group communication, intercultural communication and the role of media.

What’s the best part about being a professor?

Actually many people don’t understand what professors do and I spend a lot of time trying to explain this to a lot of my non-academic friends and family because their assumption is that you are off for three months and you don’t do anything in the summer and you just have to go to the classroom and back and your life is all about grading and teaching. But teaching is such a small part of what we do, especially in research universities like NUS or at Texas A&M. The focus in research universities is on developing innovative ideas, creativity and new ways, new lenses through which we can look at existing issues. Much of our work also entails making visible the invisible. Many communication scholars, especially critical media scholars, give voice to the voiceless and help make the invisible visible.

Because my work is a lot about media literacy, I’m very interested in sharing my work with the broader audience. Beyond the context of the classroom, I reach out to communities, parents, youth and even creative media professionals and engage them on raising social consciousness, on incorporating positive human values in the media and on using media for telling stories with wisdom and compassion.

I have had so much advice and support from so many people over the years, that I wish to pay it forward. I enjoy mentoring very much and love working with graduate students, undergraduate researchers or research teams. For instance, one of the most heartening experiences for me is to witness the changes happening right before me in a critical media literacy project.

Do you have any examples of past projects that have fulfilled these types of objectives?

I started something called ‘Media RISE’ ( which is a global alliance for creative professionals, educators, activists, social innovators, concerned citizens and parents who are committed to using media for social good. It is a very broad collaboration, comprising media art, storytelling and design for social good. We laid the groundwork for the past year and a half or two, and raised a platform for these people to network and to think of ways to work together for the kind of mediated world we want for the future. Media RISE allows academics like me to share our scholarship with practitioners. This platform also fosters conversations when it allows people like parents to interact with people like me as an educator. I can share my research insights with them and they can share their everyday experiences with me and that becomes very helpful in both ways, I hope.

Do you see any differences between the students that you usually teach back in the US and those in the class you are teaching now?

Yes, there are differences. The US it is a very big country so there are differences depending on the type of university that you are talking about. Texas A&M is a very large and public university like NUS so in that way it is similar in terms of wanting to serve the public and the state. I teach global media at NUS, and I don’t know if it is because it is an honours class, I find that the writing is very good here, and the ideas well articulated.

One of the things that I was hesitant about initially, was if Singaporean students would be willing to open up in class, to engage in discussions because sometimes they are a little bit reluctant to speak against what the professor is saying, or not against but to have a discussion on issues that they might not agree. So there is a little bit of a difference there but I think for honours students ,it is not that bad because once you set the stage from day one, when you make it open, they are more willing to air their views. It’s also much more formal here. In US classes, you will see students putting their feet up on the tables, drinking coke and eating hamburgers in class but you don’t see that here. Another thing which pleasantly surprised me was that the students, at least in the honours class, have studied abroad so they have a different world perspective. Since the class I am teaching is about global media, when we talked about nation and cross cultural communication, they were able to bring those experiences to the classroom, which was very valuable. I don’t usually have students like that. In Texas, there are very few who have even gone out of Texas.

Could you tell us more about your sabbatical so far and how you ended up in NUS?

That’s actually a very interesting story. The story begins a few years ago when A/P Lim Sun Sun, who was Deputy Head of CNM, came to Texas A&M University for a conference and there, she and I became friends. We kept in touch over the years and met up at conferences and things like that. So when it was time to apply for my sabbatical, I applied to come to NUS for six months.

Even my husband, who is also an academic in Industrial Engineering, is here on a sabbatical. We had to coordinate our schedules. So in London, he was in Imperial College while I was at the London School of Economics and now while I am in NUS he is at SUTD. We have a seven year old boy so we have to coordinate his schooling as well and he has been telling everybody that he is on a sabbatical as well!

Over the course of my sabbatical I have grown so much because I have to present my work to a different audience and in doing that I find that I have to reframe my research which has been a huge learning experience. When I share my work with different scholars, they give me feedback, ask me questions all of which has been very valuable. Opportunities for collaboration or even inter-institutional dialogue or programmes might even come up between Texas A&M and NUS in the long run because of my presence here. Now that I have been here, I know how things work here and I can see that there are so many ways which both institutions can benefit from each other.

Overall, there have been a lot of challenges, especially when you have to coordinate a sabbatical with family, but I think it is completely worth it and if anyone were to ask me if I would do it again, I would say, yes, definitely!

What have you enjoyed the most about Singapore so far?

It has got to be the food! The Peranakan food that I tried was very special and unique because I had never known about this culture before so it was very different and I liked that. Being here during Chinese New Year was also a very special experience for us because it felt so festive with so many celebrations everywhere. There was dance, music and art everywhere so it was very special to be here. There are also many other things about Singapore that I don’t know where to start! Everything is so well organised and clean and ecologically conscious. There are way too many activities to do, etc. I think even if I spend many years here, I wouldn’t be able to cover everything. Also, the CNM department being so warm and welcoming has certainly been a big, big thing that I have enjoyed so far.

What advice do you have for CNM students?

What I would say is that communication is a right. Communication is also a privilege so when we have the voice to share stories, because I see all of us as storytellers, we have the responsibility of saying the stories with some wisdom and thought put into it. So what I mean is that if you are going into advertising, public relations or corporate communications, because these are usually the fields which most of the students will be going into, I think we have to think about what are the standards which we want to set in the industry and how can we also be the critical thinkers within these industries and ask the questions that others might not ask. I think in all of these organisations we need people to say, “Hey wait, that seems too much” or “This is unethical” or “This is not right”. I hope our students will be the ones who will have the guts and the sense to ask those questions in those difficult situations when everyone is just focused on profits.

Students should consider alternative career options. You could spend some of your time, maybe half a day a week to use your talent and skills for those who might not have the kinds of resources that big media and organisations might have. For example, you could help the marginalised groups, or non-profits, for example, to project their voices.

When I think back on my own student days, I wish somebody had given me this advice.

Written by Mary Lee

May 1, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Posted in News

Visit to Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine

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By Pauline Luk, PhD Student, CNM

Visiting Professor Gary Kreps visited the Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine on 28 January. Professor Kreps shared his views on traditional Chinese medicine with Professor Xiang Ping, the Principal of the College. The meeting included a visit to the college’s herbal drug dispensary and library.

Founded in 1953, the SCTCM is the biggest TCM institute in Southeast Asia with a current enrolment of 900 students taking on accredited TCM programmes at bachelor, masters and doctoral levels.

CNM faculty Assistant Profs Iccha Basnyat and Leanne Chang had accompanied Prof Kreps with a view to exploring possible collaborations with the college in the future.

This was CNM’s second visit. CNM was at the college with its visiting professors, Barbara Sharf and Jeffery Peterson last October.

The visit included a tour of the college’s pharmacy

The visit included a tour of the college’s pharmacy

CNM faculty visited the Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine to explore possible collaborations

CNM faculty visited Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine to explore possible collaborations

Written by Mary Lee

April 8, 2014 at 10:03 am

Posted in News

CNM grad students meet Nanjing University deans

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By Pauline Luk, PhD Student, CNM

Professor Duan Jingsu and Professor Wang Ping, respectively Dean and Vice-Dean of the School of Journalism and Communication at Nanjing University visited CNM on 26 March. They had come to get acquainted with CNM graduate students as potential teaching and research candidates for their faculty. CNM’s Head of Department, Professor Mohan Dutta and Assistant Professor Zhang Weiyu hosted the visitors as both parties discussed China’s growing demand for communication scholars, and the college’s efforts at cultivating ties with communication schools internationally.

From left to right: Prof Duan Jingsu, Dean, School of Journalism and Communication, Nanjing University; Prof Mohan Dutta, Head, Department of Communications and New Media, National University of Singapore and Prof Wang Ping, Vice Dean, School of Journalism and Communication, Nanjing University

From left to right: Prof Duan Jingsu, Dean, School of Journalism and Communication, Nanjing University; Prof Mohan Dutta, Head, Department of Communications and New Media, National University of Singapore and Prof Wang Ping, Vice Dean, School of Journalism and Communication, Nanjing University


Written by Mary Lee

April 8, 2014 at 9:12 am

Posted in News

Conversation with A/P Maite: On interactive fiction, Singapore undergraduates and the Camino de Santiago

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By Oh Han Siang, Year 2, CNM

Associate Professor Maria T. Soto-Sanfiel gave a talk on the impact of interactive audio-visual narratives on audiences’ psychological responses, at CNM on 2 April 2014.

Speaking in a charming Spanish accent, AP Maite revealed in her study of Spanish students interacting with the 1998 BAFTA Film Award nominee – “Run Lola Run”, that providing viewers with a choice in deciding the progression of the movie plot, results in greater identification with the characters.

While viewers experienced a higher intensity of emotions such as guilt if they felt that their choices resulted in a sad ending, the study nonetheless shows that the narrative plot remains more influential on audiences than the affordance of interactivity.

At the end of her two-hour talk, A/P Maite graciously granted this writer time for a short interview

How did your interest in the field of interactive fiction first developed?

Maite: It was in the year 1991 when I was doing my PhD. My supervisor then in Canada was working on a smart system in a cable provider, whereby many different cable channels were showing the same programme but each channel was slightly different. Audiences had a sense of perceived interaction with the channels. That was the very first interactive system in the world and it greatly attracted my attention.

You are currently doing a cross-cultural study on the differences between Singaporean and Spanish students’ responses to interactive fiction and you seem to focus quite a lot on cultural orientations. Could you highlight cultural differences you noticed between Singaporean students and their Spanish counterparts?

Maite: Well, this is my personal view. Singaporean students are very respectful; more respectful than students in Spain! You all are very well-educated from a civic point of view; you respect laws and rules. In the train, for example, you do not disturb other passengers. And Singaporean students are devoted to their studies – Spanish students do not study as much as Singaporean students. Spanish students are more extroverted.

Are there any negative points about Singaporean students?

Maite: Well, Singaporean students are very concerned about earning money. Spanish students are not that really concerned with money. I mean money is nice to have but Spanish people are more concerned with living a good life. So Spanish students go to school not so much for future income but to really learn and be more cultured.

Any recommendations for places to visit in Barcelona or outside it, in Spain?

Maite: Barcelona is a small city but it has everything – the beach, mountains, musicals in Broadway, beautiful ancient buildings, so I would really recommend you to just walk, walk through the city and get lost in it. Outside of Barcelona, in Spain, there are lots to see as well. The north of Spain is beautiful and the southern parts too. Spain is really beautiful. The Spanish King once called Spain, the place where the Sun never sets because Spain is so big that no matter where you are, there will be a place where it is still daylight. Spanish food has so much variety and is all so delicious. The food in the south of Spain in particular, has Arabic influences because in the past there were Arabs in Spain so we Spaniards actually have some Arabic blood flowing through our veins! There’s  a place in Spain, which I think everyone should be visited. The Camino de Santiago is an ancient pilgrimage trail leading travellers from France all the way to Santiago in Spain. You should definitely consider backpacking through the Camino de Santiago. I recommend one month or 21 days. The path of the Camino de Santiago actually follows the stars and is steeped in Catholic tradition. You get to meet everyone from everywhere backpacking through the trail and it is quite cheap as well. You stay in the hostels along the trail and they charge minimal fees for the one-night stay. I backpacked through the Camino de Santiago  with little else besides the shirt on my back. But really, the whole of Spain is wonderful.

Associate Professor Maria T. Soto-Sanfiel is from the Audio-visual Communication and Advertising Department at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, in Barcelona, Spain. She is on a visit to Singapore till early June.

Written by Mary Lee

April 7, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Posted in News