CNM Profs interviewed by The Straits Times

Both A/P Lim Sun Sun and Dr. Ingrid Hoofd were interviewed in a Straits Times article recently that questioned the impact of cybercampaigns on elections with Singapore’s upcoming General Elections.

All the academics interviewed felt that while the online battle was a worthy attempt, the socio-political context of Singapore and the nature of the Internet do not help political parties win the votes.

A/P Lim reasoned that unlike the US, Singapore’s electoral laws do not permit paid advertising of political parties and online fund-raising, so any online presence tends to be purely informational. Besides, ‘likes’ or ‘fans’ on Facebook speak little about people’s actual association with the groups in reality.

Dr. Hoofd pointed out that new and social media are narrow-casting technology that not only fails to reach everyone but creates a disconnection of individuals behind their own screens. In order to galvanise people, face-to-face discussions are still needed to build trust.

Read more about what colleagues from other institutions have to say on this.

Congratulations to Retna, our service superstar!

Our congenial office staff Miss Retna was conferred the Service Achiever award as part of the NUS Quality Service Awards 2010. This is Retna’s second win from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS). She will be receiving the award from the NUS Office of Quality Management in a formal event on 18 January 2011.

Last year, Miss Jen Lau received the Service Leader award from NUS on Service Excellence Day.

Thank you and congratulations to our colleagues on a job well done!

Congratulations to Faculty Teaching Excellence Award recipient Mr Gui Kai Chong!

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) announced its Faculty Teaching Excellence Awards 2010 and CNM is delighted that Mr Gui Kai Chong received an award after being reviewed by a FASS committee!

Mr Gui lectures the compulsory Theories of Communication & New Media module (NM2101) which all CNM majors undergo. He also teaches Culture Industries (NM3224).

Our heartiest congratulations to Mr Gui Kai Chong!

NM4210 User Experience Design Poster Session 2010

The annual User Experience Design Poster Session is taking place on Friday 12th November 2010 at Seminar Room 3, Level 7 ADM Building, NUS.

Details of the course and topic this semester are as follows:

UXD2010 PosterAbout the COURSE and Projects:
User Experience Design is a growing trans-disciplinary interest for many fields, including interface and interaction design, marketing and branding. While the concept of experience design is still in flux, as a course we have approached it to mean the design of a person’s interaction with a product or interface.
The projects you will view are created to fulfill the requirements of the “Singapore Memory Project” (SMP), a national tertiary level competition held by the National Library Board. The SMP’s goal is to help collect and document personal memories and stories of Singapore. This is in contrast to national heritage or historical stories where the goal is to construct a historical, factual timeline. In these projects we are looking to collect personal anecdotal snapshots of life in Singapore. As a class we have seen this as a challenge to design user experiences that spark participation and meaningful reflection or reminiscence on the part of the participants.

Brief one-line descriptions of the projects at the session:

  1. ArmyVIBES: A community centric web-based game to record memories.
  2. Memory Lane: A musical walk down memory lane.
  3. Chalk: A smartphone app that lets you draw on walls using augmented reality.
  4. MOSAIC, My Own Singapore: An Interactive Collage: A platform which allows Singaporeans to share memories through photographs, and in the process, creating a repository of mosaics that showcase shared Singaporean memories.
  5. XAVATAR: Xavatar makes it fun and easy for you to share your favourite Singapore memories. Live.
  6. Memolicious!: A Food Associations Project – Smartphone users tag photos of food with the associations they have with it and upload them to a database for sharing.
  7. WILAS: Revealing the Singapore spirit through discovering what Singaporeans like by providing a fun and rewarding space for them to create and share this information.
  8. SOS (Sharing on Schools): A social networking site for sharing of memories and information about schools.
  9. Little Read Dot, To Share, to read and to experience reading heart-warming short stories about your whereabouts.

Research Talk by Ms. Vichitra K. S. Godamunne

“Biopolitics in science fiction films”

Date: Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Time: 3 p. m.

Venue: CNM Playroom, AS6 03-38


The purpose of this thesis is to analyse science fiction films from a biopolitics perspective, a distinctive philosophy taking into account how politics function in relation to human biological bodies. Science fiction often deals with issues which are too controversial for other mainstream genres.  In order to critique the prevailing political and economic ideologies of a society, science fiction incorporates certain philosophical ideas into its narratives.  A recent trend in this genre has been an increased focus on the ways in which the biological bodies of human beings exist in relation to power.  The philosophy which explores this connection between human biological life and political power is known as biopolitics.  Influential contemporary philosophers who have written about biopolitics are Michel Foucault, Giorgio Agamben and Roberto Esposito.  They offer dystopian views and are concerned with the processes through which the biological bodies of humans became an integral part of political power.

The four films that I have chosen to analyse for this thesis – The Island (Michael Bay; US; 2005), V for Vendetta (James McTeigue; UK/US/Germany; 2005), Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron; UK; 2006) and 28 Weeks Later (Juan Carlos Fresnadillo; UK; 2007) – all deal with certain global issues which have underlying biopolitical connotations.  The endings of these films show the triumph of a few individuals over the authorities in power.  It is these humanistic alternatives to biopolitics that I want to problematise.  Even if there were humanist alternatives, wouldn’t this too, descend to inhumanity?  Isn’t this escapism from biopolitics impossible to achieve?  My analysis will focus on the ways in which certain science fiction films explore and critique biopolitics; and I will question the approach taken by these films.

Keywords: Biopolitics, science fiction, Foucault, Agamben, Esposito

About the speaker:

Ms. Vichitra K. S. Godamunne completed her BA (Hons) in Film Studies in London Metropolitan University in UK. After that she moved back to Colombo, Sri Lanka to work as a PR Executive. During this time, she also did some freelance promotional work for Sri Lankan art film directors. She started her MA in CNM in January 2009, and this is her final semester.

Research Talk by Ms. Shobha Vadrevu

“Teachers, identity and Facebook: dilemmas, relationships and strategies”

Date: Wednesday,  20 October 2010

Time: 3 p.m.

Venue: CNM Playroom, AS6 03-38


The institution of the school traditionally defines the roles and relationships of teachers and students. However, the introduction of the social networking site Facebook into the teacher-student dynamic has the potential to change these constructs. “Friending” students is a deceptively simple act on Facebook, when the likelihood of spillover into the real-world setting of the school is strong. To investigate the impact of teachers’ perceptions of identity on their interaction decisions with students on Facebook, as well as the strategies they develop to manage dilemmas linked to these decisions, an in-depth study was conducted of 12 teachers who had varying levels of interaction with students on Facebook. The study employed open-ended individual interviews set in the context of a guided tour by participants through their Facebook profiles, and was informed by group interviews and participant observation in an atmosphere of rapport and reciprocity. A conceptual framework weaving together Turkle’s (1999) theory of identity as multiplicity and flexibility, Altman and Taylor’s (1973) Social Penetration Theory and Livingstone’s (2008) problematization of the risk-opportunity binary was constructed. This framework formed a lens through which data collected from the individual interviews was thematically analysed.
Three themes emerged that had a bearing on teachers’ interaction decisions: (1) the roles they chose to play as part of their teacher identity, (2) the level of vulnerability they felt as a result of the tension between competing forces of opportunities and risks of disclosure and privacy, and (3) the technological competence they possessed to manipulate the features of Facebook. The findings indicate that teachers selectively apply strategies in the face of anticipated and experienced dilemmas according to situations and students. It is argued that this has implications for teacher-student relationships in the real-world school setting, the integration of Web 2.0 technologies in the curriculum, and the institutional hierarchies of the school.
Keywords: Facebook, teacher identity, social penetration theory, risk, opportunity, online and offline social interaction, teacher-student relationships
About the speaker:

Shobha Vadrevu has a background in full-time, adjunct and volunteer teaching that spans 15 years. She holds a Masters in Educational and Social Research from the Institute of Education, University of London. Her interest in new media in the educational setting developed from her own experiences communicating via various digital platforms with her secondary school students who introduced her to most of those platforms. On Facebook she has over 750 friends. Almost 500 of them are students.

Research Talk by Professor James Gomez

“Social Media and Elections: Facebook Politics in Malaysia and Singapore”

By James Gomez and Tan Ge Hui

Date: Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Time: 2 p.m.

Venue: CNM Playroom, AS6 03-38


By early 2010, Facebook was the latest and most popular Web 2.0 platform used by the opposition parties in Singapore and Malaysia. In Singapore, the major opposition parties and its key figures had all established some form of presence on Facebook page, in Malaysia opposition parties and its key figures had gone further using the Facebook platform in several by-elections. In the general elections scheduled to be held by 2012 and 2013 in Singapore and Malaysia respectively, Facebook is expected to figure dominantly as a platform. This comparative study situates itself within the body of political communication research that evaluates Facebook`s effectiveness in harnessing voter support. The study plots pre-election use in Malaysia and Singapore and projects how social networking sites such as Facebook might figure in the general elections of these two countries. Such an analysis will provide researchers an opportunity to evaluate social media’s potential to contribute to democracy and political change in these two countries and the Southeast Asian region in general.

Keywords: Malaysia, Singapore, opposition parties, general elections, social media


Dr. James Gomez is presently Deputy Associate Dean (International) and Head of Public Relations, School of Humanities, Communications and Social Sciences at Monash University, Australia. He is co-editor of a forthcoming book entitled New Media and Human Rights in Southeast Asia which part of Routledge’s Media, Culture and Social Change in Asia series. His recent publications include, “Online Opposition in Singapore: Communications Outreach Without Electoral Gain”, (2008) Journal of Contemporary Asia. Vol.38, No.4 and “Citizen Journalism: Bridging the Discrepancy in Singapore’s General Elections News”, Sudostasien Aktuell – Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs (6/2006), German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Germany. He can be contacted at

Tan Ge Hui earned her Master in Communications (2009) and Bachelor in Business and Commerce (2007) from Monash University, Australia. Her primary area of interest evolves around the study of alternative media and youth. She has researched on “Facebook and Youth Privacy”, “MTV and Chinese youth” and “Facebook and Opposition Parties in Malaysia” during her course of study. She is currently pursuing a translation course in Melbourne. She can be contacted at

Research Talk by Ms Carol Soon

“Blogging and Collective Action: Which Networks Matter and For Whom?”

Date: Wednesday 8 September 2010

Time: 3 p.m.

Venue: CNM Playroom, AS6 03-38


Political developments that took place in recent years suggest that blogging has embarked on a different trajectory, from a personal and therapeutic medium to one which impacts civic participation. Observations of how bloggers are influencing the political landscape are not limited to countries in the West but extend to Asian countries as well. Existing literature on cyber-activism is mainly focused on how technologies facilitate collective action across geographical boundaries as well as enable marginalized groups and individuals to overcome real world constraints to further their cause. In the field of sociology, social movement theorists have lauded the importance and indispensability of one’s informal and formal social networks in influencing and sustaining participation. This paper first identifies the different types of political bloggers in the local context and their levels of involvement in activism. It then examines the roles and significance of three types of social networks – informal, formal and online. In-depth interviews were conducted with more than 40 political bloggers, prominent activists as well as those who did not engage in activism. Quantitative data from questionnaires further elucidated on the relationship between social network variables and bloggers’ participation/non-participation in collective action. The findings indicate significant relationships between political bloggers’ informal and formal social networks and their participation. Although online networks play a critical role in helping political bloggers connect with like-minded activists, communication frequency, social influence, trust and information-seeking were higher between activist bloggers and their informal and formal contacts.

This paper is part of the presenter’s doctoral dissertation which examines the role of collective identity and social networks in engendering participation in collective action among political bloggers. Combined with the analysis of collective identity shared by political bloggers, these findings provide the basis for the development of a typology on the relationship between collectiveness and activism involvement.

A/P Sun Sun Lim appointed as CNM’s Deputy Head

CNM is pleased to announce the appointment of A/P Sun Sun Lim as its new Deputy Head.

A/P Lim teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in CNM. She also serves as the Graduate Coordinator and the CNM-Business School Double Degree Coordinator.

She has won seven awards for excellent teaching at both university and faculty levels.

Congratulations A/P Lim on your new appointment!

Congratulations to CNM’s winning TAs and new Graduates

At the FASS annual Awards Ceremony on Friday 20 August 2010, four of CNM’s Teaching Assistants garnered the Best Teaching Assistant Awards, making CNM the only department in the faculty with four winners.

Two of our new honours graduates from the class of 2010 also received their awards from Dean Brenda Yeoh.

Congratulations to all! You have made CNM proud!

Best Teaching Assistants
1. Mr Aaron Ng
2. Mr Lin Jin
3. Ms Jodie Luu
4. Ms Ou Meimin

Best Honours Students
1. Ms Jemima Ooi Ai Ping, Best Honours student, NTUC Income Prize Award recipient, and also Best Well-Rounded Student
2. Mr Daniel Teo Hee Boon, Best Communication Management student, Hill & Knowlton Award recipient

The winning team from CNM

The winning team from CNM