The Spurious Kang: An ethnographic account of culture’s place in a Chinese village

1 pm, Wednesday, April 30, 2014
CNM Meeting Room, AS6, #03-33

Recognizing numerous elements of culture in the field can pose challenges to researchers. The concrete, unexpected, practical, and sometimes tedious issues that need to be addressed add rich and dynamic meanings as well as messiness to projects. Frequently, such recognition results from constant negotiations with history and present, first impressions and in-depth knowledge acquired through trial and error.

In this presentation, I showcase the uncertainties and negotiations of recognition experienced in a village that is both familiar and strange to me, my hometown. I, as an ethnographer, argue that recognition of cultural elements is a social process that often defies simple academic categories. Only by accepting such social processes that take place in the real field, can real inquiries of interests be identified and investigated. In my case, field research has been an ongoing process in which I and other participants have discovered the importance of an old local art form and worked together to push for its revival. This presentation is marked by its visual impact.

Kang Sun received his Ph.D. from the School of Media and Communication at Bowling Green State University (BGSU), Ohio in 2012. His dissertation examined how a globalized political economy, the trans-local mobility of people, and the spatial arrangements in cities all participate in the social construction of the identity of peasant workers as China’s new working class. Kang’s primary research interests include health communication, modernization and urbanization, migration, working class, and labor, material and social space, and political economy and development communication.

International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling (ICIDS 2014)


ICIDSICIDS is the premier international conference on interactive digital storytelling. It was successfully launched in 2008, superseding the previous two European conference series, TIDSE (“Technologies for Interactive Digital Storytelling”) and ICVS (“Virtual Storytelling – Using Virtual Reality Technologies for Storytelling”).

ICIDS 2014 will take place in Singapore at the National University of Singapore, and marks the conference’s first venture to Asia. The conference is hosted by the Department of Communications and New Media, National University of Singapore (, in collaboration with the Keio-NUS CUTE Centre (

NUS        CNM        CUTE Centre

For more information on ICIDS (and TIDSE and ICVS), please visit:

The refereed proceedings of ICIDS 2014 will be published as a volume in the Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS) “Interactive Storytelling” series.


Important Dates

  • June 16, 2014: Submission deadline for all categories.
    Precise deadline: 11:59PM on June 16, 2014, Hawaii Standard Time
  • July 28, 2014: Accept/reject notifications sent to authors.
  • August 18, 2014: Camera-ready copy/final exhibition catalogue materials due.
  • November 2-6, 2014: ICIDS Art Exhibition.
  • November 3-6, 2014: ICIDS Conference.

Call for Chapters: Mobile Communication and the Asian family – Transforming technologies, changing households

Mobile Communication and the Asian family – Transforming technologies, changing households

Edited by Sun Sun Lim, National University of Singapore

To be published by Springer in January 2015

This book explores how mobile communication technologies are penetrating Asia at a rapid rate, and being avidly domesticated by households in Asia. It investigates how such technologies are being incorporated into Asian families’ daily routines for work, education, entertainment and household coordination, while being appropriated for communication and the nurturance of family bonds. Even as mobile communication technology is evolving relentlessly, families in Asia are also going through a period of transformation as the region experiences unprecedented economic growth, urbanisation and demographic shifts. Asia is therefore at the crossroads of technological transformation and social change and this book seeks to capture the mutual impact of these two contemporaneous trends through the lens of the family. I welcome research on different types of families (e.g. nuclear, blended, single-parent, multigenerational, grandparent-led etc.), from a spectrum of socio-economic profiles, that utilise a range of qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches, and which are informed by a diversity of theoretical perspectives.

*Research by emerging Asia-focused and/or Asia-based scholars whose work has not previously been published in English is especially welcome.*

Chapter proposals are sought for topics including but not limited to the following:

  • Influence of socio-cultural norms on families’ appropriation of mobile communication technologies
  • Time management and micro-coordination
  • Practices and negotiations pertaining to acquisition, ownership and usage of mobile  communication devices and services
  • Blurring boundaries between work and family
  •  Issues of (dis)empowerment, privacy and surveillance
  • Nature and quality of family interaction
  • Inter-generational differences in perceptions and usage of mobile communication
  • Parental mediation of mobile device usage

Please submit chapter proposals of up to 800 words, and brief author biographies of up to 300 words as an e-mail attachment by 15 May 2014. Authors of accepted proposals will be notified by 5 June 2014 and invited to submit a full paper to<> . Manuscripts should be no more than 8,000 words, including notes and references, conform to APA style, and submitted by 30 September, 2014.  All papers will be subject to anonymous peer review following submission.

Pitch It! 2014 closes with Team Envision as champion

By Philip Lee, Year 2, CNM

Three months of intense planning, conceptualizing, and implementation culminated in a final pitch for the four short-listed teams of Pitch It on 5 April 2014. As it turned out, Team Envision, made up of students from CNM and NUS Business School, emerged the victor in this digital and social media advertising competition.

The months of preparations poured into developing their marketing and communication strategies paid off as the judges applauded and expressed how duly impressed they were with the participants’ 10-minute presentations. From proposing interactive social media engagement to online contests, to even having a team mascot, the judges noted how well each team had applied the knowledge it had picked up in school. The participants, on the other hand, gained valuable insights from the judges on how to run a compelling digital and social media campaign. The closing ceremony provided yet another avenue where the teams continued to learn from industry experts in the mingling and networking session that followed.

The winning team received a cash prize of $2,000 and internship opportunities with Bates Chi & Partners. The judges for this year’s competition comprised representatives from Singapore Press Holdings, Bates CHI & Partners, M/SIX Agency, as well as the faculty from CNM.

Understanding Engagement and Experience

Wednesday, April 16 2014, 3pm
CNM Meeting room, AS6, #03-33

Quite often we talk about how people are engaged with online services, though traditionally this is measured through click-throughs, dwell time, and a handful of other known instrumentation methods.  As online applications and services becomes more complex, we need to revisit what it means to instrument and measure engagement. In this talk, the speaker will present several problems and solutions for new measurements of our connected experiences online from photo sharing to tweeting to real-time video sharing.

David Ayman Shamma (Yahoo! Research, USA) is a senior research scientist and head of the HCI Research group at Yahoo! Labs and is the scientific liaison to Flickr. He is currently on sabbatical at NUS CUTE. His personal research investigates synchronous environments and connected experiences both online and in-the-world. Focusing on creative expression and sharing frameworks, he designs and prototypes systems for multimedia-mediated communication, as well as, develops targeted methods and metrics for understanding how people communicate online in small environments and at web scale.

Visit to Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine

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

CNM grad students meet Nanjing University deans

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


Applying classroom learnings to a real-world campaign in Pitch It!

By Philip Lee, Year 2, CNM

Now that we have come to the end of the advertising competition, Pitch It, I am relieved, yet slightly disappointed as the adrenalin of running an advertising campaign slowly dissipates. The four-week long journey was marked with countless days of sleepless nights, hours of mundane logistical work, and heartening moments that I will remember for the rest of my college days. I had no idea how much work had to go into running a campaign that lasted for only two weeks! However, more than anything else, it was really the experience of seeing a campaign blossom from the planning the execution stage that I took away from this competition.

Organised by the CNM Society, Pitch It is an annual digital advertising competition that is crafted to simulate the real advertising and marketing environment – something we have heard so much about from our lecturers. The competition was open to all tertiary students in Singapore. At the opening ceremony, I was daunted by the number of teams competing for the prize money of an internship opportunity with Bates SG and a cash prize of $2,000 for the winner. While the majority of teams came from the CNM Department, there were a sizeable number of teams from NUS Business School as well as local polytechnics.

For Pitch It 2014, we had to launch an advertising and marketing campaign for our client, Singapore Press Holdings. The product was their digital package that allowed students to access the newspapers on their digital devices. One of the perks of being on this year’s Pitch It was that we were able to tap into the minds of the experts from Bates Chi & Partners on running an advertising and marketing campaign.

Launching an advertising campaign and marketing a digital product to tertiary students was tougher than it first appeared. Writing term papers and sitting for exams seemed like child’s play compared to what my team members, Cheryl, Yee Huey, Daniel, and I did during the campaign. From the conceptualisation to the execution, one important lesson we learnt was that nothing ever goes to plan. We had lofty ideas – reaching out to tertiary studenst all over Singapore, launching a mega event that would attract lots of publicity and even having a team mascot to perform a publicity stunt in the middle of U-town. However, with the limited budget, $5,000, given to run the campaign, many of our ideas had to be axed. Despite these challenges, it was always the process of going back to the drawing board to rethink our ideas that pulled us through this campaign. One of the biggest difficulties we faced during the campaign though, was the marketing side of it. At one point, we even had to approach students and sell our product to them. This was something that I suppose the business students had an advantage in.

What is really great about the competition is that it gave us plenty of opportunities to apply what I learnt at CNM into a real campaign: Public relations approaches from NM2219; social media engagement from NM2203; advertising strategies from NM3215, and even designing leaflets and posters from NM3217. All the knowledge I picked up from the lectures and tutorials finally seemed applicable and relevant. It was like a scaled-down version of the capstone module for public relations, NM4207, except that this did not affect my CAP score. (I wouldn’t want to think of the consequences if it did!). If you’re a campaign junkie like me, Pitch It is an enlightening and enriching experience that gives you an idea of what goes on during an advertising and marketing campaign.

I would like to thank the consultants and clients for their support in this competition. We’ve  learnt so much from just these few weeks. More importantly, I would also like to extend my appreciation to the CNM Society for their hard work in organizing this competition.

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

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.