Repertoires of Collective Action in the IT Capital of India

In recent years, better access to the internet has dramatically changed the character of collective civic and political actions. It’s a global phenomenon that Dr Anuradha Rao and Prof Mohan J Dutta from NUS’ Department of Communications and New Media investigate in an article published in Communication Monographs (November 2016). They pay special attention to the motivations and collective actions of Internet-based urban civil society groups in Bangalore, India’s IT City.

Their paper identifies a range of factors that influence collective action, including attitudes toward the Internet as a tool for democratic engagement, ideological motivations, and the tensions that seethe between traditional and new civil society actors in the city. The authors argue that such ethnographic enquiry is significant in highlighting the potential impacts as well as dangers of any collective action that is fueled by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The paper recommends more of such grounded assessments of the nuances, limits, and impacts of ICT application in collective action within the complex, developing societies in Asia.

How Digital Media Designers Can Help Field Biologists

Dr Andrew Quitmeyer, who recently starred in the groundbreaking Discovery Channel documentary “Hacking the Wild”, has been on a lifelong quest to investigate the boundless potential that digital media can play in biological field work. Now a faculty member of NUS’ Department of Communications and New Media, Andrew will present at Creativity and Cognition 2017, detailing his exciting collaboration with field biologists. The outcome of the research seeks not only to create, but also evaluate a design framework for inventing digital devices that help to explore animal behaviours in their natural habitat.

Andrew’s paper quickly shares the main concepts and theories from the fields that form Digital Naturalism’s foundation, and describes the key challenges emerging from these critical intersections between field biology and computational media. It then reviews the development of this research’s hybrid methodology that was designed specifically for its multi-year series of Qualitative Action Research fieldwork carried out at a rainforest field station.

This paper analyses the resulting on-site ethnographies, workshops, design projects, and interactive performances, whose takeaways are synthesised into design guidelines for digital-natural media. The framework, itself, is then evaluated via an extra iteration of fieldwork and the results discussed. Finally, the paper identifies targets for continued research development. Further areas of interest, which will promote Digital Naturalism’s progression into its own topic of study, will also be explored.

With Andrew’s seminal work, designers now possess a reliable set of guidelines to develop digital tools for field biologists. The framework is important precisely because they strive to support their scientific process from the ground up. This can lead to better tools allowing the scientists to pose new questions about the natural world.

Student Showcase: Vanishing Trades of Singapore- If Not Now, Then When

Mdm Tan Kah Mui, owner of Gan Cheng Chuan Kim Kee Tea Merchant.

There are many things in our lives that seemingly do not matter. Often, they really don’t; we neither remember these things fondly nor are they part of our daily routine. Yet, when they disappear, we are still confronted with the fact that they are gone. Though we might not feel a great sense of loss, we are frequently left with a nagging feeling that they are gone.

Mdm Lee, owner of Pow Li Blade Sharpening

Working with the themes of memory and loss, Vanishing Trades of Singapore is a campaign celebrating the many trades that may soon disappear from the streets of Singapore. Through photos and videos that evoke in viewers a sober thoughtfulness, the campaign seeks to promote appreciation of these trades as important aspects of our cultural heritage to the public.

Wife of Mr Tan Boon Heong, owner of Lam Yeo Coffee Powder.

Mr Lee, owner of Xin Xiang Barber Salon

Look out for our exhibition, which will be held at:

Date: 30th March 2017
Time: 10am – 5pm
Venue: NUS AS 6 Walkway benches

This is part of the SocialMedia+SocialGood+SocialChange series, where students from the Social Media module (NM4881A) facilitated by NUS’ Department of Communications and New Media (CNM) were tasked with developing creative, compelling and socially-conscious campaigns. We charts the extraordinary journeys of six groups who share a common dream for social good and social change.

Prof. Mohan Dutta at the National Communication Association Opening Session

On 10 November 2016, Prof Mohan J. Dutta attended the 2016 National Communication Association (NCA) 102nd Annual Convention Opening Session. Together with various other panelists (Lisa A. Flores, University of Colorado, Boulder; Bryant Keith Alexander, Loyola Marymount; University & Billie Murray, Villanova University), he presented the opening talk titled “Putting Bodies on the Line and Words into Action – Celebrating the Joys of, Challenges in, and Opportunities for Civic Engagement.”

Dr. Bryant Keith Alexander has built a career thinking about and embracing queer black bodies moving through the vectors of racism and homophobia; Dr. Mohan Jyoti Dutta has spent the past decade advocating for health care justice in developing nations; Dr. Billie Murray has chronicled her participation in movements for social justice in the wake of Confederate memorializing and in the face of hate speech. A Dean, a Chair, and an Assistant Professor; a colleague from LA, another from Singapore, a third from Philadelphia. While our speakers embody diversity in terms of race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, and methodology and area expertise, they are united in their commitment to using communication activism for the common good. Come hear their stories from the front lines of change; listen as they engage in spirited dialogue about why communication matters, and how, and to whom; and please lend your voice to our collective celebration of those who put their bodies on the line and words into action. – Source

Watch the 2016 NCA Opening Session talk below:

From Dadri To Kansas, Countering the Politics of Hate

From Dadri To Kansas, Countering the Politics of Hate

In this article, Prof Mohan J. Dutta offers insight into the racist climate that has found new moral fuel in the US, as well as the rising tide of anti-Muslim sentiments among Hindus in India.

“Xenophobia and religious bigotry reproduce themselves on the power of othering. Strategies of identification, categorisation and segregation are deeply embedded in racialised imaginaries. Therefore, to counter these radicalised imaginaries, we must begin by recognising the humanity in the “other,” in recognising the ‘other’ in the ‘us’.”

Read Prof Dutta’s Article Here:

Student Showcase: Making Every Grain of Rice Count

Project R.I.C.E.+ (@ProjectRICEplus) is a nation-wide annual food aid project organised by the Singapore Red Cross’ Youth Chapter. It aims to provide beneficiaries with food and other daily necessities.


As part of the fundraising and volunteer recruitment campaign for Project R.I.C.E.+ 2017, @CNMnus students from NM4881A: Social Media applied their skills and bold imagination to design creative materials to increase awareness of Project R.I.C.E.+, and to enhance the knowledge of young adults towards the plight of the underprivileged in Singapore.

This campaign aims to encourage a larger number of young adults to step forward and contribute to Project R.I.C.E.+’s causes. A fundraising and volunteer recruitment event will be held at:

Date: 29th and 30th March 2017
Time: 10am – 6pm
Venue: NUS Central Library walkway and NUS Faculty of Science, Lecture Theatre 25

Engage us through our Facebook and Instagram spaces.

This is part of the SocialMedia+SocialGood+SocialChange series, where students from the Social Media module (NM4881A) facilitated by NUS’ Department of Communications and New Media (CNM) were tasked with developing creative, compelling and socially-conscious campaigns. We charts the extraordinary journeys of six groups who share a common dream for social good and social change.

Raising Funds to Restore Respect for Foreign Domestic Workers, One Bucket at a Time

NUS CNM students raise $1000 for “Respect our Rights” CARE campaign

Students from the NM4217 Advanced Communications Campaign class rallied together for a self-initiated car wash event on 2 March 2017, raising $1000 to execute the third phase of the “Respect our Rights” campaign for NUS’ Centre for Culture-Centred Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE).

With the campaign tagline “Different Jobs, Same Respect”, this phase of the campaign aims to convey the message that employers should respect the rights of Foreign Domestic Workers (FDWs) the same way they themselves deserve.

For eight hours, with buckets of water, soap, and sponges in hand, students worked in teams and sought support for the campaign cause from car owners at the NUS Science carpark.

Each car owner received a clean car, a thank you note, an information leaflet on MOM guidelines, and an invitation to the campaign’s upcoming roadshow. Despite the intermittent rain, the students remained in high spirits and achieved their fundraising goal.

Information leaflet on MOM guidelines to hiring foreign domestic workers


Thank you note to car owners


Tay Lin, who headed the car wash initiative, expressed, “Everyone’s hard work under the sun really paid off. The camaraderie was amazing because everyone was really working together towards one single goal, to restore respect for the foreign domestic workers”.

The car owners who represented NUS staff and students responded positively to our request.  They expressed their support through words of encouragement; some donated over and above the $10 cleaning charge; and, one went the extra mile to buy juice and chocolates for the car washing students.

Module coordinator, Sameer Deshpande, shared the appreciation and commitment of his students. In his words, “we the members of NM4217 are delighted to partner with NUS CARE to address the important cause of restoring rights of FDWs in Singapore. Students of this module are striving hard to design and deliver a high quality campaign. When we realized that we were short of funds, students proposed and delivered on the idea of car washing fundraising event. I am confident that we will maintain our enthusiasm in the coming weeks and similarly deliver effective outcomes”.

The “Respect our Rights: Different Jobs, Same Respect” campaign roadshow will be held on the 8th and 9th of April from 9.30am-9pm at NEX and Tampines Mall. To follow the campaign, visit the official campaign Facebook page at


Student Showcase: Bridge, Share, Care

Students from the Social Media module (NM4881A) facilitated by NUS’ Department of Communications and New Media (CNM) were tasked with developing creative, compelling and socially-conscious campaigns. In this weekly SocialMedia+SocialGood+SocialChange series, the CNM blog charts the extraordinary journeys of six groups who share a common dream for social good and social change.

PART 1: Bridge, Share, Care

We are a group of 7 NUS Communications and New Media (CNM) Undergraduates: Rachael, Wan Rong, Charis, Catherine, Veldas, Yvonne and Yao Yao. As part of our project for NM4881A (Topics in Media Studies: Social Media), we are collaborating with a non-profit organisation, the Netherlands Charity Association (NCA), to raise awareness about the underprivileged in Singapore.

Established in 1968, NCA is run by a group of expats who wish to give back to the Singapore community by helping the underprivileged. They work directly with several non-profit organizations such as The Breadline Group, H.O.M.E., Singapore Leprosy Relief Association, The Good Shepherd Centre, Project Pari; and consistently source for volunteers to help charities such as Willing Hearts, MINDS, and Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home.

For our online campaign, we have been creating content (videos and articles) based on interviews held with the various beneficiaries of NCA (@nca.singapore).

For our offline campaign, we will be holding a fundraising event on the 25th of March, Saturday, from 10am – 6pm at the Tampines Mall Promenade Linkway (Linkway between Tampines Mall and Century square). The aims of the event are:

  • Raise awareness about NCA and its beneficiaries
  • Fundraising for NCA
  • Volunteer recruitment drive for NCA and/or its beneficiaries

During the event, media stories-  which will include video interviews and slideshows– will be played. There will also be awareness booths run by NCA and its 5 beneficiaries. There, volunteers will share more about the causes that the charity supports. Finally, there will be message boards present for the public to write notes of encouragement for each of the charities involved in the event.

We hope to see you there! RSVP at

TALK – Articulating community participation as health in Singapore: A culture-centred approach to empowering greater community ownership

CNM CARE is happy to host the next lecture in the CARE Social Justice series – a series showcasing projects that CARE has embarked on. Prof Mohan Dutta and Desiree Soh will be giving a talk next Monday, 27th Mar from 1 PM-2 PM . The talk is titled “Articulating community participation as health in Singapore: A culture-centred approach to empowering greater community ownership”, and will be held at the CNM Meeting Room, AS6 (03-33). We hope to see you there!

More details about the talk can be found in the poster below:

Venue: CNM Meeting Room (AS6 03-33)

Date: 27 March 2017

Time: 1 PM – 2 PM

The Different Facets of Random Blends And The Artists Who Made Them Possible

The Department of Communications and New Media (CNM, National University of Singapore) invites you to an annual showcase of student, staff and alumni explorations into the world of digital arts, culture and technology. Now into its ninth year, Random Blends continues to bring together compelling ideas and ignite conversations on communications and media frontiers. This year’s theme is no different. With Interceptions, we promote the role of media in asking urgent questions, investigating social issues, and presenting them in a new light. Random Blends 2017 will feature a bold medley of critical game art, data-as-art, biologically-inspired salon simulations, networked art performances and social media activism. Still curious about what’s in store? Here’s a snapshot of the exhibits and their equally amazing creators.

Random Blends Interceptions
Featured Works

Art Installation: Breathing Bags 

 Artist: Cindy Chan and Muhammad Zainuddin Bin Zahir

“Breathing Bags” is an interactive art installation that seeks to raise awareness on the harmful effects that plastic pollution brings to the environment, and also to challenge the status quo and societal norm of using plastic in our daily lives. The underlying notion: Do plastic bags still have a place in today’s society? In line with the theme of Pollution and Environment, ordinary plastic bags were used. Controlled by Arduino & programmed using Javascript, each plastic bag is selectively inflated and deflated in turn by two cooling fans. The outline of the “Breathing Bags” installation reflects the land and water regions within Singapore. The inflation and deflation of the plastic bags metaphorically symbolizes the lungs of the land suffocating; as more plastic waste is disposed, the environment continues to suffer.

Artist’s description:

NUS Alumni Cindy and Zai are part of a multi-disciplinary group of artists that explore art installations and differing interactive mediums as a form of art. The duo enjoys approaching a wide scale of subjects in a multi-layered manner. Their attempts to involve the viewer often involve the physical, reinforcing their strong belief in the concept of form taking precedence over function in their works.


Documentary: Isabelle 

Artist: Leong Jia Yu, Lee Ken Kiat, Janeen Loh, Janell Tan, Christine Anne de Silva

This short documentary showcases the life of Isabelle and the special needs community in Singapore. Isabelle has Nager syndrome, profound deafness and a host of other physical challenges. She faces many difficulties in her daily life, but doesn’t let that stop her. She embraces life fully and is a living example of how people with physical disabilities can be much more than their labels. They are talented and abled people whose capabilities should never be limited by prejudice. “Isabelle” aims to challenge societal stereotypes and prejudice against people with special needs. Through the documentary, the artists hope to showcase the talent and passion of people with special needs, thereby communicating that they are not so different from able-bodied people in doing the things they love.

Artists’ description:

Jia Yu, Ken Kiat, Janeen, Janell and Christine are Year 4 Communications and New Media students. The group of 5 took the module “NM4883D, New Media Production and Public Engagement” despite having little to no experience with film making. However, through the module they learnt a lot about how new media can be used to engage people in the local community and create discourse surrounding pertinent issues in society.


Video Game: Cracks

Artist: Alden Lim, Kenneth Kwek, Edison Neo

“Cracks” is a surrealist adventure game which attempts to portray the concept of angst and how people deal with it. Sometimes angst pushes people beyond the realm of reality and sanity. Inspired by surrealist games like Kentucky Route Zero, The Stanley Parable and movies such as Memento and Shutter Island, this short game puts the player into the mind of a serial killer. Taking on the role of a soldier, the player wakes up to find himself in an enemy camp and upon doing so, manages to establish contact with his superior. The player must then follow instructions to safely get through the enemy camp and escape. However, the further he ventures into the game, the stranger things start to get.

Artist’s description:

Together, Alden, Kenneth and Edison form “MHATTEN”, a trio that aims to combine art and games to create playable works of art. With a focus on digital works, the trio takes on simple and uncommon ideas and attempts to create unique games that also exudes aspects from other mediums. To the three, no idea or concept is rubbish as every single instance can open numerous alternatives or expansions to achieve the set objectives and goals of a particular work.


Virtual Reality: Depression (Prototype)

Artist: Ryan Chong, Clarissa Chan, Dylan Ho, Jasmine Moh, Lee Yee Hueh, Samuel Cho, Wayne Ng

“Depression” is a Virtual Reality video prototype inspired by games such as Depression Quest and That Dragon Cancer. With the increasing availability of Virtual Reality experiences to the masses, the artists hope to leverage on the unique aspects of this emerging medium to help audiences gain empathy, and eventually be motivated to understand more about Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) as an illness and the plight of patients suffering from MDD.

Artist’s description:

Armed with knowledge from their module NM4210: User Experience Design, Communications and New Media students Ryan, Clarissa, Dylan, Jasmine, Yee Hueh, Samuel and Wayne were inspired to utilize Virtual Reality as an interactive experience to create a project that raises awareness on social issues, and chose the topic of Depression in the hopes of reducing social stigma for patients.


Online Interactive Visual Art: Trigger

Artist: Yvonne Wong

“Trigger” explores various ways of combining aesthetic and technical aspects of new media to portray what is meant by “agitation”. Each onscreen window responds uniquely to user interaction with a variety of elements such as clocks and colours, thereby closely examining the multifaceted manners in which emotions can be triggered. Users are in for a pleasant visual/audio surprise as they discover what lies underneath the dull unassuming exterior. In the project, the eight various elements portray differing stages of the human mind. Changes are in tandem with the user’s’ on-screen activity, reflecting the fine line between the external and internal workings of an individual. From a colourful implosion and clockwork movements to a blatant rebellion of the yes and no, daily aggravations of one are reflected as experienced in everyday realities. In another example, the trigger of mouse movements reveal more than meets the eye and inform of the complexities experienced in daily life feeding into the overall exhibit’s theme of hidden truths facing contention with the facades of portrayal.

Artist’s description:

Yvonne is a 4th year student at NUS, majoring in Statistics at the Faculty of Science. She enjoys Chinese New Year snacks all year round. Yvonne enjoys short stories and good reads when she isn’t being crushed by the pressure of Final Year thesis-writing. She took the module NM2207 on a whim, but grew to really enjoy the sessions and the freedom to explore and create meaning from her digital work.


Board Game: The Struggle

Artists: Valerie Goh, Wang WeiHeng, Christine Anne de Silva, Low Yee Ching

“The Struggle” is a board game set in the time period of 225 BC in Ancient China where a state of unrest brought on by an arrogant and corrupt Zhou government. It attempts to depict the political struggles residing in that particular era between the government and people against them. In the game, player takes on the role of either the rebels/government, each with their own unique traits and advantage as they compete with each other for to conquer the entire nation. Using a system whereby the numbers of control points the players are able to spend to control a certain province is tied to certain consequences which may help or harm the player; we aim to portray the idea of decision making and consequences, as well as the concept of making sacrifices for progress. The game was inspired from popular board game “Risk” and “Twilight Struggle”, where elements of war strategy and empire building were the basis for the formulation of our game.

Artist’s description:

Christine, Wei Heng, Valerie and Yee Ching are Year 4 Communications and New Media students with an interest in game design and game creation. NM4227 Playable Art provided the team with great insights onto the entire process of game creation, be it a physical game or a digital game, from conceptualizing the idea all the way to design and technical coding while creating the game. It was an indescribable experience for them to see the fruits of their labour after completing the games and intrinsically rewarding to see players deeply captivated by what the team has created.


Later in the evening, we have also arranged for a performance by Dr. Alexander König. Dr. König is a media theoretician and audio-visual artist from Berlin. His performance is titled “CPHE Simulacron,” or, in full, “Cybernetic Pre-Established Harmonic Engine Simulacron.” It is an exploration into digital technology as well as aesthetic concepts. Through real-time simulation with audio-visual effects, Dr. König will manipulate more and more number of particles which, over time, react to the simulated environment itself, thus shedding light upon the inner dynamics of the simulated particle system. The exercise will be a self-regulatory one, and is expected to to lead to an exploration of the frontiers of physics.

Come join us at Random Blends 2017 and expand your mind and perspectives.