Digital Ecosystem Research Challenge, “Exploring Affect and Digital Media in the 2019 Canadian Election,” University of Ottawa ($43,000) 2019-20
SSHRC Insight Grant, “Affective Media, Social Movements, and Digital Dissent: Emotions and Democratic Participation in the ‘Post-Truth’ Era” (2019-2022); (submitted October 2017; again, October 2018; awarded March 2019) ($127,000)
McLuhan Centre for Technology and Culture Working Group: “Affect and Algorithms,” (2018-19) ($7500)
SSHRC Connections Grant, (2018-19)”Affect, Propaganda, and Political Imagination: New Directions of Interdisciplinary Research Symposium, to be held June 7-9, 2019. ($12500)
Visiting Scholar, University of California Berkeley, Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, winter/spring 2015.
Principal Investigator, Social Science and Humanities Research Council Grant, “Sociable Media in the Hands of Young Citizens: Evolving Forms of Participatory Democracy,” 2010-2013, $75,000.
Insight Development Grant, Catherine Burwell, University of Calgary, PI; and M. Boler, Co- Investigator.“Youth, Bytes, Copyright: Investigating Young Canadians’ Encounters with Digital Copyright” ($57,000)
Social Science and Humanities Research Council Symposium Grant, SSHRC Aid to Conferences and Workshops Grant, awarded July 2010; (Applicant Matt Ratto, Megan Boler Co- Applicant) SSHRC award: $20,150, to organize “DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media,” international conference organized by Megan Boler and Matt Ratto, hosted by Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto (November 2010).
Co-Investigator, Social Science and Humanities Research Council Standard Research Grant, Teaching and Learning High School Philosophy in Ontario Schools, with Trevor Norris, PI. $145,000 [2010-2015]
Co-Investigator, Digital economy trading zones: interactional expertise and the role of public, private, and academic values, Social Science and Humanities Research Council (PI Dr. Matt Ratto; Megan Boler, Co-Investigator) (2010-2014)
Co-Investigator, “Voices from digital natives: informal learning and sociable media in child and youth cultures” (PI: Dr. Jason Nolan, Ryerson University; Co-Investigators M. Boler, A. Bal, Ryerson University; J. Jenson, York University), Social Science and Humanities Research Council, Standard Research Grant, $143,040
2010 Critics Choice Award, American Educational Studies Association, for M. Boler, Digital Media and Democracy: Tactics in Hard Times (Cambridge: MIT Press).
Jackman Humanities Institute, University of Toronto. $5000 for a Working group for 2008-09 on Media and its Publics.
University of Toronto Excellence Awards in Social Sciences and Humanities, $5500 to fund Angela Kalyta, senior undergraduate Sociology major, to work through summer 2008 on Dr. Boler’s SSHRC Project “Rethinking Media, Democracy and Citizenship.”
Principal Investigator, Social Science and Humanities Research Council Grant, “Rethinking Media, Democracy And Citizenship: New Media Practices And Online Digital Dissent After September 11.” 2005-2008 ($122,000) (Megan Boler, Principle Investigator)
Canadian Council on Learning, Ontario Media Literacy Project, (Megan Boler, Co-PI with Dr.Mark Lipton, Guelph University and Dr. Kari Dehli, OISE/UT). $40,000
Banff Center for the Arts, Wired Writing Studio, October-March 2006-07
Nominee, TVOntario Big Ideas Award for Best Lecturer, 2005
Outstanding Paper Award, “Qualitative Meta-Analysis for Social Justice: the Creation of an Online Diversity Resource Database,” Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education, Atlanta, GA (co-authored with A. Potts, David Hicks, an Peter Doolittle)
Diggs’ Teaching Scholar Award, Recipient, 2002, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Invited Participant, Duke University Franklin Center Summer Institute on Globalization, Women, and Development, July 2002, Durham North Carolina
Boler, M. (2001) International Institute of Information Technology, Virginia Tech, Research Grant to produce Critical Media Literacy in Times of War website ($50,000)
Smith, Linda, Megan Boler, and Graham Smith. Marsden Fund Award (The Royal Society of New Zealand) (1997-2000) Maori Education Youth First: Taking Kids’ Talk Seriously ($500,000)
Boler, M. University of Auckland Staff Research Grant, Emotional Literacy in Australian Educational Policy, 1997 ($3000)
Boler, M. University of Auckland New Staff Research Grant, Emotional Literacy in U.S. Educational Policy 1996 ($11,000)
This SSHRC-funded 2017 Knowledge Research Grant projects on addressing a rapidly changing global context. PI: Megan Boler. Research Assistant: Elizabeth Davis.
Pundits and scholars are scrambling to make sense of the overtly emotional rise of right-wing populism in global politics. One clue lies in the shifting relationship between information and communication technologies (ICTs) and media, and democratic values and civic participation. Key to these shifts is the “post-truth” era, where objective facts influence public opinion less strongly than appeals to emotion and belief.
This project will develop a framework and research agenda for understanding the relationship between emotions, ICTs and politics. It will draw on digital media studies and the growing field of “affect studies,” to examine collective emotion, the evolving media landscape, and the interplay between emotion and information warfare.
Through this project, the researchers hope to generate knowledge that will help position Canada as a leader in protecting democratic values and institutions from the threats posed by these developments.
“The pressing question of citizens’ trust in the processes and institutions of democracy urgently requires a deepened understanding of the role of emotions in forming political identities and social movements.” —Megan Boler
This SSHRC-funded project explored how Occupy Movement activists engaged the participatory, interactive aspects of Web 2.0 and conversely, how the exponential rise of social media shape youth political engagement.
In November 2011, Dr. Boler and her research team conducted 50 interviews of Occupy Toronto participants, and Dr. Boler had the opportunity to observe and conduct interviews with 20 activists in California and New York affiliated with Occupy Wall Street, Occupy SF, and Occupy Oakland. The team conducted critical discourse analysis of interviews, resulting in the following publications:
Boler, M. and J. Phillips. “Entanglements with Media and Technologies in the Occupy Movement.” The Fibreculture Journal Special Issue: Entanglements–Activism and Technology (2015)
Boler, M. “Truth and Sensemaking in Digital Dissent,” Routledge Companion to Alternative and Community Media, ed. Chris Atton (London: Routledge 2015)
Boler, M. and C. Nitsou, “Women Activists within the Leaderless Occupy Wall Street: Consciousness-Raising and Connective Action in Hybrid Social Movements,” in McCaughey, M.(ed), Cyberactivism and the Participatory Web, NY: Routledge (2014)
Boler, M. “Occupy Patriarchy: Will Feminism’s Fourth Wave Be a Swell or a Ripple?” In Women in a Globalizing World: Transforming Equality, Development Diversity and Peace, ed. Angela Miles, Inanna Press (2013)
Megan Boler, “Occupy feminism: Start of a fourth wave?” Rabble.ca, May 29, 2012
1) To create a new web-based methodology that allows for public input on the research process. The researchers will develop interview questions in a YouTube video post and the female videobloggers will respond through their own YouTube channels and videopost responses
2) New research directions regarding women’s online practices and insights on the following topics:
• diverse expressions of gendered identities,
• online audiences and cross-gender dialogue and response,
• women’s under-representation within web-based communities
3) The project’s final aim through a YouTube Research Channel is to enable and invite public comments and response.
tobie is an outspoken lesbian vlogger. she is very active in the “vloggerhood” and has been vlogging since 2006.
You know, I don’t know for sure. I think for me I just don’t appeal to the male audience as much as the female audience. I also think that YouTube is not exactly female friendly. If you look at all the big people, you know the big vloggers, at least they started out as vloggers, there are very few women that are successful and even the ones that are successful are nowhere near the numbers of the men. So, I think what I’m implying is that YouTube is kind of a boy’s club which so is the world.
Syd is an educator and is responsible for creating the vlogger “constitution” on vloggerheads. syd has been vlogging since 2008.
You know, there’s this whole thing about the show of it, the presentation, the public persona, I could see myself just sort of emulating what other ppl were doing and it became like this show. You know, fear show, you know Syd’s gonna you know, it became a play thing. The more feedback I got, the more I got to know ppl, personally, even meeting people in person. So, the anonymous Syd was sort of slipping away so that made me less brave, less willing to talk about my fears because I was beginning, the people out there were not strangers I was actually coming to know them and meet them in person.
seleah is a new vlogger who writes, directs and edits her own sketch videos. she has been vlogging since april 2010.
Well vlogging makes me happy. It really does, I would feel like there is a big chunk of me that would miss it. Now that I have started, I don’t really see myself stopping. I am kind of in a way and I don’t want to say obsessed but kind of I am because the first thing I did this morning before I brushed my teeth was I went on YouTube. I am kind of addicted in a way. I love it.
samsarajade has been on various collaborative youtube channels and found love with another vlogger. she has been vlogging since 2006.
It was probably a bit of loneliness really. I did not have much of a social life outside the house. I am a single parent with three children and most, ah, my best friends was really kind of moved away from the area and have their own lives. I talk to them now and then but there is no one I really spend the afternoon with or pop in and out of their house. Basically, the reason I first made a video was to join in on what I saw was going on. So, it’s a way of just communicating with other adults out in the world when my life had become this box of my house and three demanding children and a whole ton of problems. It gave that kind of release.
laci uses her vlogs to address sexual health issues and body image issues. her vlogs are very popular and she is a youtube partner. laci has been vlogging as lacigreen since 2008.
Yeah. I do. But I don’t think it happens in a way that a lot of people think it does. Sometimes it is not necessarily direct. I am going to tell you this idea and you are going to love it and we are both going to support this cause. Sometimes that happens but what I think happens more often is you start talking about an issue in a new way and people start thinking about, people who wouldn’t necessarily agree with you start thinking about this issue in that way and you start the ball rolling. People then become more critical in the ways that they are assessing certain issues. Gay issues, trans issues and reproductive issues and ones that I have I have seen a lot people talk to me about them and started thinking about them in new ways and then they showed their friends and they are talking about it to their friends and it’s making a more conscious public even if it’s just a few people.
tree is an artist, musician and vlogger. her videos make up a reflective “autovideography” project. she has been vlogging since 2007.
What initially interested me and is still in the back and the mind is something I hate to see go. To exist in cyberspace offers anonymity. Unless you show yourself people you don’t know anything about you. What colour you are. Your age or anything like that. When I was first going to start vlogging. I had all these ideas about how I was going to do, I wasn’t going to show myself. I thought I would change my voice, it would not be clear if this was man or a woman. I wouldn’t show my body so you wouldn’t know my age or my race. To me that was ultimate freedom I could get from this. I suppose a writer gets you don’t necessarily see a writer but then as the time approached where I was getting ready to do my intro vlog on livevideo. I realized that it was kind of cop out. If I was going to do this I ought to jump in and do it, even though it was a little unnerving, it just seemed like I ought to go for it. So I did.
This research project engages female videobloggers (vloggers) to develop three aspects of internet studies presently unexplored in existing literature.
(1) Unique web-based methodology: First, we are developing an innovative and experimental web-based methodology: rather than conducting the traditional confidential interviews, we interview female videobloggers within the very medium they themselves have chosen for public, creative, and political expression: YouTube. We will develop interview questions in a YouTube video post (filmed and posted by Kelly Ladd, under the supervision of the Dr. Megan Boler) and the female videobloggers will respond through their own YouTube channels and videopost responses. Thus the research conversation will be (a) immediately transparent and open to the public; (b) answers will remain under the participants ownership, thereby creating a new model of open access and transparency of research process too often hidden by traditional ethics protocols. Participants will control their own confidentiality concerns by filming their own responses and choosing how and what they wish to publish on YouTube
(2) New research directions regarding women’s online practices. We aim to explore vloggers insights regarding
• diverse expressions of gendered identities,
• online audiences and cross-gender dialogue and response,
• our Open Access Research Design using their platform of choice, YouTube
• women’s under-representation within web-based communities
(3) Making Research Public through Digital Media: Our final aim through our YouTube Research Channel is to enable and invite public comments and response. Though this open and transparent process we aim to engage scholars, students, and wider publics in research that is usually black boxed and not made public until years after the research has been conducted. Our project will demonstrate how innovative social tools such as YouTube can be effectively used for social science and humanities research to engage subjects as collaborative peer experts. Our innovative approach to posting interviews through online YouTube videos and having participants respond via videoposts, in turn commented on by the public, allows for a truly open access, collaborative, and public research process.
Megan Boler was the Principal Investigator of a 2005-2008 Project called “Rethinking Media, Democracy and Citizenship: New Media Practices and Online Digital Dissent after September 11”, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).
This project examined how new forms of political citizenship are engaged through digital media to create public spaces of dissent. It explored the sites of “digital dissent”, resistance, and civic participation which arise in a epoch marked by the convergence of increased uses of Social Web alongside erosion of civil rights and freedom of press in the wake of the war on terror. (Click here to read about origins of project.)
Engaging a large team of research assistants — scholars as well as journalists– the project produced one of the first systematic qualitative studies of the motivations of “prosumers'” (producer-consumers) to engage in political digital dissent.
The project focused on four web-based networks of circulated dissent: (1) MoveOn’s Bushin30Seconds campaign, 150 independently-produced 30 second Quicktime movies that address a range of post 9/11 political concerns; (2) Web-logs that engage political discussion of media representation of U.S. foreign policy, particularly with respect to the invasion of Iraq; (3) Online discussions (threads, blogs, comments posted to blogs) that address Jon Stewart and The Daily Show, with particular focus on Stewart’s 2004 appearance on the CNN talk show Crossfire; and (4) Independently-produced multimedia “viral videos” that address diverse political issues related to U.S. policy.
During Year One, Dr. Boler supervised a team of nine researchers and consultants to analyze the discourses and digital media productions produced across these four sites. The team developed an extensive on-line survey which was administered to 159 users/producers. Analyzed through SPSS, the survey findings complement a 2006 PEW Foundation survey of “bloggers”.
In Year Two, the team conducted semi-structured interviews with 35 of the online producers of dissent. Click here to find two “remix” samplings of our data, combining visuals over audio clips from our interviews with digital dissent prosumers. The audio tracks of these videos are made from excerpts from our interviews with bloggers and indy digital video producers.
The following publications resulted from the “Rethinking Media, Democracy, and Citizenship:
Boler, Megan. Digital media and democracy: Tactics in hard times. Mit Press, 2010.
Publisher’s profile page, with free download of Introduction here.
Schmidt, Andrea and Megan Boler. “Will New Media Save Democracy?” CommonDreams, 2007.
Schmidt, Andrea. “Politics for Consumption: How war bloggers feed the spectacle,” Digital Dissent, User-Generated Content, and Web-Based Publics: Reconceptualizing Citizenship, Resistance, and Political Media. International Communication Association, Montreal, May 2008. pdf
Burwell, Catherine. “Calling on the Colbert Nation: Fandom, Politcs and Parody in an Age of Media Convergence,” in Megan Boler and Ted Gournelos, eds., Electronic Journal of Communication/La Revue Electronique de Communication, Vol. 18, #2, September 2008. ms pdf
A Note From Dr. Boler on Rethinking Media and Democracy
This three-year funded project was sparked by a paradox I observed when I began to study online digital dissent during the years after September 11, 2001. A professor at Virginia Tech at the time, I spent long hours on the Internet surfing and searching for alternative media accounts about the U.S. invasion of Iraq (see also my web-based project Critical Media Literacy in Times of War).
The paradox? On the one hand, increased public demands for truthful accounts from media and politicians expressed across the blogosphere in online discussion threads, viral videos, and animations (see Who We’ve Talked To for examples). But on the other hand, alongside this demand for truth a post-modern skepticism “that all truth claims are constructions”. In short: the common thought was that the only thing that is certain is that we’re being lied to.
The paradox sparks our study of the motivations of those producing what I call digital dissent — tactical online expressions that counter and subvert corporate-owned news.
Ben Bryant, #93 – Which Guy? | Rich Garella, #2 – Polygraph | Ravi Krishnaswami (collaboration), #122 Bushillin Toxum 1 & #136 Bushillin Toxum 2 | Penny Little (collaboration), #10 – Army of One | Holly Mosher (collaboration), #128 Bushit Meter | Meredith Lucio, #119 Who Do You Work For? | Diana Hamaan (collaboration), BUSH: He Makes Your Head Spin (To view Hamaan and the Bush in 30 Seconds archive, visit Mugsy’s Rap Sheet)
Interview mashups/rethinking media and democracy
From our 35 audio interviews with digital dissent producers, we have created sound-byte compilations illustrated with videos, of short excerpts from our interviews on different themes that emerge from this research. We have completed two mashups thus far, with more to come:
The audio tracks of these videos are made from excerpts from our interviews with bloggers and indy digital video producers (see who we’ve talked to). Through this format you hear a sampling of people’s motivations to express themselves publicly as digital citizens.