Feb.16: Antarctica Research Trip Report by Lee Eun Jung

Researchers perform fieldwork in various places, but it is not often that one goes to Antarctica. On Feb. 16, the Biotope Salon heard from a speaker who did just that. Ms. Lee Eun Jung, a science reporter for Korean Broadcast System(KBS) and a visiting scholar at GSII, shared the research she conducted on in the earth’s coldest continent between October and November last year.

In her presentation titled, “How to Survive in Antarctica as a Researcher,” Ms. Lee, who stayed in Jang Bogo Station, one of the two Korean stations operated by the Korean Polar Research Institute, introduced what life is like in Antarctica, where summer starts from around October through March, and winter is between April and September. Temperaturewise, the warmest during summer can reach as high as 0℃ while winter can become as low as –89.2℃. While the sun is up all day for several weeks during summer, Antarctica goes through polar night between April and August, when there is no sunlight.

Research projects undertaken by the Korean teams include polar life science, geology and climate science, which help expand the understanding of the earth’s history, climate change and future resources. In the case of  Ms. Lee, however, her focus was on the psychology of the expedition members who spent a year in Antarctica. While a majority of researchers visit the station during the sunny summer months, the 16 expedition members who she interviewed were assigned to stay throughout the year including the dark cold winter months with just themselves to maintain the base and research data that were being collected there.

The interviewees were all male and aged between 29 and 62, and held different tasks as the leader, doctor, engineer, researcher and chef. Based on her interviews, Ms. Lee analyzed that the members experienced three types of stress which derived from work, living environment and psychosocial factors. Many members suffered from loneliness, depression, anger and irritations and difficulty of sleeping, she said, adding that many also experienced interpersonal conflicts. The timing of her interviews were the final few months of their year at the base. Ms. Lee observes that some kind of counseling via satellite during the winter months could be useful to reduce the level of their stress and improve the psychological conditions of the expedition members. Afterwards, participants discussed that comparison between expedition members of other countries as well as with people in other fields would be interesting.

(Setsuko Kamiya: MA student, GSII)

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Jan 19: Latinos and the Media in the United States by Jessica Retis

Amid the increase of the Hispanic population in the United States over the past few decades, their ethnic media is facing many challenges due to the decline of readership and audiences among the younger generation, according to Professor Jessica Retis of the Department of Journalism at California State University, Northridge, who was the speaker of the latest Biotope Salon on January 19.

Professor Retis is a visiting scholar who is investigating the ethnic media of the Latinos in Japan, who mainly comprise of Brazilians and Peruvians who are descendants of Japanese immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th century.


During her presentation, titled “Latinos and the Media in the United States,” the professor introduced the background of the Latino population, which helped participants hold a general understanding of the diversity of the 55 million Hispanics in the U.S. and their media. By coincidence, the presentation came a day before the inauguration of the new president who has expressed taking a tough stance on immigration.

Professor Retis noted the importance of recognizing that Latinos are not a homogeneous community but is a mix of people from many different countries of origin. This is evident when looking at some Hispanic hub cities and the history of the flow of immigrants: New York has large communities of people from Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic, Florida’s Latino community comprise of Cubans, while Mexico is the motherland to those in California, Texas and other boarder states. Interestingly, over the past few decades, Latinos have spread geographically into many regions outside the hub regions. This trend, according to the professor, was due to the aging of local communities where Hispanics became their new labor force.

Although the Hispanic population is regarded as an important market, their presence is much smaller when it comes to political participation. Among the entire Latinos in the country, half of them are eligible voters but only half among them have actually cast their votes, which means that their voices are not necessarily represented, she said.

Meanwhile, the younger Latino generation is increasingly U.S.-born and do not necessarily have strong command of Spanish as they integrate themselves to the American society. Unlike the elder generation who only speak Spanish, the younger Latinos, especially the upper and middle class audiences, will rely more on the mainstream English language media, even though they also reach out to Hispanics in Spanish language. In addition, the fact that more people rely on social media as major source of information is a challenge for media organizations who are suffering from decline in readership – a trend observed globally. Radio continues to be a strong media among Hispanics, but the most popular programs are on music and entertainment, which means that some Latinos may have very limited access to news, the professor noted. Under these diverse and changing conditions of the Hispanic population, the Spanish language media needs to think hard on who their audiences are and what their agenda is, she said.

The 2016 Presidential Election saw more Latinos cast their votes compared to previous elections. A survey showed that while immigration issues have been one of their largest interests but the Latino voters were actually most interested in the economy. Education and health care issues were also of major concern among them.

But when Professor Retis and her students analyzed the media’s presidential campaign coverage, she said it became clear that both mainstream and Hispanic media reported heavily on Trump’s characters and his rhetoric on Twitter than actual political issues that needed to be discussed.  The findings seemed to indicate the need for the media to think harder on what it should do to serve the public at a time when the new presidency is raising its attacks on the press.



(Setsuko Kamiya: MA student of GSII)

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June 16: Citation Needed: The Construction of News on the Japanese Wikipedia

In the afternoon of June 16, we hold the Biotope Salon with the speaker Mr. Omri Reis, PhD candidate of the University of Tokyo. His speech was the outline of his doctoral dissertation. Here is the abstract.


Research on multiple editions of the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, shows significant correlation between news events and patterns of participation on the site (Lih, 2004. Keegan, 2013). The Japanese edition is no different in this regard, with news events, and related articles, receiving more views and edits. However, the Japanese edition, and the community of volunteers operating it clearly exhibit aspects of Japanese web culture, dynamics and modes of interaction.

Wikipedia has been discussed as an example of “the Wisdom of Crowds” (Surowiecki, 2004), or “collective intelligence” (Levi, 1997), where as the  Japanese term became shūgōchi(集合知). Unlike the more traditional term  shūchi (衆知) which implies a notion of “common knowledge” shared by everyone, shūgōchi implies technical aggregation of information in order to assemble comprehensive and accurate knowledge. Others in Japan have also used the term IA (intelligence amplification) (Nishijima, 2015).

In Japanese historiographies of the Internet, one can easily notice an emphasis on the “uniqueness “of the Japanese Web. In post-bubble 1990s Japan, the preposition suggests, the Internet fostered a culture of cynicism and conservatism. Used predominantly by young, unemployed or marginalized communities, the Web was conceived as a technological means to escape reality rather than to transform it. Social interaction online was mostly anonymous, and supported the free-flow of non-branded information. Critics claim that “profit hatred” (嫌儲), clear separation of the online sphere from “real life” (リア充), “copy” or “sharing” culture (コピー) and flaming dynamics (炎上) are the characteristics that made Japanese online communities unique from a global perspective (Kawakami, 2015; Sasaki, 2015).  In this environment, some argue, sustaining Wikipedia’s “good faith” culture (Reagle, 2010) is a challenging endeavor.

Statistical evidence from Wikipedia corroborates many of these assumptions. First, the topical expansion of the Japanese edition leans more towards popular culture than other editions with articles on animation, music and TV getting far more edits and views (Yasseri, et al., 2014). Second, anonymous (or IP based) edits are more common on the Japanese editing than any other major edition. Third, discussion on the “talk” pages is Japan is in most cases shorter than other editions. And lastly, Japanese law stipulates strict restrictions on privacy (in articles on criminal cases for example), and different copyright laws (GFDL applies, but the “fair use” clause mostly does not).

The Japanese web user is also much more on the move than users in other countries. As research from the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications indicates, Japanese users access the Internet from mobile devices, and use mobile applications much more than PC or web browsers. This has a lot to do with long commuting times (about 2 hours, on average, a day in the Kanto area for example), and the popularity of train travel. Since editing Wikipedia from a PC browser is favorable (in terms of convenience and verity of options), passive consumption of information is more prevalent in general, but also in the case of Wikipedia.

However, all of these obstacles do not stop articles on news events from being exceptionally popular both in edits and views.  In my talk, I showed how a “trace ethnography” method (Geiger and Ribes, 2011) could be used to see the rich discussion on news events and their subsequent construction into news-based knowledge. Relying on Wikipedia policies and guidelines, Japanese users apply “cleanup tags” to direct the expansion of articles. In the discussion on the Japanese Supreme Court ruling on separate family names for married couples, for instance, Japanese users sought a global comparative view by attaching the “too Japanocentric” cleanup tag.  In other examples, I’ve shown how specific media sources (daily national newspapers for example), are preferred by editors on Wikipedia more than others (weeklies, websites).  Every month, as Wikipedia’s Zeitgeist statistic shows, news related articles are among the top 10 most edited ones.

News work on the Japanese Wikipedia shows how pseudonymous, or anonymous, online communities are able to sort and filter information into contextual knowledge on current events. In Japan, where open participation is still associated with trolling, or abusive online behavior, it also exemplifies that ethical online collaboration is indeed possible in certain cases. Moreover, in a country that still exhibits extremely low user participation in the news industry, it serves as a model negotiating Japan’s anonymous web culture with a potentially sustainable one for collaborative journalism.



Geiger, R. Stuart, and David Ribes. “Trace ethnography: Following coordination through documentary practices.” In System Sciences (HICSS), 2011 44th Hawaii International Conference on, pp. 1-10. IEEE, 2011.

Kawakami, Nobuo (ed.) Netto ga unda bunka: dare mo hyōgensha no jidai (Net-borne Culture: The Age when Everybody Speaks). Tokyo: Kadokawa Gakugei, 2015.

Keegan B (2013) “A History of Newswork on Wikipedia”, In WikiSym ’13 Proceedings of the 9th International Symposium on Open Collaboration, Hong Kong, China, 5–7 August, pp. 7:1– 7:10. New York: ACM. Available at: http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/2491055.2491062 [accessed 14 January 2014].

Lévy, Pierre. Collective intelligence. Plenum/Harper Collins, 1997.

Lih, Andrew. “Wikipedia as participatory journalism: Reliable sources? Metrics for evaluating collaborative media as a news resource.” Nature, 2004.

Nishijima, Taooru (ed.) Yuzā ga tsukuru chi no katachi: shugōchi no shinka (the “wisdom” created by users: deepening the wisdom of crowds). Tokyo: Kadokawa Gakugei, 2015.

Reagle, Joseph Michael. Good faith collaboration: The culture of Wikipedia. MIT Press, 2010.

Sasaki, Toshinao.  Netto genron kūkan  keisei (The formation of the Web’s public sphere). In: Kawakami, Nobuo (ed.) Netto ga unda bunka: dare mo hyōgensha no jidai (Net-borne Culture: The Age when Everybody Speaks). Tokyo: Kadokawa Gakugei, 2015.

Yasseri, Taha, Anselm Spoerri, Mark Graham, and János Kertész. “The most controversial topics in Wikipedia: A multilingual and geographical analysis.” in Global Wikipedia: International and Cross-Cultural Issues in Online Collaboration, Fichman P., Hara N., eds., Scarecrow Press, 2014.
Available at SSRN:http://ssrn.com/abstract=2269392 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2269392

(Omri Reis, PhD Candidate, GSII, UTokyo)

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Tentative Schedule of Biotope Salon 2016

(Updated June 21st, 2016)
The following is a tentative schedule of biotope salon from July 2016 to March 2017.
Generally from 13:00 to 14:30 of third Thursday every month.
The venue will be the Gakkan Commons 1st floor of the Fukutake Hall.

July 21, Oct. 20, Nov. 10, Dec. 15, Jan. 19, Feb. 16, Mar. 16

There may be some special Biotope Salons. I will inform people of Mizukoshi no Yukari of them.

Shin Mizukoshi

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May 19: Villi showed mass media landscape in Scandinavia

As more people read the news on digital platforms, the newspaper industry is facing many challenges to survive. In his presentation at the Biotope Salon on May 19, Mikko Villi, Professor of Journalism at the Department of Communication at the University of Jyväskylä, showed how the newspaper businesses in Scandinavian countries are dealing with the rapid changes surrounding them.

IMG_5135 Under the title “Nordic newspaper publishers’ business models, current challenges and future outlooks,” Professor Villi introduced a joint research project he and his colleagues at the Univ. of Helsinki and the Univ. of Turku performed in 2016 which studied newspaper companies in Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

The first part of the report gave an overview of the industry of the three countries between 2005 and 2014.

  • In Norway and Sweden, both had over 70 newspapers published 4 to 7 times a week, while weekly free sheets are dominant in Denmark.
  • Newspapers in all three countries saw a significant drop in circulation in that decade: Norwegian newspapers saw a 23 percent decline, while its Swedish and Danish counterparts saw a 30 percent and 35 percent drop respectively.
  • This downward trend was also reflected in the decline of advertisement revenue for newspapers: In 2005, Norwegian newspapers held 43 percent of the entire advertising market, but the share dropped to 27 percent in 2014. Similarly, ad revenue for newspapers fell from 45 percent to 21 percent in Sweden, while this dropped from 47 percent to 24 percent in Denmark.
  • Meanwhile, online advertising saw a sharp rise. In Norway, online ad revenue made up only 14 percent in 2006, but this jumped to 38 percent in 2014. In a similar manner, Swedish online advertising rose from 15 percent to 43 percent, while Danish online ad shares grew from 14 percent to 44 percent in the same period.

The second part of Professor Villi’s report showed a more detailed situation of the three markets, which was based on interviews with the newspapers of each country. Here are the excerpts:

  • The general trend in Sweden was that although print income was still significant, digital income was growing fast. Newspapers agree that obtaining consumer data is becoming increasingly important for developing online content and performing targeted advertising, and they are coming up with ways to get readers to become registered users. Some have also noted the need to focus on paying readers in order not to rely as much or at all on ad revenue in the future. Meanwhile, some papers have also experimented with “robot journalism”, where articles are automatically written and do not require human intervention.
  • As Norway is not a member of the European Union, neither the print nor the digital editions have to have VAT imposed, which makes the subscription prices cheaper for consumers. Norwegian newspapers are the most innovative among the three countries and they are experimenting with different new business models. For example, Schibsted is building its own data and service platform to fight against Google and Facebook, while others such as Aller are in cooperation with the two social network services. Meanwhile some local newspapers have also joined forces by networking digitally.
  • Denmark, where freesheets have strong support from consumers, many commercial newspapers are still financially stable as they are backed by foundations. But being foundation-based means they lack flexibility, making it difficult to experiment with new businesses outside journalism. In order to stop the decline in subscription, some have run aggressive marketing and sales campaigns, while others have held exclusive events with readers to build a community with readers. Some have combined the digital subscription with a mobile phone subscription. They have recognized that consumers are, after all, willing to pay for online media content.


From the multinational survey, the study concluded that the newspapers are testing many new businesses such as providing personalized content while being flexible with the pricing, and creating joint digital platforms with competitors. However, no one has yet to come up with a strong answer. Many of the interviewees admitted that a new business model was necessary, as subscription and ad revenue will not be sufficient to maintain a viable business. They are also seeking for ways to obtain younger readers.

During the discussion after the presentation, participants acknowledged that the challenges facing Nordic newspapers were very similar to what Japanese newspaper industry and those in other countries are facing. The fact that no one has a good solution yet is also mutual. As one interviewee of the research noted, providing a strong journalistic material such as investigative reporting may be a key to survival, although that alone will not help generate income or win readers. We would like to see the same research performed a few years later to see whether or how things may change.

Setsuko Kamiya: Master Course Student of iii

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April 17: LEGO fans co-creation of value by Vlada

In the Biotope Salon on April 21, 2016, Mr. Vlada Botoric, International Research Fellow of iii and PhD student of School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University Denmark gave a presentation “LEGO fans co-creation of value in the participatory playground,” some parts of his doctoral research.


The following is his own abstract.

Today’s business atmosphere could be described by the increasing competition that is driven by innovation and by inventions that come from outside the corporate doors (Weiers, 2014). Consumer behavior is rapidly changing, therefore the product lifecycle becomes shorter and companies are forced to a constant reinvention of their business models and communication strategies in order to capture attention and remain vital in the market.

Over the past fifteen years, research has viewed users as a component of various business models. Therefore, a user is viewed as a “content generator” (Plé, Lecoq, and Angot, 2010), not just a passive recipient. Consumers have specialized competencies and skills that companies are unable to match or even understand (Prahalad and Ramaswamy, Tapscott and Williams, 2006). The main objective of market-driven companies is developing and
sustaining relationships with their customers. This has led to a new shift in developing such relationship-marketing program, which involves creating, maintaining, and enhancing long-term relationships with customers for mutual benefit.

Using the example of LEGO fans and their practices related to a vast repertoire of activities, Vlada Botoric raises questions regarding the collaborative aspect of their brand engagement through their own practices and the LEGO Group activities directed to those activities.

The practices fans perform range from the most diverse creative expressions made in LEGO bricks or inspired by them, through self-organization into LEGO User Groups (communities of devoted users gathered under the brand name), to their engagement in digital platforms developed by the company. Theoretical links between fan culture and a set of corporate practices that seek to capture and exploit participatory culture (Jenkins et al. 2013, p. 48) are central to Vlada’s argument.

Since the LEGO Group profitably democratized relationship with its fans, Vlada brings closer the creative production of the LEGO fans through the lens of marketing theory.

The aim of the presentation was to provide more understanding of creative practices of fans, offering an insight from the fans’ perspective and business literature overview.


After his presentation, the discussion was focused on the balance between business and culture, or the relationship between business driven research and cultural research. The uniqueness of LEGO company among other industries was also discussed.

(Abstract: Vlada Bototoric, Comment: Shin Mizukoshi)

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Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies, University of Tokyo

Venue: #92B, 9F, Faculty of Engineering Bldg 2, Hongo campus, University of Tokyo

Date: 10 DECEMBER 2015 (Thursday)

RSVP: Not needed

Tyson Vaughan’s essay on the 3rd issue of Magazine “5: Designing Media Ecology”

この国際ワークショップは、災害地域の人々の状況を調査するなどの実証的研究とはやや次元が異なり、そうした状況下で科学技術や専門家はどのように関わり、どのようにあるべきかを反省的にとらえるような、あえて言えば批判的科学技術コミュニケーション論(Critical STS)、批判的人類学(Critical Anthropology)、知識社会学(Sociology of Knowledge)などの観点を持ったものです。
佐倉統さんと水越らが出している『5:Designing Media Ecology』というバイリンガルの独立雑誌があります。
その第3号の特集が「3.11後の科学と生活(Everyday Life and Science after the 3/11 Disaster)」というものだったのですが、その内容にきわめて関わりがあります。
実際、そこに寄稿してくれたシンガポール国立大学のタイソン・ヴォーガン(Tyson Vaughan)さんがこのワークショップの立ち上げ人の一人です。

09:30 – 09:45

09:45 ー 10:00

Shin MIZUKOSHI | University of Tokyo
Osamu SAKURA | University of Tokyo
Tyson VAUGHAN | National University of Singapore
10:00 ー 11:10

Shin MIZUKOSHI | University of Tokyo
University of Tokyo
A Two-Front War Against Anti-Intellectualism and Expert Paternalism
National University of Singapore
Moving Beyond Social and Epistemological “Bundan” in Fukushima

11:10 – 11:25
11:25 – 12:35


Professor Michael Douglas


Dr. Eli Elinoff


Dr. Sulfikar Amir


Osamu Sakura | University of Tokyo
National University of Singapore
Linking Knowledge to Action: Disaster Resilience at Micro, Meso and Macro Scales of Expertise
National University of Singapore
Bureaucratic Activists and Grassroots Experts: Politics and Inclusion After Disaster

12:35 – 13:40

13:40 ー 14:50

Shin Mizukoshi | University of Tokyo
International Recovery Platform, Kobe, Japan
Overcoming Policy Challenges Through Inter-Governmental Partnerships and Training
Atsushi TANAKA
University of Tokyo (CIDIR)
The Role of University-Based Disaster Mitigation and Prevention Research

14:50 – 15:05

15:05 ー 16:15


Professor Osamu Sakura

Sulfikar AMIR | Nanyang Technological University
Christian DIMMER
University of Tokyo
Place-Making and Social Design in Post-Disaster, Post-Growth Japan
University of Tokyo
Participatory Community Design in Disaster Recovery

16:15 – 16:30

16:30 – 17:30

Tyson VAUGHAN | National University of Singapore
Lead Discussants
Osamu SAKURA | University of Tokyo
Shin MIZUKOSHI | University of Tokyo
Mike DOUGLASS | National University of Singapore


Shin MIZUKOSHI | University of Tokyo


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July 16: SAIC and iii shared the possibilities and challenges of interdisciplinarity


2015-07-16 14.26.20

A lecture and hands-on in the Institute of Advanced Asian Studies


photo 2

Sales promotion of magazine “5: Designing Media Ecology”



More than 40 international students of SAIC and iii


Professor Andrew Yang and Osamu Sakura

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June 15, Special Salon for Project “Storyplacing”

The Special Biotope Salon on June 15

The Special Biotope Salon on June 15


From the right, Sanna Martial, Andrea Botero of the Aalto Univ., Petro Poutanen of the Univ. of Helsinki.


There was a special biotope salon with Finnish, Korean, and Japanese researchers and practitioners from 12:00 to 15:30, Monday June 15 at the first floor meeting room of the Fukutake Hall.
In this salon, there were four presentations with discussion.
Two of Finnish ones are achievements of the bilateral research project, Storyplacing: Co-Design of Digital Storytelling with Geographic Information System.

– Petro Poutanen (Univ. of Helsinki): “Studying everyday self-organized social movements from a story-telling perspective”

– Andrea Botero & Sanna Marttila (Aalto Univ.): “Vignettes from everyday self-organized social movements in Helsinki”

– Utako Morishita (Media Practitioner): “Bridging Finnish and Japanese culture: Distributing Finnish films and the cleaning days in Kamakura city”

– Minjoo Lee (UTokyo): “Overview of Japanese youth culture and social poverty”

– Chairpersons: Shin Mizukoshi (UTokyo)


For your infromation, “Statement of interest” by Finnish three researchers.

In Finland we have in the last few years witnessed a flurry of citizen-driven and organized activities, such as “guerrilla gardening”, with aims to beautify unattended urban spots, or self-assigned urban planning initiatives to revive the local community. In many neighborhoods the traditional hierarchical “residents associations” are being challenged by loosely organized networks of residents, who create different type of place making projects. Internet, social media, and geographical information systems seem to play a catalyst role, and our research interest is to find out what is their role from the viewpoint of urban story-telling and archiving (i.e. how people create, share and make their memories and experiences available to others, thus contributing to the community and the sense of belonging and organization).

By “self-organization” we refer to such citizen initiatives that have initiated and organized their activities bottom-up, in a grassroots fashion, whereas the traditional model would rely on top-down, city- or municipality-driven initiatives. For us, self-organization means that an organization’s “structure” has taken its form ad hoc and is flexible in terms of changes over time. From the perspective of a citizen, people organize their activities as soon as different
opportunities open up and they learn about the place and their surroundings.

We are interested in initiatives in which citizens engage with each others’ to make changes in the city, its urban structure, or how they can experience it. Our project focuses on “places”, and therefore particular areas of the city (how to change them, how to influence their developments, their future or their present, etc.) are good starting points. However, generally speaking also other kinds of applications to “change” the city might be interesting.

After the salon, we had a joyful time in the Kitasenju town. Professor Yoshitaka Mouri of cultural studies, Research Associate Haruka Iharada, and Dr. Minna Valjakka of the University of Helsinki joined us and had a nice night tour over there.


Night tour in Kitasenju town with Professor Yoshitaka Mouri of Tokyo University of the Arts.

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June 2: Gerard Goggin and his team members around the Internet studies



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