Roger Wilkinson, Digital Publications Editor:
As the newly appointed editor of Nexus, the phrase ‘digital publications’ has been added and now precedes ‘editor’, to clearly mark a change in the way that individuals now relate to colleagues and their organisations. I thank a previous co-editor of Nexus, Eileen Clark, for her generosity and help in assuming this position.
Just a few years ago, I was part of a team that produced the print edition of Nexus. As a way of producing efficiencies, we produced pdf versions which were emailed to TASA members. Looking back, this was the beginning of what many refer to as ‘digital disruption’. Even with C Wright Mills’ ‘sociological imagination’ at the forefront of consciousness, it was difficult to envision what might come next in what now seems like a ‘permanent revolution’.
Today it appears that most of us grab our smart phones or tablets before sitting (or standing) at our computers to check email, engage with ideas on the Internet, read the news, or access learning management systems or scholarly journals.
Recently retrenched from academia after restructure after restructure, I decided to become a student again and study human resource management (I taught about the changing nature of work) and social media. I left academia with 15 years of experimenting and developing the digital delivery of lectures. Always keenly aware of the increasing trend towards the commodification of experience in society at large, and within the neoliberal academy, I experimented with ways of addressing individuals rather than bums on seats.
As a lecturer, I had always tried to imagine life as a (post)modern student, but the experience of being a student (again) certainly provided that unique experience I could not have imagined. The experience of confronting monolithic and boring university websites, and clunky learning management systems, is alienating, to say the least. Interacting with casual teaching staff, some who had just 24 hours before been given a contract, exposed the Australian university system as more concerned with profit than a creditable university experience.
I feel fortunate to be in the position of digital publications editor of Nexus. I have been lucky enough to have the time and inclination to become more digitally literate, dabbling in HTML5, and other web languages, learning more about the power of Infographics for communication, and other areas that would have enhanced my teaching ability, if Universities funded their ‘creatives’ to be ever-more creative.
I hope that I will be able to initiate an on-going dialogue which critically examines the new technologies and allows individuals to be able to craft a living within the sociological community and which breaks down the digital divide.
During 2018, Nexus ran a number of stories of sociologists who were looking for secure employment, across a range of industries. In forthcoming newsletters, we will provide ongoing feedback from sociologists who wrote their stories of searching for meaningful work in an increasingly insecure labour market.