2013 – My Spaces: between writing and doing.

By | December 31, 2013 at 10:53 pm | No comments | Global Swarming, Personal


Most of this year I spent on my way to LSE.  Despite the fact that LSE library is overcrowded and sometimes it is difficult to find working space on the campus, Holborn area with all its coffee places and venues was like a big office for me. I am happy about my progress with PhD, although I could definitely make more.


I also felt in love with my neighbourhood, the East End  and Spitalfields Market. A small roof of my flat can be seen on this photo.


Another dimension of my London 2013 is the city of jogging that was mediated through my Runtastic application. I really enjoyed crossing Millenium bridge at midnight on my usual 10k track.


 And my first official 10k London Run )


Not only running… 2013 was a year of flying… (a plane from Melbourne to Mildura).


From the bay of Sydney… Australia was very intense trip, but I was extremely happy to meet great friends and fellows, and conduct more more than 25 interviews for my PhD research.


To the slums of Mathare in Nairobi… A place with great challenges, but first of all amazing people. In Kenya I attended inspiring International Crisis Mapping conference.  It was my first time in Africa.


From the roofs of Istanbul where I took a part amazing workshop about Internet civic activism. It was organised by Ethan Zuckerman and MIT (hopefully, my chapter for this project about mutual aid as a form of activism will be published very soon)…


To the bridges of Dublin where I attended IAMCR (International Association of Media and Communication Research) conference. I presented there two papers – one about content analysis of crowdsourcing platform for response to Russian wildfires and another one about political innovation during Russian elections.


From Moscow, full of dramatic political events and inspiring meetings (I was so wet after this Navalny rally…). During few visits to Moscow in 2013 I taught a course for master students at the Higher School of Economics and completed the second major segment of my PhD fieldwork with about 30 interviews.


To Israel where I fulfilled my electoral duty.


As Richard Bach wrote: “There is no such place as far away”. In 2013 I learned that it’s true.


But moving all around the world and coming back to London just for one day in order to make laundry is not an easy task. Sometimes I was as tired as this kangaroo.


And wanted to sleep on the first tree as this koala in Brisbane.


In 2013 I studied a lot about bush fires and emergency response system in Australia…


I happened to be in Australia when bush fires broke out in New South Wales. This picture was taken in one of the situational centres. It demonstrates the unique role of volunteers in Australia and very advanced  mode of collaboration between emergency response agencies and volunteers.


As a part of participatory ethnographic research I also joined to amazing people – “Liza Alert” search and rescue networked volunteers project in Russia. On this photo you can see a person who was rescued by volunteers.


At the same time I also tried to explore new fields of research and expand the range of my academic interests. This photo was taken at the “Performing Porn” conference in London.


Among a number of talks that I gave in a number of places this one was in particular symbolic – I was talking about my research at the I-Hub in Nairobi, the place where Ushahidi was born. Another important talk was  an opportunity to talk to the class of GW students of my mentor and colleague  – Steven Livingston. I also really enjoyed giving a talk about the tenets of Crowdsourcing for Teplitza in Moscow, “Crowdsourcing as Tikkun Olam” at Limmud Conference, a public talk about Internet regulation at the Annenberg School and certainly presenting my research to my department as a part of Research Dialogues at LSE.


At the end of 2013 I was happy to see some fruits of my work. A chapter about dynamics of innovation during Russian elections was published by in a book edited by great scholars – Phil Howard and Muzammil Hussain.


Few months earlier, while visiting “Biblio-Globus” bookstore close to Lubyanka Square, I was surprised to find a Russian updated version of our paper co-authored with Josh Machleder in a collection of chapters that was published by the Russian Academy of Science.


But probably the most important fruit of this year is this book that was published by Oxford University Press after two years of intensive work with my dear colleagues Steven Livingston and Gregor Walter-Drop. I have a lot of words of thank you to them for constant support and inspiration. I contributed two chapters to this fascinating project (one about ICT and natural disasters, and second about web cameras and construction of symbolic statehood).


This year we marked few very important anniversaries. Teplitza Socialnih Technologiy (te-st.ru) – an amazing project that supports bottom up social innovation and facilitates dialogue between NGOs community and software developers celebrated its first birthday. The project is managed by my great friend and colleague Alexey Sidorenko.


My department celebrated its 10th anniversary. I am really happy that LSE was my final choice for PhD programme. It’s an amazing place and and amazing community. And in particular, I am honoured to work with my supervisor Professor Robin Mansell who constantly supports and inspires me (although sometimes I am far from being a good student).


I am happy that this year I was also able to spend a lot of time with my father. He published a great new book.  I continued to manage his website asmolovpsy.ru  But what is most amazing is that in my research unexpectedly I came back to my genetic origins when I discovered that Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) is the best foundation for my conceptual framework. CHAT was founded by Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky about 90 years ago and by the teacher of my father Alexey Leontiev.  This photo was taken at the public lecture about the future of education reform in Russia that my father gave at TV channel “Dozhd” in Moscow.


In 2013 I was also able to attend many interesting inspiring lectures and events (on the photo Lord Anthony Giddens).


Some of these events reached international headlines, like this lecture by Vladislav Surkov that was his last public appearance as deputy prime minister in Russian government.


It was also a year with a lot of latte and sometimes espresso (as well as Chai Tea Latte). Sometimes, coffee has important messages ) Probably, that’s a coffee for dead poets.


But, the major message that I take from this year to 2014 is something that I saw in a bookstore at University of Pennsylvania . Indeed, it is going to be a year of writing, but I also hope that it will be a year of doing. In this type dialectics of activity, the challenges are not only about writing and doing, but also about finding the right balance between these two.

(to be continued: you are welcome to read the second part of this post).

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Gregory Asmolov. All rights reserved.