Vote for us! QUT DMRC session proposals for SXSW Sydney line-up

For the first time ever, SXSW is headed to Sydney, Australia! The Digital Media Research Centre have submitted a number of proposals for sessions to be included in the upcoming South By Southwest Sydney Conference taking place October 15-22.

To help determine the conference line-up each year, SXSW calls for submissions of session proposals on which the SXSW community then gets to vote.

This year, SXSW Sydney received more than 1400 proposals from around Australia and the world.

Voting is open until 11.59pm on Tuesday 11 April. Voters receive five votes but only one vote per proposal is permitted. Successful sessions will be included in SXSW Sydney.

The DMRC have proposed the following panel sessions.


The biggest myth: why we can’t quit cinemagoing

Speakers: Ruari Elkington (QUT DMRC), Tess Van Hemert (QUT DMRC) and Alex Moir (Palace Theatre)

Cinemagoing is Australia’s most popular cultural activity. Yet the myth of cinemas death and decline, always just around the corner, is equally resilient. The advent of sound, colour, television, the suburbs, the VCR and the Internet were all predicted to kill off moviegoing and none succeeded. As Australian cinemagoing weathers yet another storm, many are looking at what problems existed pre-pandemic, which of those remain, and what new challenges lie ahead. Deploying new findings from Australia’s largest audience survey of cinemagoing, this panel will dig deep into what cinema does compete with (hint, not Netflix), what it doesn’t compete with and why we can’t quit engaging with the communal experience of seeing something for cinemas, in cinemas.


Media Disrupted: Surviving Current & Coming Change

Speakers: Amanda Lotz (QUT DMRC)

This session draws from Media Disrupted: Surviving Pirates, Cannibals, and Streaming Wars (MIT Press) and developments since its publication to discuss how and why internet communication technologies have so substantively upset media industries and how to focus efforts going forward. ‘Tech’ and media have been confusingly intertwined in popular journalism for the last two decades, but when we step back, we can see most of the disruption owes to the development of new advertising tools. Some industries (newspapers) have starved as advertisers moved elsewhere, while others (series and movies) have capitalised on new revenue sources and business models, although struggled to align strategy to the new conditions. Those who have weathered disruption best have focused on doing a ‘better job’ for consumers, though importantly, the consumer for ad-funded and subscriber-funded video are very different.

Much of our understanding of what happened to media industries in the digital era continues to be shaped by myths and misdirection. This session reframes common narratives of what has happened to focus on the real challenges facing the screen sector as well as the opportunities.

What is the Children’s Internet?

Speakers: Aleesha Rodriguez (QUT DMRC), Michael Dezuanni (QUT DMRC) and Rys Farthing (Rest Tech)

Children are growing up in a rapidly changing digital world, so how do we make sure they live healthy, educated and connected lives online? To begin answering this pivotal question, we must first interrogate the current state of the so-called Children’s Internet: the digital spaces where children under the age of 12 are the dominant audience. The current state of the Children’s Internet broadly consists of edutainment products like Minecraft, scaled-down and curated services like YouTube Kids, and parental controlled spaces like Messenger Kids. So what could an internet specifically designed by and for children look like in 10 years time? In this expert panel discussion, key researchers from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child will unpack the latest research and raise provocations that outline visions for what the future Children’s Internet would, could, and should entail. Specifically, the panel will draw attention to the 2021 United Nations General Comment No. 25 on the rights of the child in the digital environment, so as to highlight to tech designers, content creators, and executives their role and responsibilities in helping children thrive in the digital world, now and into the future.


What AI-generated news could mean for human-produced journalism (Media Industry track)

Speakers: Silvia Montaña-Niño (QUT DMRC), Stuart Watt (ABC), Michael Collett (ABC), Gareth Seneque (ABC)

ChatGPT has shown that this is no far-flung fantasy. Algorithms have long determined which stories get recommended to people based on their interests, but now AI can create content itself. It can also interact with users and answer any questions they might have in a “human-like” manner.

However, the way ChatGPT works, from its data collection processes to its opaque machine training models, prompts crucial questions for news organisations willing to use this technology to produce and distribute news.

A panel of journalists, scholars and technologists will discuss the trends and challenges of AI-generated news and what it means for the future of journalism.


Islands in the Streaming: Local Content Discovery in a Global Market (Streaming Industry track)

Speakers: Ramon Lobato (ADM+S at RMIT), Kylie Pappalardo (DMRC), Nick Hayden (ABC), Alexandra Hay (ABC)

In the age of video streaming, content discovery is now a crucial strategic space for screen industries. The battle to capture attention is fierce, with streaming platforms, device makers and technology all playing a critical role in shaping the content we watch. But what about local and public benefit storytelling — how can it cut through in a world dominated by tech-driven giants?