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Dr Michael Meany

Senior Lecturer

School of Design Communication and IT (Communication)

Career Summary

Biography

My background includes work as a freelance writer, photographer, a typesetter and publication designer, and as a playwright. This diverse media background allows me to bring an eclectic mix of skills to my teaching and research. I was initially employed at the University of Newcastle as a lecturer in professional writing partly on the basis of my freelance experience. However, as media technologies changed so to did my teaching role - desktop publishing evolved into web-design; film-based photography gave way to digital photography; audio and video on the web became multimedia. Mirroring this media and technological convergence I now teach audio, video and web-based multimedia.

My research interests, like my teaching, evolved with the changes in the media landscape. My research interests include: narrative and interactive design (particularly in online media), script writing and character development; virtual environments and immersion; and, the relationship between creativity and humour. As an early-career academic the majority of my research outputs have been related to undertaking Research Higher Degrees. In 2006 I graduated with a Master of Creative Arts from the University of Newcastle. In 2008 I enrolled in a PhD program at Victoria University, Melbourne. During my candidature in both of these degree I have generated journal and conference publications. My career has been punctuated with periods of where I have undertaken administrative duties. I have been a Deputy Head of School in the School of Design, COmmunication and IT and I have undertaken the Program Convenor role on several occasions for the Bachelor of Communication, the combined Bachelor of Communication/Laws and the Master of Multimedia. In these roles I have been responsible for the development of initiatives to address quality assurance and student recruitment/retention issues for the local and Singapore delivery of School courses and programs.

Research Expertise
In 2006 I graduated from the University of Newcastle with a Master of Creative Arts degree. The title of this work is: A Playwright's Toolkit : The Instruments, Tools and Agency of a Playwright in the Creative Writing Process. The project included a creative work and an exegesis. The Things We Do is the title of a triptych of plays that comprises: His Story, a ten minute multimedia presentation; The Things, a longish one-act play of forty minutes in a more traditional theatrical form; and, Her Story, a ten minute multimedia presentation. The play has three human characters and three computer characters. Using an interface similar to a web browser, the characters interact with one another: human-to-computer and computer-to-computer. The computer characters are represented on stage as data projections of the interface. Their voices, audible from a loudspeaker, were developed using Apple Script to modify the standard Apple text-to-speech computer voices, and then incorporated into the interface using Adobe Flash. The willing suspension of disbelief, a phrase coined by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, describes the poetic faith that an audience needs to have in the ontology of the fictional world presented to them in the theatre (Coleridge 1906). Suspension of disbelief has long been considered a requisite for development of dramatic closure, that satisfactory end promised by the beginning. In the writing of the triptych of plays a primary research objective was to examine the proposition that it is belief, not disbelief, that is automatic (Reeves and Nass 1996, p.27). The purpose of the exegesis was to illuminate the instruments, tools, and agency of the playwright employed to support belief and, in doing so, examine the nature of the creative writing process. To examine this research objective, consideration is given to the development of the computer voices, action and character, humour, narrative structure and the effect of cognitive load. This work, and the associated conference and journal publications, caught the public imagination and received considerable media coverage. In 2008 I enrolled in a PhD through Victoria University, Melbourne, under the supervision of Dr Tom Clark. This work extends my previous investigations of the integration of computers and new media into the performance of humour. This project is composed of two parts: a creative project; and, an exegesis. The creative project will develop a pair of online chatbots that will interact as comedian and straight man when a human user delivers a topic. A chatbot (chatter-robot, talk-bot, or simply, bot) is a computer-based conversational agent that simulates natural language conversation. Several publications have resulted from this work.

Teaching Expertise
My teaching philosophy can be summarised through these main points. " As an over-arching pedagogical position, problem-based learning satisfies the needs defined above. " Skills development should take a constructivist approach formative assessments leading to a summative project. " Knowledge development should require the student to reflect on their work and the work of others. " Assessment should aid learning and clearly articulate desired learning outcomes. " Learning should be 'hard fun' - cognitive pleasure should be the reward for achievement. " Teaching is a performance art - I firmly believe in the importance of humour and performance in teaching. This section provides a rationale for the assessment strategy that I employ in my curriculum design and teaching. Assessment events can be defined as either formative or summative. Formative events are design to build skills, knowledge, abilities and attitudes in a particular content area of the course. Summative events are those that allow the student to display the combined effect of what was learnt in the formative stages. My courses employ a collaborative learning approach where students and staff are expected to share their knowledge, skills and abilities. To further this teaching and learning strategy, students are allowed to resubmit assessment events where they feel they can demonstrate enhanced learning outcomes from assessment feedback. This strategy seeks to deal with the following issues: 1. Students undertaking technology-based courses, and on-line courses, tend to have 'penny-drop' moments of understanding that may not occur in time for an assessment event. 2. Students may not fully understand the assessment criteria until they see the quality of work produced by others in the class or until they receive specific feedback on their work. 3. These courses require students to develop their visual, written and oral communication skills and to be not only competent but also literate across a range of media forms. 4. The 'one attempt only' approach to assessment discourages students from taking creative leaps and academic risks. This strategy is intended to allow students to fully engage with the course material and to develop for themselves the best learning outcomes. The course resubmission policy only applies to selected formative assessment events with comparatively low marks value (less than 20%). There is no penalty for resubmitting an assignment. It is not, however, intended for students wishing to engage in a petty 'marks chase'. Assessment descriptions, criteria and fully developed marking guides are supplied for each assignment on the Blackboard site. For these formative assessment tasks, the marking guides are quite prescriptive - the student must undertake the required skills development in accordance with the outcomes made explicit in the course outline. Students resubmitting an assignment need to take into account the assessment criteria as well as the specific feedback provided by their lecturer. This strategy also encourages rigorous assessment and grading. In other words, resubmission does not create a soft option. Students are completely responsible for their results; they cannot blame the course or the lecturer for their results. The only way to do well in the course is to behave professionally, stay engaged, learn from feedback, and develop critical self-reflection skills. Students are told that it is possible to do worse on an assessment event after resubmission. Where a student has thoughtlessly created new errors in their work in a poor attempt at 'fixing' the original submission, their grade can be reduced. This again reminds students that they are responsible for their grade and for the approach they take to their studies. The application of these strategies leads to a high level of student satisfaction, evidenced through formal survey results and informal communication. In 2006 I won the Faculty Teaching and Learning Award.

Administrative Expertise
The following section will describe my major service contributions to the discipline of Communication and to the School of Design, Communication and IT. My career has been punctuated with periods of where I have undertaken duties usually reserved for more senior academics. For example, as a Level A academic, I undertook my first term as a Program Convenor (Program Coordinator as it was known then) for the Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies). Since being promoted to Level B I have undertaken the Program Convenor role on several occasions for the Bachelor of Communication and the combined Bachelor of Communication/Laws, as well as, the Master of Multimedia. Mostly recently, my service to the School has been as Deputy Head of School. Evidence for my effectiveness in this role will be based on my engagement with the Singapore delivery of School courses, and the development of initiative to address quality assurance and student recruitment/retention. 2013 - Convenor for Bachelor of Communication and Bachelor of Communication/Laws. 2010 (1 year) - Member of the Faculty Community & Marketing Working Group Maintaining the communication flow between the Working Group and the School of DCIT. 2008 - 2009 (2 years) - Deputy Head of School; MFP Supervisor; Complaints Officer 2008 (Occasional) - Acting Head of School 2007 (Sem 1) - Acting Program Convenor for Bachelor of Communication and Bachelor of Communication/Laws. Submission of Degree Review documentation 2006 (1 year) - Program Convenor Bachelor of Communication and Bachelor of Communication/Laws. Development of Degree Review documentation 2004 (1 year) - Program Convenor - Master of Multimedia 2001 (1 month) - Acting Head of Department 2000 - 2001 (2 years) - Program Convenor Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies) Contribution to developing Degree Review documentation

Collaborations
My primary research interests revolve around the combined domains of humour studies, creativity research, and the use of artificial intelligence agents as comic performers. My PhD topic - Development of humour in artificial intelligence agents - is a project composed of two parts: a creative project; and, an exegesis. A chatbot (chatter-robot, talk-bot, or simply, bot) is a computer-based conversational agent that simulates natural language conversation. The creative project will develop a pair of online chatbots that will interact as 'comedian' and 'straight man' when a human user delivers a topic. The project is uniquely positioned to offer an examination of the unstable frontier between the human and non-human. Henri Bergson in his seminal essay on laughter stated a new law of humour, We laugh every time a person gives us the impression of being a thing (Bergson 2005, p.28, Original Publication 1911). This project integrates human agency (the scriptwriter and the scriptwriting process) with the non-human agency of the artificial intelligence of chatbots (the interface and the scripted processes). As such, it tests if Bergsons law will stand if it is inverted; will we laugh every time a thing gives the impression of being a person? Further, and importantly, it examines the unstable frontier between the human and the non-human to offer an insight into the boundary negotiation at the frontier.

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Victoria University - Australia
  • Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies), University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours), University of Newcastle
  • Master of Creative Arts, University of Newcastle

Keywords

  • Audio and Video Editing
  • Computers and Theatre
  • Humour
  • Interactive media
  • New Media Production
  • Print Editing
  • Professional Writing

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
190205 Interactive Media 20
200102 Communication Technology and Digital Media Studies 60
200199 Communication and Media Studies not elsewhere classified 20

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Senior Lecturer University of Newcastle
School of Design Communication and IT
Australia

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/01/1997 -  Senior Lecturer University of Newcastle
School of Design Communication and IT
Australia

Awards

Research Award

Year Award
2012 International Award for Excellence
Unknown
2007 International Award for Excellence - Runner-up
Unknown

Invitations

Participant

Year Title / Rationale
2013 Convenor
Organisation: Australasian Humour Studies Network Description: I convened the 19th Australasian Humour Studies Network Colloquium on ‘Humour and Creativity’ held at The University of Newcastle - City Campus, 7-9 February 2013. This iteration of the Colloquium attracted a very strong cohort of national and international delegates.

Speaker

Year Title / Rationale
2013 Keep Laughing... This is Serious
Organisation: Northern Sydney Region Primary Principals Conference Description: I was invited to give a presentation on the topic of Humour and Creativity at the Northern Sydney Region Primary Principals Conference held in Terrigal, NSW, June 6-7, 2013. This invitation was a result of convening the 2013 Australasin Humour Colloquium in Newcastle in February 2013.
2006 Michael Meany
Organisation: Assumption University, Bangkok, Description: In 2006 I received an invitation to give a guest lecture to staff and students of Assumption University, Bangkok, Thailand. This was an opportunity for the UoN in general and the Faculty of Science & IT in particular to raise our University's profile and promote our Bachelor of Communication program to students, staff and management of Assumption University.
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Journal article (8 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2014 Meany MM, Clark T, Joseph S, 'Comedy and Artificial Intelligence: Do We Laugh When a Thing Gives the Impression of Being a Person?', The International Journal of New Media, Technology and the Arts, 8 21-34 (2014) [C1]
2014 Meany MM, Clark T, Laineste L, 'Comedy, Creativity, and Culture: A Metamodern Perspective', THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF LITERARY HUMANITIES, 11 1-15 (2014) [C1]
2013 Meany MM, Clark T, 'Design dramaturgy: A case study in new media, humor and artificial intelligence', Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, 6 59-71 (2013) [C1]
2012 Meany MM, Clark T, 'Chat-bot humour: A survey of methodological approaches for a creative new media project', The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, 8 23-32 (2012) [C1]
2011 Meany MM, Clark T, 'Scripting humour in conversational agents: Improvisation and emergence of humorous interchanges', International Journal of the Arts in Society, 5 225-235 (2011) [C1]
2010 Meany MM, Clark T, 'Humour theory and conversational agents: An application in the development of computer-based agents', The International Journal of the Humanities, 8 129-140 (2010) [C1]
Citations Scopus - 1
2007 Meany MM, 'Interactive, new media poetry: Is such a thing possible?', International Journal of the Humanities, 5 1-7 (2007) [C1]
2006 Meany MM, 'The Semblance of Truth', The International Journal of the Arts in Society, 1 33-40 (2006) [C1]
Show 5 more journal articles

Conference (13 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2015 Hookham G, Meany MM, 'The Spectrum of States: Comedy, Humour and Engagement in Games.', Proceedings of the 11th Australasian Conference on Interactive Entertainment (IE 2015)., University of Western Sydney (2015)
2015 Meany MM, 'The cake is a lie: Ideology, humour and comedy in Portal', Abstracts and Program Twenty First AHSN Conference, State Library of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia (2015)
2014 Meany MM, 'Comedy - A Computationally Intractable Problem', Program and Abstracts Twentieth AHSN Colloquium on 'Anything Goes'., National Library of New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand. (2014) [E3]
2014 Hookham G, Meany MM, 'Perspective Shifting: Humour and Comedy in Games', IE2014 Proceedings of the 2014 Conference on Interactive Entertainment, Newcastle (2014) [E1]
DOI 10.1145/2677758.2677776
2013 Meany MM, 'Humour and creativity - Theoretical congruence', Program and Abstracts Nineteenth Colloquium on 'Humour and Creativity', Newcastle, NSW (2013) [E3]
2012 Meany MM, 'The vaudeville 'two-act' in a new media environment', The 18th AHSN Annual Colloquium on "Varieties of Humour and Laughter", Canberra, ACT (2012) [E3]
2011 Meany MM, 'Incongruity: Human-like machines and machine-like humans', 17th Australiasian Humour Studies Network (AHSN) Colloquium on 'Time, Place and Humour' Abstracts, Hobart, Tas (2011) [E3]
2010 Meany MM, 'Testing an inversion of Bergson's 'new law' of humour', Proceedings of the 10th International Summer School and Symposium on Humour and Laughter: Theory, Research and Application, Boldern-Mannedorf (2010) [E3]
2007 Meany MM, 'Humour, anxiety, and Csikszentmihalyi's concept of flow', 3rd Global Conference : Creative Engagements - Thinking with Children. Conference Program, Abstracts and Papers, Sydney (2007) [E1]
2006 Meany MM, 'Another Triumvirate: Creativity; Practitioner Based Enquiry; and, New Media', 6th Annual Conference of Early Career Academics, University of Newcastle-Treehouse (2006) [E2]
2001 Meany MM, 'The Sensorium of Computer Mediated Education', IASTED Computers and Advanced technology in Education Conference, Banff, Alberta, Canada (2001) [E1]
2001 Russell K, Meany MM, 'Merewether Baths will never look the same again', Computing Arts 2001, University of Sydney (2001) [E2]
Co-authors Keith Russell
2001 Meany MM, Russell K, 'The Cultural Spiral: Virtual Spaces as Records of Time:VRML Technologies', Computing Arts 2001: Digital Resources for Research in the Humanities, University of Sydney (2001) [E2]
Co-authors Keith Russell
Show 10 more conferences

Creative Work (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2004 Meany MM, Print Projections, Watt Space, Newcastle (2004) [J2]

Thesis / Dissertation (3 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2014 Meany MM, The Performance of Comedy by Artificial Intelligence Agents, Victoria University (2014)
2011 Fulton JM, Making the news: print journalism and the creative process, University of Newcastle (2011)
Co-authors Janet Fulton
2006 Meany MM, A Playwright¿s Toolkit ¿ The Instruments, Tools and Agency of a Playwright in the Creative Writing Process., University of Newcastle (2006)
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 2
Total funding $3,200

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20071 grants / $1,700

The fifth International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities, 17/7/2007 - 20/7/2007, American University Paris$1,700

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Doctor Michael Meany
Scheme Travel Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2007
Funding Finish 2007
GNo G0187602
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

20061 grants / $1,500

International Conference on the Arts in Society, Edinburgh, Scotland, 15-18 August 2006$1,500

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Doctor Michael Meany
Scheme Travel Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2006
Funding Finish 2006
GNo G0186817
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y
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Research Supervision

Current Supervision

Commenced Research Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2015 The Shoot Out - Targeting Creativity: Exploring the Creative Process Through the 24 Hour Filmmaking Festival
Communication & Media Studies, Faculty of Science and Information Technology
Co-Supervisor
2014 Newcastle's Creative Industries: Investigating Performing Arts Professional and Non-Professional Creative Economies With an Emphasis on Theatre
Communication & Media Studies, Faculty of Science and Information Technology
Co-Supervisor
2014 Gamification for Engagement: Evaluating Engagement and Efficacy in Serious Games for Education, Training and Therapy
Information Technology, Faculty of Science and Information Technology
Co-Supervisor
2014 Hyper-Compression in Music Production: The Creative Context of the Aesthetics of Loudness
Communication & Media Studies, Faculty of Science and Information Technology
Co-Supervisor
2014 StoryAlity Theory - Story and Screenwriting, Movies and Memes: Examining the Top Twenty Return-On-Investment (ROI) Movies Using Systems Theory, Creativity Theory, and Bio-Cultural Evolutionary Epistemology
Communication & Media Studies, Faculty of Science and Information Technology
Principal Supervisor
2013 The Shoot Out - Targeting Creativity: Exploring the Creative Process Through the 24 Hour Filmmaking Festival
Communication & Media Studies, Faculty of Science and Information Technology
Co-Supervisor

Past Supervision

Year Research Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2014 Profiling Creativity: An Exploration of the Creative Process Through the Practice of Freelance Print Journalism
Communication & Media Studies, Faculty of Science and Information Technology
Co-Supervisor
2013 Rock, This City: A Thematic History of Live Popular Music in Licensed Venues in Newcastle, Australia, During the Oz/Pub Rock Era (1970s and 80s)
Communication & Media Studies, Faculty of Science and Information Technology
Co-Supervisor
2011 Making the News: Print Journalism and the Creative Process
Communication & Media Studies, Faculty of Science and Information Technology
Co-Supervisor
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Dr Michael Meany

Position

Senior Lecturer
School of Design Communication and IT
Faculty of Science and Information Technology

Focus area

Communication

Contact Details

Email michael.meany@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 4985 4525
Fax (02) 4921 5896

Office

Room ICT3-58
Building ICT Building
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308
Australia
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