Category: University of Westminster

CDSMS series reaches 100,000 views/downloads.

CDSMS series reaches 100,000 views/downloads.

The University of Westminster Press‘s flagship Critical Digital and Social Media Studies open access series just recently achieved a new land landmark: 100,000 views and downloads. These include both book chapters and full book downloads (impossible currently to wholly disaggregate) across its 11 titles published since October 2016.

We’d like to ascribe this to a particular date but the rise in figures is coming at us so thick and fast from different directions (many reporting only monthly, one six-monthly) the only certainty is that the actual number is higher, maybe even significantly so.

UWP would like to congratulate all its authors, editors, the editorial board its platform provider Ubiquity Press and especially series editor-in-chief Christian Fuchs of our own parent institution, the University of Westminster for a wonderful effort in helping us reach global audiences. We look forward to further landmarks in 2020 and onwards.

The rallying cry of ‘We should all be feminists’ (C. N. Adichie) is turning into ‘We should all be activists …’

The rallying cry of ‘We should all be feminists’ (C. N. Adichie) is turning into ‘We should all be activists …’

as new reports emerge concerning male bias in AI … etc’
(from WPCC editorial).

As a new WPCC issue on Media Activism is published editors, Anastasia Denisova and Michaela O’Brien highlight the key issues for the issue in their editorial ‘From High Visibility to High Vulnerability: Feminist, Postcolonial and Anti-Gentrification Activism at Risk‘. What follows is an extract.

In times when hijacking of terms and stories happens on a daily basis, activism also means constant narrative recreation and damage control. Some scholars call the internet a patriarchal structure (Megarry, 2018) and there are voices that demand gender equality of the online space. The rallying cry of ‘We should all be feminists’ (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) is turning into ‘We should all be activists’ as new reports emerge concerning male bias in AI (Crawford, 2016; Adam, 2006; Leavy, 2018), sexist coding of digital voice assistants (West, Kraut and Ei Chew, 2019), the inherent inequality of AI-assisted recruitment processes (Dastin, 2018), and inequality of activism too. Female protesters and activists of colour face more challenges than others – due to the outbursts of toxic masculinity, racial abuse, cow­ardly anonymous online attacks and imbalance of visibility when it comes to hierarchy of influence. These issues are as virtual as they are real – and they need to be addressed to maintain liveable societies.  As editors, we wanted to explore the possibilities for progressive activists around the world to use the media to resist the current rise of the extreme right along with disturbing and growing evidence of the techniques of fascism: populism, propaganda and fake news, hate speech and rise of hate crimes. We define ‘activism’ as ‘the widest range of attempts to effect [progressive] social or cultural change’ (Meikle, 2018: iii), while ‘the media’ includes a broad range of communication platforms, from traditional journalism to digital networks.

[The University of Westminster runs an MA Programme in MEDIA, CAMPAIGNING AND SOCIAL CHANGE].

Adam, A. (2006). Artificial Knowing: Gender and the Thinking Machine. London: Routledge.

Crawford, K. (2016). Artificial intelligence’s white guy problem. The New York Times, 25 June.

Dastin, J. (2018). Amazon scraps secret AI recruiting tool that showed bias against women. Reuters.com, 10 October. Available at: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amazon-com-jobs-automation-insight/amazon-scraps-secret-ai-recruiting-tool-that-showed-bias-against-women-idUSKCN1MK08G (last accessed July 2019).

Megarry, J. (2018). Under the watchful eyes of men: Theorising the implications of male surveillance practices for feminist activism on social media. Feminist Media Studies, 18(6), 1070–1085. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14680777.2017.1387584

Meikle, G. (Ed.) (2018). The Routledge Companion to Media and Activism. Abingdon: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315475059

Leavy, S. (2018, May). Gender bias in artificial intelligence: The need for diversity and gender theory in machine learning. In Proceedings of the 1st International Workshop on Gender Equality in Software Engineering (pp. 14–16). New York: Association for Computing Machinery. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3195570.3195580.

West, M., Kraut, R., & Ei Chew, H. (2019). I’d blush if I could: Closing gender divides in digital skills through education. Paris: Equals Global Partnership/UNESCO.

‘Influx of New University Presses’ — change accelerating in academic publishing.

‘Influx of New University Presses’ — change accelerating in academic publishing.

The University of Westminster Press features in a recent survey article published by Research Information on aspects of the changes affecting scholarly communications and university press publishing,

The full article also draws on perspectives from Cambridge University Press, the University of Michigan Press and Bristol University Press as well as comments from UWP Press Manager, Andrew Lockett who explained some of the reasons for the grown in ‘New University Presses’ including demand from academics, the Research Excellence Framework and ‘the frustration in the library sector that wanted more opportunities to publish on behalf of academics, and a growing confidence from senior librarians that they could have a role in these activities’

Since the article was researched UWP views and downloads have increased from those reported in the article by a further 60,000 or 17% in a matter of weeks indicating the potential for momentum once a New University Press is under way.

Tourism in London: Ever more ‘pivotal and pervasive’.

Tourism in London: Ever more ‘pivotal and pervasive’.

In this extract from the introduction to our latest title editor Andrew Smith outlines the increasing presence and significance of London’s tourism.

Available to read or download open access Destination London: The Expansion of the Visitor Economy was published on the 21st May and is an initiative of the Tourism and Events Research Group of the University of Westminster. (The complete referenced version of the introduction is available on its own here).

‘London hosts a very significant visitor economy and overnight visitors contribute approximately £14.9 billion of expenditure to the city every year. When the city hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 the UK’s capital was already a leading global destination, but staging this mega-event instigated a new period of growth. In the period 2011-2016 tourism numbers increased by 25% and over the past few years the city has experienced a series of record years for arrivals. Despite already being one of the three most visited cities in the world – hosting 31.2 million overnight visitors in 2016 – city officials expect visitor arrivals to increase further: to over 40 million overnight visitors by 2025. Put simply, tourism is already a very significant economic and social phenomenon in London, but over the next few decades it will become even more pivotal and pervasive. 

London’s status as one of the world’s most visited destinations is not universally welcomed. At the moment there is considerable media and academic attention dedicated to the problem of rapid tourism growth and what has become known as over-tourism. This coverage has focused on various European capitals: from Berlin to Barcelona, Ljubljana to Lisbon. Even though the UK’s capital city seems like the ideal case through which to explore the ways that destinations evolve and expand, there has been surprisingly little attention devoted to London in these debates. This book explores how and why tourism is growing in Europe’s most popular city destination; and what benefits and problems accrue from expanding the tourism sector in a city already hosting 19 million overseas tourists and 12 million overnight domestic visitors every year. These additional people mean London’s population grows considerably every day, especially when one considers the 300,000 people that commute daily to the capital from outside Greater London and the daily influx of 750,000 non staying visitors. London hosts a residential population of around 8.8 million people, but its ‘daytime’ population – i.e. that which includes workers, visitors and tourists is estimated to be over well over 10 million. Tourists and day visitors now make up over 10% of London’s daytime population.

The book analyses how and why the expansion of the visitor economy is happening; and what effect this is having on the city. Contributions from various authors demonstrate how Destination London is developing through the extension of tourism into new spaces and new spheres. The book outlines how parts of London not previously regarded as tourism territories – e.g. residential suburbs, peripheral parks and private homes – are now subject to the tourist gaze. Tourists are being encouraged to visit places outside the centre and stay in accommodation owned by residents. In a similar manner, London is constantly creating new eventscapes to capitalise on the experience economy and providing reasons to visit at different times – in winter and at night. These types of initiatives feature prominently in London’s new ‘Tourism Vision’, which explicitly outlines the city’s aim to grow tourism ‘by encouraging visitors to explore the city’s outer districts, both in and out of season and around the clock’ .

Contemporary expansion is being facilitated by extending the capacity of existing services (e.g. by running the Underground 24 hrs a day), and by building new infrastructure (e.g. the new Crossrail network and a new runway at Heathrow Airport) and accommodation provision (plans for 23,000 new hotel rooms by 2025). However, growth in the visitor economy is driven more by market and cultural trends than any deliberate planning and policy; and this unfettered growth is likely to outrun formal provision. The rise of social media and the sharing economy, and the desire for new, distinctive and personalised experiences, are pushing tourists into peripheral locations, but also advancing tourism into spheres not normally considered tourism territory.  Growth is likely to be enabled and absorbed by unofficial tourism providers including London’s residents who now provide a range of services: most obviously accommodation, but also food, travel, and guiding. This book explores these trends and, in doing so, highlights the mechanisms and processes that are driving the expansion of the visitor economy. The discussion enhances understanding of London, but it also helps us to better appreciate the ways that tourism in cities is expanding into new spaces, times and spheres’. 

Setting up a University Press in the Digital Age Revisited

Setting up a University Press in the Digital Age Revisited

One of the questions we have been asked about establishing a new university press is ‘how long does it take’? So we have recently reviewed on our history and experience detailing the University of Westminster Press timeline below. Here was the view in September 2015, four months after UWP’s website launch about what might be involved, which seems a lifetime away now that our second and rather substantial 2019 catalogue has recently been released in April 2019.

Some tentative conclusions to the question are presented below – based also on anecdotal evidence from our peers – as well as UWP’s experience. They suggest some pointers for others considering setting up a comparable operation and one overall conclusion: early stages take a long time (and the wheels can grind a bit here) but then momentum grows.

  1. The early stages of a new UP tend to take a long time. We’d hazard a guess that 18-21 months+ would not be unusual.
  2. Governance and internal procedures may need to be reconsidered at an early stage and then clarified again in the light of actual experience.
  3. There should be alignment between budgets and academics’/stakeholder expectations and that relevant linkages between the two (ideally) should be clearly made at operational and strategic levels, not just one of those.
  4. It is useful to have publisher and librarian experience to tap into but harder to ensure in practice that both are available in one person or across a team.
  5. Universities (like all operations) frequently restructure and this can affect (2) or be really crucial in moving things forward (in our case) or holding them back.
  6. Once out of first gear where considerable push may be needed, progress can be rapid.
  7. Never underestimate the importance of tangible products (aka books) in manifesting a presence that colleagues and external parties see. Not even a gleaming and functional website can do this.
  8. Plans need to be revised on a regular basis. And even six months is currently proving to be a long time in the world of scholarly communications and digital-first open access publishing.

7 May 2014. University agrees basic arrangements to establish a new open access digital press.

10 September 2014 A University Steering Group approves the governance structure and principles for operation of the University of Westminster Press including peer review protocols and the composition and remit of its Editorial Board. UWP is founded as a department within the University.

23 February 2015 UWP’s first and only employee starts.

12 May 2015 UWP’s website goes live for the first time.

15 September 2015 First journal issue from UWP published, Vol 10.1 of Westminster Papers in Communication.

10 October 2016 UWP publishes first book title: Critical Theory of Communication

14 November 2016 UWP becomes part of a new Research and Scholarly Communications team; on 1 August 2018 this with UWP becomes part of Library and Archive Services, within the Student and Academic Services directorate in the university’s new structure.

17 November 2017 UWP issues first catalogue. 

14 December 2017 Revised terms of reference for the UWP board and governance of UWP are tabled and shortly after formally approved.

8 October 2018: 250,000 views and downloads of books, chapters and journal articles reached.

8 April 2019 UWP issues 2019 catalogue with 19 books and 11 journal issues published and with 15 new titles forthcoming previously unannounced . By this time over 350,000 views and downloads had been achieved.

Event to mark launch of Destination London: The Expansion of the Visitor Economy

Event to mark launch of Destination London: The Expansion of the Visitor Economy

Destination London: The Expansion of the Visitor Economy will be published and launched on the 22nd of May at 18.00, the Boardroom, University of Westminster 309 Regent Street London W1B 2HW.

This book provides a fascinating account of tourism development in London, one of the world’s most visited destinations and a place where the visitor economy has grown in recent years. It explores how tourism has extended into new areas beyond the city centre, but also how it has expanded into new spheres (e.g. private homes) and new time periods (winter, and the night). A collaboration between University of Westminster staff members, drawing on their strengths in the fields of city tourism, sustainable tourism, air transport and the night time economy, and their unique position in the School of Architecture and Cities with particular focus on tourism and events.

For full details and signing up see eventbrite.