Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Tag: social media

Yan Chen at IAIA in Montreal

Yan Chen chatting with another attendee at IAIA 2017 in Montreal.

Yan Chen chatting with another attendee at IAIA 2017 in Montreal.

Congratulations to Yan Chen, who represented Energy Transitions in Canada at this year’s International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) meeting in Montreal. Climate change was the main theme this year. This conference is less academic than most she has attended and includes many people from the private sector and government departments, including consultants ‘selling’ their new services and tools. Her presentation, Using geo-tagged social media data to map landscape values, was in the second half of the session titled “Digital Impact Assessment”, Wednesday afternoon, April 5th, along with two other presenters focused on pipelines. She talked about her work using Instagram to understand landscape values around hydroelectricity proposals in BC (Site C) and NB (Mactaquac). She was keeping an eye out for the team about news around new SIA tools leveraging social media, but didn’t see much.

 

Another successful Globalink internship

With Jingwen (June) Qin on her last day as a Mitacs Globalink intern.

With Jingwen (June) Qin on her last day as a Mitacs Globalink intern.

Farewell to Jingwen (June) Qin, who headed back to China early this morning to begin her final undergraduate year of urban planning at Wuhan University. She has been working with me on a research project this summer, funded by the Mitacs Globalink, using Sina Weibo social media to understand Chinese student perspectives on Halifax. It was great to have her overlap with Ruoqian (Joy) Wang, last year’s Globalink intern, who has just arrived to begin her MES at SRES with Karen Harper and I. I hope June takes a similar path back to us next year. Thank you, and bon voyage, June.

The saga of Site C

An April 2016 view of the Site C prep work, including a new access bridge, shoreline logging, etc, by the official Site C photographers.

An April 2016 view of the Site C prep work, including a new access bridge, shoreline logging, etc, by the official Site C photographers.

Ask Yan Chen what it is like to try and finalize a thesis on a topic that is changing as quickly as the debate over dams in Canada. Although it reached it’s one year construction anniversary this summer, and the landscape is barely recognizable anymore (see the construction photo gallery), voices of dissent over Site C are growing louder, not softer. Amnesty International have called for a halt to construction, for violations of First Nation rights, consistent with the news from New Brunswick. A long form piece on The Current this week examined First Nations issues around Site C quite deeply, in part inspired by Gord Downie’s pressure on Justin Trudeau Saturday night. So when Yan came into my office this week with a completed draft of her thesis about youth perceptions of Mactaquac and Site C, as revealed by Instagram use, it was clear there would likely be edits right up until the moment of submission pending the status of the projects.

Yan Chen in action

Yan Chen presenting at Social Media and Society this week in Toronto

Yan Chen presenting at Social Media and Society this week in Toronto

Thanks, Carlisle, for this picture of Yan in action at Social Media and Society in Toronto. These ‘work in progress’ sessions are a great opportunity for those who are in the middle of research to get feedback. The image on the screen is Yan’s next challenge in understanding her Instagram data, collected in the footprint of the Mactaquac (NB) and Site C (BC) hydroelectric projects: can they be used to identify hotspots of cultural value?

Yan Chen presenting research this week at Social Media and Society 2015

Geographic coordinates selected by Yan Chen for her study of Instagram photos around hydroelectric proposals; Netlytic will download all images posted within a 5 km radius of each point.

Geographic coordinates selected by Yan Chen for her study of Instagram photos around two hydroelectric proposals, Mactaquac (left) and Site C (right); Netlytic will download all images posted within a 5 km radius of each point.

This week, Yan Chen, an MES candidate with our Energy project is presenting her work at the  Social Media and Society Conference in Toronto. She is using Instagram to understand how young citizens feel about areas affected by hydroelectric proposals. In general, young people can be difficult to engage in conventional means by proponents or researchers of landscape change. Over the past year, Yan has collected geotagged Instagram photographs from the geographic areas around the Mactaquac Dam headpond on the Saint John River, in NB, and the Site C dam on the Peace River, BC. These are interesting parallel cases. The first is a dam that may have to be removed, the second a dam that has been approved for construction; both the third on their river reaches, of a similar size, inundated area, etc. She is coding the images to understand the lifestyle of young people in each region (leveraging the bias in this social media site towards the under-35), and how they might be affected by potential landscape scenarios.

Being a social media conference, the online abstracts allow individuals attending the conference to tag the presentations they plan to attend. Already, seven people have expressed interest in Yan’s ‘work in progress’ talk on this work tomorrow, including our own Carlisle Kent, summer intern on the HM project who is based at the Social Media Lab at Ryerson organizing the event, and that is behind the Netlytic software Yan is using in her work.

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