PhDing is tough, but I am getting there

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A thesis is a journey. It is about reflection, reading, writing, erasing, investigating, going back to the start. It is about becoming specialist while permanently feeling like you never know enough. My first PhD year finished in June. since the last time I wrote here, a lot has changed, starting with the working title, which is now officially Community Radio Stations Sustainability Model: An Open Source Solution. I now also have two supervisors to help and guide me through this journey: Prof. Jorge Vieira and Prof. Manuela Aparicio. Currently, I am designing my research and building a theory framework that connects both objects.

My pre-project was approved and so far the feedback has been quite positive, both from my peers and from the general public. Last week, I spoke at PubHd Lisbon and it was great to hear people’s questions and insights over the project and the objects themselves. As the project is very much under development, allow me to share the abstract with you.

Community radio has been described by UNESCO “as a medium that gives voice to the voiceless that serves as the mouthpiece of the marginalized and is at the heart of communication and democratic processes within societies”¹. Community radio stations are therefore seen as important social inclusion structures.

Free and open source software movement has been established as a social movement since the 80s. Richard M. Stallman’s four freedoms of software – to use, to study, to share and to improve its source code - have spread far beyond software and helped spawning other movements, such as open science and open content. At its core, free and open source is about sharing knowledge, enabling participation and action within a community towards a common goal.

Grounded on the interpretative paradigm of sociological research, the project will draw upon case studies to look into how open source can be integrated in community radio stations in terms of content creation, technology operation and community management to provide a sustainable broadcast practice and, thus, ensuring that such social structures remain faithful to their mission of inclusiveness and empowerment through participation.

Keywords: community radio, open source, open content, technology, community, participation

Meanwhile, I have also found someone else who is working both community radio and open source. His name is Jerry Padfield and he is pursuing his PhD at Falmouth University, in England, where he is also the Director at Source FM. His work seems to have a heavier focus on technology than mine, which makes me really interested, since it is an actual takeover of ownership regarding the software. I must say it felt quite good to find out that there is someone out in the world equally passionate about these two topics.

As the PhD work restarts (I mean officially, because we all know it never ends), there are other activities that are also back on my calendar, specifically Mozilla’s Open Leadership training series. This round, I am mentoring Dr. Heather Stone, who is working with VR storytelling on her project, VRStoryGram .