Reflections of Media Factory 2009

What did we want to achieve in Media Factory in 2009? Our main interest was to create an ambitious research driven collaboration platform for Aalto University in the field of media. None of us in the Media Factory board or research and education groups thought that it would be an easy or fast project with lots of visibility before years of work.

For me the year from September 2008 to this December has been an important one as a chair of Media Factory Board. I have seen why and how much people in three universities have worked to create new openings in research and education, many of us – including me – on the top of our previous duties.

Why have we been so enthusiastic? I think because of the benefits we saw in the multi- and interdisciplinary approach. In practice this has meant co-operation between three universities at the ground level of university work, in classrooms, seminars and research groups. The most promising new openings in research and teaching are found in interdisciplinary networks, which in my understanding are the whole point of existence of the Aalto University.

An interdisciplinary attitude is even more needed because of the turbulent times in the media field. To grasp the changes, it is often better to use multidisciplinary lenses than stay frozen in narrow fields of previous expertise.

The Media Factory is and should be a part of Aalto University and its strategy. The Aalto strategy puts in the moment strong emphasis on research in faculties. The Media Factory strategy was created in 2008 and 2009 and it aimed to open the narrow faculty-based division of labor. The main tool was to give start-up funding up to two years for the preliminary phase and consolidation of new interdisciplinary research and research groups in the media field. This kind of funding is very difficult to get otherwise, but it creates new research openings and wider theoretical horizons – the basis for exemplary research.

At the beginning of this year we started two research tracks that were based on our interest and competencies. The other one is named Doing Cross Media and the other one Enactive Social Media and Gaming.

Our combination of such diverse research fields and perspectives as ICT technology, gaming, enactive media, organization studies, marketing, management, programming, design, visuality and user ethnography are needed to understand the innovation, organization of production and user practices and their interaction which decides what becomes of media use and practices. Our competencies and our multi-perspective research are sure to deliver outstanding internationally recognized research.

Research is also the basis for excellent teaching. The results of our research have already been implemented in the lectures and seminars of university teaching in all three universities. We have also organized research forums for all Aalto media researches and within our research groups we have arranged seminars and reading groups to attain a better understanding of our different theoretical backgrounds and how to utilize it in future research projects.

Media Factory has also based its new knowledge on close contacts with the media field by arranging seminars and by applying successfully for funding to study the changes of the media field. We have each our own expertise and the crucial issue is how to build a world class University (and Media Factory) drawing from our strengths and filling the gaps in our weaknesses together. High quality education is built on excellent research, which is built on highly qualified and motivated personnel. Only after these factors are present can we expect new innovations, products, and their sustainable use in the Finnish media field.

Maija Töyry
Chairman of the Media Factory Board 2009
Professor, Taik

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