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Associate Professor Elaine Lally


Elaine Lally researches in the areas of creative practice and digital culture. Her work is empirically grounded and draws on the academic fields of cultural studies, material culture, consumption and everyday life, and the sociology and philosophy of technology. Her main teaching interest is currently in the Digital and Social Media major of the Bachelor of Communication. She was the first-named chief investigator for an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant project, 'The Art of Engagement: Exploring C3 West, a contemporary arts project around western Sydney' (2006–2008), which was published in a book via University of Western Australia Publishing. Other significant projects include a Discussion Paper and co-authoring the final report for the Australia Council's New Media Arts Scoping Study; 'The changing communications service delivery paradigm' for Communications Alliance (2008 and 2009), and 'A qualitative evaluation of the 2007 Sweet Tonic workshop program' for Campbelltown City Council and Musica Viva Australia (2007). She also worked on the ARC Linkage project 'Bridging Worlds, Linking Cultures: an electronic planning tool for western Sydney' (2005–2006). Associate Professor Lally is the author of At Home with Computers, published by Berg in 2002.

Image of Elaine Lally
Associate Professor, IKM and Digital Studies Program
Core Member, CPCE - Centre for Creative Practices and the Cultural Economy
Doctoral Degree
+61 2 9514 1960
Can supervise: Yes


Lally, E. 2002, At Home with Computers, First, Berg, Oxford & New York.


Lally, E. 2015, 'An autoethnography of strings: an experiment in materialising learning' in Watkins, M., Noble, G. & Driscoll, C. (eds), Cultural Pedagogies and Human Conduct, Routledge, London and New York, pp. 186-200.
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Lally, E. 2013, 'The Artist as Trickster: Pertinent-Impertinent Thinking in Western Sydney' in Hamilton, P. & Ashton, P. (eds), Locating Suburbia: memory, place, creativity, UTSePress, Sydney, pp. 244-258.
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Pablo Picasso famously said that `art is a lie that tells the truth. Lewis Hyde, writing in Trickster makes this world: How disruptive imagination creates culture, quotes this aphorism in support of his contention that some artists are able to embody the spirit of the trickster myth that exists in many of the worlds cultures: the Monkey King who travelled from China to India with the good pilgrim Tripitaka; the North American Indian myths of Coyote; Hermes; Mercury; Prometheus; Krishna; African myths of Eshu and Anansi, the Ashanti spider trickster. Paradoxically, these myths assert `that the origins, liveliness, and durability of cultures require that there be space for figures whose function is to uncover and disrupt the very things that cultures are based on.3 Indeed, for Hyde, artists have a touch of the prophet about them, with the power to help others see into the hidden heart of things, to collaborate in imagining possible futures that have the potential to become collective aspirations.
Lally, E. 2011, 'Practising innovation: the power of the artist' in Lally, E., Ang, I. & Anderson, K. (eds), The Art of Engagement: Culture, Collaboration, Innovation, University of Western Australia Publishing, Perth, WA, pp. 99-117.
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Ang, I., Lally, E., Anderson, K., mar, P. & Kelly, M. 2011, 'Introduction: What is the art of engagement?' in Lally, E., Ang, I. & Anderson, K. (eds), The Art of Engagement: Culture, Collaboration, Innovation, University of Western Australia Publishing, Perth, WA, pp. 1-13.
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McQueenie, J. & Lally, E. 2011, 'Expanding the horizons of possibility: the art of brokerage' in Lally, E., Ang, I. & Anderson, K. (eds), The Art of Engagement: Culture, Collaboration, Innovation, University of Western Australia Publishing, Perth, WA, pp. 213-223.
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Anderson, K., Ang, I. & Lally, E. 2011, 'Conclusion' in Lally, E., Ang, I. & Anderson, K. (eds), The Art of Engagement: Culture, Collaboration, Innovation, University of Western Australia Publishing, Perth, WA, pp. 225-229.
Lally, E., mar, P., Ang, I., Anderson, K. & Kelly, M. 2011, 'The artists and their projects' in Lally, E., Ang, I. & Anderson, K. (eds), The Art of Engagement: Culture, Collaboration, Innovation, University of Western Australia Publishing, Perth, WA, pp. 19-63.
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Lally, E. 2010, 'Architectures of collaboration, webs of contention' in Cameron, F. & Kelly, L. (eds), Hot Topics, Public Culture, Museums, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, pp. 299-314.
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This chapter examines emerging social networks as conduits for interfacing aUdiences, museums and "hot" topics in public culture. New online so~ial networks like Facebook and Twitter have been drawing a lot of attenlion as hot topics in their own right. While they are clearly becoming important recreational and social spaces, they are also increasingly being mobilised by interest groups, advocacy networks and ?rganisers of topical events. Museums and galleries are exploring Innovative ways of engaging with audiences through these new fenns of organising. This chapter explores these shifting relationships around hot topics as new forms of collaboration between institutions and their active publics.
Anderson, K., Ang, I., Kelly, M., Lally, E. & mar, P. 2009, 'Networked collaborations: untimely engagements in contemporary art' in Reuben Keehan (ed), Column 4: Spaces of Art. Institutional and Post-institutional Practices in Contemporary Art, Artspace, Sydney, Australia, pp. 92-97.
Markham, A.N., Lally, E. & Srinivasan, R. 2009, 'Response to Annette Markham - How Can Qualitative Researchers Produce Work That Is Meaningful Across Time, Space and Culture' in Markham, A.K. & Baym, N.K. (eds), Internet Inquiry: Conversations about Method, Sage, Los Angeles, USA, pp. 156-164.
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Lally, E. 2007, 'Creativity, collaboration and new media innovation in a community context' in Nightingale, V. & Dwyer, T. (eds), New Media Worlds: Challenges for Convergence, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Australia, pp. 163-177.
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Lally, E. 2005, 'At home with information: the informatization of domestic life' in Consalvo, M. & Allen, M. (eds), Internet Research Annual Volume 2, Peter Lang, New York, USA, pp. 153-162.
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A generation ago few homes had any need for a filing cabinet, yet today's homes are filled with information stored in an ever-expanding variety of media. Personal information includes records stored on paper, on magnetic tape, and in electronic formats. it ranges from important documents such as birth certificates, passports, and photographs to audio, video, and multimedia recordings, digital images, e-mail messages, and financial documents. While it may sometimes -come to be experienced -as_ oppressive clutter, some of our most valuable personal possessions are now informational. The response to the question ''What things would you save if your house was on fire?" would as often as not now also include the home computer's hard drive. As Internet connectivity becomes more widespread, and spyware, viruses, and worms exploiting operating system weaknesses proliferate,domestic information security is becoming an increasingly important concern.
Lally, E. 2003, 'Mods and overclockers' in Butcher, M. & Thomas, M. (eds), Ingenious: emerging youth cultures in urban Australia, Pluto Press, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 161-173.
Lally, E. 2002, 'Consuming home technology: consuming home computers' in Miles, S., Anderson, A. & Meethan, K. (eds), The Changing Consumer: Markets and Meanings, Routledge, London & New York, pp. 117-130.


Lally, E. & Rowe, D. 2009, 'Impossible choices: complexity and dissatisfaction in the telecommunications consumer-service provider relationship', Record of the Communications Policy & Research Forum 2009, Communications Policy and Research Forum, Network Insight Institute, University of Technology, Sydney, pp. 330-345.
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While competition and technological innovation in the telecommunications sector have brought an ever-expanding array of choices to consumers, it has come at the cost of a proliferating confusion of features, options, pricing and usage monitoring arrangements. 1 Broadband-enabling and the trend towards converged devices with software-based applications, such as the iPhone and other `smart devices, add further complications and extend the web of interrelationships between networks, devices, software and content. Telecommunications consumers now confront a heretofore unimaginable level of complexity, and often feel overwhelmed by the volume of information available for them to use in making purchase and service decisions. The increasing volume of complaints reported by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman is causing considerable concern among consumer bodies, regulators and the industry itself.
Lally, E. & Lee-Shoy, T. 2005, 'Networking culture: a strategic approach to cultural development in Western Sydney', After Sprawl: Post-suburban Sydney, the e-Proceedings of the 2005 'Post-Suburban Sydney: The City in Transformation' Conference, `Post-Suburban Sydney: The City in Transformation Conferenc, University of Western Sydney, Parramatta, pp. 1-14.
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In July 2005, a review appeared in the Sydney Morning Heralds Spectrum section, covering four of the `Western Front series of exhibitions at Blacktown Arts Centre, Fairfield City Museum and Gallery and at Parramatta Heritage Centre (in a series of six exhibitions), and the inaugural Agri/culture exhibition at the new Hawkesbury Regional Gallery at Windsor. The piece opens with the reviewer describing the drive towards a rainbow over Blacktown: things are starting to look a lot brighter in the western suburbs. Once upon a time there was nothing but concrete shopping malls to charm the visitor [along with] bricks and grime of suburban sargassos. Nowadays there is at least a tacit acknowledgement that culture has a place at the table, alongside commerce. There is also a recognition that communities without adequate cultural facilities are breeding grounds for boredom, vandalism, social misery and crime. An arts centre or theatre group can make a constructive contribution [to these problems] (MacDonald, 2005: 28).

Journal articles

Lally, E. 2013, 'Creative interactions and improvable digital objects in cloud-based musical collaboration', Global Media Journal Australian Edition, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 1-18.
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This paper explores the activities and experiences of musicians using online platforms for collaborative creation. Music-making has always been a collaborative endeavour, and has always evolved to accommodate technological innovations. Consumer-level recording equipment has now made 'home studio' recording at near professional quality levels more accessible than ever before. Combining with new social media platforms, these domestic capabilities have created new possibilities for musicians to collaborate across the globe. Cloud-based platforms mean that collaborators no longer need to be present in the same place at the same time, but these platforms produce new challenges and constraints. This paper explores the infrastructure and community of one specialised cloud-based musical collaboration platform, Kompoz.com. It shows how this site catalyses the creative collaboration of those involved by providing a space for interaction between musicians and temporary 'work-in-progress' digital objects. Commentary on the audio tracks making up a project acts as 'attached dialogue', which facilitates the cumulative reworking of them as 'improvable objects'. It is suggested that despite the inevitable limitations of online collaboration, asynchronous communication has advantages in providing time to reflect and evaluate
Lally, E. 2009, ''The power to heal us with a smile and a song': Senior well-being, music-based participatory arts and the value of qualitative evidence', Journal of Arts and Communities, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 25-44.
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Sweet Tonic is a singing-based participatory arts initiative based in the southwest of Sydney, Australia. This paper reports on a qualitative evaluation of the thirty-week workshop series. It provides qualitative evidence of the outcomes of the programme, linking these to recent debates about `evidence-based policy approaches. It argues that, although Sweet Tonic is undoubtedly a beneficiary of the instrumentalist turn in arts policy, this framing also traps the programme into defining its success or failure in instrumentalist terms. It is suggested that, although such accounts are often dismissed as `anecdotal, in fact the most powerful evidence of the impact of a programme like Sweet Tonic is contained in the accounts of personal experience of participants in the programme. It is therefore necessary to understand the complexities of evidence in cultural policy, and to develop new language to talk about evidence that doesn't unnecessarily privilege quantitative or statistical forms at the expense of qualitative evidence.
Lally, E. 2009, 'Thinking Through Things (Review of Sherry Turkle (Ed.) _Evocative Objects: Things We Think With_', Cultural Studies Review, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 207-211.
Hodge, B. & Lally, E. 2006, 'Cultural planning and chaos theory in cyberspace: some notes on a digital cultural atlas project for Western Sydney', Fibreculture Journal, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 1-13.
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A perennial issue for digital politics has been the debate between those who claim a liberatory role for digital technologies and those who see them as instruments for a more effective oppression. We prefer to avoid such abstract oppositions and ask more specific questions: what kind of digital technology, used in what way by whom, for what purposes in what contexts, may support the efforts of those who work for a better, more open society? To focus our enquiry we look at the intersection of digital systems and planning. Planning in a general sense is a fundamental human activity in all societies exercising the rationality that has come to define humanity since the ancient Greeks. Yet the dominant form of planning in western societies today employs a specific form of `rationality which has emerged only recently, labelled `Occidental rationalism by Weber (1930:26), which insists on crisp, clear categories and a linear, reductive logic. Starting with Weber himself there has been a continuous tradition of critique of this form of reason, which we will categorize as linear reasoning.
Lally, E. 2001, 'A researcher's perspective on electronic scholarly communication', Online Information Review, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 80-87.
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New information and communications technologies are transforming scholarly communication. Presents a humanities and social sciences researcher's perspective on these changes. Argues that researchers and research intermediaries need to find new ways of working together in order to understand and take full advantage of the emerging forms and media for scholarly communication.


Lally, E. Australia Council for the Arts 2012, Women in Theatre: a research report and action plan for the Australia Council for the Arts, pp. 1-66, Surry Hills, NSW.
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Lally, E., Rowe, D. & Ang, I. Communications Alliance Ltd. 2008, Preparing for a Broadband World: Fostering Consumer Confidence Through Collaboration and Partnerships, pp. 1-39, Sydney.
Lally, E. Centre for Cultural Research, UWS 2008, Final Report, 'Sweet Tonic: Music for Live' Evaluation, pp. 1-50, Parramatta.
Final report of a contract research project, to provide a qualitative evaluation of a seniors singing workshop series.