ARJUN SRINIVAS

Arjun memorial image

In loving memory of Arjun Srinivas (26/06/1991 – 26/01/2024)

Arjun Srivinas was a much loved PhD student and member of the ADM+S community who sadly passed away in January 2024.

His many achievements and contributions to the Centre are deeply appreciated and remembered by his colleagues.

Along with Arjun’s extraordinary record of academic achievements, he was also known across the Centre for his enthusiasm, warmth, and kindness. Arjun was a highly engaged and caring colleague, often the first to put his hand up to help others or provide support for Centre activities. His humour, intelligence, and creativity are greatly missed by all of us at ADM+S.

We offer our heartfelt condolences to Arjun’s family, friends, and colleagues at QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre, Creative industries and Social Justice Faculty, and the School of Communication.

We invite family, friends and colleagues to share memories, images and thoughts on Arjun’s memorial page, which has been set up to honour the life of our much loved and respected colleague and friend.

PHD STUDIES

Arjun joined the ADM+S Centre as a PhD student in April 2022. He was a scholarship recipient of the Centre, working with researchers on the Australian Search Experience Project.

Thesis Title
YouTube’s News Conundrum : An examination of ‘authoritative sources’ in YouTube’s recommendations.

Research Description
This thesis explores how news consumption in Australia is mediated by the recommender systems of major digital platforms. The research also investigates how YouTube defines and promotes ‘authoritative’ publishers on the platform and the ensuing impact on the news and information environment. Arjun’s research is based on crowd-sourced search and recommendation data from YouTube obtained through the Australian Search Experience project at the ADM+S.

Arjun’s research contributed to one of the most pressing questions of our time: how do social media platforms shape news consumption? 

Situated in the ADM+S Search Experience project, his research looked at how social media – in this case YouTube – curate and present news articles algorithmically through their recommender systems and design. Through an in-depth analysis involving an innovative mix of computational and qualitative methods, Arjun examined how the ranking of news articles on YouTube’s search results varied across a diverse cohort of users who made their data available through the Search Experience tracker. 

His research provided critical insights into a range of areas. By interrogating the very concept of ‘news’ and what YouTube deems to be newsworthy, he highlighted deep questions about what it means to be an authoritative news source in the 21st century. 

Why, for example, does Sky News Australia systematically turn up in the top search results above ABC News, given its precarious status as a reliable news channel? While Arjun’s research focused specifically on YouTube, his work cast a bright illuminating light that will no doubt endure across disciplines and industry. What kinds of epistemic and social impacts might YouTube’s curative power over our news feed have for healthy political deliberation? How does news curation impact different types of political polarisation that pose a growing challenge to liberal democracies? 

Knowing how recommender systems individualise and target different search results for segments of the user base, how might this further exacerbate social and economic inequalities? 

“Researchers like Arjun are truly shooting stars. He had a rare mix of skills and knowledge that are hard enough to find in an entire research team, let alone a single person. His passion for his work, for its real-world impact and contributions, and his indomitable enthusiasm and generosity shone through in his PhD and in everything he did.”
Assoc Prof Timothy Graham

 

Arjun also collaborated with Dr Ariadna Matamoros-Fernandez and Abdul Obeid on a subproject of the Australian Search Experience, entitled ‘comparing search results across Google platforms/services’. Arjun managed the data analysis of search results that different Google platforms returned, for a series of keywords over time. His work was rigorous and detailed. 

“I fondly remember the regular catch ups Arjun, Abdul and I had during 2022 and 2023 – we had a lot of fun and shared the challenge of making sense of a very complex dataset that was not always easy to handle. I remember getting email alerts at 2am indicating me that there was “new activity” in the project’s shared document and then realising that it was Arjun working late at night, which I would mention in our meetings, and we would laugh about our different work rhythms and schedules.

I feel very lucky to have spent time with Arjun and shared conversations not only about research, but also about Barcelona, soccer, journalism, and life in general.”
– Dr Ariadna Matamoros-Fernandez

 

In late 2023, Arjun completed a three month internship with the ABC Youtube news desk under the supervision Gary Kemble, Social Media Lead at ABC news. During this placement, Arjun investigated how a public service media organisation navigates the recommender systems of large commercial platforms, such as YouTube. This experience was the first PhD internship of its kind for both ABC and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

Supervisors
Assoc Prof Timothy Graham, Queensland University of Technology
Prof Jean Burgess, Queensland University of Technology
Prof Axel Bruns, Queensland University of Technology

RESEARCH PRESENTATIONS

Click to watch.

View an extended cut of the above interview.

In this clip Arjun describes in depth the goals, challenges and research methods involved with his PhD studies.

Click to watch.

In August 2023, Arjun presented on behalf of his group at the 2023 ADM+S Hackathon. 

The groups presentation was titled ‘Polls and Prejudices: Investigating Bias in LLM-Generated Political Personas’, and placed runner up in the judges evaluation.

Click to watch.

Arjun participated in the 2023 ADM+S Automated News and Media symposium as a panelist on ‘It’s Not Just the Algorithm How We Search’.

He was joined on this panel by colleagues Prof Daniel Angus, Abdul Obeid and Assoc Prof James Meese.

MEDIA AND NEWS

Internship at ABC unlocks insights into news distribution on YouTube
2 January 2024
From October to December 2023, Arjun completed a 3-month internship with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Youtube news team, marking the first PhD internship of its kind for both ABC and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

 

New Report: Emerging technology and challenges of AI and Automated Decision-Making in News and Media
5 December 2023
ADM+S released our first focus area report in 2023, titled AI and Automated Decision-Making in News and Media. Arjun was a co-author on this report, contributing his PhD expertise to the project

 

Hackathon develops methods to mitigate bias in large language models
13 November 2023
In 2023, Arjun participated in the second annual ADM+S Hackathon, investigating bias in large language models. With team members Ash Watson (mentor), Hadi Dolatabadi,Marwah Alaofi and Mohammad Faisal, Teams were encouraged to choose an area of bias to investigate, from gender bias, political bias, Indigenous, colonial and racial biases, to disability discrimination. Arjun’s team’s project investigated ‘Polls and Prejudices: Investigating Bias in LLM-Generated Political Personas’.

 

ADM+S Members Selected for 2024 Visiting Researcher Program
25 October 2023
Arjun was one of six ADM+S students chosen to participate in a Visiting Researcher Program at the University of Amsterdam in 2024. Participants were chosen for their potential to advance their research theses, expand their professional networks, and contribute to the strategic objectives of the ADM+S Centre. They were also invited to present their research in various formats to consortium researchers.

 

Arjun Srinivas to lead research for MediaFutures supported project
13 December 2022
In December 2022, Arjun was awarded funding to from MediaFutures to produce an interactive theatre performance highlighting the effects of hyper-partisanship and hate speech in India. The project  ‘Mining Hate’ included improvised scenes built from media narratives and content generated by the audience to demonstrate how malicious online actors identify, target and harass victims of online scams and hate speech.

 

Reducing the Amount of Harmful Body Image Advertising Experienced on Social Media
28-30 September 2022
Arjun participated in the 2022 ADM+S ‘Tech for Good: Dark ads hackathon’ alongside team members Kiah Hawker, Prateeksha Kushwaha, An-Ni Liu, Denzel Tan and Dr Robbie Fordyce. Their project titled ‘Body+’, helps people understand how effective different social media services are at protecting young people from content that contains harmful body image ads.

Arjun with ADM+S colleagues from QUT and the University of Queensland during a research visit.
Arjun and team members in discussion during the 2022 Tech for Good: Dark ads hackathon event.
Winner of the 2023 Student Poster competition at the 2023 Automated News and Media ADM+S symposium.
Arjun presenting on behalf of his team at the 2023 ADM+S Hackathon.
Arjun working alongside 2023 ADM+S Hackathon team member, Hadi Dolatabadi.
Arjun and team members, Ash Watson (mentor), Hadi Dolatabadi, Marwah Alaofi and Mohammad Faisal, awarded second place at the 2023 ADM+S Hackathon.
Arjun's presentation at ABC Hacks/Hackers event in Brisbane, reflecting on findings and experiences from his ABC internship.
Arjun at ABC Southbank, Brisbane, after giving a concluding presentation for his three-month internship with the Youtube news desk.

“Arjun had boundless energy and an irrepressible curiosity paired with creativity. Not only was he an excellent researcher and writer, but he also turned his research into an interactive theatre performance on the dynamics of hate speech that was performed in several venues in Europe in mid-2023. Such a broad range of talents and interests is very rare – Arjun was a true polymath.”
– Distinguished Professor Jean Burgess.

Thank you for visiting this memorial page for Arjun.