News from the OII

Dear friends and colleagues of the OII,

It gives me great pleasure and pride to invite you to attend an event designed to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the OII’s founding – OII@10. Ten years ago, when the OII was set up, many regarded the Internet as a novelty that would pass. How wrong they were! It is difficult to overstate the significance and impact of the Internet over the last decade, but leading figures tied to the Internet, Web and the OII, including Vint Cerf, Wendy Hall, Manuel Castells, and Andrew Graham, will be reflecting on this very point at our September symposium (details below).

A range of activities is being planned for our anniversary year. We are currently soliciting nominations for awards to recognise individuals who have led the way in shaping the Internet and its use: nominations close this Friday (you can still nominate at: http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/awards/). The awards will be presented at a gala dinner on 22 September, which will be attended by big names from the Internet world. We will also be presenting our own lifetime awards, honouring individuals who have played a uniquely significant and long-lasting role in shaping the Internet and its study. Worldwide, the role of the Internet in everyday life and work is reshaping politics, economies, and societies: we hope to take this opportunity of the OII’s first decade to celebrate our achievements and the vision of our founders.

Celebration of our anniversary will be embedded within a three-day academic symposium organized by the OII and the journal Information, Communication & Society (which I co-edit with Brian Loader and Barry Wellman). Related to this event, I am very pleased to say that iCS has just been accepted into the Social Science Citation Index, reinforcing its value to this new field. Like the OII, iCS defined a focus that did not align with traditional academic disciplines, in order to address key social issues tied to information and communication technologies, such as the Internet. Institutional change does not happen in Internet time, but slowly; universities, disciplines, and academia more generally are beginning to recognize the significance of Internet studies – and the OII is well placed to lead in this research in ways that will help shape policy and practice.

Best wishes,
William Dutton, Director
http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/

1. Events Diary
2. New Research Programme: The Internet and Political Science
3. Final Report: Information Practices
4. New Project: Mobilization and Student Protest
5. Oxford Internet Surveys: Update
6. Webcasts: Arab Revolutions, Susan Greenfield
7. From the Blogs: Middle Earth, body sensors, Twitter
8. Student Diary: Student Open Day, Summer Doctoral Programme

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1. Events Diary
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Wednesday 20 April:
Yorick Wilks, et al.: Ethics and the Internet
http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/events/?id=422

Wednesday 27 April:
Ilhem Allagui: The Internet in the Arab Region: Use, Adoption and Changing Societies
http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/events/?id=434

Monday 9 May:
Matthew Allen: A Question of Boundaries: What Next for the ‘Edgeless University’?
http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/events/?id=436

Friday 20 May:
Kathryn Eccles, Eric Meyer: Digital Impacts: How to Measure and Understand the Usage and Impact of Digital Content
http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/events/?id=428

Thursday 2 June:
Jonathan Clough: Barely (il)legal: The Problematic Definition of ‘Child’ Pornography
http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/events/?id=440

Tuesday 28 June:
Cristobal Cobo, Eric Meyer: Building the Future Internet: The Social Nature of Technical Choices
http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/events/?id=426

Tuesday 28 June:
Cristobal Cobo, Eric Meyer: Should the Design of the Future Internet Be Driven by Technology or Societal Concerns?
http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/events/?id=427

21-24 September:
A Decade in Internet Time: Symposium on the Dynamics of the Internet and Society
http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/events/?id=398

All the events:
http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/events/

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2. New Research Programme: The Internet and Political Science
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A major OII research programme has just started on collective action, governance and citizen-government interactions in the digital era, led by Professor Helen Margetts, recipient of the three-year ESRC Professorial Fellowship that funds this work.

Collective Action, Governance and Citizen-Government Interactions in the Digital Era
http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/research/projects/?id=71

ESRC Professorial Fellowship
http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/news/?id=516

The programme assesses where political science understanding, knowledge and theory should be re-examined and developed in light of widespread use of the Internet, developing models of governance and methodologies to study online behaviour (such as propensity to participate), and using the Internet to generate new data and experiments. Although there has been a ‘dramatic drift’ towards experimentation in political science, the methodology remains scarce in public management research, a major strand of this programme.

Helen’s recent article in Public Management Review: “Experiments for Public Management Research” considers the potential of the experimental method for public management, and argues that experimental approaches should now be added to the toolkit of public management research.

Experiments for Public Management Research
http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a934039823~frm=titlelink

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3. Final Report: Information Practices
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Many humanities scholars are enthusiastic users of digital resources, however there is a potential mismatch between what (and how) resources are offered, and how scholars might use them. How do humanities researchers discover, use, create and manage their information resources? How should they be designed to ensure maximum use by scholars? An OII study of 54 humanities scholars across disciplines such as history, English, and philosophy has found that the most significant barrier they face is the disconnected nature of current archives.

The final report is available on the project site:
http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/research/projects/?id=58

Report recommendations include following examples such as London Lives and Connected Histories, which provide searches across several databases, as a starting point to promote stronger connections between information resources. The report was presented last week at a workshop hosted by the Research Information Network at the Foundling Museum in London.

Read more: Social Dimensions of Humanities Research
http://monicabulger.com/2011/04/social-life-of-humanities-research/

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4. New Project: Mobilization and Student Protest
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How are digital media changing the way in which people mobilize for a collective cause? Why do some individuals take part in protest, and others not? A new OII project will investigate these issues, focusing on the UK student campaign against raised tuition fees.

Student Protests and Digital Media:
http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/research/projects/?id=72

The project will first explore the motivations for participation using semi-structured interviews, where respondents can answer at length and be quizzed directly about their perceived political efficacy and the problem of marginal contribution. The digital trails of the Oxford campaign will then be analysed, particularly the changes in online activity preceding and following key events in the mobilisation process. By analyzing these data sources, we will be able to track the growth of the campaign over time and identify the motivations and tipping points that helped attain a critical mass of followers.

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5. Oxford Internet Surveys: Update
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Data collection has begun for the 2011 wave of the Oxford Internet Surveys, with ICM Research hired to collect a random sample of about 2000 British respondents. We expect to receive the data in early May.

OxIS is in the field:
http://microsites.oii.ox.ac.uk/oxis/blog/2011/field

Social media use has blossomed very quickly since the 2009 OxIS Report, and we have added nine items to the survey to measure it. We will ask how often people use social media like FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, Bebo, and LinkedIn, and also about specific uses, such as how often respondents update their status, post photos, or check or change privacy settings.

An issue we hope to address is the extent to which respondents receive news and information from social networking sites, rather than by going to news sites. We also want to know the extent to which respondents click on links in social networking sites as a substitute for a Google search or clicking on a bookmark in their browser. We have also added a standard political efficacy scale, and items on occupation and use of the Internet at work.

The OxIS 2011 Report will be launched this summer, with in-depth data on Internet use and attitudes in Britain (2003-2011). More information will be made available closer to the time.

Follow the OxIS Blog:
http://microsites.oii.ox.ac.uk/oxis/blog

OxIS mailing list:
http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/mailinglist/

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6. Webcasts: Arab Revolutions, Susan Greenfield
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Facebook Resistance? Understanding the role of the Internet in the Arab Revolutions
http://webcast.oii.ox.ac.uk/?view=Webcast&ID=20110328_348
Revolutions are currently sweeping the Arab world, from Tunisia to Egypt and Libya to Bahrain. The Internet has been reported as a key factor, but we in fact know little of its role in these revolutions.

Susan Greenfield: Does the Mind have a Future?
http://webcast.oii.ox.ac.uk/?view=Webcast&ID=20110407_350
Baroness Greenfield discusses how Information Technology is changing the way humans think and feel. Whilst there are clear benefits, she also highlights the less desirable consequences, and suggests how best to minimise these threats.

All the webcasts:
http://webcast.oii.ox.ac.uk/

Also! We have recently added a second webcam, commanding sweeping views of the north end of St Giles:
http://webcam.oii.ox.ac.uk/

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7. From the Blogs: Middle Earth, body sensors, Twitter
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“there is more written about Middle Earth than about many countries in Africa” – Mark Graham on why the geographies of the Internet matter:
http://www.zerogeography.net/2011/04/mapping-internet-presentation-at-sameas.html

“This data gives us a fascinating insight into just how spatially concentrated our knowledge of history is” – Mark Graham finds a heatmap of Wikipedia history articles:
http://www.floatingsheep.org/2011/03/heatmap-of-wikipedia-articles.html

“It was amazing to see some of the body sensors and actuators being developed by bioengineering researchers and companies” – Ian Brown on security and privacy in Implantable Medical Devices:
http://dooooooom.blogspot.com/2011/04/security-and-privacy-in-implantable.html

“My research has not included Arabic, unfortunately, but has found consistently that the English-language web is very insular” – Scott Hale on translating Twitter:
http://www.scotthale.net/blog/?p=152

“It is amazing that with so many risks and dangers, e-voting is still seen by many politicians and citizens as a silver bullet” – Anne-Marie Oostveen on electoral participation:
http://people.oii.ox.ac.uk/oostveen/2011/03/26/electoral-participation-e-voting-and-windscreen-wipers/

“conceptualising, prioritizing and advancing study of next generation research is one of the most significant but difficult challenges facing scholars” – Bill Dutton on the politics of next generation research:
http://microsites.oii.ox.ac.uk/oess/blog/2011/politics-next-generation-research

“the book that John Moravec and I wrote, ‘Invisible Learning: Toward a new ecology of education’ is about to be printed” – Cristobal Cobo:
http://blogs.oii.ox.ac.uk/cobo/?p=161

All the Blogs:
http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/blogs/

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8. Student Diary: Student Open Day, Summer Doctoral Programme
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The application process has now closed for 2011-2012 admissions to our DPhil and MSc programmes: it will reopen in October. Prospective students are welcome to contact us at any time of year, however, and are warmly invited to attend our next Student Open Day:

Thursday 10 November 2011 14:00 – 16:00
http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/teaching/openday/

There will be introductory talks by the Director of Graduate Studies, the MSc course convenor and student representatives, followed by questions. A webcast of the 2010 Open Day is available at the above link, and also of our first virtual open day (which was a great success: thanks to everyone who took part on Twitter).

The Summer Doctoral Programme selection process has also now been completed and we are thrilled to have once again received a very strong set of applications, with far more applicants than spaces available. We look forward to welcoming the SDP2011 group to the OII in July.

And lastly: rowing! OII MSc student Alec Dent was a member of the Oxford crew which won a commanding victory in the recent University boat race. Oxford University’s Blue boat upset the odds to win the 157th Boat Race, beating Cambridge by four lengths.
http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/news/?id=527

Editor: David Sutcliffe

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