4 – The relationship between social and digital worlds



  • Powerpoint files will be made available here

The fourth seminar of the series, The Relationship between Social and Digital Worlds, was held on 15 October 2014. Follow the link on the right to watch a recording of the session. Below are details of the speakers and their abstracts.

1.00pm Introduction with Bridgette Wessels

1.05pm Jenny Ostini, University of Southern Queensland

Title: How do we “get at” people’s everyday practices of digital technology?

Abstract:  I’m interested in what sticks in the mind, what makes something memorable. And almost everyone can remember their first encounter with a computer. This may not last. Children born in the last five years will likely have always been around a digital device, in the same way that people born in the nineteen eighties don’t remember time before television. People’s feelings, experiences and memories are fertile ground for understanding their everyday practices; for understanding their ownership and use of digital technology and how it has become integral to our lives.

My work-in-progress is a collection of digital literacy narratives drawing on people’s interactions with computers from their earliest to most recent experiences. It examines the rules surrounding personal, work and school usage of computers and how this has changed over time. People’s comfort levels with computers and new technology are also examined.

The overarching question for this research is what digital literacies look like in everyday practice. It takes a thick description approach instead of a survey or testing of digital literacy. It is innovative in its focus on data sharing and reuse within and outside academic research. The particular ethical and practical issues this raises will be discussed as well as designing and doing fieldwork in a digital era, the role of narrative analysis in social science, and cohort selection and data analysis.

Jenny is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Digital Futures and Personalised Learning) with the Digital Futures Collaborative Research Network.

She is a qualitative social scientist with expertise in narrative analysis, critical discourse analysis, content analysis, interviewing and ethnography. Her PhD research was on how complex ideas are circulated through media and political discourse to become “common sense.”  She examined the historical stories told in the United States by people and institutions about human rights and the effect that these stories had on public discourse.

Prior to joining USQ, Jenny worked at the Queensland Council of Social Service. She first worked in low-income consumer advocacy around water and energy efficiency and then on developing online content to help build the capacity of social sector to manage change. This included developing a website to host digital content such as podcasts, videos and digital archives and then creating that content. She also worked at the University of Queensland’s Healthy Communities Research Centre as a qualitative social scientist engaged in evaluating community health interventions.

She is interested in the production, consumption, use, and transformation of knowledge, and social change in a digital environment. Her current research project is collecting and studying digital literacy narratives to examine how people get, and share knowledge in a digital world.

1.35pm Jo Bates, The University of Sheffield

Title: The Importance of understanding the socio-cultural shaping of big data infrastructures

Abstract:  The importance of understanding the socio-cultural shaping of (‘big’) data infrastructures is of growing interest. However, it is methodologically challenging to capture the complexity of these social worlds. This presentation reports on a new approach that is being explored to understand better the socio-cultural values and practices shaping weather data infrastructures, by focusing on a single temperature datum on its journey from production at Weston Park weather station in Sheffield, through the UK Met Office, its intersection with citizen science and amateur generated data, and then on into different contexts of re-use including international climate science and weather derivatives markets.

Jo Bates is a Lecturer in Information Politics and Policy based in the University of Sheffield’s Information School. Her research explores the socio-cultural factors shaping developments in the political economy of data, with a particular focus on the production and distribution of public datasets and their re-use by third parties including citizens and businesses.

2.05pm Sheila Webber, The University of Sheffield and Marshall Dozier, University of Edinburgh

Title: Social, ethical, digital:  issues in 3D worlds research

Abstract:   The presenters will discuss issues arising from research in virtual spaces, drawing on experiences and findings from three projects involving use of the virtual world, Second Life SL). They will start by briefly outlining the digital tools and environments they have used in order to work together on this presentation, as well as to work on research that is described later in the talk. They will provide basic details of the three studies that they draw on in the final part of the presentation (an investigation into information behaviour in Second Life (SL); an evaluation of a SL event; and a case study of a Journal Club). To provide insight into the affordances of SL for research, they will show the data collection tools used in a pilot focus group for the Journal Club study. In the final part of the presentation they identify issues that emerge from research in 3D virtual worlds (VWs): combining use of physical world and VW tools and networks; challenges of VW “face to face” data collection; adjusting to technical intermediation; avatar vs. physical world identity; and changing ethical issues concerning anonymity.

Marshall and Sheila will present in SL, using screen sharing via Skype.
Marshall Dozier (Pancha Enzyme in Second Life) is an Academic Support Librarian for the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. Marshall contributes teaching in Second Life as part of the MSc Digital Education, and leads the course ‘Information literacies for online learning’ on that same programme. Marshall’s research is in information behaviour and she is working toward an EdD. In academic support activities, she is involved in information and research skills development (e.g. systematic review methods and qualitative data analysis with NVivo), online learning and aspects of medical education such as problem-based learning and evidence-based medicine. She is currently the president of the European Association of Health Information and Libraries.

Sheila Webber (Sheila Yoshikawa in Second Life) is Senior Lecturer in the Information School, University of Sheffield, and Director of the Centre for Information Literacy Research. Her research focuses on Information Literacy and Information Behaviour in different contexts, for example in specific educational settings and in digital environments such as virtual worlds. She is a qualitative researcher with a particular interest in the phenomenographic approach. She blogs on information literacy at http://information-literacy.blogspot.com (where there is also a list of her publications) and her Second Life avatar blogs at http://adventuresofyoshikawa.blogspot.com

2.35 – Discussion

3.00pm – Close


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