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Topic modelling content from the “Everyday Sexism” project: what’s it all about?

We recently announced the start of an exciting new research project that will involve the use of topic modelling in understanding the patterns in submitted stories to the Everyday Sexism website. Here, we briefly explain our text analysis approach, “topic modelling”. At its very core, topic modelling is a technique that seeks to automatically discover the topics contained within a group […]

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The limits of uberization: How far can platforms go?

Platforms that enable users to come together and  buy/sell services with confidence, such as Uber, have become remarkably popular, with the companies often transforming the industries they enter. In this blog post the OII’s Vili Lehdonvirta analyses why the domestic cleaning platform Homejoy failed to achieve such success. He argues that when buyer and sellers enter into repeated transactions they can […]

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Creating a semantic map of sexism worldwide: topic modelling of content from the “Everyday Sexism” project

When barrister Charlotte Proudman recently spoke out regarding a sexist comment that she had received on the professional networking website LinkedIn, hundreds of women praised her actions in highlighting the issue of workplace sexism – and many of them began to tell similar stories of their own. It soon became apparent that Proudman was not […]

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How big data is breathing new life into the smart cities concept

“Big data” is a growing area of interest for public policy makers: for example, it was highlighted in UK Chancellor George Osborne’s recent budget speech as a major means of improving efficiency in public service delivery. While big data can apply to government at every level, the majority of innovation is currently being driven by […]

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Digital Disconnect: Parties, Pollsters and Political Analysis in #GE2015

Digital data generated during election campaigns are a valuable – but underused – source of information for political parties, pollsters and political analysts alike. They contain signals of what political parties are doing, how they are being received, and what people are thinking and talking about. The OII’s Helen Margetts and Scott Hale discuss how use of digital tools and social media by the two largest parties both, in different ways, illustrate a disconnect between the tightly controlled party campaigns, and the electorate on social media. These differences could lend a clue to why the opinion polls throughout the UK’s GE2015 campaign got it so wrong, and provide signposts for parties seeking to rebuild their relatioship with their supporters after this surprising election.

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Tracing our every move: Big data and multi-method research

Every person who sends email, text messages, tweets, or simply surfs the Web leaves a digital trace. Researchers are just starting to comprehend the possibilities of “big data” for creating a new picture of social behavior, but the potential for innovative work on social and cultural topics far outstrips current data collection and analysis techniques. Ericka Menchen-Trevino (Erasmus University Rotterdam) discusses her Policy & Internet article Collecting vertical trace data: big possibilities and big challenges for multi-method research, finding that combining shallow ‘horizontal’ and deep ‘vertical’ trace data provides a richer picture of online activity.

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How can big data be used to advance dementia research?

Dementia affects about 44 million individuals today, a number that is expected to triple by 2050. To date there is no cure or treatment. Ulrike Deetjen, Eric T. Meyer and Ralph Schroeder discuss the findings of an OECD-commissioned project to evaluate current best practices of data sharing in research on neurodegenerative diseases, for which they interviewed 37 experts from academia, government and other sectors. The final report was presented to the G7 health ministers at the First WHO Ministerial Conference on Global Action Against Dementia in Geneva on 16-17 March 2015.

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Don’t knock clickivism: it represents the political participation aspirations of the modern citizen

We are surrounded by simple online participatory processes asking for our opinions through one-click online petitions, content sharing, and social buttons. Max Halupka discusses his article Clicktivism: A Systematic Heuristic, published in Policy & Internet, which argues that this so-called “clicktivism” is a legitimate political act. However, he argues that these acts have been largely marginalized in the mainstream political science literature, and as a result, new modes of participation that draw upon the simplification of social connectivity are being ignored.

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Gender gaps in virtual economies: are there virtual ‘pink’ and ‘blue’ collar occupations?

Determinants of economic wellbeing have long been investigated from many angles in the social sciences: a key finding that is consistent across economies and time periods is that women tend to earn less income and hold less wealth than men. But what about in online (virtual) economies? OII Research Fellow Vili Lehdonvirta discusses how by looking at player gender and character gender separately, we can distinguish between “being” female and “appearing to be” female, and see how they are related to economic outcomes. His article (with R.A.Ratan, T.L.Kennedy, and D.Williams) Pink and Blue Pixel$: Gender and Economic Disparity in Two Massive Online Games, is published in The Information Society 30 (4) 243-255.

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Two years after the NYT’s ‘Year of the MOOC’: how much do we actually know about them?

Despite the speculation about the role massively open online courses (MOOCs) may play in higher education, empirical research that explores the realities of interacting and learning in MOOCs is in its infancy. Rebecca Eynon, PI of an OII project on Conceptualising interaction and learning in MOOCs discusses how a preliminary understanding of communication dynamics and learner tendencies within MOOCs, may allow development of new methods for promoting engagement and the fulfilment of individual learning objectives in these settings—in particular, by trying to mitigate “content overload” issues.

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