A Social University: Relationships Between Oxford Colleges in the Twittersphere

Though the University of Oxford’s prestigious reputation may convey the impression of a monolithic institution, it is — in reality — a loosely tied federation of colleges with varying histories and sizes. I aimed to elucidate relationships between colleges as revealed through social media profiles. I then created this visualisation to look specifically at geographic relationships between colleges, investigating the question, “Does closer proximity create closer ties between colleges on Twitter?” The answer, as the visualisation reveals, is not a simple “Yes”. Rather, it appears that a complex mesh of variables influences social media relationships between colleges, some of which […]

Looks + Substance: An Introduction to User Experience (UX)

What makes a great website great? You tell me. This is the core of UX: listening to what the user wants and needs in order to design the best possible product. For my thesis, I’m researching online survey design and the way different design choices (such as putting a logo on your survey) may affect the responses you get. My research topic was inspired by my background in UX and user-centred design, which I learned as part of my masters degree in library and information science. While UX may seem like a very specialised field, its principles and methods can […]

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‘You’ve got to share. You’ve got to care’: Emotional and Creative Exchange in the My Little Pony Fandom

  Referring to themselves largely (but not uniformly) as Bronies, members of the Internet-enabled MLP (My Little Pony) fandom span multiple platforms and generate a prolific amount of artwork and an intense sense of community. The most prominent fan fiction website, FiMFiction.net, hosts over a billion words from over thirty thousand authors.[1] Reddit boasts over 50 separate subreddits (forums) dedicated to fostering community and content, from /r/MLPdrawingschool to /r/TheoryOfPony. I’ve spent the last month immersed in ethnographic study of online MLP communities, looking at ways that they share and care for one another. This blog looks briefly at some of […]

Instagram: The Next Big (Academic) Thing?

Social media is one of the most prominent areas of interest in Internet scholarship, particularly the Twitter and Facebook platforms. A quick search in Google Scholar for “Twitter” pulls up over 50,000 results just since 2014. Some have argued that these two platforms are overrepresented in research: Twitter and Facebook aren’t the only popular social media sites out there. What’s next in the field of social media studies? An excellent candidate for study is Instagram: a mobile-oriented, photo/video-sharing social network site which launched in October 2010. As of February 2015, Instagram has over 300 million active users, 70% of which […]

#Celebgate: Searching for Illicit Content During the 2014 Celebrity Photo Leaks

On August 31st, 2014, nearly 500 sensitive images captured from the mobile phones of various celebrities were released onto 4chan.com. With alarming alacrity, these stolen personal photographs made their way to slightly more mainstream content sites, including Reddit, Tumblr and Twitter. Internet users and media respondents have termed the phenomenon “Celebgate” or, more popularly and vulgarly, “The Fappening” (a portmanteau between happening and slang for masturbation). The leak raised numerous questions about privacy rights online, iCloud security, and the responsibilities of host sites. With the takedown of these photos as an exemplar, how do we search for information that makes […]

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The Cyber Security of the State

On November 24 2014 unidentified hackers released troves of personal and business information from Sony Pictures, including personal emails, information about salaries and unreleased films. The hack and the subsequent threats made to Sony led to the temporary cancellation of the release of their film, The Interview. This ordeal had a serious financial impact on the company, not to mention the precedent it set in terms of censorship. President Obama went as far as to question Sony’s decision to withdraw the movie, stating that: “We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship in the […]

Connected Life 2014: Poster and Visualisation Fair Presenters

Connected Life 2014, occurring on June 12th, is a day-long student-run conference dedicated to sparking exchange between disciplines and showcasing emerging internet research. Bringing together participants and attendees from across the social sciences, Connected Life will foster collaborations within and beyond Oxford in pursuit of better understanding of the internet and its many effects. In addition to oral presentations, we’re hosting what is sure to be an intriguing and informative poster and visualisation fair, with contributions from: Gili Vidan and Frank Hangler Could You Afford Facebook Messenger in Cameroon? Anna Orlova Youth participation in Internet governance – a European perspective […]

Connected Life 2014: Remaining Presenters Announced

Connected Life 2014, occurring on June 12th, is a day-long student-run conference dedicated to sparking exchange between disciplines and showcasing emerging internet research. Bringing together participants and attendees from across the social sciences, Connected Life will foster collaborations within and beyond Oxford in pursuit of better understanding of the internet and its many effects. Concluding our announcements about those giving presentations, we’re pleased to announce the last batch of presenters, who are presenting on topics ranging from activism to law to identity: Javier Solana University of Oxford The importance of law in embracing innovation Keywords: collaborative consumption, innovation, internet finance, […]

Announcing Connected Life Presenters in the Fields of Culture and Digital Divides

Connected Life 2014, occurring on June 12th, is a day-long student-run conference dedicated to sparking exchange between disciplines and showcasing emerging internet research. Bringing together participants and attendees from across the social sciences, Connected Life will foster collaborations within and beyond Oxford in pursuit of better understanding of the internet and its many effects. Continuing our announcements from earlier in the week, we’re pleased to announce our presenters on Culture and Digital Divides: < Culture > Leo Mercer University of Oxford The Internet: how it affects art and poetry Keywords: Internet; Art; Poetry Chen-Ta Sung London School of Economics A […]