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

March 2, 2015
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  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. 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 the forms of exchange that happen among the fans of the show. How might the kinds of feedback provided in different online spaces suggest varying values within the fandom?...

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Instagram: The Next Big (Academic) Thing?

February 12, 2015
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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...

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

February 9, 2015
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#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...

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The Cyber Security of the State

February 2, 2015
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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...

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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,...

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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...

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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: <...

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Announcing Connected Life 2014 Presenters in the fields of Education and Governance

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. We’re pleased to announce this year’s conference presenters in the fields of Education and Governance: < Education > James Robson...

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Orwell, Huxley, Banksy

May 24, 2014
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Last month two new Banksy installations emerged, and they have something important to say about what we choose to fear in the age of the Internet. In the first piece, a stone-wall mural near the headquarters of GCHQ (Britain’s equivalent of the NSA), three special agents in trench coats and fedoras attempt to surveil a derelict phone booth. In the second, on a wood panel screwed into a stone wall in Bristol, a man and woman embrace in...

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