OII Research Fellow Bernie Hogan is a regular fixture on the OII’s Summer Doctoral Programme, tutoring and leading seminars on social networking. Having obtained his PhD from the University of Toronto he is well-placed to comment on this summer’s SDP, which is being hosted by the University of Toronto’s iSchool. So why is Toronto such a great place to hold the SDP? Bernie writes:
Originally named for a cross-cultural meeting place, Toronto, has sought to maintain that reputation to this day. Toronto is many things to many people, a place rich in cultural and ethnic diversity. It is Canada’s largest city and capital of its largest province of Ontario. Its skyline is defined by the iconic CN Tower, built for radio and television transmissions in 1976. For 34 years, it was the world’s tallest free-standing structure. Although that title has fallen by the wayside, it might still be the glitziest with its new LED array illuminating seasonal themes, from Christmas to Gay Pride to Caribana. The tower stands as simultaneously as a symbol of how communication can transcend space and time and yet how communication is so obviously tethered to one’s immediate surroundings.
CN Tower, like much of the city, is striving to keep pace in a global digital world. It’s a theme that permeates the aesthetic of Toronto’s architecture. Within walking distance of the University, the Royal Ontario Museum has had a hypermodern metallic facelift by Daniel Libeskind, while the Art Gallery of Ontario has had a more subtle postmodern hockey-themed façade by hometown boy Frank Gehry. Meanwhile, the unmistakable ‘table top’ Sharp Centre for Design for the Ontario College of Art and Design continues to charm and confuse.
Toronto’s vibrant present has stood on the shoulders of its rich past. Harold Innis, author of Empire and Communication, taught there in the first half of the 20th Century. So did one of his most strident fans: the enigmatic and wide-ranging Marshall McLuhan, whose colloquialisms such as ‘The Medium is the Message’ and ‘the Global Village’ were like beacons from a future that is only now arriving. Continue reading →
Jaz Hee-jeong Choi is the Deputy Director of the Urban Informatics Research Lab, QUT. Her research interests are in playful technology, particularly the ways in which various forms of playful interaction are designed, developed, and integrated in different cultural contexts; her current research explores designing for playful interactions to cultivate sustainable food culture in urban environments. We asked her about her experiences both as a student (SDP2007) and tutor (SDP2012):
Ed: You were keen to volunteer as a tutor at last year’s SDP: why seek to take on this additional teaching responsibility? Jaz: SDP is one of the events I genuinely look forward to every year. It’s a unique opportunity to meet, debate with, and get to know some of the best doctoral students around the world. Teaching can be a very pleasurable experience. OIISDP is memorably so. I hope to be able to make further contribution in the future.
Ed: You helped to organise the SDP that was hosted by QUT in Brisbane in 2009: any really memorable moments? Jaz: The launch of the Legacy Project for sure. It seems to get better every year.
Ed: And of course, you were a student at the SDP2007 hosted by Harvard’s Berkman Center: how well did that capitalise on the amazing talent at Harvard? How much does location affect the SDP experience? Jaz: The location has a significant effect on the SDP experience – it’s not just about the number of pubs around Oxford or lack thereof elsewhere The SDP at Berkman was such a treat – as well as the stellar line up of tutors, extra curricular activities gave us fun opportunities such as visiting labs at MIT and a BBQ at Jonathan Zittrain’s house. The most memorable experience for me personally is the unceasing scholarly discussions and debates with other participants and tutors from dawn to crashing into bed with a mixed sense of exhaustion and satisfaction. Continue reading →
The OII’s Summer Doctoral Programme brings together doctoral students from around the world for a fortnight of study with leading academics in a multi-disciplinary environment that aims to provide constructive advice and support for students’ doctoral thesis research. SDP Director Dr Victoria Nash answers the questions of a theoretical ‘prospective candidate’ (PC)…
PC: The OII’s research covers a vast range of topics and disciplines: law, economics, politics, digital humanities, etc etc. How do I know if I will fit into the mix?
VN: The most fundamental requirement is that our SDP students must be writing a thesis or dissertation about some aspect of life with the Internet. Beyond that, it’s the place to be if you have an open-minded approach to how best to study the Internet. Our typical cohort includes students from a wide variety of disciplinary and methodological traditions, and what they all share is a genuine intellectual curiosity and a willingness to consider these different perspectives.
It’s always nice to hear from SDP alumni; to find out why they applied, what they got out of the programme, and what they are up to now. Ryan Biava is a PhD Candidate in political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; this is what he had to say about his time in Oxford as a student on the 2011 Summer Doctoral Programme:
The search for a shared intellectual community was one of the principal reasons I was so excited to attend the SDP. Many of us come from different disciplines where our interests might be considered novel or tangential. No matter how welcome we feel at home, the OII is a place that was conceived to bring together people who think broadly about the internet and its impact on, well, just about everything. Continue reading →
What is expected in applications for the OII’s Summer Doctoral Programme? How can you make your application stand out? We talk to SDP Director Dr Victoria Nash, who has the following advice for doctoral students who are thinking about applying to the programme.
The three main criteria for acceptance onto the SDP are academic excellence, overlap with the OII’s areas of interest, and a likelihood that the student will benefit from undertaking the programme. Bear this in mind when you put together your application to ensure that you provide clear evidence on each count.
We really need to know about your thesis research, as one of the primary aims of the programme is to help improve students’ dissertations. So make sure that your thesis abstract is clear and compelling. Remember that although the research is very familiar to you, we will never have heard about it before, so make sure you spell out the broad topic, research questions and likely contribution as simply as possible. Practice this ‘elevator pitch’ on your peers to see if they can understand what your research is really about.
The Oxford Internet Institute (OII) is delighted to announce that its eleventh annual Summer Doctoral Programme (SDP) will be held in collaboration with the iSchool at the University of Toronto from 8-19 July 2013.
Professor Seamus Ross, Dean of the iSchool, and a previous Visiting Fellow at OII, welcomed the collaboration saying: “The opportunity for the UofT iSchool to partner with the OII on its internationally acclaimed summer school in 2013 is exciting. The bringing together of exceptional students from across the globe with OII and iSchool academics will provide a dynamic learning opportunity for all of us — we really welcome it.”
In 2012 we held the 10th OII Summer Doctoral Programme. To mark this anniversary we held a conference to reflect on the past ten years’ work, where we invited SDP alumni to present their current research alongside this year’s SDP participants. In the closing session Jeremy Hunsinger (Wilfrid Laurier University) gave a fascinating overview of how the field of Internet-related research has changed in the past ten years; in particular how debates about disciplinarity and multi-disciplinarity have played out in the context of institutional battles within universities.
Since SDP2009 the students have been encouraged to produce a ‘legacy project’ as a group outcome of each year; sometime serious (books), sometimes not-so-serious (raps), always interesting. During the SDP’s tenth anniversary conference there was much discussion about the last ten years of Internet research; one of the conference’s themes.
It was great to welcome back SDP alumni to Oxford, and also to experience the SDP2012 student group’s completely unexpected (and fabulous) ‘Internet Research Methods Ghost Tour’. Look out for the Apparation of Anonymity, the Ghost of Research Geography, and the Ghost of Direct Response… Continue reading →
Every summer a talented group of doctoral students from around the world arrives at the OII for an exciting, challenging, open and intense fortnight of study with leading academics in the field. This year sees the OII’s tenth Summer Doctoral Programme; we catch up with SDP Director Dr Victoria Nash to talk about it.
Ed: The OII’s Summer Doctoral Programme started in 2003. What were your initial expectations: did you imagine it would be going strong ten years later?
VN: We had no idea that the SDP would be such a long-lasting success! We started the Programme as a teaching experiment to see what level of demand there would be for graduate degree programmes in this area, should the OII want to provide University courses at a later date. So there was an expectation that we might stop SDP once we had our own degree programmes in place, but by that point, the course had gained so much momentum in its own right, and seemed to make such a difference to participants, that we didn’t even consider stopping it. Continue reading →
Ed: You are now a visitor at the OII! What’s it like being in Oxford (after Australia)?
YB: It’s impressive! Oxford is a researcher’s paradise: centuries of academic history, more traditions than you’d ever be able to understand in a year, beautiful libraries all over the place, fascinating seminars on any topic you could imagine and, of course, many amazing scholars and brilliant students that are the heart of Oxford’s academic life. During my PhD, I’ve gotten used to traveling around the world to attend conferences (and summer schools) to meet other internet researchers. Here, visitors from all over the world come and participate in the vibrant academic life. Two weeks ago, Jimmy Wales was here to speak about free speech with Timothy Garton Ash (just a day after the Wikipedia blackout). Sometimes, it’s intimidating actually.