This news item from the BBC confirms that we aren’t safe from people trying to get hold of our personal details on Facebook and other social networking sites. An interesting and urgent question for us in IMDE: how to design for a secure and sociable system?
The Innovative Media for a Digital Economy invites proposals for seed funding to develop potential project proposals for the Digital Economy call expected in the first quarter of 2009.
The Digital Economy Programme. This is an EPSRC/ ESRC/AHRC/MRC research programme for the development of information technology for social and economic benefits. The Innovative Media for a Digital Economy Research Cluster is one of 9 clusters to have been funded in the first round of funding, and focuses on Social Technology Systems and user-generated content, in the three areas of creative industries, transport and health industries.
The initiative to invite proposals for seed funding to develop projects follows on the three Context Setting Workshops in Creative Industries, Transport and Health Industries, and the Project Incubation Workshop, which have been held over the period from April to September 2008. For more information on the Research Cluster and the workshops held so far, please go to: http://www.oerc.ox.ac.uk/research/digital-economy.
Several project ideas began to develop from the Project Incubation Workshop, and several participants formed informal groups to continue discussions. While we are keen to have these ideas developed further, this call is not limited only to workshop participants.
Seed funding can be used to:
1. hold further meetings with project participants (upper limit £500),
2. hold events geared towards particular industry partners (upper limit £1000)
3. conduct surveys, literature reviews, scoping studies or brief ethnographic studies (upper limit £1000)
4. organise a further large-scale workshop of interest to the IMDE participant group and broader community; priority will be given to proposals with a strong commitment to the non-academic sector (no upper limit)
It is a condition of funding that the outcomes of the activities be reported for inclusion in the IMDE research agenda, and be presented at IMDE / DE showcase events.
If you are interested in applying for seed funding please send us a project proposal consisting of the following information:
For seed-funding for 1-3 above:
Name of applicant and co-applicant/s
Names of potential collaborators and participants
Description / name of target group or industry / governance / other non-academic partner
Briefly describe for what aims and objectives the seed money would be used
Briefly describe methods to be used (if applicable)
Indicate what staffing and other resources will be necessary (if applicable)
Indicate the duration of studies, surveys, reviews (if applicable)
Tell us how the project fits in with the aims and objectives of the IMDE Research Cluster
Tell us how the outcomes of your project will be disseminated
If applying for seed-funding for 4:
Name of applicant and co-applicant/s
Names of potential collaborators and participants
Description / name of target group or industry / governance / other non-academic partner
What is the topic of the workshop and why has this topic been chosen?
What specific arrangements have been made to engage participants in the academic and non-academic sectors?
Where will the workshop be held?
Who are the anticipated speakers of the workshop? What will be the agenda of the workshop?
What are the costs of the workshop?
How will the outcomes of the workshop be used to further the aims and objectives of the IMDE Research Cluster?
What arrangements will be made to ensure that the outcomes of the workshop will be disseminated to the broader IMDE Research Cluster and the DE Research Cluster?
Applications should be sent to email@example.com
Applications can be made at any time between now and end of December 2008. All activities funded must be completed by end March 2009, and all claims must have been submitted by mid-February 2009.
Andy Miah has published Human Futures: Art in an Age of Uncertainty, which is published by Liverpool University Press & FACT. The book is the companion text to FACT’s year-long theme Human Futures and is a critical, scholarly text that brings together leading intellectuals, artists and science fiction writers from around the world to interrogate the future of humanity. Check out his great book blog
NEXT: 19 February 14-15
Turner, F. (2006) ‘The shifting politics of the computational metaphor’. In From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism. University of Chicago Press. Introduction and Conclusion.
To obtain a copy of the reading, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
LAST: 21 January 14-15
Taleb, N. N. (2007) The Black Swan. London: Penguin
Very interesting account of new potential.
You can get a massive market by collecting together different niche markets. It’s a matter of aggregation.
Technology(?) makes it possible to overcome constraints of space and time.
It makes a generic opening up of spaces possible. You can market stuff more widely than you could before. But it could be negative, too, when you don’t know and can’t know your audience. This has implications for trust.
Quality of products has changed. You can google/flickr a photo of anything. But they have a different aesthetic quality. And are free. Destroys jobs? Can destroy the original market (e.g for photographers). But does it change what we look for? In what way? Is there a grassroots aesthetics? collective aesthetics? Is it inferior to expert aesthetics?
Long Tail more rhetoric than an argument?
Mobile radicals example of Long Tail dynamics. E.g. 3D photography take up.
Is blogging another example? Political opinion / news / content provision outside the mainstream. Long tails of political opinion that under run the dominant antagonistic, personal story, celebrity style of reporting?
Taleb Long Tail doesn’t raise many questions - it’s trying to make a new trend. Has there been critique?
Candidate sources for critique:
Turner (From Counterculture to Cyberculture) argues that ‘roots’ of cyberculture are deeply ambiguous. Not providing a genuine political alternative, not actually oriented towards collaboration and the collective good in a political mindset or practice, but in a more individualistic spirit. The idea that self interst serves collective interest is integral to web 2.0 and therefore actually connected to phenomena and the hyping up of phenomena like the long tail.
But that’s not news. There’s no counterculture outside mainstream culture. The two are always entangled. There’s no way to a genuine alternative.
There is a continuous test (New spirit of capitalism)
Why are we researching digital economy?
How to study? which phenomena?
Issues like ‘collective intelligence’ and ‘long tail aggregation of niche markets’ are really attractive and interesting but how exactly are they done? How do they come into being? Are they real phenomena? New? or just new shapes to old forms?
What are interesting questions to ask? Like all different communications media Web 2.0 generate opportunities and problems.
How should we study it? Specific empirical studies of unfolding digital economy practices. E.g. medical information, self-help groups, proliferation of websites and propagation ofn information.
What is an interesting question is how are people appropriating, managing, colonizing the space in ways that enable reflexive interaction?
11 November 14-15
Luhman, L. (1988) Familiarity, Confidence, Trust: Problems and Alternatives. In Gambetta, D. Trust. Making and breaking cooperative relations. Blackwell.
You can download the whole book from Gambetta’s site: http://www.nuffield.ox.ac.uk/General/Members/gambetta.aspx.
22 October 13:20 - 14:20
Georg Simmel and Everett C. Hughes (1949) The Sociology of Sociability
The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 55, No. 3, pp. 254-261
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2771136
and Introduction to The New Spirit of Capitalism
Please contact email@example.com if you need a copy.
Notes by Monika Buscher
Like Mark, I left it too long to remember everything, so these are quite personal, incomplete notes.
Mark on Philosophy of money:
Discussion of whether value is something that is inherent in things or in our relationship to them. Argues for the latter. At first glance too much philosophizing and not enough evidence and empirical investigation, too individualized and psychologized. Value seems much more tangled up with economic and non-economic _practices_. But we should and will return to this book.
I picked this, because Simmel’s work on sociability is the most widely cited and recognized contribution. It provides some explanation why co-presence is so important.
He makes a really good point, saying that sociability is all about personalities, but it is cut loose from ‘objective personality’ and ‘deep individual personality’. So people must present themselves as interesting, but not say anything really intimate. Sociability seems to be and is in mobs research regarded as a kind of ‘engine’ for social networking and I would (maybe) argue also for the digital economy. It also provides ‘oiling’ for it, in the sense that in the doing of sociability trust or distrust is made.
This doesn’t mean that people are sociable to create trust amongst each other. But in observing good form and watching others (fail) to do so, they find opportunity to build trust. Trust is actively made as people do sociable interactions - the way they stick to the rules and the way they competently breach them - if you know somone can do this, and will respect the delicate negotiations, you can probably trust them. See also Boden and Molotch on ‘The compulsion of proximity’
Because all there is are taken for granted invisible unspoken rules sociability is difficult to do across ‘classes’ or different cultural backgrounds.
Sociability is important as myriad conferences, business travels and - maybe also - the trend to make workplaces more social spaces, in reaction to the fact that as some people work more and more from home, it’s the social contact they need when they are at work.
Given that there is so much in embodied conduct - what is surprising is that people are doing such a lot of sociability and are so keen to do it online. Is it easier there? is that why (anecdotal evidence suggests) autistic people find it easier there? are we all a bit autistic?
Also: what is it that makes it easier? the asynchronicity? just the lack of speed? the lack of pressure for a need for repartee? (might find something on this in Ito et al (2005) Personal, portable, pedestrian’.
Our discussion connects to ‘new spirit of capitalism’. They build up a whole framework, too long to explain, but one element is that they say that part of the spirit of capitalism is ‘test’ - that capitalism is made in contest between different people’s different interests and needs. Sociability is one arenas for such contest. the practices of negotiating relations - e.g. class relations. If the contests are chaning, the ‘spirit of capitalism’ is changing.
At this point Mark said something quite exciting, but I have forgotten what it was. It was something like - interaction in digital spaces gives all concerned equal access to communicative resources. this makes the contest fairer?
Critique is integral to the spirit of capitalism, because capitalism does not only have to promote people pursuing individual interests, but also say that doing that serves common interest. So the test has to be legitimate to serve common interest. and critique discovers ever more hurdles to make test legitimate.
17 September 14:00 15:00
We read 2 things:
1. Chapter 1, Marcel Mauss The Gift. Routledge. If you need a copy, please let me know firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Lettl, C., Herstatt, C., & Gemuenden, H. G. (2006). Users’contributions to radical innovation: Evidence from four cases in the field of medical equipment technology. R&D Management, 36(3), 251-272.
Notes by Mark Hartswood:
Notes from reading group on 17th September
(Leaving it too late – my notes are more sketchy than I remember. This is really my summary of the book rather than reflecting what the group
One of the main points of ‘The Gift’ concerns how we might explain the ritual destruction or divestment of wealth in ceremonies of native peoples – typified by the Potlach, and how such displays are hard for us ‘modern folk’ to make sense of. It also serves to trace the routes of or legal / economic systems to prior systems of formalised legal / economic structures that we have today.
Explores very nicely the obligations of the giver and recipient, and the obligation to reciprocate (with largess).
This then becomes a very powerful way to help explain the ways in which people contribute in ‘digital economy’ type activities – for example:
open source software, file sharing etc etc where there is not immediately monetary reward.
'Radical innovation' - was interesting in that it brought to our attention an literature on innovation and user involvement that we hadn't previously seen.
The emphasis of the paper was on certain qualities that were needed for users to be able to innovate in their own work setting, and being able to develop powerfully transformative techniques or technologies. The examples were predominantly from innovations developed by surgeons to support new types of surgical intervention.
This wasn’t really news to those of us who have been involved in PD (Participatory Design).
That users with a ‘unique set of characteristics’ could participate in this way is something that rankled with some, as it seemed unnecessarily elitist. There was a feeling that this unnecessarily mystified the process of innovation, and that rather mundane things like time, resources, motivation were really at stake.
Looking back at the paper just now, it seems a little more benign that I remember the discussion at the time suggesting (I didn’t read it properly at the time).
Also a distinction is made between ‘radical innovation’ and ‘incremental innovation’ that I am not sure that we explored at the time that it might be worth looking at again. (It may be that radical only happens at the end of a lot of ‘hidden’ incremental stuff…).
Hope that this is helpful to some. Feel free to contribute or amend things that I have misrepresented.
27 August 14:00 15:00
Participants: Stuart Anderson, University of Edinburgh, Gary Graham, Manchester University, Mark Perry, Brunel University, Mark Hartswood, University of Edinburgh, Leon Cruickshank, Monika Buscher, Lancaster University
We met on Skype. It worked ok-ish.
Our Notes about the 1st Chapter of
Leadbetter, C. (2008) ’We-think. Mass innovation, not mass production.’ Profile Books.
Von Ahn, L. and Dabbish, L. (2008). Designing games with a purpose. Communications of the ACM August 2008, pp. 58-67. Download from
can be found below.
Notes from reading We-think & Designing games with a purpose
Participants/Authors of these notes: Stuart Anderson, Monika Buscher, Leon Cruickshank, Gary Graham, Mark Hartswood, Mark Perry
Interesting, populist, but with depth in places.
Most people read more than the 1st chapter of we-think.
It is easy for most to like the general idea of this - that we ‘are what we share’, that more collaboration makes for better ideas, that more open-ness makes for more democracy. There are some really really nice real world examples in the book - e.g. about how IPR obsessed Cornish inventors got their come-uppance by an open and sharing community that made engines that were 3 times as efficient, or how humps in parks work. There are some good concepts/metaphors - for example:
'we can create conditions for collaboration'
'collbarotive exercise of individual responsibility'
'the new normal' (working for no pay and benefitting)
At times all this seems blue-eyed (innocent and way way over-optimistic), though. For example when he claims that we might be able to create and innovate together to defeat bird flu, tackle global warming, keep communities safe ….
Are there new models of governance emerging?
Is there more democracy?
Media: Changing the nature of the problem
By using new technologies for making sense of issues and communicating, the nature of the issues changes. For example, an emergency or a disaster can be known in much more dimensions, from more and less mainstream perspectives, by more people.
Is the information better or not?
We are changing the rules?
It would be useful to look at studies of interaction in digital economies. Goffman a useful resource for thinking through new rules for interatcion. For example ‘ritual supplies’ of giving gifts. Trevor Pinch talk at E’burgh on Goffman explore ‘aggregated entities’, Karin Knorr Cetina on Goffman and markets, also at E’burgh.
ways of desicribing the internet - Leadbetter’s metaphors fizzle out a bit, that is, are not substantiated or not pursued in depth, but they are evocative. Others:
Internet as ‘mirror’.
Why games??? Why are games so effective as ‘conditions’ or ‘mechanisms’ or ‘structures’ for collaboration? They allow people to do something trivial and effortless, take time out, strongly rule governed, simple, rewarding.
What kind of games?
Miniclip is another example.
5 August 14:00 15:00
Participants: Stuart Anderson, University of Edinburgh, Mark Perry, Brunel University, Mark Hartswood, University of Edinburgh, Annamaria Carusi, Oxford University, Monika Buscher, Lancaster University
We met on Skype. It worked ok-ish.
Our Notes about the Introduction to
Benkler, Yochai (2006) The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
Notes from discussion of Introduction to Benkler, Y. The Wealth of Nations
Participants/Authors of these notes: Stuart Anderson, Monika Buscher, Annamaria Carusi, Mark Hartswood, Mark Perry
A novel and important contribution to the debate, some very helpful concepts and observations, but too simplistic and shallow in its analysis.
In comparison to more popular science readings like Tapscott (‘Digital Economy’ and ‘Wikinomics’, a more academically sound and ambitious work. Written from an economist’s perspective. Apparently gathering influence within the research field. Does delineate communal positive effects eloquently.
NB: All our comments refer to the introduction only.
Social practices of production
Benkler argues that the convergence of an economy centred on information with the Internet gives rise to new nonmarket social production practices that are radically more decentralized, with far reaching consequences.
This is an interesting way of framing events, but there is not enough on What these practices are, how they are performed and how effects emerge.
Descriptions of practices seem simplistic and overly positive - there is no mention of obligations, duties. The assumption that people already have the ‘capital capacity’ to participate in the networked information economy is flawed. Even if the cost of ‘capital requirements of production’ (i.e. access to networked computers) now were negligible, not everyone would be able to be part of the rise of ‘individual practical capabilities’ Benkler observes.
Mentions an interesting phenomenon - that ‘the very fluidity and low commitment required’ to engage in peer production ‘increases the range and diversity of cooperative relations people can enter’.
Beyond Linux and Wikipedia?
These are very well known and much aired examples, but also very specialized ones.
Are there others?
Google - a mix of open and proprietary models of production
Benkler uncritically parades these as models of open participation. But who actually participates? in case of Wikipedia only 2% [does anyone have a reference for this?]
How much does the information economy really matter?
Benkler suggest new concept of networked information economy.
In view of recent oil and food price rises, how important is the information economy?
Benkler argues that we are using the Internet at the expense of TV, and seems to suggest that we are forming more and ‘better’ social ties than before. Is the Internet replacing TV? Is it better at creating social ties?
Rose tinted glasses x 2
Benkler focuses very much on positive behaviours and positive effects. Seems to view networked information economy as a panacea. He foresees/forecasts a new information environment in which liberal values of individual freedom, genuine participation in politics, a critical culture, social justice can be realised. What about those who are being excluded?
There are important indicators missed here. For example, social mobility within the UK has decreased in recent years, not increased.
Benkler seems to suggest that liberal democracy is a natural state societies will gravitate towards given half a chance. Has a rather limited view of what liberal democracy is.
Like most (all?) micro-economists, Benkler builds his argument on the assumption that individual behaviour is the driver for economic/social effects.
Not the only way to think … read for example Rational Fools: A Critique of the Behavioral Foundations of Economic Theory, Amartya K. Sen, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 6, No. 4 (Summer, 1977), pp. 317-344
Promises insight into this phenomenon. Introduction doesn’t give much.
Not very effectively justified.
Benkler doesn’t use the term, but talks of a more critical and self-reflective culture. He argues that this offers ‘a more attractive cultural production system in two distinct ways (1) it makes culture more transparent, (2) it makes culture more malleable’.
This is interesting for efforts to ‘design cultures’ through collaborative design/co-realization, because it could help conceptualize how such design approaches can be brought to bigger issues (Co2 emissions, transport) and involve many people.
Examples of how data and models feature in the real economy can be found already - e.g. Hegdefunds (Look at the work of Donald Mackenzie, Dependability IRC)
People’s consultation of models and live data influences their behaviour, potentially making systems much more volatile. Drawing concepts from mobile communications research, one could call this ‘micro’ or ‘hyper-coordination’.
There is a tension between assumptions of increased reflexivity and the exclusion of many. Who’s doing and benefitting from reflexivity? How could participation be enhanced? Should it be?
Wikinomics: How mass collaboration changes everything
2006 Don Tapscott Anthony Williams
This book is about how a new paradigm of openness, peering, sharing, and acting globally changes … everything. These are interesting concepts but …
* We need to better understand HOW these things happen and why. Also, they write as if change was something initiated by god’s hand, happening TO us. They literally say ‘participate or perish’. But actually, people make all this happen. So how are they doing that?What are the contingencies?
* This is written for a very particular audience: the educated west.
* It would be nice to know more about
- how time is translated into reputation and value
- how time and content are becoming the drivers of value creation/collbaoration and exclusion/inclusion
- the relationship between virtual economic practices and physical economic practices (e.g. digital content and physical services/products connected to that content)
- the relationship between not for profit digital economy practices and for profit ones. For example, when it comes to IP, what do you keep secret and what do you open up?
- what IS the added value? Why is Linux better than Microsoft?
2 July 2008
Axel Bruns coined the terms ‘produsers’ and ‘produsage’. He writes about them in his book Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production, New York: Peter Lang.
We read: Bruns, Axel and Humphreys, Sal (2007) Playing on the edge: facilitating the emergence of local digital grassroots. In Proceedings Internet Research 8.0: Let’s Play, Vancouver.
Nice example project.
18 June 2008
Lash and Urry 1994 'Economies of Signs and Space'
A very sophisticated and prescient analysis of emergent digital economy practices. Key concept: reflexivity. We will read more of this. Seminal.
Don Tapscott 1996 'Digital Economy'
An interesting, but ultimately derivative and thin popular account of the digital economy phenomena.
Next: 22 October 13:20 14:20
IMDE Project Incubation Workshop
29TH to 30th September, 2008
Oxford Thames Four Pilllars Hotel,
Sandford on Thames
1. To develop project ideas and proposals for the Digital Economy Programme
2. To develop the research agenda on innovative media for the digital economy
The IMDE research agenda is not centrally driven, and will be informed by the project ideas and proposals put forward by participants of the workshop. The workshop will start and end with an outline of the research agenda which the IMDE will put forward to the EPSRC.
In order to ensure that everyone at the workshop is able to use the time as profitably as possible we are using an Open Space format for discussions on the first day. This means there will be several successive rounds of conversations. The topics for those conversations will be set by participants, so that anyone attending can host a topic or topics that matter most to them. The conversations can also include an open range of activities: designing posters for projects, writing project outlines, or exploring ideas and team possibilities. Those who already have projects on course for development will be able to run conversations designed to move those projects forward, inviting whomever in the room can most usefully contribute. Those who are still looking to develop projects will be able to hold or join discussions to help them clarify their thinking. And others who have specialist expertise to contribute will also be able to offer that.
All the Expressions of Interest that we have received will be circulated to project participants before the event, in order to give you an idea of the interests of participants and projects ideas in advance.
7:00 Reception and dinner for early arrivals at the Oxford Thames Hotel
Monday 29th: Day I
8:30 – 9:00 Registration
9:00 - 9:15 Introduction and plan for the following 2 days
9:15 - 10:15 Background Information on Digital Economy Programme, the IMDE Reserch Cluster; General Guidance on Academic-Industry Project Collaboration and Proposal Writing for Research Councils.
10:15 – 10:30 Break
10:30 – 13:00 Open space sessions: differentiated working groups
13:00 – 14:00 Lunch
14:00 - 15:45 Open space sessions: differentiated working groups
15:45 – 16:15 Break
16:15 - 17:30 Report back on open space sessions and ‘peer review’
Tuesday 30th Day II
9:00 - 11:30 Differentiated working group sessions (Tea and coffee served at 10:15)
11:30 – 13:00 Presentation of changes / developments of projects in light of peer review; presentation of posters / outlines
13:00 - 14:00 Lunch
14:00 - 15:15 Group session: Re-formulate research agenda recommendations/IMDE report in the light of project discussions
15:15 – 15:45 Break
15:45 - 16:30 Planning next steps
Please visit the IMDE crowdvine (http://www.imde.crowdvine.com/) to find project team members and others who share your interest. Participants of the workshop can also find the expression of interest document on the IMDE website (http://www.oerc.ox.ac.uk/research/digital-economy/events).
The Innovative Media for a Digital Economy invites Expressions of Interest to attend a Project Incubation Workshop, to be held in late September.
The aim of this workshop is to provide an opportunity for those interested in developing a proposal for the Digital Economy Programme. This is an EPSRC/ ESRC/AHRC/MRC research programme for the development of information technology for social and economic benefits. The Innovative Media for a Digital Economy Research Cluster) focuses on Social Technology Systems and user-generated content, in the three areas of creative industries, transport and health industries. Several important and interesting themes have emerged from the three context setting workshops that have been held so far. A report is available on the IMDE website.
We are now inviting workshop participants and others to build on these themes, and to develop potential research projects at a Project Incubation Workshop. The aim of the workshop is to give participants an opportunity to develop ideas for projects in response to the call that is expected early 2009. If you already have a research idea, you could spend the time developing it further with other team members; alternatively you could use the time to explore ideas with others with the same interest. This will be a 2 night, 3 day residential workshop close to Oxford. The workshop will consist of background information on the Digital Economy Programme, general advice on proposal writing for this programme, an opportunity for form teams around research ideas, and a series of mini-workshops to develop specific ideas.
Funding to cover travel and accommodation costs is available for 30 participants. The date of the workshop has not yet been fixed, but it will take place in the last week of September. Please send your Expression of Interest to us at email@example.com by the 1st August, 2008. If you have any queries about the workshop, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Expressions of Interest should consist in the following:
We’re beginning to bring together the ideas generated by our first three Context Setting Workshops, in order to lay the ground for future planning. This post is a first attempt at getting an overview of the three workshops, but we’re very aware that this is only one perspective on the workshops. This is a discussion document, so please treat it as such and comment, question or make suggestions…
The first three context-setting workshops have been held. The Creative Industries Workshop was held on 29th May, the Transport Workshop was held on June, and the Health Industries Workshop on 4th July, 2008.
The three workshops were well-attended: the Creative Industries Workshop had 40 participants, the Transport Workshop 40, and the Health Industries Workshop 30. The participants were drawn from universities, industry, public institutions and policy.
The aim of the context-setting workshops was to identify challenges, barriers and possibilities for innovative media in each of the three areas. The workshops used a variety of approaches for organising the discussions. They each started with brief talks presenting specific projects, cases, or activities in the relevant area, and the rest of each day was spent in brainstorming activities.
Next steps are now being considered. If you have any comments or suggestions, please let us know.