Posts Tagged ‘University of Southampton’
February 9th, 2010
Safer Internet Day 2010 has again raised awareness of safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially among children and young people globally.
Insafe launched a pan-European quiz on 1st February, for 5-11 and 12-15 year-olds, open to individuals or school classes who compete with the objective of becoming increasingly aware of their role in protecting themselves and others online. An online SID Fair will also showcase participating organizations across the world, and schools are invited to register the events they will be running to mark the day.
SID’s “Think before you post” campaign asks not only young people but also challenges every digital citizen to examine how we deal with identity and privacy in digital environments. It’s a subject that academic colleagues Lorraine Warren and Kieron O’Hara have looked at in some detail.
There’s still a long road before we have constructed a theory and research methodology so Lorraine and Kieron’s early work is extremely valuable in mapping out the terrain.
Lorraine sets up the challenge and the goal really nicely in her recent posts; she argues for more detailed understanding of identity and its consequent effects on our view of online privacy. How, when and where we construct selves online has meaning for how we responsibly manage privacy.
As she says: “The challenge for today’s researchers is to take that thinking forward, and also create new ways of thinking about identity, how it is constructed and performed, not only in Web 2 world, but looking forward into a web 3 world too. In doing so, we can make a useful contribution to the debate on privacy – because identity is the nexus between the individual and society, and where so many of the debates are played out.”
Her views are amplified in a post on privacy and identity in the digital age that deals with separation of multiple online identities
Dr Warren’s University of Southampton colleague Kieron O’Hara, also draws out a few pathfinder ideas in recent papers on the limits of the person, privacy and empowerment which are worth reading in detail(http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/17123/ and http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/18242/).
Out of all these early discussions, we can build a coherent picture that helps us focus on how we understand and engage online; what’s really valuable and worth protecting.
And, as Venessa Miemis argues in her EmergentbyDesign blogpost, as social networks expand they force us to reassess the nature and value of privacy and identity. At the same time, they also engineer an effect that changes relationships and responsibilities. This drives people to position their personal reputation in terms of the value it has to the networks to which they are connected. This echoes Dr O’Hara’s ideas around privacy as a public good and that is an area where open discussion and detailed research would make a positive contribution to our understanding of what we are online.
The debate continues and the Privacy and Identity panel, postponed postponed in January because of ‘snow on the mind’, has now been rearranged for Tuesday 23rd March at The Royal Society in London.
Details of the event are here http://webscience.org/events.html.
January 15th, 2010
Comments by Mark Zuckerman, founder of social network Facebook, have reignited the debate on the value of individual privacy, an argument expanded in an elegant blog post by Kieron O’Hara, senior research fellow in Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton.
Kieron argues that privacy is actually essential, not only for the individual to act freely but also for society to function effectively. While his argument addresses broader issues than the impact of social networks, it acts perfectly as a test for these communities.
Social networks redefine the notions of individual privacy. We join tribes of people who we may have never met and who do not “belong” to our physical community. Our individuality is reshaped as we adopt new or different personas to mesh with the norms of these groups and to engage successfully with these tribes, we need to disclose ‘personal’ information.
In these exchanges, the essential, private “me” is revealed to be a chimera. Online, we are who we choose to be and we do so because it a benefit to aspects of our multi-faceted selves, and to the communities we belong to. The selective disclosures we make blur the line between private and public spheres in positive ways for both us as individuals (playing the game) and our communities.
Of course, communities are not simply atomised “game players”; they are also host to business entities, and the individuals who play the role of corporate sentinels. Communities have swiftly educated companies who thought that they could hide their commercial purpose and the sentinels also find that the selfish, disingenuous strategy has no place in these open, sharing groups.
In this sense, communities are self-healing and corrosive activity, which damages the tribal members and the tribe as a group is kept to a minimum. Information is exchanged “on my terms”.
The isolated, private individual whose engagement is limited mainly to passive adoption of social and commercial transmission is the ideal consumer unit. Association with social networks, with a subscription paid in the currency of disclosure, is clearly a benefit to both individual and community, offering multiple reference points for informed choice.
Does the Zuckerman imperative then present challenges to the legal concept of “reasonable expectation of privacy”? Responsible consent informs this challenge and there is little doubt that unwitting disclosure of personal data by an individual – and its misuse by third parties – would be deemed unreasonable. If the agent enabling that misuse is a commercial entity, like Facebook, then the consequences for that company would be terminal.
Facebook’s business strategy is almost wholly dependent upon the currency of disclosure. It is in Zuckerman’s interests, and indeed all those leaders of social networks, to ensure that this currency is exchanged equably.
There are certainly issues over how the multi-faceted individual reforms and represents aspects of his/her online selves. The networks archive snapshots of personas, which do change and the management of these progressions is complex. It requires continual disclosure and responsible openness – neither of which is in itself harmful; quite the opposite.
Unexpected and catastrophic use of personal information by government or commerce must surely educate individuals to understand the true value of their personal information, which persona they adopt and how much they give away.
There is a recent and shocking UK legal case in point where a woman who alleged she was raped by a group of men had IM messages she had posted used against her by the defence. According to reports, her credibility was “shot to pieces” with the submission to the court of excerpts from her MSN messages, which showed that she was “prepared to entertain ideas of group sex with strangers”. The judge at Preston Crown Court ordered the jury to return “not guilty” verdicts.
Should the messages – fleeting representations of her changing thoughts and ideas – have been kept private? There is a strong viewpoint made on the F Word about the case. I personally find the court judgement extraordinary and dangerous. Whatever the view, the judgement is a clear lesson on the need to understand the currency of disclosure.
A regular guest on the Liberate Media blog, Lorraine Warren, Director of Postgraduate Education and senior lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the School of Management at the University of Southampton, has blogged on the complexities of privacy, freedom of speech and management of relationships on social networks like Twitter. We’ll be picking up the arguments and discussion on privacy with her and hopefully with Kieron over the next few weeks. There’s a world of ideas to explore – and we’d love to hear your views.
December 24th, 2009
Guest blogger Lorraine Warren, who is Director of Postgraduate Education and senior lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the School of Management at the University of Southampton, argues that the Government’s announcement of big cuts in university funding could damage the economy irreversibly
Yesterday’s announcement of spending cuts to universities has aroused widespread concern with talk of two-year degrees and increased financial strictures on prospective students.
Like Nigel Thrift, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Warwick, I too find a £553M cut to universities a “considerable blow to a sector that is central to economic recovery.”
More than that, I would argue that Mandelson’s attack on universities is a seminal moment for the UK. Right now, there has never been a greater need for universities to play a vital part in taking hold of the Knowledge Economy and driving it forward on the international stage.
Instead, our political leaders seem hell bent on policies of attrition that seem to be driven only by a vision of managing decline. If we don’t reverse these policies, this attack on our skills base will in time be seen as one of the key milestones in the irreversible decline in the status of UK universities worldwide.
As an example, let’s take the kite-flying over two-year degrees. Yes of course it is possible to develop rich two-year learning experiences that cram a lot of contact hours and self-directed learning into two years and for some individuals in the short-term that might seem like a useful way forward. But what is lost?
For students, there is the lost opportunity to reflect on, connect and develop ideas over time, rather than hurtling through superficial assessment of concepts at breakneck speed. There is the lost opportunity to explore other interests and possibilities in life.
So what? Well, from a work point of view, it is here that the foundations of social networks are created that will be essential in developing so-called ‘portfolio careers’ throughout life.
Further, is all our learning to be entirely functional, geared to a credits audit machine? What an impoverished view of the future we are presenting for upcoming generations. For academic staff, there will be the lost space to develop new thinking, new ideas, new connections and new knowledge, as evenings, weekends and (current) student vacation periods fill up with the management and assessment of learning.
Finally, in the globalised world of the 21st century, we cannot afford just to look inwardly. We have to think about how two-year degrees will be seen in the wider world. How will they be perceived by universities and employers overseas – are we in effect confining students to a restricted future with our ‘bargain basement’ approach? That would be a betrayal indeed.
November 16th, 2009
Guest blogger Lorraine Warren, who is Director of Postgraduate Education and senior lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the School of Management at the University of Southampton, on the latest Government initiative for higher education and industry
Peter Mandelson’s recent ‘Higher Ambitions’ report calls for businesses to be active partners with universities and not passive customers (point 7, page 16, http://www.bis.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/publications/Higher-Ambitions.pdf). This is something that I would endorse strongly, having been a proponent of action research in industry contexts for many years.
My research has benefitted enormously from a range of industry connections, including interventions to set new organisational strategies, Teaching Company Schemes (now redesigned as Knowledge Transfer Partnerships) and latterly, looser internet connections that keep tabs on what leading-edge companies are doing, or planning to do, in the Digital Economy, my current area of interest.
The benefits have been mutual: organisations have benefitted from unfamiliar ways of thinking, or new knowledge; similarly my knowledge has advanced through contact with industry and reflections thereon have led to publications that were richer than they might otherwise have been.
To me, management is an applied discipline. In all of the partnerships in which I’ve been involved, formal and informal, there has been mutual respect, as all the parties concerned had opted in around a set of mutually agreed objectives. My teaching has benefitted too, with student placements and projects enriching the learning experience and further ongoing connections.
But it isn’t all plain sailing. Back in the 1990s, I was involved with introducing a variety of holistic, consultative methods into the workplace as part of the process of new strategy design.
One organisation I worked with had a culture and tradition that was based on hierarchy and they found the approaches quite challenging at times and eventually they only accepted about three quarters of our recommendations.
As I recall, there was a fair bit of pressure at the time to come up with the ‘right’ answer from a managerial point of view, which presented a values clash that took some time to resolve.
Again with student projects, it isn’t always straightforward, as I can’t always match a student to any project – academic projects tend to start at a given time of the year and must last for a specific amount of time to support the student’s progress through their course, which may not meet the needs of the organisation concerned.
So, while I remain a strong supporter of greater industry involvement, we shouldn’t lose sight of the idea that the role of the university in society is not only to reflect industry needs, but also at times to challenge them and to stimulate new ways of thinking that may be geared more to the needs of society as a whole than to business per se. This may not always be popular, particularly in the short term. Universities also enrich society through developing new areas of research where the horizons are long term and the business benefits are uncertain may not be realisable in industry timescales, if at all. Of course, some subjects, such as Classics, may be valuable in developing a particular kind of trained mind that certainly enriches the mix, but may not be seen as having direct business impact.
Another concern is, of course, resourcing. Industry projects, teaching or research, tend to be seen solely at the ‘output’ side, at the project coal-face where the work is carried out. A great deal of ‘invisible’ work goes in to get a student, or a research area up to speed enough to be ready for an industry connection — the background knowledge work, estate overheads, networking, marketing, teaching, course administration, writing and reflection.
It will be interesting to see how industry responds to costing models that reflect that fully!
September 4th, 2009
Guest blogger Lorraine Warren, who is Director of Postgraduate Education and senior lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the School of Management at the University of Southampton, on the three types of ‘digital native’.
As my colleague Lisa Harris points out in a recent post, there is quite a bit of evidence against the existence of the ‘digital native’ student, that is, someone who has grown up with the technology and uses it proficiently and naturally. ["How competent are new students with technology (really)", www.lisaharrismarketing.com].
In our experience, many students are actually quite weak in technology skills and reluctant to engage in new learning styles based around social media. Worryingly, they sometimes think they are proficient when their skills are actually quite basic. If that is so, what needs to be done? My own recent blogpost, ["Digital Skills – Raising Aspirations?", www.doclorraine.com] identifies three levels of ability:
- Passives – adept at using technology for basic communication and accessing information – they consume the outputs of others
- Creators – network more actively, create and upload material, yet largely within their own circle of friends
- Disruptors – maintain a strong online personal identity, download applications, use social media to develop connections outside their sphere of existing influence.
My experience suggests, in terms of numbers, a pyramid, where most students are passives, with only a few aspiring to be disruptors:
What’s more, those in the passive category may mistakenly consider themselves to be quite skilled. If our students are going to impress employers, we need to challenge this firstly, by enabling them to have a more realistic appraisal of their skillsets and secondly, raising their aspirations to become Creators or Disruptors. Such students will stand out from the crowd in a difficult employment market.
July 16th, 2009
A warm welcome back to guest blogger and academic Lorraine Warren, who is Director of Postgraduate Education and senior lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the School of Management at the University of Southampton
It looks like students are going to be facing a difficult time in the job market as the financial downturn continues to take its toll on graduate job vacancies and training programmes. Although the majority of my students graduating this year have fared quite well, those coming through behind them are growing anxious about their chances in an increasingly competitive market.
Some of them feel very challenged by the new business environment; this is hardly unexpected given that they have not seen economic conditions like this during their lifetime. Since the early 1990s, by and large, they have only experienced economic growth. Some of them are starting to realise that the old strategies for getting good employment may not be enough.
In the past, it has never really been the case that being awarded a good degree would inevitably lead to a good job. For a long time, employers have looked for other attributes and activities that convince them that their prospective employee is a rounded person, not narrowly focussed on academic activity alone – that they are capable of working in teams, collaborating and participating in social networks. Students have long recognised this and flag up their sporting achievements or society leaderships in job applications. So what more can be done?
Students know that many employers examine the online presence of job applicants, checking them out using Google and trawling social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo. They can see this as a negative process where an embarrassing photo from years ago might be held against them. And in some cases that is so! This can put students off participating in social media, which is unfortunate, because it could be the very thing they need to set them apart from the crowd.
Instead of shying away from online presence, students should, as a bare minimum, have a well-managed online identity that says a lot about their professional potential. A well-designed blog or Facebook site that is rigorously maintained is a good start. But there’s more to it than that. The real power of social media can be seen when it is used not just to join or maintain existing networks, but instead when it is used to create new value.
Students need to be proactive, using social networking sites to rapidly build new networks with high quality connections in organisations or industries they might want to enter. They need to use sites such as Twitter to take advantage of breaking news and current issues to create energy and develop activities in real time: build up a project, set up a charity venture, connect with others on-line who have similar interests, as things are actually happening.
In doing so, they can build up a buzz about themselves, and generate a community of interest in who they are and what they are doing. In showing that they are agile and ahead of the curve, they might create a compelling case for someone to create an opening for them, or make that all-important phone call or connection.
May 13th, 2009
Our guest academic, Lorraine Warren follows up a post earlier this week on her Twitter journey. This is Dr Warren’s fourth post for us and we hope the conversation continues! Dr Warren is Director of Postgraduate Education and senior lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the School of Management at the University of Southampton.
In an earlier post I commented that a really important feature of Twitter for me is that I can see debates and conflicts taking place that show different points of view evolving in the field.
Of course, a series of exchanges in 140 characters and a cluster of links are unlikely to give the full picture – these are fast-moving, conversational interchanges that indicate where tensions lie, rather than fully-fledged rational arguments. Yet for me, this is invaluable in sensing what’s going on, what issues are important to people and where the next questions that shape my research might lie.
Inevitably, sometimes useful interchanges arising from different, but quite legitimate, points of view degenerate into personal feuds and name-calling, but that’s part of life generally, and like at a conference, or party, you can either walk away, join in, or maybe say ‘hey, folks….’ if it starts to get too nasty!
I saw an instance of this last month in my Twitterstream. As I only followed one of the parties involved, I didn’t really understand what was going on at first, but I could see that a technology correspondent, @YYY, from one of the mainstream UK papers had posted something on his blog about a writer, @ZZZ that others found offensive.
This didn’t surprise me, as I have seen @YYY post some controversial stuff in the past, perhaps reflecting more right-wing views than my other connections are comfortable with. By the time I looked, the post seemed to have been taken down, so I was on the point of forgetting about it, when I received a Direct Message (DM) in my email from a third party, @XXX who appears very popular and well-respected in the social media space: “why do you follow @YYY..? this is a slanderous pop at @ZZZ”.
A link to a jpg file of the now-vanished blog was included, that turned out to be a short piece of childish name-calling, referring to an ongoing dialogue indicating bad blood between the two. Looking at the Twitter interchange between @YYY and @ZZZ, it seemed like they were both standing up for themselves quite well without any help needed from me. So, I responded by DM to @XXX that overall, it was important for me to see a mix of views, and in this case, perhaps the hue and cry that had gone on had contributed to the piece being withdrawn, surely a good thing.
That was on April 27, and I haven’t heard from @XXX again, although I have had quite a few pleasant interchanges with him in the past both in the Twitterstream and by DM.
@XXX’s intervention raised some interesting issues about the norms and values set within and by the Twitter community. Did the message mean that I should explain myself for following @YYY, perhaps engage with the debate publicly (though it was nothing to do with me, and was by then, it seemed, over) or stop following @YYY?
Further, how I had been identified so quickly as a follower of @YYY, as I’d never interacted with him on Twitter except as a follower. Why was I being singled out? Why was @XXX taking on this role? It would be silly to over-interpret one DM, and I decided to let sleeping dogs lie.
Following doesn’t mean complicity or agreement, and if a tweet bothers me, I’ll deal with the author direct. It’s hard to see how Twitter will grow, and whether antagonistic factions and clusters will emerge. I hope not!
May 11th, 2009
A welcome return for our guest academic, Lorraine Warren. This Dr Warren’s third post and we look forward to more! Dr Warren is Director of Postgraduate Education and senior lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the School of Management at the University of Southampton.
As a Twitter enthusiast, people often ask me how I got going, how did I ‘know’ who to follow, to make it worthwhile spending time in this space. Of course, they hope to repeat my strategies, to make Twitter as valuable to them, as it has become to me. In some ways it’s a difficult question to answer.
If I look at what I actually did, it was an unplanned, serendipitous acquisition of around 350 people through a variety of processes and techniques, mainly follow-backs, recommendations from colleagues at work, and some simple detective work around who the people I liked were following.
Sometimes the real and virtual worlds crossed over, as there is a social side to Twitter too. I met (and now follow) the Liberate Media guys through Twestival, a Twitter-generated meet-up that took place in Brighton, one of many spin-off social gatherings.
Interestingly, I’ve never used the Search facility in Twitter to look for people, as keyword search seems a little bit mechanical to me.
Looking back though, there are some themes that have guided my selections. As an academic with research interests in innovation, particularly in the digital/creative industries, I need to be able to look ahead at what thought leaders and key influencers in this fast-changing and dynamic field are doing.
I use Twitter to check out the periphery, to see what people in the industry are working on, which way the wind is blowing and what current debates are setting the agenda. Obviously, I follow practitioners and consultants in the industry (both creative industries and systems developers), mainly in the UK, but in Europe and the US too.
I also follow journalists, especially technical correspondents in quality newspapers, some Silicon Valley pundits, and a smattering of MPs. A key aspect is that I also follow people who disagree with me (and each other) – for me this is about the debates, tensions and conflicts that drive change, challenging my views, sometimes reinforcing them, and sometimes changing them too.
Twitter really has added value for me, and I cannot think of any other way in which I could keep current so effectively. And I guess I must add value for others in return, as I have a high proportion of mutual relationships. Of course, I also follow fellow academics working in the social media space, and as a result of initial Twitter contacts, am currently working on two conference papers and a book chapter with a cluster of people at Birmingham City and Huddersfield universities whom I’ve never even met.
For me this organic process has been really enjoyable, I like the uncertainty of never knowing what or who might beam in next, and I can see that with some slightly different decisions, my trajectory could well have been quite different.
I am aware though that some people find this uncertainty a bit of a challenge in the early stages, and in some cases leave early without having found anything interesting or that adds value, as they are unable to find what they want.
I expect as Twitter matures, it may well become more and more structured as groups form, and also better understood, with a variety of applications generating information about the user base.
Certainly, that will make entry less daunting, and more accessible and inclusive; but it would be a shame if the spontaneous connections that make Twitter so exciting became less significant. For me, that was the fun part!
March 23rd, 2009
This is the second of, we hope, many posts from our guest academic, Lorraine Warren. Dr Warren is Director of Postgraduate Education and senior lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the School of Management at the University of Southampton.
I’ve just participated in the final meeting of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s cluster project, New Research Processes and Business Models for the Creative Industries. The idea behind this cluster, headed up by the Mixed Reality Lab at Nottingham University, was to bring together interdisciplinary teams to work together across boundaries to deal with the opportunities – and of course the challenges – of the digital economy.
As a management researcher with an interest in technology, especially early-stage concept development, it’s been really exciting for me to work alongside artists, designers, performers and computer scientists to establish new links across the boundaries of different disciplines.
I did expect that some people might be suspicious of me at the start, thinking that perhaps I’d be more interested in the bottom line than the creative process, but I think they realised pretty early on that I am more interested in long-term value creation than short-term souvenir selling. For me, this is only possible if the people involved, from whatever discipline, are able to develop their professional identity and maintain their integrity about what they do.
So, over the past six months, I’ve been working closely with colleagues in the cluster on practice-based pilot projects, learning whole new vocabularies about building interactive soundscapes and working with sound in real-time motion capture studios. The question now is – what next? These projects are crossing the boundaries between art and science, bringing new perspectives and producing some amazing work.
Perhaps more importantly, new relationships based on trust and respect for different expertises have been established. Yet while we are looking ahead to potential new business models, a leap to customer revenues is unlikely at this stage! What we have achieved is a new combination of ideas and people that in the medium- to long-term could be developed in many directions as market opportunities arise in a fast-moving environment.
If our ideas are to translate into some part of a robust digital economy, we need to be able to develop a trajectory – whatever our career path or discipline, we all need to demonstrate that once we have successfully carried out a small project, we’re ready for something bigger. It’s not enough to develop horizontally and keep amassing a constellation of small projects that may or may not add up into something that makes sense one day.
We need to deepen and develop our pilot projects, build prototypes, build market relationships, keep working on new ideas. This isn’t just the inevitable cry for more funding – the EPSRC’s Digital Economy initiative is ongoing – but let’s make sure we can maintain momentum on what we have already achieved. We have some great new groups now, but inevitably if we can’t find vehicles to work on together soon, this will erode, as people find other things to do.
March 4th, 2009
We met our guest blogger and academic Lorraine Warren at a Twestival event recently and had one of those energizing sessions where people who haven’t met before find common cause and bounce scores of ideas off each other. We couldn’t leave it there and asked Dr Warren if she would write a post for our blog – happily she agreed and brings just a few of her key thoughts on social media to this first of, we hope, many entries. Dr Warren is Director of Postgraduate Education and Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the School of Management at the University of Southampton.
I really love the teaching side of life as an academic in the innovation and new technology field. The real driver for me is that students will go out into the world ready to play a part in shaping new futures, not just reacting to what’s already going on around them. I want them to se
e beyond the management of decline, retreat and recession, and instead look ahead to creating value and change around them, to become thought leaders, and to build new futures and opportunities.
As I’m always saying, disruptive innovation creating new markets is always a possibility, but it’s unlikely you’ll get there on your own. You can’t know everything yourself, you have to bring together ideas from a wide range of sources – that’s what open innovation is about.
To me using, the internet is a big part of looking outside what I’m doing today and thinking ahead to what might happen tomorrow – keeping an eye on thought leaders through the use of social media spaces like Twitter, the blogosphere and Facebook, as well as basic stuff like a library of decent RSS feeds: not to get through the day on current projects, but to check out the periphery, to check out what people who think like I do – and more importantly, what people who don’t think like I do are up to.
To build that up in class, I asked my students recently how many of them used Twitter, wrote blogs themselves, or checked out key bloggers, kept RSS feed libraries, or used something like Facebook to create value in some way beyond parties or the social. Very few hands went in the air, despite all the talk of Generation Y!
Later on, disappointed with this cold start, I asked one of the students, Chris Hughes, why this was. In his opinion, people were just so busy getting on with the needs of the day, and their degree, that they just didn’t see the value right now. Things like MySpace and Facebook came and went out of social fashion, and often weren’t used well, getting clogged up with proliferations of spam and poor quality contacts – and then of course, abandoned.
Ok, not a scientific survey, but still a bit worrying if as educators and influencers we automatically assume that everyone is just getting on with this stuff. I know some new courses are grasping the media and marketing part of this nettle, but that’s not the whole answer for me.
I need to think how to bring this kind of futures thinking more into the assessment process, to focus attention, and get away from using the internet purely as an information resource and basic comms device. Practising what I preach – any ideas out there?