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Tagged with “oxford internet institute” (4)

  1. Duncan Watts: Using the Web to do Social Science

    Social science is often concerned with the emergence of collective behavior out of the interactions of large numbers of individuals; but in this regard it has long suffered from a severe measurement problem - namely that interactions between people are hard to measure, especially at scale, over time, and at the same time as observing behavior.

    In this talk, Duncan will argue that the technological revolution of the Internet is beginning to lift this constraint. To illustrate, he will describe four examples of research that would have been extremely difficult, or even impossible, to perform just a decade ago:

    Using email exchange to track social networks evolving in time Using a web-based experiment to study the collective consequences of social influence on decision making Using a social networking site to study the difference between perceived and actual homogeneity of attitudes among friends Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to study the incentives underlying ‘crowd sourcing’ Although internet-based research still faces serious methodological and procedural obstacles, Duncan proposes that the ability to study truly ‘social’ dynamics at individual-level resolution will have dramatic consequences for social science.

    http://webcast.oii.ox.ac.uk/?view=Webcast&ID=20091023_301

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  2. Internet Governance and Regulation: The Future of the Internet - and How to Stop It

    This inaugural lecture by Jonathan Zittrain proposes a theory about what lies around the corner for the Internet, how to avoid it, and how to study and affect the future of the internet using the distributed power of the network itself, using privacy as a signal example.

    Jonathan Zittrain holds the Chair in Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford University and is also the Jack N. & Lillian R. Berkman Visiting Professor for Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School. His research interests include battles for control of digital property and content, cryptography, electronic privacy, the roles of intermediaries within Internet architecture, and the useful and unobtrusive deployment of technology in education.

    http://webcast.oii.ox.ac.uk/?view=Webcast&ID=20060411_141

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  3. The Politics of Internet Software: ‘Geeks Bearing Gifts’ by Ted Nelson

    When we try do social science on the Internet, it is vital to know what is solid and what is highly changeable. Outsiders and newcomers tend to be awed and misled by the illusions of ‘technology’ - which seem rock-solid and immutable, like a child’s view of home and religion.

    But the ‘technologies’ of the computer world are extremely changeable, and give play to motivated assumptions and decisions. Like gasoline mixed with air, this an explosive mix. Fast-evolving software ideas, churned by human political agendas, power today’s wildly changing product and Internet world.

    If software is successful, it steers the path that many users take, and selects among many possibilities to further the creator’s agenda.

    Suppressing the other possibilities may also be part of the agenda.

    [For the present purposes I propose a simple definition of politics: THE CLASH AND RECONCILIATION OF AGENDAS (which agendas in turn may be motivated by prestige, power, profit or ideology). This definition would seem to cover the range: electoral politics, office and palace intrigue, war (Clausewitz’ continuation of politics by other means), and now the steering of products and programs.]

    We will glance at some examples of technology politics before 1950 (Brunel, Tesla, Armstrong, von Braun) and then at software politics among some two dozen individuals and companies in the computer and Internet world - the clash and resolution of their agendas (so far).

    Software agendas generally play out through projects and products, some of which can change more drastically than others. The digital media conventions (called by laymen ‘ICTs’) are by far the most changeable - and thus political.

    Biography

    Theodor Holm Nelson invented the term "hypertext" in 1963 and published it in 1965, and is a pioneer of information technology. He also coined the words hypermedia, transclusion, virtuality, intertwingularity and teledildonics. The main thrust of his work has been to make computers easily accessible to ordinary people. His motto is:

    A user interface should be so simple that a beginner in an emergency can understand it within ten seconds.

    Nelson is currently a visiting professor at Oxford University, and a philosopher who works in the fields of information, computers, and human-machine interfaces. He founded Project Xanadu in 1960 with the goal of creating such a system on a computer network, further documented in his 1974 book Computer Lib / Dream Machines and the 1981 Literary Machines. Much of his adult life has been devoted to working on Xanadu and advocating it.

    http://webcast.oii.ox.ac.uk/?view=Webcast&ID=20051121_112

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