Today’s meeting started with two presentations from doctoral participants.

Stephanie Steinhardt discussed her research with the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI). The OOI is the US’s direct response to climate change. What I found to be most interesting about Stephanie’s research was learning that, traditionally for the OOI, PI’s would build their own devices, pull up their findings on their own, have the data for themselves, and move on. Now, with big data methods, much more collaboration is taking place. Consequently, Stephanie explained, we see more large-scale infrastructures, governance, investment, scientific roles, and labor politics. She hopes that this research helps to better inform the public and alter popular opinions that dismiss climate change as merely “myth.”

Second, we heard from Becky Faith. Her dissertation work is titled “How does socially excluded young women’s use of mobile devices impact their capabilities?” Mobiles are central to many poor women’s lives. They use them to communicate with family and friends, but also to completely substitute for the home computers that they do not have. For example, many use the mobile phones to inform themselves about health and wellness. Her qualitative interview findings were very interesting, and there were some great discussions in the room focusing on consumer culture, economic status, and the need for certain goods that others may judge as “frivolous purchases.” Some women found their phones annoying because they wanted to get off the grid, but many other women relied on the phones, even if they had no data plan and had to search for wifi, to speak to their families, look for jobs, and find a place to sleep for the night.

After our own sessions, we joined the Annenberg-Oxford Media Policy Summer Institute at Jesus College. Ryan Heath, the European Commission’s Spokesperson, talked about net neutrality, an update of the Commission’s past five years, and what they hope is to come in the next five years. He admitted that the commission needs a “big vision.” He spoke a lot about the fact that private interests can just simply not be ignored–“you can’t achieve change within the digital world if you don’t work with private interests.” I found Heath to be honest at times, but also still obviously a well-trained spokesperson for Neelie Kroes.

After a lunch break in the park, James Waterworth, Vice-President, Europe for the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), spoke about the economic stakes of governing the net. He claimed that the internet has caused a mass disruption in the EU, mostly due to the fact that there are fewer borders when it comes to exchanging goods. Five years ago there was a certain immature pleasure in this disruption. However, citizens and companies now finally realizing that a single market could prove inconvenient. He argued that the EU is headed for “german-style” economic policies.

Waterworth, also spoke about net neutrality and brought in a discussion about “platform neutrality.” However, he also then spoke about search engine neutrality, and seemingly just kept adding the word neutrality after other digital concepts. I would be interested to know if you use other “X neutrality” terms.

Although different from our OII SDP topics, it was nice to see another similar Summer Doctoral Programm happening at Oxford.

I leave you with some pictures from my early morning run!

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