For our second Wednesday at the OII SDP, Grant Blank spoke about the 2013 Oxford Internet Survey which is a comprehensive look at British internet life. He and his team administered surveys to and conducted face to face interviews with a random sample of the British population. They found that there are evolving conceptions of internet “cultures:” hackers, homesteaders, hobbyists, cyber-culture/digital-culture, and digital natives. And, they found that there are four ways that people generally feel about the internet: enjoyable escape, instrumental efficiency, problem-generator, and social facilitator. They then also grouped the individuals into five clusters: e-mersives, techno-pragmatists, cyber-saavy, cyber-moderates, and adigitals. Overall, the 2013 trends included: steady diffusion, persistent digital divides, rapid rise of mobile computing, stable social network site use, and persistent none-use and ex-use.

Our first student presenter was Jieun Shin, and she presented some work from her dissertation: “Rumor Diffusion in Online Social Networks.” To understand how rumors spread across Twitter, she explored 66 political rumors that spread during the 2012 US presidential election. She found that, among other things, communication patterns are more important than just who is following whom.

The next student presenter was Francisco Grajales, and he spoke about big data and privacy. Along with a team, he had previously completed a survey asking people from a health website if they were afraid that their data would be used by a third party. The survey then asked those same people if they would be more comfortable sharing their information if they were promised anonymity. Although people were afraid of their data being used, they were also pretty open to giving it up if they knew it was anonymous. He called this a “paradox.” However, I am not sure how this is a privacy paradox. People do not want their data to be used against them, or not anonymously. However, if the data is stripped of identifying facets, then that information may be used to help them, help someone else, get them a good deal or shopping recommendation, etc. He proposed a new model that allowed people to opt-in to sharing more information and to be compensated for their contributions.

Our last student presenter for the day was Stacy Blasiola who is just beginning her dissertation work regarding privacy and social networking site platforms. Stacy’s research is very similar to mine, so I very much enjoyed hearing her speak about her work in its beginning stages. She wants to understand, when it comes to different platforms, what users’ expectations and beliefs are. Hopefully, we can work together in the future (and of course cite each other)!

For the second half of the day, Ian Walden joined us to speak about privacy, data protection, and cloud computing. Privacy laws encompass different cultural values and practices, a constellation of legal rights, private and public realms, and permitted interferences. Gmail, for example, works under the assumption that people realize everything will be scanned by them. I really enjoyed how he explained data protection laws as DIFFERENT from privacy rights. This is because data protection is about everything, not just the things that are considered “private” offline. Really paralleling my dissertation, Ian expressed the important fact that anonymization will be key going forward because what “content” is has changed and expanded.