Thursday morning I decided to take a walk around Oxford, see some things that I wanted to see, and buy some touristy souvenirs. Here are some pictures from the morning.


Breakfast at a cute little coffee shop on Turl St. — flat white and croissant!



The Queen’s College. Let’s be honest, I was nerding out to see it because it’s where Desmond visits Daniel Faraday …on Lost.



The amazing Bodleian Library.


The first student presenter for the day was Kelly Bergstrom, and she presented her dissertation work on EVE Online. Unlike other MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing games), all EVE players meet on a single server. The population of EVE gamers is homogenous. Almost all players are white males who are in their thirties and have some kind of technology-related job. The game is quite hard, especially in the beginning, so many start to play and stop soon after. The few that rise to the top enjoy bullying and hazing the noobs. Kelly studied the developers, the community, and academics to understand what it is about the game that causes such a homogenous population that performs in such a way. She calls them “assholes in space.” The players enjoy being jerks. She is using this space to understand why girls don’t play “hard” games. Some studies show that a lot of women choose “not interested,” but often there is no space provided to elaborate. What exactly does “not interested” mean when it comes to choosing a game, and why does this space of EVE Online attract/create such a specific player base?

The second student presenter was Sander Andreas Schwartz. Sander spoke about his dissertation studies in personal politics and social networking sites. Sander investigated political debate on Facebook by Danish citizens. He noted that the politicians’ Facebook pages were echo chambers by design. The politicians and their teams would carefully survey the Facebook pages, deleting posts that they felt did not represent the candidate in the way they intended. He also noted that the space provides a poor architecture for debate and leaves little room for outsiders to take part in the discussion. I commented that there seemed to be an underlying assumption in his presentation that Facebook is, or should be, a democratizing space. Whether or not Sander believes this to be true, I would argue that we must realize that Facebook promotes a very specific type of identity. I suggest he look at all of what each political follower does on the site, not just how s/he performs on the politician’s page. The users’ friends can see that they are participating, which already means that they have made the decision to make this identity a part of their Facebook self. Therefore, we should be analyzing their performances in the full context.

Lastly we heard from Dorota Glowacka. Dorota spoke about her dissertation work: “Positive obligations of states to protect privacy on the internet: Online reputation management tools.” Dorota is a lawyer in Poland, and she works on freedom of expression. She is looking to find ways of diminishing the impact of “unwanted content.” She is very interested in the current debate regarding “the right to be forgotten” and spoke about deleting content from servers that is “unlawful” or “no longer relevant.” She sees reputation as connected to privacy and privacy to be a human right. I agree with her that this “virtue of forgetting” is important, especially when it comes to identity, because we need the space to reinvent ourselves and start anew. She cites the notion that the worst thing you’ve done equals the first thing that comes up in a Google search. I do agree with this. However, I also think that we should be teaching people to create spaces for themselves online that present their creative, positive, professional, etc. sides. If we just keep teaching people to hide or that maybe their bad content will be erased eventually, we are not really getting at the core.

After OII time on Thursday night, a few of us visited The Eagle and the Child for a pint; this is apparently the pub at which Tolkien used to write!


Tolkien’s old haunt.



Inside The Eagle and Child.