Dyroy Seminar – Day 2

Today I am working with the Web Science DTC at the #dyroy seminar in Northern Norway.

We are working with International Baccalaureate students and some seminar delegates to investigate different themes that address youth futures and the future of the web and how those two things work together and possibly against one another.

I’m going to try to live blog as much as possible. We’re in three groups today, looking at:

1. Youth Participation – politics

2. Identity – space, place, time.

3. Economic Development

I am in group 2 today, looking at identity. We’ve begun with an exercise to introduce ourselves. We’ve all used three words to describe our own identities. We’ve all used completely different ways to talk about ourselves.  Everything from where we were born, to where we work, the relationships we have, etc.

Now we’re breaking into two groups to think about words that describe digital identity.

We discussed how in different social networks we project other ideas about our identity.  Do the platforms provide an opportunity for control or for freedom? Its all about self presentation. Is there a difference between the online and offline world? Is its really that online gives you an opportunity to wear a disguise? Could it be that online you are removed from your own identity – so you could maybe find that multiple people use one identity online? Online offers opportunity to talk across other groups, so you might follow the same social rules as everyone else in your school, whereas in the online world, these rules are removed.

One major difference is that its only online that there are companies that are trying to learn something about your identity to sell you things.  In the future could this mean that we have the power to charge for information about our identity? What value could our identity have? Currently this is not the case at all. People are unaware that their identities are being tracked. People on the web are very task focussed, and the rules that we have in the real world are not so strong, and so for instance Google is tracking us, and we don’t expect that.

What about the difference between the friendships we have? We have 400 friends on Facebook. Are these all real friends? They wouldn’t be offline!

There is a friction between the fact that it looks like you can control your identity, but on the other hand there are companies trying to collect information about your identity. And this isn’t the identity that you’re TRYING to project! Its your prescribed identity. Your personas.

Reporting back

The other part of the group talked about:

  • Online personas – we are performing to other people online, and we might not want those to cross over.
  • Anonymity – and pseudonyms. Potential for taking on identities online. This links into identity theft.
  • Group community identity – you take on the characteristics of the culture of that group.
  • Filtering – who is doing the filtering? Potential for positive assertion of identity. Your identity as a commercial product. It begins to have value.
  • The internet never forgets.

Discussion back together

How do we actually manage practically things like a photo being sent to someone else. Once they have it, and send it onwards again, who has the right to ask for this photo to be removed. Its all tied into the freedom of expression.

Who owns our identity? Who do the files belong to?

Should everyone have a human right to protect their identity? Do we have a right to privacy?

Profiling – putting lots of information together.

Where does the responsibility lie?

Physical self – the mobile web. Both positive and negative possibilities for instant reporting. We don’t just have to rely on the news and the media – citizens report news via their mobile phones, instantly capturing videos and tweeting information e.g. the London riots – providing real-world information, however when this is put on the Web there is still the potential for misinformation to be reported. Opinions rather than real facts.

In the example of the Russian election, the web was the thing that spread the information. So the control was in the real world and the freedom was online.

Group 2 Questions – Identity

  1. Computer scientists – Will it be very difficult to be anonymous online? Will we be more traceable? Can we actually be anonymous back. Will it become easier to find people?
  2. Computer scientists – When building software do people consider the ethical implications – what about privacy protection? Will we get better at this?
  3. Is everything that’s on the web there forever? Does the internet never forget? If we can’t find the information, what will this mean?
  4. Who controls information about identity online? Is it that its not about the control of information about identity any more, but about what happens with that information?
  5. How can we use the information online to tell us more about ourselves? Will our notions of trust change? Or will be expect more of people?
  6. Education: Its seems to be more about moral panic than useful education about how to use the internet.  How do we fix this? Is it about educating people. The problem is that we’re seeing the web as a tool and not as a way of life, where we need to find ways to think about how to be safe online, but also about what the reprocussions of expressing identity online.
  7. Is there any risk of the internet actually being locked down because we are so worried about these issues? Do you think that we might start to try to identify an Internet regulator? As we’re removed from borders and jurisdiction doesn’t exist online, this would be very difficult.

Group 1 Questions – Youth Participation

Reporting back about questions to the panel. The group doing youth participation online said:

  1. What is the signal to noise ratio in political campaigns? How can we know what is actually going on?
  2. Do web campaigns need an offline activity at all to be successful?
  3. Can the web help to make young people more powerful?
  4. Do we think that the web can help people to be involved with political issues if they leave their own country?

Group 3 Questions – Economic Development

Looking at ideas for how to implement local economic development.

How can we incentivise education? The group came up with a business model for a digital online game to learn Sami language.

  1. Using gamification to incentivise this.  What are the effects of making it fun?
  2. Free software behind this. – Freemium and the longtail idea. If the web is free, how can we make money?

— Big thanks to Lisa for helping with these notes!

Panel Discussion

  • Nick Gibbins
  • Su White
  • Ramine Tinati
  • Stéphane Bazan
  • David De Roure

Stéphane Bazan

Talking from Lebanon on the Arab Spring and online mobilization.

Is the web a liberation technology? Do the technologies changing the balance?

Are oppressive states becoming less able to control things?

Let’s go back to co-constitution to look at this.  The web as a machine is impacting on real world organisation.

The Syrian government used the same channels that protesters were using to share electronic content. Is the web a safe place? How can we make it a safer place is a question for Web Science to think about.  Who should bear responsibility for all of this?

The outcome of online protests, are not reflecting what we expected to happen. The web is the same for everybody, but each user has a different experience of this.

David De Roure

David speaking about the social machine. On the feast of co-constitution.  Early on it was quite hard to make a website, and the numbers of site was low, the amazing thing about this was that this got easier. Over time we had blog software, etc. What is going to happen in the future? How is it going to get easier again? Can we look at the examples of successful things that are happening and use them to help us to see where the web as a social machine is going?

Users and underneath them machines. Fundamental notion of a machine (a socio-technical machine) is a combination of that.

David gives a definition of the social machine as the purposeful creation of online communities on the web.

Su White

Can you imagine a future without computers? We are all doing learning; learning how to use technologies in new ways. To enhance technologies in new ways. To use computers to solve a particular problem. There is much more to the interaction between learning and technology than someone making a website to teach something.

Instead we harness technologies to make our own personal learning networks. There are interesting things happening there, to see how we are modifying how we are learning as the technology develops, as we are doing things in many other ways.

Nick Gibbins

Linked data outline. The history of the web is all about hypertexts, documents linked together. The meaning of the documents is returned in natural language. By people.  But most of the stuff we do is not actually textual data. Looking at the directions that some communities are going in. such as eScience or Open Public Sector Information, can we do for data the same things that we have already done for documents? Can we tie two objects together? Can we treat links as a type of data?

Its not just navigationable links that we are interested in, but the meaning of those things? Could my computer make decisions based on that information? Machines could understand some of the linked data. Machines could do some reasoning / inferring.

But how can we make this linked data compatible with the rest of the web? How can we tell that something is referring to the same things as something else?

Ramine Tinati

People are starting to publish data in terms of their own business, more and more government data is being published. There are applications such as the ASBOmeter, FixMyStreet, etc.

How will linked data be used by the people? In its current state there’s a gap between publishing the data and using the data.

More tools for non-experts are needed to deal with this. And there needs to be an ecosystem around publishing the data. This needs to be established and normalised with regular data.

Multistakeholder network of stakeholders is needed.

There needs to be a form of return on investment.

Thank-you to all!

Discussion that followed was really engaging; so engaging in fact that I didn’t keep notes! I hope that you followed along online.

I’d like to say a big thank-you to the IB students from Troms Fylkeskommune Romssa fylkkasuohkhan who joined us today and helped to form our discussions.  And of course to the fantastic panel, who despite Skype-related issues, stayed with us and presented some fascinating things for us all to think about.


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