OII Research Fellow Bernie Hogan is a regular fixture on the OII’s Summer Doctoral Programme, tutoring and leading seminars on social networking. Having obtained his PhD from the University of Toronto he is well-placed to comment on this summer’s SDP, which is being hosted by the University of Toronto’s iSchool. So why is Toronto such a great place to hold the SDP? Bernie writes:
Originally named for a cross-cultural meeting place, Toronto, has sought to maintain that reputation to this day. Toronto is many things to many people, a place rich in cultural and ethnic diversity. It is Canada’s largest city and capital of its largest province of Ontario. Its skyline is defined by the iconic CN Tower, built for radio and television transmissions in 1976. For 34 years, it was the world’s tallest free-standing structure. Although that title has fallen by the wayside, it might still be the glitziest with its new LED array illuminating seasonal themes, from Christmas to Gay Pride to Caribana. The tower stands as simultaneously as a symbol of how communication can transcend space and time and yet how communication is so obviously tethered to one’s immediate surroundings.
CN Tower, like much of the city, is striving to keep pace in a global digital world. It’s a theme that permeates the aesthetic of Toronto’s architecture. Within walking distance of the University, the Royal Ontario Museum has had a hypermodern metallic facelift by Daniel Libeskind, while the Art Gallery of Ontario has had a more subtle postmodern hockey-themed façade by hometown boy Frank Gehry. Meanwhile, the unmistakable ‘table top’ Sharp Centre for Design for the Ontario College of Art and Design continues to charm and confuse.
Toronto’s vibrant present has stood on the shoulders of its rich past. Harold Innis, author of Empire and Communication, taught there in the first half of the 20th Century. So did one of his most strident fans: the enigmatic and wide-ranging Marshall McLuhan, whose colloquialisms such as ‘The Medium is the Message’ and ‘the Global Village’ were like beacons from a future that is only now arriving. Continue reading
Jaz Hee-jeong Choi is the Deputy Director of the Urban Informatics Research Lab, QUT. Her research interests are in playful technology, particularly the ways in which various forms of playful interaction are designed, developed, and integrated in different cultural contexts; her current research explores designing for playful interactions to cultivate sustainable food culture in urban environments. We asked her about her experiences both as a student (SDP2007) and tutor (SDP2012):
Ed: You were keen to volunteer as a tutor at last year’s SDP: why seek to take on this additional teaching responsibility?
Jaz: SDP is one of the events I genuinely look forward to every year. It’s a unique opportunity to meet, debate with, and get to know some of the best doctoral students around the world. Teaching can be a very pleasurable experience. OIISDP is memorably so. I hope to be able to make further contribution in the future.
Ed: You helped to organise the SDP that was hosted by QUT in Brisbane in 2009: any really memorable moments?
Jaz: The launch of the Legacy Project for sure. It seems to get better every year.
Ed: And of course, you were a student at the SDP2007 hosted by Harvard’s Berkman Center: how well did that capitalise on the amazing talent at Harvard? How much does location affect the SDP experience?
Jaz: The location has a significant effect on the SDP experience – it’s not just about the number of pubs around Oxford or lack thereof elsewhere 😉 The SDP at Berkman was such a treat – as well as the stellar line up of tutors, extra curricular activities gave us fun opportunities such as visiting labs at MIT and a BBQ at Jonathan Zittrain’s house. The most memorable experience for me personally is the unceasing scholarly discussions and debates with other participants and tutors from dawn to crashing into bed with a mixed sense of exhaustion and satisfaction. Continue reading
In 2012 we held the 10th OII Summer Doctoral Programme. To mark this anniversary we held a conference to reflect on the past ten years’ work, where we invited SDP alumni to present their current research alongside this year’s SDP participants. In the closing session Jeremy Hunsinger (Wilfrid Laurier University) gave a fascinating overview of how the field of Internet-related research has changed in the past ten years; in particular how debates about disciplinarity and multi-disciplinarity have played out in the context of institutional battles within universities.
Recorded: 13 July 2012.
Every summer a talented group of doctoral students from around the world arrives at the OII for an exciting, challenging, open and intense fortnight of study with leading academics in the field. This year sees the OII’s tenth Summer Doctoral Programme; we catch up with SDP Director Dr Victoria Nash to talk about it.
Ed: The OII’s Summer Doctoral Programme started in 2003. What were your initial expectations: did you imagine it would be going strong ten years later?
VN: We had no idea that the SDP would be such a long-lasting success! We started the Programme as a teaching experiment to see what level of demand there would be for graduate degree programmes in this area, should the OII want to provide University courses at a later date. So there was an expectation that we might stop SDP once we had our own degree programmes in place, but by that point, the course had gained so much momentum in its own right, and seemed to make such a difference to participants, that we didn’t even consider stopping it.
OII Fellow Dr Ralph Schroeder has been an SDP tutor since 2004; his interests include virtual environments, social aspects of e-Science, sociology of science and technology, and virtual reality technology. Asked for his thoughts and memories of the Summer Doctoral Programme, he writes:
I’ve attended all the summer schools since 2004 (all but the first) and really enjoyed being a student again! Apart from teaching on the programme, students may have noticed that I’ve usually sat through most of the sessions in the back row myself – eagerly taking notes. Aaahh, to be young again!
The SDP has been run since 2003 by OII Fellow Dr Victoria Nash. We asked: how did it begin? Why did the OII launch it, all those years ago? She replied:
Back in 2002 when the Oxford Internet Institute was just a year old, I was tasked by the Director Bill Dutton to think about how the OII might start to offer taught courses. Having studied in Oxford myself I knew how long it could take to set up a degree programme, so we explored the possibility of running a short residential course over the summer.
Looking around we couldn’t see much on offer for post-graduates working on Internet-related dissertations. It seemed like a good idea – who could resist the chance to spend a couple of weeks punting and picnicking in Oxford, with the opportunity to study with some world-renowned academics thrown in?
We are pleased to say that Marcus Foth and Jean Burgess (Creative Industries Faculty, Queensland University of Technology) will be involved in the 2010 OII Summer Doctoral Programme. They are familiar faces .. firstly as SDP2004 students, and more recently as hosts of the SDP2009 in Brisbane. We caught up with Marcus and Jean, and wondered first: why were they keen to host SDP2009?
MF: Our experience as student participants in the SDP2004 in Oxford was so useful with long-lasting networks formed, that we were keen to participate in another SDP. I managed to do that by helping out with the SDP2007 at Harvard, but we also wanted to reciprocate some of these benefits by hosting our very own SDP.
It was a lot of work and effort, but well worth it, since we tremendously enjoyed interacting with just under 30 brilliant students from all over the world for two weeks, and a stellar cohort of tutors and faculty. So it was a win/win situation.