School of Computing New Year research event 2019: contributions from the Centre for Social Informatics

Professor Hazel Hall presents at the School of Computing research event, 9th January 2019

The School of Computing research event, 9th January 2019 (photo credit Rameez Asif)

In recent years, the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University has marked the beginning of the new year with a research event. This year we held it on Wednesday 9th January 2019.

The agenda items on the day included: preparations for REF2021 led by Professor Ben Paechter; group discussions of the ‘organisation’ of our research within the School led by Professor Emma Hart; contributions from our colleagues in the Research and Innovation Office about how they support our research activities in general (Carol Johnstone), and on making the most of the University’s research management system (Dr Lindsay Ramage); and a series of presentations by colleagues from across the School’s research groups.

There were three formal contributions from staff conducting research within the Centre for Social Informatics (CSI). These were short talks by (1) Dr Laura Muir; (2) Dr Wegene Demeke and Dr Bruce Ryan; and (3) Dr Gemma Webster and Frances Ryan. (The staff who gave talks on current work in other research groups were Dr Ingi Helgason, Dr Tom Methven, Dr Rameez Asif, Dr Owen Lo, Professor Sally Smith, Dr Ella Taylor-Smith, and Dr Taoxin Peng.)

In the first presentation from CSI, Laura explained that the aim of her research is to make information systems better. This is acheived by studying human factors relevant to the design and use of such systems. Laura is particularly interested in the visual information seeking behaviour of ‘experts’. The methods deployed in her work include eye-tracking during cognitive tasks. This approach identifies where people look when using information systems, and allows for the gathering of spatial and temporal data about types of eye movement, specific gaze locations and durations, areas of interest, and scan paths. These and other metrics can be used to quantify information seeking behaviour. The eye tracking data collected in this way can then be triangulated with qualitative data (for example that gathered using think aloud protocols) to provide further insight for the improvement of information systems, and in skills training for those expected to use such systems.

Normally Wegene and Bruce would have presented on their own work as the second CSI presentation, but on the day of the event they were both out of the country in Brazil engaged in the research project that was the subject of their presentation. I therefore offered to present on their behalf. The slides are available on SlideShare and below. (For further information please see my earlier blog post on this project.)

The third and final presentation from CSI was delivered by Frances. She spoke about Social media by proxy: strategies for managing the online profiles of adults with dementia. This project is funded by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland through its Research Incentive Grant programme for early career researchers. The award was announced in July 2018. The project itself runs for 6 months from January 2019 with Frances as the Research Assistant, and Gemma as the Principal Investigator. This project draws on Gemma‘s previous research with people with dementia, carers, and dementia support organisations, and Frances’ PhD work on social media use. The broad goal of this work is to identify and share good practice in the ‘management by proxy’ of the social media profiles of adults with dementia. The specific aims of the project are to:

  1. Establish the methods used by social media proxies to manage the social media profiles of people with dementia in their care;
  2. Determine the extent that people with dementia actively engage in the management of profiles (with or without the support of social media proxies);
  3. Identify support materials that currently exist to help social media proxies in the execution of their roles;
  4. Determine the ways in which social media proxies identify, access, and rate the level and type of support currently available;
  5. Identify future priorities for the support of social media proxies;
  6. Highlight future research opportunities related to the support of social media proxies.

Frances and Gemma plan to report their findings in four outputs: (1) a project report, (2) a journal article, (3) materials for social media proxies (e.g. leaflets, resources to be hosted online by support organisations), and (4) an article for The Conversation. They will also host a dissemination event for project stakeholders, e.g. care home workers, carers of people with dementia, local authority officials, and members of third sector organisations that provide support to vulnerable/incapacitated groups. It is anticipated that the completed work will act as a springboard for further – and more extensive – research on the project themes in the future.

The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland

Investigating the online and offline contexts of day-to-day democracy as participation spaces: newly published research by Ella Taylor-Smith and Colin Smith

Information, Communication and Society coverCongratulations to Centre for Social Informatics colleagues Dr Ella Taylor-Smith and Dr Colin Smith on the publication of their article ‘Investigating the online and offline contexts of day-to-day democracy as participation spaces’ in Information, Communication and Society.

The main theme of the article is citizen-led participation in democracy, and the online and offline spaces – introduced as ‘participation space’ – in which people work together to influence those in power, and to improve their communities. The findings draw upon a sociotechnical analysis of data from three case studies to expose the relationship between activities of local, grassroots democracy and the characteristics of the online and offline spaces in which it occurs. Continue reading

Invitation to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day 2017 at Edinburgh Napier University #ALD17

Ada Lovelace Day Polly Purvis bannerTuesday 10th October is Ada Lovelace Day. Following the success of previous years (2016, 2015), Edinburgh Napier University’s Athena SWAN team, the School of Computing, and EQUATE Scotland are marking this worldwide celebration of women in science, technology, engineering and maths by hosting free workshops and a public lecture on campus on October 10th 2017. Continue reading

Centre for Social Informatics at #ASIST2016, Copenhagen

ASIST logoNext week I will be attending the 2016 Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIST) Annual meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark. On the evening of Tuesday 18th October there will be a University reception at the conference. I have created a flyer to distribute at this event with Frances Ryan (one of my PhD students, whose participation at the conference is supported by the John Campbell Trust). The flyer provides details about the Centre for Social Informatics (CSI) at Edinburgh Napier University. Continue reading

Online and offline spaces for democracy: Dr Ella Taylor-Smith to present at Skeptics on the Fringe 2016

Edinburgh is a fun place to be in August during the festival season. Amongst all the comedy, theatre, dance, music etc. there are also some more ‘serious’ events, many of which are led by academic experts. As ever, Edinburgh Skeptics is offering an excellent programme of such talks (free of charge), one of which is to be delivered by my colleague Dr Ella Taylor-Smith next Monday 15th August. Continue reading

Congratulations Dr Ella Taylor-Smith

Ella Taylor-Smith

Dr Ella Taylor-Smith

Many congratulations to Dr Ella Taylor-Smith of the Centre for Social Informatics. Ella will graduate with a PhD from Edinburgh Napier University at the Usher Hall this morning.

Ella has been awarded a PhD for her thesis entitled Participation Space Studies: a socio-technical exploration of activist and community groups’ use of online and offline spaces to support their work. Her doctoral work was supervised by Professor Elisabeth Davenport, Dr Colin Smith, and Dr Michael Smyth.

Next week Ella will be sharing some of her PhD findings in a paper entitled ‘Non public eparticipation in social media spaces’ at Social Media and Society 2016. This major international conference takes place between 11th and 13th July in London. Continue reading

iDocQ Information Science doctoral colloquium 2016 #idocq2016: a review

iDocQ 2016 – the sixth annual Information Science doctoral colloquium – took place on Thursday 23rd June at Strathclyde University in Glasgow. Twenty-eight delegates from Scottish and English universities enjoyed a varied programme on the day. This included: Continue reading