Research in the Internet age

28 March 2012

A recent lecture by Oxford Visiting Fellow Professor Ralph Schroeder (Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford) gave insights into the ways researchers can use the Internet.

A recent lecture by Oxford Visiting Fellow Professor Ralph Schroeder (Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford) gave insights into the ways researchers can use the Internet.

Titled “Digital Transformations of Research” Professor Schroeder’s discussion, held in the School of Social and Political Sciences, explored how the Internet has fundamentally changed how research is being done.

He said that as data becomes more available, with large linkable databases and large-scale parallelization of computing power, people need to understand these and other changes. It is also necessary to analyse how different fields organise their knowledge production efforts.

“Once this is done, various implications emerge: there are novel forms of intermediation between researchers and their objects, but there is also disintermediation. Both raise questions about the quality of knowledge. Further, while the boundaries between academia and the public and society are becoming blurred, the shape of knowledge is also crystallizing ever more via digital traces. These transformations raise the question whether it is possible to develop a sociology of online knowledge,” he said.

“I hope people came away from the talk understanding more about the different ways in which researchers, in many disciplines, can use the Internet.

”There is a great diversity of ways of working together and technologies, and people will learn how that diversity contributes to new directions in how research is being done, with implications, for example, for collaboration.”

Professor Schroeder’s interest in e-research stemmed partly from previous work on virtual reality environments, where he found, for example, that people can collaborate just as well while in distributed mode (not in the same place) for certain tasks as they can face-to-face.

“This goes against what other researchers think, and what people normally think - so I'm following this up in current research.”

Professor Schroeder will also give a talk on this virtual reality research at HITLab NZ on 30 March 2012.


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