Between 3rd and 7th of November 2014 Association of social informatics organized a trip to London, for which 15 students of Social Informatics applied. Students of Social Informatics, masters of combining different activities, have managed to take advantage of both, "express" sightseeing tour of London and Oxford, as well as insight into the work of organizations in London and Oxford that operate in the wider area of social informatics. Among prestige Buckingham Palace, Westminster Cathedral and the glory of the famous Big Ben, perhaps the most convincing for students was actually the educational part.
At the Oxford Internet Institute they prepared a series of lectures for students to present their work and some interesting cases they deal with. From the demographics research of Twitter network, the impact of the structure and content of video games on human aggression, to the use of Internet for mass participation (crowdsourcing) in various projects (Your paitings, Zooniverse).
They also visited the enterprise Oxford Policy Management, where as a researcher works social informatics Dr. Andrej Kveder. Together with his colleagues he presented their work in the field of advising to developing countries, including interesting field work such as in Nigeria and Malawi, which is definitely different from the work of researchers and interviewers in the western world. For example, the use of tablets for spatial sampling using GPS and interviewing the population in sub-Saharan Africa. After the visit Andrej invited students for a drink in a typical English pub to finish the busy day.
The most awaited was the visit of technology giant Google, which started with a breakfast that went beyond the typical English breakfast. Students had a chance to see their amazing work environment - including relaxation places - and get familiar with their work, which is based primarily on the analysis of large databases. They presented their web survey tool, activities in the field of online marketing and experimental testing of new approaches to advertising on YouTube. Before they said goodbye, they were presented further opportunities for students for cooperating with Google, their organizational culture and vision of the company's development in the future. At the end each student received a practical gift for participating in an entertaining quiz.
The last stop of the excursion was Centre for Comparative Social Surveys, where students closely acquainted with the challenges of large European survey research: specifically with the European Social Survey (ESS). With these data students of Social Informatics often encounters during their study. ESS research process was presented by Research Director Rory Fitzgerald. In his speech he emphasized the complexity of international comparative surveys; he paid a lot of attention to the problems of sampling and translation of the questionnaires (in achieving the greatest possible standardization across all participating countries) and the future of ESS in the terms of introducing new survey methods (combining) offered by online surveys.
»After all the experiences that are now behind us, from the vibrant London to a bit more peaceful Oxford, we can say that the trip was more than successful and did meet our expectations. It enabled us to get a tremendous insight into how diverse the areas in which Social informatics can find their career challenges and opportunities may be. «
Authors: Dominiki Bašelj and Katja Zrim
Summary and translation: S. L.