In December I spent a week at the Oxford Internet Institute where there's lots of research afoot concerning the social implications of the Internet, on topics as diverse as e-government, broadband access in developing countries and Internet dating - not to forget the awesome zombie map of the world.
Of particular interest to me are the Oxford Internet Surveys which they carry out every two years. Around 2,000 people complete each survey, which gathers demographic data and details of access to Internet technologies and other media and asks questions about what people are using the Internet for, their attitudes towards it and how it is affecting their lives in terms of entertainment, commerce, education, social relationships and access to services and information. As part of my PhD, I'm analysing the differences between rural and urban respondents' perceptions of the impact of the Internet on their social connections, so it was really helpful to meet Dr Grant Blank, Survey Research Fellow at OII, who spent some time with me talking about the data and helping me shape my analysis plans. It must have been the push I needed because a month after returning to Aberdeen I finished the analysis - with some interesting findings - and it's now being worked into a chapter of my thesis.
Oxford itself was very pretty and was busy with prospective students attending interviews. I had a wander around St John's College and the Ashmolean Museum, and saw the pub where Tolkien, CS Lewis and the other Inklings used to meet. I wrote my undergrad dissertation on The Lord of the Rings, so the Tolkien nerd in me took a photo:
I failed to visit the Bodleian for the second time in my life (shameful for someone with a background in librarianship).
Thanks to Grant, Darja, Laura, Yana, Ornella and Pauline for making me feel welcome at OII, and to John Farrington for his supervision during this time. Next stop the opposite end of the country for some interviews!