UK Digital Economy Crucible 2017 Participants Announced

By Tashi Gyaltsen

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Following a successful campaign and a competitive selection process, CHERISH Digital Economy Research Centre is delighted to welcome the following Early Career Researchers to UK Digital Economy Crucible 2017.

  • Aastha Madaan, Computer Science, University of Southampton
  • Adeline Paiement, Medical Image Analysis (CS), Swansea University
  • Alvin Orbaek White, Engineering, Swansea University
  • Amy Jenkins, Neuropsychology, Swansea University
  • Angela Dy, Entrepreneurship, Loughborough University London
  • Caitlin Cottrill, Geography & Environment, Aberdeen University
  • Chiara Bernardi, Digital Media, University of Stirling
  • Dafnne Morgado Ramirez, Biomedical Engineering/HCI, UCL
  • Edina Harbinja, Law, University of Hertfordshire
  • Enrico Andreoli, Engineering, Swansea University
  • Ewa Luger, HCI, University of Edinburgh
  • Federico Cerutti, Artificial Intelligence, Cardiff University
  • Gemma Webster, Computer Science, Edinburgh Napier University
  • Hendrik Baier, Artificial Intelligence, University of York
  • John Stevens, Design, Royal College Arts
  • Kellie Morrissey, Applied Psychology/HCI, Newcastle University
  • Larissa Pschetz, Design, University of Edinburgh
  • Marwan Fayed, Computer Science, University of Stirling
  • Mercedes Torres Torres, HCI, University of Nottingham
  • Pedro Telles, Law, Swansea University
  • Phil Bartie, Geospatial Technologies, University of Stirling
  • Phil Heslop, HCI, Newcastle University
  • Phil James, Verification/Computer Science, Swansea University
  • Ramine Tinati, Computer Science, University of Southampton
  • Sandy Brownlee, Computer Science, University of Stirling
  • Sarah Clinch, Computing Architectures, University of Manchester
  • Sean Walton, Engineering/Computer Science, Swansea University
  • Simon Rowberry, Digital Media & Publishing, University of Stirling
  • Steve Snow, Social Science/HCI, University of Southampton
  • Yvonne McDermott Rees, Law, Bangor University

We will publish more about them later in the month.

UK Digital Economy Crucible is a UK-wide, multi-disciplinary leadership programme developed by Swansea University. We are passionate about developing the future leaders of digital economy, who will bring their diverse expertise in addressing common human challenges, and become change agents in shaping future products, services and policies. The participants can look forward to the following exciting programme at the skills labs and gathering:

  • Swansea skills lab (18-19 May) will focus on Insight. It will provide an in-depth understanding of digital economy and leadership, and offer an exclusive platform to interact with crucial actors of digital economy, such as media (BBC, Channel 4, The Conversation, and possibly the Guardian), funding councils (EPSRC, ESRC, AHRC, and possibly Wellcome Trust) and general public who are at the heart of our digital innovations.
  • Edinburgh skills lab (22 and 23 June) will emphasise on Collaboration where the participants will start to work together and interact with household industry names (Microsoft, NHS, DVLA, BBC, and possibly Google) to address common challenges, engage in an intensive proposal writing workshop and hear about how to put together a winning proposal through teamwork.
  • The last skills lab in London (27-28 July) will work on achieving Impact. The participants will interact with digital entrepreneur and social digital activist, learn how to feed into policy making at government level, get practical insight into achieving real impact through proven inter-disciplinary work from highly successful senior academics, build resilience as an ECR, and finally participate in a Dragon’s Den-style pitching.
  • At the Alumni gathering (3 Nov), which is a crucial part of the leadership programme, we’ll have a catch-up in a much more relaxed environment. We’ll discuss what the participants have been up to since the last skills lab – their achievements and challenges, discuss emerging opportunities and further collaborations, undertake a team bonding outing and foster a sense of common goal within the Digital Economy Researcher community.

We are truly delighted to have attracted such a rich combination of outstanding Early Careers Researchers from across the UK, and look forward to going on a journey with them to develop, collaborate, innovate and change the world!

Reflecting on those other Clouds

By Thomas Reitmaier

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Today is world meteorological day and the world meteorological organization is celebrating by releasing a database of cloud images.  You can even submit your own. Looking over this stunning collection of images I’m reminded of the breath-taking world of wind and weather we inhabit. But as a computer scientist with an interest in mobile architectures those images look familiar in another sense and remind me of those other Clouds. For I often encounter such images in presentations, as splash images on landing pages of the next great app, and as icons on user interfaces and in technical diagrams.

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Source: thenounproject.com

Good design, as the eccentric design theorist Vilém Flusser (1999) reminds us, is to some extent deception.  The metaphor of the computer file exemplifies this quite well.  It only takes a moments reflection to realize that the file you store on your Desktop, beautifully represented by an icon, isn’t the bounded physical entity it pretends to be.  Especially if the file is larger it might be fragmented across your hard drive (rapidly rotating disk coated with magnetic material) or SSD (complex integrated circuit assemblies).  What makes the File metaphor so cunning is that at the moment of user interaction the system’s view of the file and the users point of view – e.g. that document I’m working on –  converge (on this point, see Harper et al 2013).  That is, the user can get on with what she wants to do, because Operating System, Filesystem, and User Interface are working together in consistent harmony.

The metaphor of the Cloud, however, works differently from that of the File.  Its goal is not to bind together systems and user perspectives, but to render invisible and immaterial massive digital infrastructures – data centres, undersea cables, etc – as well as the software services that run on top of these and that we depend on every day.  In the Cloud such services are opaque, and we can never really be sure if they are thoughtfully and robustly engineered with craft and care, form a tightly-coupled monolith that could buckle on load, or are something that is just cobbled together.  When developing services in the Cloud, we seldom talk about user awareness and control but are well versed in discussions on how our system scales or how we can leverage and monetize user data often to the detriment of user control.

As we celebrate world meteorological day and marvel at the weather world we inhabit, we would do well to pause for a moment and think about those other Clouds that configure, constrain, and mediate so much in our lives. Perhaps a better metaphor is needed than an image of a beautiful meadow, blue skies, and fluffy clouds.

cloudymeadow

References

Flusser, Vilém. The Shape of Things: A Philosophy of Design. Edited by Anthony Mathews. London: Reaktion Books, 1999.

Harper, Richard, Eno Thereska, Sian E. Lindley, Richard Banks, Phil Gosset, William Odom, Gavin Smyth, and Eryn Whitworth. “What Is a File?” In Proceedings of the 2013 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 1125–1136. CSCW ’13. New York, NY, USA: ACM, 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2441776.2441903.

CHERISH Escalator Projects Announced

We’re very happy to announce that the following projects proposed by Swansea University academics have been awarded funding from the second round of CHERISH Escalator funding.

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In no particular order…

  • Online Grooming Communication: Translating Research Evidence into Effective Prevention Materials, £8,668.00
    • PI: Prof Nuria Lorenzo Dus, Arts and Humanities
  • Transparency in AI through ‘muttering’ robots, £2340
    • PI: Dr Vivienne Rogers, Arts and Humanities
  • Helping form NHS IT Strategy, £5318
    • PI: Prof Harold Thimbleby, College of Science
  • Migrant Digitalities:  Mapping the Dispersal of Refugees Evicted from Calais, £8940
    • PI: Dr Martina Tazzioli, College of Science
  • Enhancing Witness Account Capture Through Digital Technology, £3140
    • PI : Dr Ruth Horry, College of Human and Health Sciences
  • Developing and Validating the Digital ‘Distance Affect Regulation Mapping (DARM), £3157
    • PI: Dr Laura Wilkinson, College of Human and Health Sciences
  • Developing Interdisciplinary and Industry Collaboration to Tackle Far-Right Extremist Use of Social Media for Propaganda and Recruitment, £4549
    • PI: Dr Lella Nouri, College of Law
  • Making with Meaning Workshops, £4700
    • PI: Dr Stephen Lindsay, College of Science
  • Hippocampal And Prefrontal Plasticity Inducement Application (HAPPIA), £3601
    • PI: Dr Tom Owen, College of Science
  • Creating a mind-set for health with digital health solutions II, £12,316
    • PI: Dr Menna Price, College of Human and Health Sciences

Congratulations!

UK Digital Economy Crucible 2017 is coming near you…

By Tashi Gyaltsen, CHERISH-DE Project Officer

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On the road…

I am thrilled we are launching the campaign for UK Digital Economy Crucible 2017. We are starting our promotional event at Newcastle University on 14th November followed by University of Stirling on 24th November, University of Nottingham on 8th December, and UCL on 20th Jan 2017. We are currently looking at other venues, including The Alan Turing Institute, Southampton, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and Ulster in the coming months. We will update the locations and dates on our blog and on Twitter when they are confirmed.

Looking at 2017…

This is our second year, and we are passionate about making UK Digital Economy Crucible bigger and better. We are looking for enthusiastic and ambitious researchers/lecturers (1-7 years since completing PhD) from diverse backgrounds from all UK universities. We will kick-off the residential skills lab in our hometown Swansea on 18th and 19th of May 2017, followed by Edinburgh on 22nd and 23th of June, and complete the programme in London on 27th and 28th July. We will build on the many positives and learn from our challenges from 2016 to ensure UK Digital Economy Crucible 2017 is even more immersive and collaborative. To reinforce our community of dedicated digital researchers, we will also be holding an Alumni gathering on  November 3rd, 2017 where the Crucible participants can catch up, discuss further collaborations and emerging opportunities, and pitch for seedcorn research funding available to them.

UK Digital Economy Crucible is for all disciplines…

Digital Economy is essentially an economy that is powered by interactions and transactions that is done on digital computing technologies. It is all around us and embedded in almost everything we do these days. Contrary to common belief, the development of digital economy does not entirely fall on computer science. Far from it, and more importantly, it needs the research, expertise and collaboration from diverse disciplines, including engineering, social and human sciences, media, arts & humanities, law and criminology, business management, maths and biology. The ultimate aim of the CHERISH-DE is to make a real difference to people’s lives, and we can only achieve it through interdisciplinary effort that captures many aspects of our lives. This is where the UK Digital Economy Crucible comes in and offers that unique platform for researchers/lecturers to get together in a series of skills labs, acquire leadership skills in their careers, and collaborate on innovative research ideas. The programme also provides exclusive opportunity to interact with distinguished speakers in the field of digital economy and other crucial actors such as media, industry, general public, funding councils and Parliament.

And some tips…

It will be highly competitive to get a place on the programme this year. And I hope some tips may help you put in a strong application. First of all, write your application in plain language as our review panel will consist of people from different backgrounds. Stick to the criteria as marking on each question will be based on them, and bear in mind that the purpose of the Crucible programme and CHERISH-DE is to work together to enrich people’s lives through practical innovation of technology. So be clear about how your research can help and its potential of achieving greater impact through collaboration and use of technology. And finally, it is highly recommended that you read up on Digital Economy from sources such as EPSRC, UK Parliament, UK Government and CHERISH-DE website before starting your application. If you have any questions or concerns about eligibility, process or application, please do not hesitate to get in touch (tashi.gyaltsen@swansea.ac.uk).

Good luck and hope to see you soon!

10 Tips for a Successful CHERISH Digital Economy Escalator Fund Proposal

As the 31st October deadline draws near, the consensus at CHERISH Heights was that you may appreciate some pointers on what makes a successful Escalator application. Sitting on the Escalator panel earlier this year, proposals were marked down for a handful of repeated and easily avoidable reasons.

#1 Mind your language

thing-explainerTrue to its multi-disciplinary, applied research roots, CHERISH peer review and research panels are made up of people from different backgrounds, academic and non-academic. A non-specialist audience will decide whether or not you are successful – so use language that someone who does not work in your area will understand. Someone recently recommended a book called the Thing Explainer by Randall Moore as a good place to start for this kind of thing.

#2 List clear outputs

Applications with clear outputs fare a lot better than those without. Even if the proposed research is quite, quite brilliant – we need to know what you are going to do with it once complete. No matter how modest, well defined outcomes will help your bid . CHERISH is about taking research out into the world, so think about how you can easily achieve this…

  • Can you present a workshop at the end of the research?
  • Are you going to do a talk in your department or your supporting organisation?
  • Will you publish any papers or talk at conferences?
  • Will it allow you to apply for further larger funding pots ?
  • Is it on a theme that may be of interest to The Conversation ?
  • Does it lend itself to public engagement (a big part of CHERISH) at Oriel Science?

#3 Double check staff costs

We will notice if the staff costs you give are incorrect. Miscalculating overheads or salaries basically invalidates your proposal at the panel stage. Talk to your research hub, double-check and give yourself the best chance of success.

#4 Use the CHERISH RA to support your researchwin_20160817_08_55_10_pro

This is Thomas, the RA on the CHERISH project. You can bid on his time and you  don’t have to budget for that cost in your application as it will be covered by the CHERISH project.  But be mindful that CHERISH RAs are not there to *drive* your project.  Rather they can provide focused assistance and expertise to help with *aspects* of your project.  Please be specific about *how* and *when* you plan on making use of RA time.

#5 Don’t round-up costs

Be as accurate as you can in listing any costs. Applications with mysteriously ‘perfect’ costs (e.g. £1000 for a flight, £500 for accommodation) look slapdash. Take the time to include accurate costs that reference the date and source of the figure.

#6 Wherever you can involve Early Career Researchers

There is a huge emphasis within CHERISH on helping ECRs develop their careers. One of our key objectives is ‘creating a next generation of digital economy researchers’, so be creative and make sure ECRs are prominent within your application.

Perhaps you are a senior academic, with a track record of successful large research bids; consider whether a less experienced departmental colleague may relish their first PI experience and suggest they lead the project or join you as a Co-I.

#7 No cutting and pasting

This sounds so obvious, but is surprisingly common. We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve been tempted to cut and paste a paragraph from a different document, rather than re-interpret or re-write a section to anwer a specific question.

The problem is, if you do this it stands out like a sore thumb. Even really ingenious ideas can’t be funded if they don’t answer the questions on the application form. Cutting and pasting from an earlier proposal and hoping for the best just doesn’t work. Some members of the panel may not be an expert in your field, but they are still able to spot a case of ‘proposalese’ when they see one.

#8 Be clear about what we can and cannot fund.

We cannot fund you if you are 100% employed at Swansea University, but we can fund the cost of an RA. We can fund travel and subsistence for academics from outside Swansea University, for example if they are Co-Is, but not their time. We cannot fund any external partners, the idea being that they are supporting the collaborative research process.

#9 Don’t put another university as your external partner 

CHERISH wants research to be taken outside of the academic world and encourages collaborative research with non-academic partners. However, academics from other universities can be Co-Is on a project (see #8).

#10 Consider the other CHERISH funding opportunities

If your bid involves travel for research collaborators based abroad – either for them to visit you or vice versa – why not go for the more straightforward International Mobility Fellowship? It is constantly open for applications and decisions are made without the aid of a formal panel.

Similarly, if you are thinking of spending time at a (non-academic) UK based organisation as part of your bid, you may be better served applying for a more light-touch (and funded) CHERISH Secondment.

If you need clarification on any points – just drop us an email cherish-de@swansea.ac.uk

Good luck!

Understanding Digital Economy Careers & Practices @ TwitchCon

As part of Mark and Jamie’s Crucible funded research, they attended TwitchCon conference in San Diego. TwitchCon is an international conference to bring together leaders in gaming and streaming to discuss cutting-edge research and collaborations. Mark and Jamie attended TwitchCon to understand the careers and practices of Twitch’s streamers, by interviewing a large number of leading professional streamers from all around the world. Here are some thoughts from Mark and Jamie on the trip:
We interviewed over 60 people, ranging from short one-or-two-minute interviews exploring what they liked about Twitch and why they came to TwitchCon, to longer interviews lasting up to 30 minutes with professional streamers which examined their lives and backgrounds, how they first heard about Twitch, how and why they started broadcasting on the platform, when they became a “partnered” streamer (someone who works with Twitch to build their channel), and how they view the future of the platform and the future of their careers. The data in particular from these longer interviews yielded fascinating data about Twitch has been transforming the lives of its users, how streamers navigate tensions of a precarious career and the balance between work and play when broadcasting gameplay, and what kinds of future career plans they were developing. These streamers ranged from the world-famous to the newly professional, and were generally very willing to offer us their time for the research.
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TwitchCon2016

CHERISH-DE @ British Science Festival

The British Science Festival kicks off today at Swansea University and at CHERISH-DE we couldn’t be more excited. From the 6th-11th of September the festival will explore a wide host of subjects, ranging from food to music, genetics to space, and climate change to cyber security.

In the exciting programme you can see the 100 free events that will take place on campus and throughout the city. As these are too many to cover in a blog post, we thought we’d highlight the talks and demos given by researchers involved with CHERISH-DE instead:

Discover the future of screen technology with computer scientist Matt Jones. Hear how his team are exploring displays that mutate to create textures and change shape to reveal controls like dials and switches depending on our needs. See some of the early prototypes that are connecting our digital interactions to the physical world.

With the anniversary of the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon looming, Lella Nouri-Bennett reflects on how the world has changed since 9/11 in terms of politics, security efforts and our understanding of terrorism in the UK. In particular, how has counter-terrorism advanced over the last 15 years, how has our societal understanding of terrorism evolved and are we any safer now?

Over 20% of UK students have considered sex work. This award winning docudrama brings the real-life testimonies of students currently working within sex industry to the screen. The film was made as part of a pioneering new study, The Student Sex Work Project, which has transformed understanding about the motivations and needs of student sex workers.

This special screening will be followed by a Q&A with criminologist Debbie Jones, who co-led the study, producer Chris Britten and clinical sexologist Sam Geuens.

  • How do Machines learn? with Jonathan Jones • Sat 10 & Sun 11 Sep • 11:00 – 16:00 • National Waterfront Museum City Centre

Machine learning is a valuable tool in use in many applications today. Visit Jonathan’s stall to learn via examples and interactive techniques how machine learning can provide valuable results. The focus will be on drawing parallels between human learning, and how machines can learn in order to make informed predictions used in various fields from crime prevention to medicine.

Cinzia will be presenting her research on Big Data and the Internet of Things and answer any questions you might have at Soapbox Science 2016 Swansea. Soapbox Science is a novel public outreach platform for promoting women scientists and the science they do.