7th Social Digital Research Symposium

06 Sep 2013 |Written by Laura Dennis


On Wednesday 4 September we held our 7th social digital research symposium in collaboration with LSE. The title of the day was Big Answers from Big Data, and our aim was to bring together existing data on digital inclusion from different sources to answer new questions. It was hosted by Ofcom at their office on the Southbank of the Thames - a great venue with an amazing view!

Even though we might not have got all of the big answers we were looking for, I think we can safely say that it was definitely a thought-provoking day, with lots of collaboration between academics, stakeholders and members of the Tinder team.

We started the day with an introduction to each of the data sets we were using and I have to say a massive thanks to Cecil Prescott, Alison Preston, Jane Thompson, Grant Blank and Helen Milner for introducing them so well, and giving us an insight into the inner workings of the data. We also heard from Tim Johnson of Point Topic about the variations in take-up of broadband across the country.

Then it was time to get brainstorming some BIG questions! There were lots of ideas flowing around the room and some really interesting questions on a variety of subjects put forward. After a spot of lunch (which was lovely - thanks again to Ofcom!), smaller groups started to manipulate the data and find some answers.

Each group worked with at least one dataset, applying it to their chosen area. Groups looked at subjects including mobile usage, social housing, barriers, ageing and more, and there was a real buzz around the room as we all worked hard to come up with the answers we needed from the data we had. Before we knew it our time was up and we were feeding back on what we had found.

There were some really interesting things shared in the feedback session as everyone had the chance to contribute ideas on what they’d been working on. In particular, we managed to use the 2013 OxIS data set to confirm our predictions on the increased use of mobile devices, and we made substantial progress in understanding how people become more risk averse online as they age. Although we agreed a that there are areas which still need lots more work, we made great progress in the small amount of time we had.

I’m really excited to see where we can go next with this data and we’ll be meeting again for an online session in the New Year. I’m sure we’ll have lots more to talk about then!