Digital Economy USRG

Can maths keep the lights burning

May 31, 2012
by Karen Woods

Mathematicians are teaming up with engineers to keep the lights on across the world. Jacek Brodzki gave fascinating account of how careful calculation could stop massive cross-border blackouts at the last must-attend Digital Economy lunch at the University of Southampton.

Dare we say it, the Professor of Pure Mathematics electrified his audience by outlining how you can come up with new ways of isolating transmission areas if the worst happens, through the ingenious use of maths. He used the example of a major power failure, which spread across the north east of USA and Canada on 14 August 2003, after a tree shorted a line. Jeremy Frey, Professor of Chemistry, told people at the lunch he had been there at the time and became stranded in Toronto.

Jacek leads a research group investigating applications of modern Pure Mathematics, especially geometry and analysis, in a variety of problems emerging in Data Science and Energy.

Student Digital Champions build social media presence for #PianoHAWK

Avatar photoMay 28, 2012
by Lisa Harris

The PianoHAWK launch event took place on 16th May 2012 at the Bluthner Piano Showroom in London’s Berkeley Square.

One of the major goals for the promotion of this event was raising awareness about the actual event and the PianoHAWK technology on several digital platforms. Considering that the main target audience interested in the technology could be found on social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, the decision to create an online buzz on these media was obvious.

Digital Literacy Student Champions, Marina Sakipi and Panos Grimanellis were responsible for setting up and managing the social media accounts created.

First step was using the #PianoHAWK hashtag on Twitter in order to link together all relevant tweets, creating a ‘trending’ topic around the event and engaging users in using the hashtag before, during and after the event.

Here are a few sample tweets on #PianoHAWK:



Second step was the creation of the PianoHAWK Facebook page which immediately took off with many people ‘liking’ it.

On the day of the event, during its first part a science presentation took place by Dr Cheryl Metcalf where she explained everything about HAWK technology and provided scientific evidence of her research on how H.A.W.K technology can apply in various fields.

During the second part of the event, a music programme took place organised by Professor David Owen Norris with 11 Bluthner pianos playing simultaneously by students from School of Music and Cantores Michaelis choir singing.

In the meantime, Marina and Panos were live tweeting and uploading photos of the event:

As a whole, the event was very successful, and mentioned also in the University of Southampton Vice Chancellor’s blog post and as proved by the improved ranking of the PianoHAWK webpage on Google organic search results.

Storify from DE lunch on Wikipedia 28/5

Avatar photoMay 28, 2012
by Lisa Harris

Social media in the business world

May 21, 2012
by Karen Woods

The next generation of sophisticated digital marketing professionals are learning their trade at the University of Southampton. And many of them look set for glittering careers, if you ask me!

Slightly nervous third year students have been trying their hands at being social media consultants, thanks to an innovative module at the Management School. But all deserved hearty rounds of applause after their presentations!

Marketing Lecturer, Lisa Harris had challenged them to work in groups to raise awareness of clubs, organisations and companies through digital marketing techniques based on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and You Tube. They were also encouraged to write blogs to help with the promotion.

Eleven groups gave presentations about their experiences to marketing academics which were assessed as part of their final mark.

One group worked with the Southampton University Riding Club. The team, Emilie Prior, Laura Sensecall, Charlie Hilder, Charlotte Sanders and Kate Smith, set up an online community for members. They used several media to convey information, share photos and encourage dialogue with members such as voting for annual awards. The site even attracted attention from professional rider Lucinda Green. Other projects included Student Chic for online discounts and fashion and beauty tips, Soton Digest for local restaurant reviews, Gradbuddy to highlight internships and placements and Southampton Student Accommodation Support.

“This is a great opportunity for our students to find out what it’s really like to put the principles of social media to the test,” says Lisa. “Hopefully they have enjoyed the experience of working with ‘clients’ to get their messages across and developed skills which will be invaluable in their careers.”


How can you tweet in Chinese?

May 21, 2012
by Karen Woods

Management School PhD student Ring Xu fascinated university staff and students interested in developments in the digital economy with her presentation on what’s happening now in social media in China. More than 513 million people use the internet in her country. But that impressive figure is dwarfed by China’s total population of 1.4 billion and means around a third of Chinese people are currently online. Most are under the age of 30.

What are they doing? Ring presents compelling evidence that many of them, just like young people around the world, are obsessed with social media. The statistics are compelling. A quarter of all social media users in the world are Chinese. And material in the Chinese language now makes up 24 percent of the Internet.

Ring has four reasons for this explosion in Chinese social media. Many families are forced to live apart, as many young people may work or study away from home, good broadband links are affordable, China’s one child policy means many young people turn to friends rather than siblings and there is suspicion of mainstream government-controlled media.

As Ring explains, there are no Facebook, Twitter and You Tube in China, but their Chinese equivalents are better in some ways, not second best. Sina Weibo, the phenomenally popular Chinese website most similar to Twitter has a facility for users to re-post adding comments and pictures to the original message. And, of course, 140 characters in the Chinese language convey far more meaning than 140 letters.

She says many young people enjoy receiving and passing on discount vouchers and codes so they can snap up top fashion items at bargain prices. “I haven’t bought anything at full price online after I followed those Weibo accounts which broadcast discount codes every day,” she declares.


DE USRG on Weibo

Creative Digifest #SxSC

Avatar photoMay 20, 2012
by Lisa Harris

This was an all-day informal event on 18 May 2012 at the University of Southampton Students Union building for anyone involved in the region’s creative industries.

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Digital Literacies Workshops and Conference

Avatar photoMay 20, 2012
by Lisa Harris

There are still a few spaces available for staff and students on the following events. These are informal sessions run on behalf of the Centre for Innovation in Technologies and Education (CITE) by Fiona Harvey, Lisa Harris and the Student Digital Champions.

1.     Online Identity Workshop: 22nd May at 3pm in 85/2207.

This is a chance for you to review how you appear online and take an active role in making deliberate changes. What you say and how you appear online needs to be consistent and professional in order to reflect you in the best possible light.  The workshop will highlight good and bad examples to help you enhance your profile and promote yourself effectively. You can register for this event here.

2.     Online Safety and Security Workshop: 30th May at 2pm in 85/2209.

Find out all about staying safe online – do you read Terms and Conditions, all the way through…really?   Do you know who can access your private data on social networks and how you can stop them?  You can register for this event here.

3.     Developing and Managing your Professional Profile Workshop: 7th June at 2pm in 85/2207.

How well do you manage your online networks?  Is your LinkedIn profile complete and working well for you?  Would you like to increase your social capital and project a professional online profile to a future employer? You can register for this event here.

4.     Digital Literacy Conference

Due to popular demand additional tickets have now been released for the Digital Literacy Conference in Garden Court, Highfield Campus all day on 14th June. There will be un-keynote sessions led by Steve Wheeler, Cristina Costa, Sue Beckingham and Doug Belshaw, as well as contributions from a number of Southampton University staff and students who are engaged in various Digital Literacy activities.

We hope to see you at one or more of these events!

Alison Simmance- new DE USRG Coordinator

May 18, 2012
by Alison Simmance

Alison Simmance, Nosy Hara Marine Park, Madagascar.

I am delighted to be the new Digital Economy USRG Coordinator here at the University of Southampton and to be involved in communicating the Digital Economy’s diverse and excellent research: the novel approach to influence human behaviour through mobile phone and social networking technologybringing life to events; revolutionizing aspects of the humanities for our students and laying the digital foundation to tackle today’s complex problems such as the supply and demand of energy are excellent examples. But there’s more! Today, I have been seeing the diverse nature of research in the Digital Economy at the Creative Digifest #SxSC.

By way of background, I obtained my MSc here in NOCS many years ago in Marine Science, Policy and Law and I have worked for the UK Government’s marine science unit (Defra ) for over 3 years. Having obtained valuable experience in developing policy led marine environmental research, I was eager to develop a greater understanding of the global challenges facing resource management in developing countries. In response, last year I took a career break to work out in Madagascar on socio-economic research in marine resource management. Here, I lived with some of society’s poorest communities and the most diverse and remote islands globally. The global ‘South’ and ‘Digital’ divide was very evident!

Now, looking back, I struggle to believe the many amazing things I saw and experienced during my time in Madagascar: a Madagascar paradise-flycatcher ensconced in her nest deep in the mangroves; a trade between fisherman and collector of ornate spiny lobster, a creature of unimaginable beauty; the diverse seascapes and landscapes throughout Madagascar; the passive and warm nature of the Malagasy people; and the challenging primitive lifestyle with little access to clean drinking water, radios, telephones and the internet!. Through these experiences as well as time spent working with children in the slums of Nakuru, Kenya, I have come to understand the impact that the global economic crisis, fuel crisis, agricultural crisis and digital divide can have in influencing human progress!

In terms of the Digital Economy, I think the message is clear- advanced connectivity will deliver major economic benefits everywhere. As stated by ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré “Broadband is no longer a luxury…it is a core infrastructure of the modern economy. Those who have it will prosper, those who don’t will fall further behind.”

In my next blog I will speak about my excitement to work here in the University’s Multidisciplinary research team. I will provide my perspective on how I see the Digital Economy USRG and my other USRGs (Sustainability Science, Complexity in Real World Contexts, Ageing and Lifelong Health, Work Futures Research Centre) contributing to global dilemmas (international development, diversifying economies, creating wealth and pulling people out of poverty) and the impact of the research carried out in the Digital Economy here in the University of Southampton.

I look forward to meeting you all soon,


#SxSC: Chronotape

May 16, 2012
by Sotonde

Peter Bennett will talk about Chronotape which is a tangible timeline for family history research, developed as part of the PATINA project within the Bristol Interaction & Graphics group. The chronotape explores the concept of using a tangible interface to control time, effectively turning the abstract concept of time into something that can be held and controlled.