Dissertation stipend from Internet Foundation Austria

Good news: The Internet Foundation Austria has awarded me with a stipend for finalizing my dissertation in the upcoming months. This is really relieving because this means that for the first time I can focus on my thesis – and only on my thesis. My proposal is one of eight to receive a stipend under the netidee funding scheme. Every year, netidee grants one million euro to Internet-related projects that are innovative and and open (Here is this year’s call in English). A small part of the sum goes to Master’s and PhD theses in progress. The Internet Foundation Austria (IPA), a non-profit charity, receives its money from nic.at, the Austrian domain registration service.


Happy at the award ceremony.

A new funding scheme for Austrian Internet research: netidee SCIENCE


Analyzing the Research Literature on Data-driven Journalism

Last week, my colleague Robert Gutounig and I attended the Dubrovnik Media Days in Croatia to present a paper on which we have been working on in the past months together with Michael Oppermann: A structured literature review on workflows in data-driven journalism.

Download the Slides (PDF)


New side project: Good deeds for good data

Gute Taten für gute Daten, which means “good deeds for good data”, is a new side project of mine that I run with a few others under the umbrella of Open Knowledge Austria.

The objective of the project is to free important datasets about the Austrian federal state that matter to the general public. We do that because progress in open government data in Austria has been slow in the past years compared to other countries. Especially ministries and other institutions of the federal state have been rather reluctant to publish their data in open, machine-readable formats. If you take a look at data.gv.at, the official Austrian open government data portal, you will only find a few datasets from these important institutions but many more from provinces and municipalities.


Visiting Scholar at Berkeley’s Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society


Two of Berkeley’s landmarks: The Campanile (in the back) and the Doe Memorial Library.

It has been a while since this blog has received an essential update. This happened mainly because I moved to the U.S. to begin my time as a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. I have been here for exactly two months and will stay for almost another half a year. I also maintain blog that covers my spare time experiences and is updated more frequently – it is written in German, since it is intended for my family and friends at home.


I Did Not Know How a Researcher Can Pack Words Like Sachertorte, #Aufschrei, Wanderlust and Paradigm Shift into Five Paragraphs. And Then I Read This Text.

I spent last summer in Berlin as a visiting research fellow at Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) (documented here and here). They now asked me to contribute to their annual report with a short account of my experiences. The challenge: It would have to include the following words: Sachertorte, fellowship, hiig, berlin, paradigmshift, currywurst, #Aufschrei, Wanderlust. This is what I submitted. 


The visiting research fellows Han-Teng Liao (Oxford Internet Institute), Ulrike Klinger (University of Zurich), me and Giovanni Navarria (University of Sydney) (f.l.t.r.) in front of the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society. Photo: Elena Pfautsch.


Metaphors of Data

When scientists and practitioners try to explain matters about data, they very often refer to metaphors from the physical world. Most of the terms have been established long before the digital era, they come from commerce (“data storage”, “data retrieval”, “data mining” or “data harvesting”) and nature (“data explosion”, “data is the new oil”, “Datenberg” (in German)). Han-Teng likes to speak of “data massage”. He uses the term to describe the manual effort of getting raw data (!) into the right shape before it can be further processed.

The terminology of data is full of metaphors. And – as it lies in the nature of metaphors – they are never never precise, because the words are taken out of context, they stem from another sphere of meaning and should explain entities that are difficult to understand otherwise. For instance, the “new oil” comparison is inadequate because data is (usually) not a finite resource.


New Publication: Assessing Barcamps

Screenshot from the paper.

A Barcamp is a place for low-threshold exchange of concepts and ideas.

Since 2008, I have been organizing a number of unfonferences, so-called Barcamps in Austria: At these types of events people gather and agree upon the schedule at the beginning. Everybody is expected to contribute to the unconference, either by presenting, by leading a discussion or by documenting the event. Heinz and I co-organized the first camp on political online communication in the German-speaking area. This year, I will organize a Barcamp at the European Forum Alpbach.

As Barcamps differ substantially from regular conferences, we at Wissensmanagementforum Graz decided to investigate this further and to conduct a research project about the Barcamp in Graz. This conference paper to be presented at I-KNOW in September is the first result of our research. 

You can download the full paper in the publication section. Here is the abstract:

Dennerlein, S., Gutounig, R., Kraker, P., Kaiser, R., Rauter, R., & Ausserhofer, J. (2013, forthcoming). Assessing Barcamps: Incentives for Participation in Ad-Hoc Conferences and the Role of Social Media. Presented at the I-KNOW 13th International Conference on Knowledge Management and Knowledge Technologies, Graz.

Barcamps are conferences without predefined content, often referred to as ad-hoc conferences or unconferences. Therefore, the outcomes of a barcamp are largely unknown before the event. This raises the question of participants’ motivations to attend and contribute. To answer this question, we conducted an exploratory empirical study at the Barcamp Graz 2012. We applied a mixed-method approach: first we used a sociodemographic questionnaire (n=99) which allowed us to characterize the ’typical barcamper’. Second, we conducted qualitative interviews (n=10) to get a deeper understanding of the participants’ motivations to attend, ex- pectations and the use of social media in that context. We identified three concepts, which could be deducted from the interviews: people, format and topics. We found that the motivation to attend and even a common identity is quite strongly based on these three factors. Furthermore, the results indicate that participants share a set of activities and methods by following the barcamp’s inherent rules and make extensive use of social media.

I would like to thank my co-authors, especially Sebastian Dennerlein and Robert Gutounig who took the lead in the publication, as well as all Barcamp participants who patiently answered our questions.

The Method of Book Sprints – or How to Create a Book in Three Days

Note: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong, missing points, forgetting key information.

Digital Methods Winterschool, day 2: Adam Hyde (via Video), Michael Dieter and David Berry (most of the arguments here stem from his slides) introduce us to the method of book sprint. A book sprint is a time-boxed short duration writing process usually in the order of three to five days. The aim is to produce a complete publication-ready manuscript. A book sprint has always two types of spaces: (1) A shared writing/talking area around a table and (2) quiet working space for indiviudal reading/writing/reflection. Key is an early “buy-in” from the participants: They all need to agree on the outline that is developed on the first day (and not beforehand). (more…)

New Publication: National Politics on Twitter

What started as an idea at Axel Bruns’ PhD Seminar in the summer of 2011 is finally my most important scientific publication so far. Yesterday, National Politics on Twitter: Structures and Topics of a Networked Public Sphere was published in Information, Communication & Society (ICS). The paper will be printed in a special issue covering the Internet Research 13.0 conference. I am really happy about this publication, because ICS belongs to the most important journals in my field of research.

Here is the…

  • the draft version of the article [coming soon].
  • the research paper Twitterpolitik [26,4 MB PDF, 58 pages, in German) that covers the same topic.
  • the abstract  (more…)