Nothing to see here

I am trying to get into the habit of updating my blog every week on a Friday, and have failed both times. I will get a post out this week, but to make up for missing last Friday I spent some time updating and rearranging my work tabs (I know, exciting). I split out the Publications into their very own tab, and updated the projects I’m working on and other things I’m doing. I’m thinking of adding an Engagement page too to list all the stuff I talked about last week.

Here, have a (vaguely related to some of my work) comic. Also, you should read SMBC.


New Paper Alert: Citizen Science and the Professional-Amateur Divide

I’ve just had my first paper of 2019 published online in the Journal of Science Communication: Citizen Science and the Professional-Amateur Divide: lessons from differing online practices. It is based on the work I did during the PhD with professionals and amateurs in the online creative industries, refocused to online citizen science. It is part of a special issue on User experience of digital technologies in citizen science which includes six other very interesting papers.

In the particular industry I studied, webcomics, creators are able to use online platforms to find audiences, publish their work, and improve their craft. They work in the same space and often there is very little separating the ‘amateur’ creator from the ‘professional’. Through a series of interviews with both types of creators I found three major areas that were particularly relevant to the blurring of this divide: mutual acknowledgement, infrastructural support, and platform specialisation.

As my interest in online crowd behaviour (my main research was on crowdfunding) lead me to look at online citizen science, James and I realised these three areas could apply to work in this community as well. Online citizen science allows amateurs to work and interact with professionals, again bridging the divide between the two. He carried out a second small study to investigate and this paper is the result. It was surprising to us how striking some of the similarities were in amongst the obvious differences. The paper is very exploratory and meant to provoke discussion on how these three factors are relevant (or not) to different online practices, and how domains that seem at first glance to have nothing in common may be able to offer each other insights. Have a look if it sounds like your thing.

“Online citizen science platforms increasingly provide types of infrastructural support previously only available to organisationally-based professional scientists. Other practices, such as creative arts, also exploit the freedom and accessibility afforded by the World Wide Web to shift the professional-amateur relationship. This paper compares communities from these two areas to show that disparate practices can learn from each other to better understand their users and their technology needs. Three major areas are discussed: mutual acknowledgement, infrastructural support, and platform specialisation. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of differing practices, and lessons that can be learnt for online citizen science platforms.”

How do you think about your personal data?

AndertoonsOne day I will once more use this blog for something other than recruiting for participants, but today is not that day my friend. Today is not that day.

I need as many people from as many different backgrounds as possible to answer some questions about how they consider different types of personal data. We want to know which types of data people are willing to share with websites, and which factors are important to that decision.


The questionnaire should take at most 30 minutes, and at the end you will be entered into a draw for £50 worth of vouchers. Also, please once you have completed it, share with your friends, family, neighbours, enemies, pets, hairdressers, bus drivers, school teachers, and that weird guy on the corner. You know the one.

Many, many thanks.

Currently Recruiting!


As part of the research project that I have been working on for the past two years, we created a series of tools to help raise awareness of how the online world works, including how your personal data may be used, your online rights, and factors that may contribute to unfairness or bias online. We do not want this toolkit to go the way of so many research outputs and disappear into the ether after a brief foray into academic conferences, so we are doing as much as we can to get it out there into the real world. I am involved in running workshops with all sorts of people using various aspects of this toolkit, especially a set of cards we have branded as Awareness Cards. As part of this we were lucky enough to win an Impact Acceleration grant to test out ways of using the cards with different age groups. Our sessions with 13-17 year olds and 18-29 year olds have been hugely successful, great fun, and really useful and encouraging to us as researchers.

We are now recruiting for 2 more workshops, this time with 30-50 year olds, which are taking place in the new year. If you are able to get to the centre of Nottingham, and are interested, keep reading! (Workshops for over 65s will also be taking place in the New Year, watch all the UnBias spaces!)


Do you want to know more about issues of online fairness?
Would you like to learn more and share your views?

We are seeking people aged 30-50 years to give feedback on tools that have been created to understand issues of online fairness.

You are invited to take part in two workshops to help us to test a new set of tools for understanding these issues, on

Saturday 26th January at 10.30am
Saturday 9th February at 10.30am

at Broadway Cinema, Nottingham, NG1 3AL.

Workshops will last around 2 hours and you will need to attend both workshops.

We will ask you to:

  • Give feedback on a deck of cards that have been designed to explore issues of online fairness and how they should be addressed;
  • Try out some exercises using the cards;
  • Help to design other ways that your age group could use the cards.

No prior knowledge is required.

You will be thanked for your time with a £20 high street voucher after each workshop (as well as a set of cards for you to keep).

For more information, and to sign up for the workshops, please email Dr Helen Creswick. Booking is essential.


‘Catch and Connect’ on Nottingham Buses


Unfortunately we won’t be working with Space Buses.

Another blog for one of our projects in Horizon, this time not written by me.

It’s Monday morning and I’ve just caught the 8.52am bus into the city, which I do every day for work. I show my travel card to the usual driver who nods, we don’t speak and I make my way to my usual seat, third row back, facing forward, on the left. I acknowledge one or two of the many faces I see every day, but we don’t speak. Familiar strangers.

Read the rest here.

(Also, you should listen to this.)

How do people think about their personal data?

Odd-one-out style tasks like Sesame Street’s famous game can help us to work out how people think about their personal data.

I wrote a blog post about one of my new projects at the Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute.

When people interact with an online service, they form theories about how it is working. As part of the services campaign in Horizon, we are investigating the ways in which people commonly understand the use of personal data in products and services that are mediated by algorithms. We are doing this by examining the mental models people form about how different types of data are used within systems

You can read the rest of it here.