TAPESTRY Sandpit: Register your interest today!

Registration now closed.

Calling all PhDs and Early Career Researchers (ECRs) for a sandpit-style workshop.

When is it? February 3-4 @ University of Surrey, UK

Who is it for? PhD students or Early Career Researchers (ERCs) working on topics in Trust, Identity, Privacy and Security (TIPS)

What is TAPESTRY? TAPESTRY is a socio-technical study of trust in online identities – the psychology of how trust is engendered on and off-line, how we can design for trust, and how emerging technologies such as AI and Blockchain can help create tools that enable us to make better trust decisions online. Further information can be found on the short video below.

What happens at the event? We are running a facilitated sandpit workshop on 3-4 February to explore novel applications of research outcomes from the EPSRC / UKRI Digital Economy funded TAPESTRY project. For more information on Sandpits, see these resources from the EPSRC – but note this event is being run by the TAPESTRY team not EPSRC (please apply using our EOI form below). The sandpit will be highly multi-disciplinary and we welcome applications from all disciplines across Sciences, Arts and Humanities.

As part of the Sandpit, participants will learn more about the TAPESTRY project. They will then form teams, and develop proposals to explore new uses of the social insights and technical tools that have been developed during TAPESTRY. We will award £10,000 of funding at the Sandpit, across the top three proposals. The three successful teams will then have three months to deliver their mini-projects, before attending a follow-up workshop to present a report on their research.

Please fill out the Expression of Interest (EOI) form if you would like to attend the Sandpit.

** Funding to support attendance is available **

Bursaries: PhD/ECRs selected to attend will be awarded a bursary of up to £200 GBP to support travel. Accommodation will be provided for 3rd February, plus meals during the Sandpit. Academics/supervisors may also attend at own cost. In both cases please use the EOI form above.

Key dates:
Event: 3-4 February, University of Surrey, Guildford UK
Apply via EOI form by: 24 January 2020 — DEADLINE EXTENDED!
Notification of acceptance: 24 January 2020

Questions? Contact me here or via Twitter.

What is TAPESTRY?

I have been working at the University of Dundee since April on an EPRSC-funded research project called TAPESTRY: Trust, Authentication and Privacy over a DeCentralised Social Registry. My role in the project is as a qualitative researcher looking at how individuals determine trust in real-world online environments, such as online health forums and online dating. But there is much more to the project than that.

The multi-disciplinary project is ultimately quite technical when compared to my own skillset and research areas. That means that I sometimes struggle to explain the full project. (I find it quite fun and easy to explain my part of the project though, which is nice!) In the end, I generally explain that the project aim is to build a tool that helps people to stay safe online.

But as luck would have it, we have just finailsed a short video that helps to explain the project in plain language with simple graphics. The video is about a minute and a half and is an easy watch, so check it out below.

And, as always, please contact me if you have any questions. I might not be able to answer the super-technical ones, but I can certainly talk about the human information behaviour side of the equation!

Finding some clarity: It’s about reputation (not privacy)

I’ve spent the past few weeks reading about privacy, identity, and reputation so that I can try to resolve a few questions I have about where I want to take my PhD research. My area of interest is reputation, but with so many elements impacting reputation it can be hard to interpret the map with all of my thoughts and ideas.

I admit that it’s been extremely frustrating because I’ve found myself heading down so many paths that have been filled with more distraction than relevance and I was starting to wonder if I’d ever be able to find a path that could bring me a bit more focus. (I understand this is a common problem at the start of a PhD, so I haven’t felt like a failure because of it—but it hasn’t built up my confidence, either.)

Thankfully, this is where my supervisors come in! They’ve “been there; done that” so are able to help guide me in the right direction. (Yay!)

I developed a very rough draft of an essay on privacy, identity, and reputation—and the relationship between the three—and sent my supervisors a copy ahead of yesterday’s supervision meeting. I was very unhappy with the draft because it seemed so [enter several negative adjectives here], but in the end it was a very useful tool because one of my supervisors took the time to write a summary of key points on a white board for us to discuss—and that discussion led to a great amount of useful waypoints.

By the end of the meeting, I was filled with a renewed sense of excitement because I could see the path a little more clearly. There is still a bit of fog and I’m sure there will be a few rough patches to traverse, but I feel that this path will lead me to a couple of major roads before too long.

Moving forward, I will start to look a bit more at the idea of online identities and their relationship with reputation—and I’ll try to remember that my PhD is not about privacy*. I’ll be investigating issues of multiple identities (personas/personalities) including pseudonyms and anonymous accounts and how they’re used in an online environment—as well as some of the recent discussions around requirements for the use of “real names” by organisations like Google and Huffington Post.

I hope to have a bit more clarity on my research soon, at which time I will try to be a bit less vague in what I’m sharing. In the mean time, if you have any great resources you wish to share with me on reputation and identity, please feel free to contact me or comment below!

* I’ll talk about my desire to keep privacy on the fringe of my research later—after I’ve clarified it all a bit more in my own mind.