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The ethics of doing research in the digital age: understanding digital footprints

Introductory digital methods training from Cambridge Digital Humanities This workshop will introduce participants to key concepts and methods related to mapping and analysing digital footprints through a case study based on the ADAPT Centre's BigFoot project.
When Nov 27, 2017
from 02:00 PM to 04:00 PM
Where SG2, Alison Richard Building
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Led by: Dr Anne Alexander and Mel M. Hoover
Spaces are limited and must be booked in advance here. This workshop is open to students and staff at the University of Cambridge.
Do you know how much of what you do is visible online? And who may be capturing data about your networks and connections through your use of digital platforms?
Researchers studying society and culture in the contemporary world frequently need to ask themselves these questions, not only in relation to their own online practices, but also of the people whose online interactions they are analysing. The concept of a 'digital footprint' is one way in which privacy researchers have tried to open up discussions on this topic.
BigFoot Digital Footprint is an experimental research project which asks the question, are people aware of their digital footprints? The question arose out of interest in studying privacy conversations among the public. The findings revealed, rather quickly, that many people weren't aware of their actions online. The BigFoot Digital app was born (downloadable through iTunes: and Google Playstore:
The BigFoot Digital Footprint project will present on their ethical approaches to studying the public in the digital sphere, covering how their methodological approach was designed, why the researchers chose to work with the public on the social media platform Facebook versus another digital space, and well as addressing the nuanced language used to engage with the public.
In an attempt to help public audiences understand their digital presence online, guests will be asked to go through the BigFoot Digital app experiment to analyse their perceived versus actual digital presence. Following this, Science Communication Researcher, Mel. M. Hoover will lead audiences through an experimental, find-the-mystery-digital-profile scavenger hunt. This is to help audiences to think more critically about the visibility of personal information in the digital sphere both from the perspective of researchers and social media users.
BigFoot Digital Footprint, developed by Ph.D Lead Researcher, Kevin Koidl and B.Sc. Lead Developer, Mark Farrell, is an initiative of the ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology at Trinity College Dublin, and is supported by Science Foundation Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund. 
This workshop is part of the Ethics of Big Data strand in the Doing Research in the Digital Age methods programme offered by Cambridge Digital Humanities with support from the Researcher Development Programme.