Dr Tobias Escher
Tobias Escher has interests in citizen-government relationships online (eParticipation, eGovernment), in political representation as well as e-Social Science methods. He has a background in Communication Studies, Computer Science and Politics.
Tobias Escher is a DPhil student in Information, Communication and the Social Sciences as well as a part-time researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford. Tobias has interests in citizen-government relationships online (eDemocracy, eGovernment) - in particular their evaluation, in political representation as well as e-Social Science research methods. He is currently dividing his time between Oxford and Berlin.
Before coming to Oxford he worked as a Research Fellow at the Department of Political Science at University College London. Tobias holds a Masters degree in Globalization and Communications from the University of Leicester. In addition he has an extensive background in Media and Communication Studies as well as Computer Science from Freie Universitaet Berlin.
Tobias's academic work is focused primarily on the use of Information and Communication Technologies for politics, both from a government perspective (eGeovernment) as well as from a citizen perspective (eDemocracy, eParticipation). He also develops tools to collect and analyse data from the Web.
Tobias's doctoral research is an empirical analysis of German and UK e-democracy websites, assessing whether they bring in people not otherwise involved in political debate, or whether they simply reinforce the influence of those already active in politics. By taking a comparative perspective involving Germany and the UK this work aims to assess the potential of online contacts between citizens and representatives for reducing biases in political participation patterns and in this way for contributing to more equal political representation. The case studies are WriteToThem.com in the UK and Abgeordnetenwatch.de in Germany.
Beyond his doctoral research he has (co)produced a number of reports evaluating efforts in electronic participation. These include work for the German Parliament (evaluating its platform for online petitions; with Zebralog), the UK National Audit Office (evaluating the online presence of UK government; with Prof. Helen Margetts as well as the Public Policy Group of the LSE), the UK Prime Minister's Strategy Unit (research of the 'Power of Information' report) and for mySociety, a not-for-profit whose evaluation efforts he is currently leading. He also teaches on the subject of the Internet and democracy.
democratic participation, political representation, e-government, evaluation, social implications of the Internet, user experiments, webmetrics, social network analysis
Positions held at the OII
- DPhil Alumnus, December 2012 -
- DPhil student, October 2006 - December 2012
October 2006 -
Oxford eXperimental Laboratory is undertaking laboratory-based experiments (eg information-seeking tasks) on networked computers in two disciplines: Economics (interactive decision making) and Political Science (evaluating government information online).
October 1999 -
Research dedicated to improving knowledge and understanding of e-government and the impact of web-based technologies on government.
September 2008 - March 2009
A value for money study for the National Audit Office (NAO) looking at information exchange between the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and its benefit customers.
August 2007 - February 2008
Addressing the uncertainties that surround the coordination and performance of 'Distributed Problem Solving Networks' (DPSN), as well as the areas in which these new Internet-based forms offer advantages over more familiar modes of problem-solving.
- Margetts, H., John, P., Escher, T. and Reissfelder, S. (2011) Social Information and Political Participation on the Internet: an Experiment. European Political Science Review 3: 321-344.
- Escher T. (2010) Wi(e)der die üblichen Verdächtigen? Politische Beteiligung via Internet. In: Emmer M, Seifert M and Wolling J (eds) Politik 2.0? Die Wirkung computervermittelter Kommunikation auf den politischen Prozess. München: Nomos, pp. 131-150.
- Margetts, H., John, P. and Escher, T. (2009) Can the internet overcome the logic of collective action? An experimental approach to investigating the impact of social pressure on political participation. Paper to the Political Studies Association Annual Conference, University of Manchester, 7-9 April 2009.
- Margetts, H., John, P. and Escher, T. (2009) Experiments for Web Science: Examining the Effect of the Internet on Collective Action. In: Proceedings of the WebSci'09: Society On-Line, 18-20 March 2009, Athens, Greece.
- Escher, T. and Margetts, H. (2007) Understanding Governments and Citizens On-line: Learning from E-commerce. 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association (APSA), Chicago, IL.
- Petricek, V., Escher, T., Cox I.J. and Margetts, H. (2006) The Web Structure of E-Government - Developing a Methodology for Quantitative Evaluation. 15th International World Wide Web Conference, Edinburgh, UK.
- Escher, T., Margetts, H., Petricek, V. and Cox, I. (2006) Governing from the Centre? Comparing the Nodality of Digital Governments. 2006 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association.
- Escher, T. (2008) Keep Your Friends Close: Using MySpace to Analyse the Geography of Social Networks. Presented at OII-Nuffield Social Networks Seminar, University of Oxford, 24 November 2008.
- Escher, T. (2008) WriteToThem.com - An Analysis of User Demography, Motivations and Usage Patterns. Presented at Politik 2.0, Annual Conference of DG PuK, Section: Computer-mediated Communication, Ilmenau, 7 November 2008.
- Escher, T. (2008) Agenda Setting Online - Developing a Methodology to Assess Whether Bloggers Rate Topics Independently from Media. Presented at General Online Research Meeting, Hamburg, 12 March 2008.
- Richter, W. and Escher, T. (2008) The Performance of Online News Aggregators. Re:Publica 08, Berlin, April 2008.
- Escher, T. (2007) An Introduction to Web 2.0 (and What it Might Mean for Public Sector Information). Presented at Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information, Oxford, 12 November 2007.
- Escher, T. (2011) WriteToThem.com: Analysis of Users and Usage for UK Citizens Online Democracy. London: mySociety / UK Citizens Online Democracy.
- Escher, T. (2011) TheyWorkForYou.com: Analysis of Users and Usage for UK Citizens Online Democracy. London: mySociety / UK Citizens Online Democracy.
- Escher T. (forthcoming) Follow-up-Studie zu den Öffentlichen Petitionen des Deutschen Bundestages. Teilstudie 2: Befragung der Petenten und Fokusgruppen. Gutachten von Zebralog im Auftrag des Deutschen Bundestages für das Büro für Technikfolgen-Abschätzung beim Deutschen Bundestag (TAB). Berlin.
- Dunleavy, P., Margetts, H., Goldchluk, S., Khan, M.K., Tinkler, J., Towers, E. and Escher, T. (2009) Department for Work and Pensions. Communicating with Customers. Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, HC 421 Session 2008-2009. London: The Stationery Office.
- Dunleavy, P., Margetts, H., Bastow, S., Escher, T., Pearce, O. and Tinkler, J. (2007) Government on the Internet. Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, HC 529 Session 2006-2007, 13 July 2007. London: The Stationery Office.
- Escher, T. (2004) Political Motives of Developers for Collaboration on GNU/Linux. Dissertation for MA Globalization & Communications at University of Leicester.
- Richter, W., Escher, T. and Bray, D. (2008) The Performance of Distributed News Aggregators. OII DPSN Working Paper No. 9.
- Escher, T. (2008) Effectiveness of E-Participation: Rules Of Engagement. E-Government Bulletin. D. Jellinek. London, Headstar.
Escher, T. (2012) Does use of the Internet further democratic participation? A comparison of citizens' interactions with political representatives in the UK and Germany. DPhil Thesis, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford.
MSc Programme Director and Senior Research Fellow