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.
See Tobias's Website for more on his current research.
democratic participation, political representation, e-government, evaluation, social implications of the Internet, user experiments, webmetrics, social network analysis
Positions held at the OII
- 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
Tobias Escher on 15 Jun 2011 20:09PM
Today I am very proud to announce that mySociety have published my very detailed reports on two of the most successful eDemocracy projects worldwide: You can download these evaluations of TheyWorkForYou.com and WriteToThem.com from the official mySociety [...]
Tobias Escher on 22 Feb 2011 10:24AM
There are not many high profile research institutions in the world that focus explicitly on the social aspects of the Internet. Arguably the most prominent but in any case the oldest one is constituted by our friends at the Berkman Center for Internet [...]
Tobias Escher on 15 Sep 2010 16:40PM
About a good month ago, Tory MP Dominic Raab hit the news as he was demanding removal of his parliamentary email address from a campaigning website (this even made it into the headlines in Germany). The story so far The story itself is quickly told: [...]
Tobias Escher on 25 May 2010 08:46AM
One very British radio show that I very much enjoy is Desert Island Discs, a programme on BBC Radio 4 that asks its guest which eight records they would choose to take with them to a desert island. Thanks to this concept, the presenter Kirsty Young and [...]
Tobias Escher on 17 May 2010 09:37AM
Honour where honour is due: Our colleague Max Loubser got his PhD from Oxford just last week and this is really just to say: Congratulations! Well done! So proud. And just that little bit envious Read more about Max and his work.
Tobias Escher on 24 Feb 2010 11:01AM
So there is this nice guy Jeff Gilfelt, a software developer from Reading, who has made some headlines with his iPhone/Android application called ASBOromoter which gives you simple access to government data on the number of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders [...]
Tobias Escher on 17 Feb 2010 16:41PM
It is no secret that I’m a great admirer of mySociety’s work and I even try to contribute a little bit to it myself through some of the research I do for them but today I would just like to share briefly an example of how much difference it [...]
Tobias Escher on 13 Jan 2010 11:28AM
Today we launch a new online toolkit that allows rating the difficulty of paper, online and phone-based forms (you can find infos on the launch event here). It is intended for government departments but most of the categories apply to non-government forms [...]
Tobias Escher on 15 Dec 2009 09:58AM
Last week someone said this: “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” Now of course it will be immediately obvious to most people that this is simply wrong and [...]
Tobias Escher on 7 Dec 2009 10:39AM
In the latest issue of UK magazine Prospect, Georgetown University fellow Evgeny Morozov offers his critical take on what the Internet will do to democracy. Under the title “How dictators watch us on the web” he gives various examples in which [...]
Tobias Escher on 2 Sep 2009 11:49AM
Poor Gordon Brown: There are currently 4,553 petitions open on Downing Street’s ePetitions site and all of them need to be checked personally by the Prime Minister – at least that is the impression you get. These days, if you visit the site to [...]
Tobias Escher on 26 Mar 2009 15:46PM
From 1 – 3 April Berlin is again hosting re:publica a social media cum activist conference which is now in its third year and that attracts well over 1,000 people. This year’s line-up includes among others Lawrence Lessig (Code is Law, [...]
Tobias Escher on 10 Mar 2009 13:59PM
It is the time of year again where we (as doctoral students of the Oxford Internet Institute) have the sudden urge to get out from our dark, only LCD screen-lit cellars of the institute into the real world. To this end we have been organising an OII DPhil [...]
Tobias Escher on 10 Mar 2009 09:45AM
The Internet & Democracy workshop here in Oxford has been filled with very valuable presentations and discussions. Corinna di Gennaro, who was instrumental in setting this up, has a good summary on her blog. I presented results from the recent [...]
Tobias Escher on 5 Mar 2009 12:10PM
Happening just now: A two day workshop on the Internet and Democracy “Lessons Learnt and Future Directions”, organised jointly by the Berkman Center, the Oxford Internet Institute and the Reuters Institute. Of course this is not the first [...]
Tobias Escher on 17 Nov 2008 14:43PM
At last week’s eDemocracy’08 I talked about the users of WriteToThem.com and their experience when trying to communicate with their political representatives because this is what WriteToThem is about – making it easy for people to find [...]
Tobias Escher on 13 Nov 2008 14:59PM
Last Tuesday I have been listening to a talk by Helen Boaden, the Director of BBC News. She was speaking at the eDemocracy’08 conference about the role of citizen journalism for established media such as the BBC and you can find the full talk on her [...]
Tobias Escher on 27 Oct 2008 12:10PM
Under the title Effectiveness of E-Participation: Rules Of Engagement I have written a short piece for the E-Government Bulletin, a large email newsletter for practitioners and researchers interested in digital technologies and government. Given the short [...]
Tobias Escher on 23 Oct 2008 14:54PM
Realising that it has been rather quite on this space I felt compelled to give at least a small sign of life – which is about the only real reason to blog about a recent conference I’ve been to. Internet Research 9.0 took place in Copenhagen [...]
Tobias Escher on 23 Aug 2008 11:15AM
Ever since the first stories broke about the Chinese filtering Internet access for foreign journalists at the Olympics Main Press Center (MPC) I have been wondering why the relevant Chinese authorities would be so stupid. After all, it was more than [...]