It is a great pleasure to announce that the 2013 MSc Thesis Prize has been awarded jointly to Jeremy Bowles and Sara M. Watson. Jeremy won the Prize for his thesis entitled ‘The Political Economy of Conflict, Cooperation and Consensus in IP Address Governance’, which explores the governance of critical internet resources. In contrast to the existing literature, Jeremy’s thesis presents a focused analysis of Internet Protocol address governance through the Regional Internet Registry system. Sara’s thesis, entitled ‘Living with Data: Personal Data Uses of the Quantified Self’, explores a neglected aspect of the big data revolution: the emergence of a ‘quantified self’ community. Through ethnographically-informed interviews and participant observations, Sara’s research analyses how individuals derive personal meaning from collecting and collating data about themselves.
In congratulating Jeremy, Dr Vicki Nash, the OII’s Director of Graduate Studies, said ‘Jeremy achieved an outstanding performance throughout the year of his Master’s degree, with all of his marks reaching distinction level’. Professor Ralph Schroeder, the OII’s MSc Programme Director, praised Sara’s achievement, saying ‘This was an excellent thesis on a very prescient topic, of growing importance’.
Jeremy expressed his great pleasure at the news: ‘The quality of my cohort’s output over the last year has left me extremely surprised in receiving this award. Chief responsibility surely rests with my supervisor, Professor Viktor Mayer-Schönberger. While I lost count of the number of times where he had to remind me of the bigger picture and of my driving motivations, his patience and confidence in the project from the beginning was comprehensive and only eventually deserved. Sometimes reinforcing but always challenging, I have greatly enjoyed the interdisciplinary discussions enabled by the OII over the past year and would like to thank the faculty, staff, and fellow students for making it so’.
Sara was similarly delighted to have won the prize, and also offered thanks to her supervisor Professor Mayer-Schönberger. ‘I am honoured to receive this award, and am grateful for the opportunity to have conducted this research in such a rich interdisciplinary environment. The empirical work focused my thinking about our broader interests in our personal data, and I leave better equipped to develop nuanced frameworks for helping the public understand our emerging data society. I am excited to continue this work in the book I’m co-writing with John Battelle and in my role as a Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University this year. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my advisor Viktor Mayer-Schönberger for his encouragement and advice from start to finish. And my sincere thanks go to my MSc cohort for their camaraderie and for their patience entertaining my quantified self experiments throughout the year.’
Jeremy is now a Google Policy Fellow at the economic policy think-tank Bruegel in Brussels and Sara has started a Fellowship at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.
The OII accepts up to 20 students a year for its MSc programme in Social Science of the Internet. The programme is designed to provide students with the in-depth understanding of the social science concepts, theories and methods required to undertake and assess rigorous empirical research or policy analysis of Internet-related issues.