All posts by Katrina Pritchard

About Katrina Pritchard

Katrina Pritchard is a Senior Lecturer in Organisational Studies in the Department of People and Organisations, at The Open University.

NHS England put make volunteers a priority via ‘HelpForce’

HelpForce is a new national initiative to increase the use of volunteers in healthcare and has started investigating experiences within a group of 14 NHS providers and voluntary sector organisations.

Perhaps it is just me but the similarities between the terms “workforce” and “helpforce” jump out as being particularly interesting, and reflect concerns in other areas of public service regarding the way volunteering is sometimes positioned as a supplementary labour force.  From Twitter I understand the NCVO are also involved and their expertise and understanding of the issues facing the voluntary sector will be essential if the programme is to achieve its ambitious aims.

This initiative is in the early days but the website is already up and running, providing details of the initiative and the overall aims, including:

HelpForce will enable the NHS to make the greatest possible use of volunteers, volunteer-led and VCSE sector projects to deliver more effective services to patients. HelpForce will unlock community assets and mobilise greater involvement to supplement the volunteer work already provided by NHS organisations and partner charities. We will act as an ‘aggregator’ to expose and scale existing, proven examples of innovation and best practice of volunteer-centred interventions that have made an impact on the NHS”

It will be particular, interesting to see how smaller community and volunteer organisations are engaged with this initiative and it must be hoped that this will not result in even more concentration of funds in the currently dominant large charities in the sector (or a continued concentration in London).

This initiative appears to have links to the recently established “Health and Wellbeing Alliance” has been announce which aims to include the “voluntary, community and social enterprise’s sector’s voice and expertise into national policy making”  , or at least it was good to see discussions on twitter last week about how to ensure these join up!

And of course our interest will be in the way in which volunteering is constructed through these discussions, and the implications for the experience of volunteers themselves particular in relation to any emerging emphasis on the digital in this context.

 

Research Methods for Digital Work: The Storify

Many thanks to all the great participants who joined us for a great two days at Surrey University for our “Research Methods for Digital Work” event last week.  Particular thanks to our keynotes: Diane E. BaileyMonika Büscher and Richard Rogers.

Throughout the two days we were all tweeting away under #RMDigital so if you weren’t able to make it or you just want to re-live the experience you can look through our storify below.

NCVO 2017 Almanac: the state of the voluntary sector

As always the NCVO Almanac provides an invaluable resource to all those working in the Voluntary and Community sector.  Offered in bite size chunks but enabling access to more detailed data and analysis this is an essential source of information.  At coming as it does in the run up to a general election, the 2017 version could not be more timely.  However as some commentators point out the facts and figures are generated from the year 14/15.  Kirsty Weakley, writing in for Civil Society, is among those to point out that this pre-dates some major fundraising scandals and of course the Brexit referendum.

As well as warning regarding the financial state of the sector overall (particularly the lack of prospects for growth), the huge concentration of assets in a very small number of organisations.  As summarised on the website Third Sector : “90 per cent of the sector’s £112.7bn of total assets – such as property, cash and investments – are held by just 3 per cent of charities, with the top 100 asset owners accounting for half of the sector’s total.” and in contrast: “Approximately 48 per cent of all charities are described as “micro”, defined as those with annual incomes of less than £10,000, the almanac says. Another 34 per cent it categorises as “small”, with annual incomes of between £10,000 and £100,000.”

While it will take a while to digest the full reports a few other interesting facts caught my eye:

  • volunteering rates remain largely unchanged although rates of regular formal volunteering among young people have dropped slightly for the first time since 2010/11
  • overall there is little gender difference in participation but type of activities are somewhat gendered (with women performing more care related roles)
  • 35% of unemployed people reported regular formal volunteering, compared with 27% of people who were employed and 27% who were economically inactive.
  • When presented with a list of charitable services, more than nine in ten people report having accessed at least one service, with children and young people once again the most common beneficiary group

Importantly the NCVO highlight the need to “guard against complacency” highlighting that there are likely to be very challenging times ahead.

Please see the NCVO for full details of the almanac.  Congratulations to all involved in once again producing this excellent report.

 

Register Now! Research Methods for Digital Work 25-26 May

Fantastic opportunity to explore issues at the leading edge of research practice and hear our great keynote speakers (see abstracts below and full programme).

Register before 15 May!

Diane E. Bailey Associate Professor in School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin

Wrestling with Digital Objects and Technologies in Observations of Work

Observing people who use computers at work can be difficult. A person working with physical objects and physical technologies behaves in ways that an observer can readily track. For example, in early motion and time studies, the Gilbreths devised a system of 18 elemental movements (e.g., select, grasp, move, inspect) to analyze what workers did. A person working with digital objects and digital technologies poses a greater challenge for the observer because small, nearly indiscernible actions (such as typing a single letter) may initiate a series of work actions on the computer. Worse still, a person may be hard at work when away from the computer while software programs run “in the background.” In this talk, I discuss the methods that I developed with my colleagues to combat these issues in our multi-year field study of engineering work and technology. Our methods blend the industrial engineer’s eye for detail with the ethnographic tradition of observation and interpretation. I discuss in particular methods for collecting and analyzing digital objects and for understanding the array of digital technologies in a workplace.

Monika Büscher Professor of Sociology, Director of the Centre for Mobilities Research and Associate Director for the Institute for Social Futures at Lancaster University

Is IT Ethical? Mobile Work, Mobile Data, Mobile Methods in Crises

Disaster response can involve extreme physical and digital mobilities. In the aftermath of the 2015 Germanwings crash, for example, hundreds of emergency personnel from local and international agencies converged to scour two square miles of steep, rocky terrain for debris and DNA. Surrounding such physical mobilities are often myriad efforts to mobilise information and coordinate actions through digital technologies. New capabilities for mobile work that emerge in this context can be very positive, but they can also raise complex ethical, legal and social challenges. In collaborative research with practitioners, information technology developers and interdisciplinary teams of researchers, I explore what it means to do work on the move in crisis management to gain insight into the relationship between embodied practices of mobile work and the im|material im|mobilities of data. This takes the form of engaged ‘speculative’ sociology and involves a mixture of mobile methods, including participant observation and participant intervention, ways of ‘following the information’, affirmative critique, disclosive ethics, utopia as method, ethical and privacy impact assessment, and speculative design. These methods are a means for ‘staying with the trouble’ of often ambiguous emergent ‘intra-actions’ and effects. In this talk I provide examples from this collaborative research to explore how we can combine methods or devise new methods to capitalise on diverse forms of data to build rich and practically as well as theoretically fruitful understandings of digitally-suffused working life.

Richard Rogers Professor in New Media and Digital Culture, University of Amsterdam

Social Media Engagement: Beyond Vanity Metrics

In the age of social media one dominant mode of engagement is distraction. Whilst appearing oxymoronic, distracted modes of engagement have invited the coining of such terms as ‘flickering man’, ‘continuous partial attention’ and ‘ambient awareness.’ One’s engagement with social media (however much in a distracted state) is also routinely measured. Klout scores and similar are often called ‘vanity metrics’ because they measure performance in (what is referred to as) the ‘success theater’ of social media. The notion of vanity metrics implies at least three projects: a critique of metrics concerning both the object of measurement as well as their capacity to measure unobtrusively or only to encourage performance. The second is a corrective interface project, for users are continually distracted by number badges calling to be clicked; there is a recently revived movement afoot for so-called ‘encalming technology’. A third project could consider how one may rework the metrics. In the project I call critical analytics, I propose to repurpose altmetrics scores and other engagement measures for social research, and seek to measure the ‘otherwise engaged,’ or other modes of engagement (than vanity).

Keep in touch with event news on this blog and via twitter #RMDigital

The meeting is being organized by Christine Hine (University of Surrey), Katrina Pritchard (Swansea University) and Gillian Symon (Royal Holloway, University of London) in association with the Digital World Research Centre at the University of Surrey. The meeting has received funding from the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Surrey and the RCUK-funded NEMODE Network Plus.

Registration Open: Research Methods for Digital Work Event 25-26 May 2017

Research Methods for Digital Work: Innovative Methods for Studying Distributed and Multi-modal Working Practices

University of Surrey, Guildford, UK, 25-26 May 2017

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN!

As digital technologies have matured, various forms of distributed working have become commonplace and work has become both spatially and temporally complex. This complexity provides many challenges for the researcher aiming to capture and understand these practices, requiring tracking activities – and their meanings for participants – across multiple formats connected in an unpredictable fashion. This meeting therefore focuses on a key question for studies of contemporary work across disciplines: how can we combine methods or devise new methods to capitalise on diverse forms of data to build rich and theoretically-fruitful understandings of digitally-suffused working life?

Participation at the meeting is limited to 50 attendees so please do sign up quickly to reserve your place. Registration fees are £60 (£40 for students/unwaged). Attendees are responsible for their own travel and accommodation.  Links to possible local accommodation can also be found on the registration page.

Keynote Speakers

Diane E. Bailey Associate Professor in School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin: Wrestling with Digital Objects and Technologies in Observations of Work

Monika Büscher Professor of Sociology, Director of the Centre for Mobilities Research and Associate Director for the Institute for Social Futures at Lancaster University: Is IT Ethical? Mobile Work, Mobile Data, Mobile Methods in Crises

Richard Rogers Professor in New Media and Digital Culture, University of Amsterdam: Social Media Engagement: Beyond Vanity Metrics

The aim of the meeting is to promote cross-fertilization of approaches across disciplines and to instigate conversations on the theoretical purchase offered by different ways of studying work. During the two-day programme, speakers from a range of disciplines will present examples of current projects that have developed new methods or applied known methods to capture and understand both traditional work as it has moved on-line and emerging forms of digitally-mediated work. Additionally, there will be an ‘open session’ during which attendees can briefly introduce their own ongoing projects or those in development, providing an opportunity to discuss any design issues, challenges and potential solutions arising from these with other meeting members.

The meeting is being organized by Christine Hine (University of Surrey), Katrina Pritchard (University of Swansea) and Gillian Symon (Royal Holloway, University of London) in association with the Digital World Research Centre at the University of Surrey. The meeting has received funding from the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Surrey and the RCUK-funded NEMODE Network Plus.

Keynote abstracts! Research Methods for Digital Work: Innovative Methods for Studying Distributed and Multi-Modal Working Practices 25 May 2017 – 26 May 2017

We have a great programme resulting from our call for papers which we hope to share soon.  In the meantime to whet your appetite the abstracts for our keynotes are posted below with more details available on the event website and dedicated blog page.

We will be opening registration soon, watch this space!

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS: ABSTRACTS

Diane E. Bailey Associate Professor in School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin

Wrestling with Digital Objects and Technologies in Observations of Work

Observing people who use computers at work can be difficult. A person working with physical objects and physical technologies behaves in ways that an observer can readily track. For example, in early motion and time studies, the Gilbreths devised a system of 18 elemental movements (e.g., select, grasp, move, inspect) to analyze what workers did. A person working with digital objects and digital technologies poses a greater challenge for the observer because small, nearly indiscernible actions (such as typing a single letter) may initiate a series of work actions on the computer. Worse still, a person may be hard at work when away from the computer while software programs run “in the background.” In this talk, I discuss the methods that I developed with my colleagues to combat these issues in our multi-year field study of engineering work and technology. Our methods blend the industrial engineer’s eye for detail with the ethnographic tradition of observation and interpretation. I discuss in particular methods for collecting and analyzing digital objects and for understanding the array of digital technologies in a workplace.

 

Monika Büscher Professor of Sociology, Director of the Centre for Mobilities Research and Associate Director for the Institute for Social Futures at Lancaster University

Is IT Ethical? Mobile Work, Mobile Data, Mobile Methods in Crises

Disaster response can involve extreme physical and digital mobilities. In the aftermath of the 2015 Germanwings crash, for example, hundreds of emergency personnel from local and international agencies converged to scour two square miles of steep, rocky terrain for debris and DNA. Surrounding such physical mobilities are often myriad efforts to mobilise information and coordinate actions through digital technologies. New capabilities for mobile work that emerge in this context can be very positive, but they can also raise complex ethical, legal and social challenges. In collaborative research with practitioners, information technology developers and interdisciplinary teams of researchers, I explore what it means to do work on the move in crisis management to gain insight into the relationship between embodied practices of mobile work and the im|material im|mobilities of data. This takes the form of engaged ‘speculative’ sociology and involves a mixture of mobile methods, including participant observation and participant intervention, ways of ‘following the information’, affirmative critique, disclosive ethics, utopia as method, ethical and privacy impact assessment, and speculative design. These methods are a means for ‘staying with the trouble’ of often ambiguous emergent ‘intra-actions’ and effects. In this talk I provide examples from this collaborative research to explore how we can combine methods or devise new methods to capitalise on diverse forms of data to build rich and practically as well as theoretically fruitful understandings of digitally-suffused working life.

Richard Rogers Professor in New Media and Digital Culture, University of Amsterdam

Social Media Engagement: Beyond Vanity Metrics

In the age of social media one dominant mode of engagement is distraction. Whilst appearing oxymoronic, distracted modes of engagement have invited the coining of such terms as ‘flickering man’, ‘continuous partial attention’ and ‘ambient awareness.’ One’s engagement with social media (however much in a distracted state) is also routinely measured. Klout scores and similar are often called ‘vanity metrics’ because they measure performance in (what is referred to as) the ‘success theater’ of social media. The notion of vanity metrics implies at least three projects: a critique of metrics concerning both the object of measurement as well as their capacity to measure unobtrusively or only to encourage performance. The second is a corrective interface project, for users are continually distracted by number badges calling to be clicked; there is a recently revived movement afoot for so-called ‘encalming technology’. A third project could consider how one may rework the metrics. In the project I call critical analytics, I propose to repurpose altmetrics scores and other engagement measures for social research, and seek to measure the ‘otherwise engaged,’ or other modes of engagement (than vanity).

 

Call for papers: Deadline extended to 10/2/17 #RMDigital

Research Methods for Digital Work: Innovative Methods for Studying Distributed and Multi-Modal Working Practices, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK , 25-26 May 2017

Many thanks to all those who have submitted abstracts so far.  We are delighted that we have had so much interest from across the world!  We have had a few requests for an extension to the submission deadline (as we understand the end of January was a popular deadline for other conferences too).  With this in mind we will be please to accept abstracts before the extended deadline of Friday 10th February. Extended abstracts of no more than 1500 words should be emailed to c.hine@surrey.ac.uk  using the subject line “Research methods for digital work”.  Full details available from Surrey University.

Guest blog: Collaborating with the Public over Social Media in the Museum Sector

We previously published a guest blog on digital volunteering in Birmingham Museums by Becky Fletcher.

This guest blog by Dr Krista Godfrey, School of Management, Royal Holloway, builds on this topic and reports on her research on social media use in the museums.

Engaging the public over social media is now commonplace in the museum sector.  Whilst some museums have social media experts to deal with this activity, it often requires the input of professional museum staff such as curators, historians, and archivists.  I was interested in how social media engagement has affected the experience of these professionals.  I focused on ‘living memory’ history, which deals with contemporary events such as the First World War or the Falklands Conflict because it is the stories around objects that are uncovered that build interest in museums:

Our medal room is just basically a room full of really shiny objects.  That’s not what makes it interesting.  What makes it interesting is the story of the people that held on to those medals.” [Curator]

Many museum staff are now reaching out to the public over social media to help them with a richer, deeper understanding of artefacts; not just what an item is, but how it was used or modified. In effect, turning members of the public into citizen historians through crowdsourcing.  My research showed that the public have an almost unconditional willingness to share high quality of information with museums.  I have termed this exchange of historical information a network of public.  A network of public extends the idea of networks of practice, in which most participants are inter- or intra-organisationally relted.

 The network of public is less bounded, catering to individuals who are interested in a range of information; whether that is sharing knowledge of how to repair a particular make of car or engaging with museums on the uses and modifications to Challenger tanks.museum-blog

I expected that museum staff may feel a sense of de-professionalization through the museums’ remit to collaborate with the public.  Many years of education and training are undertaken to become a curator so it was possible that asking the ‘amateur’ public for their opinion or information may be resisted.  However, every individual I spoke to found collaborating with the public both interesting and beneficial to the museum.

Using common social media tools aids such exchanges:

“Because people know how to use them [social media], because they use them all the time, they don’t have to learn something new.” [Curator]

However, museum staff also commented that the public are quick to adapt and learn to help museums with crowdsourcing projects, as can be evidenced by the Imperial War Museum’s ‘Operation War Diary’ project.  The public were keen to learn this new technology in order to contribute.

However, while staff want to engage with the public, they are not usually allocated time to do this, which means that their main role – curation – can be affected.  Providing time and support to museum staff for engagement activities is beneficial in the long-term.  The public become more involved with the museum and act, in many cases, as virtual volunteers, giving up both time and knowledge to help the museum to grow its collections.

Digital volunteering through social media technologies is on the increase, and museums are well positioned to take advantage of this.  My research encourages museums to appreciate the value that is gained from engaging the public over social media, in order to add rich descriptions to existing collections or undertake large-scale, dedicated projects (crowdsourcing activities).  It shows that collaborations over social media are providing methods of gaining new knowledge, both for the museums themselves as well as for the public.

 

Keynotes confirmed for Research Methods for Digital Work event 25-26 May 2017

We are delighted to announce that the three keynote speakers for this event have been confirmed as:

Diane E. Bailey Associate Professor in School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin

Monika Büscher Professor of Sociology, Director of the Centre for Mobilities Research and Associate Director for the Institute for Social Futures at Lancaster University

Richard Rogers Professor in New Media and Digital Culture, University of Amsterdam

Read more about the Research Methods for Digital Work Event, 25 -26 May 2017 and see the full call for papers (Deadline 31 January 2017).