By David Søbæk Olsen
Hi everyone! As my time as a JR comes to a close it is time to round up some of my experiences being in ETHOS Lab and also disclose what my project turned out to be about. I will initially provide a brief description of the final project, its subject matter, the questions it asked and how it was presented. Following the abstract I’ll talk about how the JR program supported my learning throughout the last year and where I see myself going forward as this programme ends. Concluding the blogpost I’ll add some finishing remarks on the academic journey and what I take that to mean.
Social media regulation is gaining attention as different international and national institutions are approving new laws designed to regain a sense of control in the domains that social media are influencing heavily. Working in the junior research programme the final product has been the research & discussion of what social media laws have been and are currently in motion across the globe. How might they differ in scope and intent? What are some common denominators and are there unique approaches worth taking extra notice of? The product being, a collection of different laws spanning all continents. The project is narrow, as the sample sizes are small (13) but function as an initial exploration of the topic, leaving room for future research. The presentation of the project was done in ETHOS Lab in presence of my fellow JR’s and the researchers of the lab.
How has the JR program supported my learning?
Having the opportunity to present and discuss my findings with peers & researchers in related fields allowed me to challenge myself in conveying my findings. Throughout my time as a JR it has been a constant challenge to remain consistent in my line of thinking and thus I often experienced that my assumptions on the topic and deductive reasoning used lacked clearer references that could enroll others in what I was actually proposing. This required me to train feeling vulnerable as I had to lay out my academic thinking but the act of feeling vulnerable also allowed me to be susceptible to constructive criticism as the lab functioned as a safe space.
This feeling and situation is one that I believe to be a strength and being exposed to it for so long has made me comfortable with sharing what I think and this is something that I will take with me as I am setting my sights towards my master’s thesis and potentially future pHD.
Doing the program concurrently with my own studies, and being a part of a cohort of JR’s all in the same programme and year as me allowed for great discussions on the texts and how we might apply them in our different projects. These discussions and the space we shared was a huge inspiration for me as it was my first experience of being in a scientific community where we all shared a common goal to improve while considering each other to be peers. Going outside the lab after such meetings always left me feeling richer than when I had initially entered the lab. Another positive was also to find out that as serious as some of the research being done at ITU might be, be it in the ETHOS LAB or outside it, the people involved are cut from the same cloth so far as the genuine interest in figuring out how to improve technologies and our relation to it. Being a part of a group of nerds within this space is something that gave me confidence in the path that I chose.
What is next for me as I finish my time as a JR?
Having set out to improve my way of working academically by merging my topics of interests with the different projects I attempted while being a JR allowed me to fumble in the dark for a while. My thoughts regarding what master’s thesis I would like to write remained an abstract idea centered around my specialization (Digital Economics) for a long while. While exploring my subject of social media regulation for a year I simultanelously was trying to come up with topics to pursue within my field of Blockchain. As I had been researching democratic perspectives and how governance had worked in SoMe regulation, my initial thought was to continue that path but apply it to a blockchain case. But nearing March of 2022, following a JR catch-up meeting I chose to pivot towards the question of how to convey the value generated from utilizing the technology.
This new line of questioning made me get in contact with my teachers, fellow DIM students and students from other study lines as I was trying to engage in discussions as to how my disconnected thoughts could be taken apart and reassembled in interesting new ways. Having spent so much time during the JR programme working with scoping projects I knew it was essential to the future sucess of my research. Armed with this knowledge I began to look at the skills I would like to learn and apply in my research and how a long term timeline could look like if I was to include not only writing a thesis but potentially continue as a PhD so as to provide new knowledge in my chosen field.
This last year has been incredibly tough as juggling being a student while working and being a JR has put me in situations of vulnerability on a daily basis. But being able to share a space with other friendly students and researchers allowed me to recognize myself in their own struggles trying to make sense of their projects. The academic journey does not have to be a solo venture and building connections, being a part of a community, ‘nerding’ out with eachother is all essential parts of making it all worth it.