Fellows book

London symbols by Pavlina Jane.By Caitlin Bentley, Postgraduate research student, ICT4D Research Centre, Royal Holloway University of London.

This is the fifth in a series of articles by the Institute's Fellows, each covering an area of interest that relates directly both to their own work and the wider issue of software's role in research.

Information and communications technology for development (ICT4D) is a relatively contemporary multi-discipline, and continues to evolve. Generally, ICT4D comprises the application and development of ICTs to achieve social and economic development goals. Heeks (2010) wrote that ICT4D researchers need to approach research problems from a tri-disciplinary perspective: computer science, information systems and development studies. Additionally, ICT4D is fundamentally about human and sustainable development, and as Unwin (2009) has previously argued, researchers must prioritize the development needs and wants of the poor and marginalised people. ICTs are not a silver bullet by any means.

The roles of ICT4D researchers are to act as intermediaries, critics and advocates, and we draw ICTs from within our tool belts to engage in the politics of social, economic and sustainable development processes. Nevertheless, technological solutions to development problems can be beneficial if they are built upon existing…

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perito moreno by marc cornelis.By Allen Pope, a research associate at the National Snow and Ice Data Center and the Polar Science Center. He studies the Earth's frozen regions with satellite and airborne data, does fieldwork to make sure the satellites have it right, and shares his science with other people. He tweets @PopePolar.

This is the fourth in a series of articles by the Institute's Fellows, each covering an area of interest that relates directly both to their own work and the wider issue of software's role in research.

I love being outdoors. There is just something so viscerally engaging about exploring and studying the environment you’re standing in – all the better if it is a remote, snowy, beautiful location. But I spend significantly more time working at a computer than in the field, and I’m pretty happy about it, too. Why, though, if it was fieldwork which started me out?

I’m…

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Airplane by Tracy Hunter.By Robin Wilson, Geography and Environment & Institute for Complex Systems Simulation, University of Southampton.

This is the third in a series of articles by the Institute's Fellows, each covering an area of interest that relates directly both to their own work and the wider issue of software's role in research.

1. What is remote sensing?

Remote sensing broadly refers to the acquisition of information about an object remotely (that is, with no physical contact). The academic field of remote sensing, however, is generally focused on acquiring information about the Earth (or other planetary bodies) using measurements of electromagnetic radiation taken from airborne or satellite sensors. These measurements are usually acquired in the form of large images, often containing measurements in a number of different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum (for example, in the blue, green, red and near-infrared), known as wavebands. These images can be processed to generate…

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Snow Flake by Dave Dugdale.By Melody Sandells, Research Fellow, Environmental Systems Science Centre, University of Reading.

This is the second in a series of articles by the Institute's Fellows, each covering an area of interest that relates directly both to their own work and the wider issue of software's role in research.

My research is about the physics of snow, and how to retrieve snow information from satellite data. Things have moved on a lot since I was an undergraduate where the concept of email was new to the masses, the introduction of the web blew our minds and Windows 3.11 on a 486 was amazing. In the old days, you would read a paper and if it was of sufficient interest, you would go away and code it for your own purposes - in my case it was state-of-the-art Fortran90. Things aren't like that anymore - why recode stuff that has already been done previously for the paper? Yet, for me, the urge to recode just won't go away.

My first foray into snow modelling…

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By Adam Crymble, Institute Fellow 2013

This is the first in a series of articles by the Institute's Fellows, each covering an area of interest that relates directly both to their own work and the wider issue of software's role in research.

If the Internet went down all historical software would cease to function, except for Microsoft Word. For an academic historian, a grant to build a high profile web-based project is likely the biggest pot of money he or she will ever receive during their career. That is, if they ever receive it as few historians will even apply. Instead, most are content to work in a fashion relatively similar to the way they did before the Internet came along. They go to the archives, read books and manuscripts, and write up their findings. This is their tried and tested mode of research, with costs limited to a few new books now and again, a train ticket or two to get to the archives, and refreshments while they're there.

Historical research is still largely a solo intellectual pursuit rather than a technical team-based one. There is nothing wrong with that. Not all discovery needs to be expensive, and as a tax-payer, I find it refreshing that there are still corners of the academic world in which spending more money isn't the easiest way to career progression. For the ambitious few who rise to the challenge and put in a proposal, meanwhile, the website that results, and in some cases the hundreds…

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