ScienceOnline'09 - interview with Danica Radovanovic

The series of interviews with some of the participants of the 2008 Science Blogging Conference was quite popular, so I decided to do the same thing again this year, posting interviews with some of the people who attended ScienceOnline'09 back in January.

Today, I asked Danica Radovanovic from the Digital Serendipities blog (you can also find her on her Serbian blog and Global Voices Online) to answer a few questions:

Welcome to A Blog Around The Clock. Would you, please, tell my readers a little bit more about yourself? Who are you? What is your (scientific) background?

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I'm a web activist, practitioner, social media researcher and observer, information management professional, project manager, PhD scholar, global nomad. It is hard to define or label myself, synthesize what I do as I'm pretty much interdisciplinary. One of my friends, prof. from Berkeley would say (joking or not) that I'm a spiritual scientist, seeing me in academia. Others would label me as super dragon woman in her practical work attacking the tasks. But the fact is my work in the last twelve years would be the closest to information science, web of science, communication studies, social media, humanities, web publishing, open access intertwined with web activism and web pioneering. My background is in humanities, philology sciences, LIS, publishing, information science, communications, cybernetics later, but I've been always curious about social implications of Web and online media. I've been pioneering many web projects in Serbia starting from the first academic mailing list in 90's, electronic magazine in the beginning of '00 (funny there is still a trace about this on this URL), comparative research on e-publishing in academia, open access using data from my US research studies, founder of the first science blog in Serbia (KOBSON), faught for the existence of this science blog, attended many local and international conferences, held sessions, talks, wrote and published many columns, was editor of open access database for Serbia, was a lecturer at School of Web journalism, and many other things that cannot fit this page. At this moment my life and work are pretty much dynamic, have to update all pages and services with new info ::smile::. More about my digital identity and beginnings on here.

In the last decade I found myself global nomading since I created my life to be a great adventure with unknown next destination. I've been living, travelling, working, studying both in Europe and United States. I've been blessed to interact, collaborate, work with fantastic people that supported me to put my ideas into action. My current work is based in Rome, Italy where I work for United Nations on the interesting projects dealing with the future web, semantic metadata systems, projects within EU and other international science and tech bodies. Beside my practical work - I want to keep up with my research, and I've been lucky to get into the Oxford Internet Institute where I'm a PhD scholar for 2009/2010, and in Fall I am moving on with my research right to OII.

What do you want to do/be when (and if ever) you grow up?

An astronaut ::giggle:: But realistically I would go now for a pilot flying licence for smaller planes, that's more down to earth. Also, when I was a kid I wanted to be cybernaut [greek word cybernao - to govern] and when I saw the first Commodore 64, I dropped the idea of having a bike, but rather a computer, so I wanted to be computer cybernaut and to do something futuristic, wether it is travelling to cosmos or creating super interesting things on a computer.

What is your Real Life job?

My real life job is creating super interesting things on the computer and the Web ::smile::

I have been so lucky to be invited by United Nations to join the Department that deals with Knowledge and capacity building, semantic web, science and technology. My colleagues are very supportive and we are creating new projects with other scientific and tech institutions and universities world wide. I am currently working on one that is based in Europe and covers science, education, technology, web of science, bioethics, etc. Working in brilliant surrounding I am learning every day from super smart people but also I have a freedom and flexibility to do whatever I want within my area.

People ask me every day how did the heck I get to UN, and I usually say that has to do with serendipities and my belief that the knowledge is the power. It is a story about being in the right place at the right time. After ScienceOnline conference in January 2009, I got back to Belgrade and gave a few lectures on social networks for the School of Web Journalism, when my current colleague/supervisor asked me for an interview offering me a job. After fifteen minutes of teleconference talk we've clicked and I've been asked to move to Rome within two weeks. The rest is all written on Digital serendipties. I can say from this point of view, ScienceOnline09 helped me to reinvent new curiosities for science and tech and I carried around positive, good spirits from the event. So things just happened. I am very thankful for this fantastic opportunity I was given.

What aspect of science communication and/or particular use of the Web in science interests you the most?

I'm pretty much interdisciplinary in my approach to research and practice, since my work is oriented towards: social web, social media, social networks, open access, metadata, semantic web, web of science, web anthropology, linked data, information science, communications, virtual communities, web publishing, eLearning practices, metadata, semantic web. All these are occupying my mind and projects in the last few years, as they are intertwining at certain points.

How does (if it does) blogging figure in your work? How about social networks, e.g., Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook?

I have been a blogger since 2003. I started to blog during my time at UNC-Chapel Hill and I've been blogging ever since. I blog in English since majority of my friends and colleagues are English speakers and Serbian is my native language. It's one of the ways to express myself, practice my written word, interact with the people who are reading my words and giving me the constant feedback in digital or analogue world. My blog is the hugest social network for my friends, allies as on one place there is info that one needs to know: on my current projects, plans, adventures, rants, reflections, links to the social software I use, and other musings. I do blog about social media, technology, information and life. Some of the material I blog I use as well for the articles, papers I publish or as initial idea for my presentations and lectures, and vice versa.

Regarding social networks: Twitter and Friendfeed I use every day, most of the time. Friendfeed and Twitter helps out in my work as there is a group of people with whom I exchange information and share it with others, comment on some issues, interact. I have to admit that I'm somewhat a Twitter addict, actually texting, and from its early beginnings I did silly things twittering from wherever I was, airplanes, unreachable places, broadcasting conferences, being in dangerous or funny situations.

Facebook and I have an interesting history. Before massive madness I actually got my job in 2006 thanks to Facebook. Back then I had only academic folks and close friends as contacts. Now everyone wants to be Facebook "friend" with me, and I refuse to "friend" anyone who doesn't write in a note if we've met before somewhere at some conference, any other affiliation space or situation. If someone writes that is my blog fan and what I write helps her/him out at the studies, or makes a comment on something I wrote - I cannot say "no". This refers to others social networks as well.

Other than that, I'm just trying to reduce the information noise. The same refers to Twitter: my attention span on Twitter is short so there are friends I know for years I don't follow and they are OK with that as we can meet whenever and chat. I may not follow thousands of people but I always reply/react to an interesting tweet. That's why I have a separate Twitter protected account for friends and family.

When and how did you discover science blogs? What are some of your favourites? Have you discovered any new cool science blogs while at the Conference?

Thanks to you I discovered science blogs three years ago, and ever since I'm following your blog regularly. From the people who attended the conference - I like to read Bjoern Brembs blog, Greg Laden's, John Dupuis's blog, and many others within ScienceBlogs network. I've discovered few new interesting science blogs of Miriam Goldstein, Kevin Zelnio and Andrew Thaler's as marine and ocean blogging is like watching discovery oceanographic adventures but in words.

Is there anything that happened at this Conference - a session, something someone said or did or wrote - that will change the way you think about science communication, or something that you will take with you to your job, blog-reading and blog-writing?

I enjoyed the entire conference, especially interacting with people in between the sessions. Two sessions I found very interesting for my work and research was extensive conversation on open access moderated by Bjoern and Bill and presentation by John Wilbanks from Science Commons on semantic web in science. I think in the future conferences these two sections that are discussing the current issues should not be omitted as they are curating and shaping the science 3.0.

What are you currently working on?

I am finalizing a part of the major project I'm on since March this year. At the moment it is work on application profiles that involves social networking aspect (people + connections) using FOAF as a base (geeks know whats FOAF - machine readable ontology). I have full freedom in creating it, and beside people in-house, I do collaboration and consultations with the ingenious people and the creators of this project. I keep up with my UN job as it is very challenging for me in every aspect.

Then, I should be writing and finishing before departing for Oxford, a book (in co-authorship) for web journalists in Serbia. This will be my contribution to Serbian media regarding social web. My chapters in the book are covering topics such as: Web 2.0, social media software and tools for web journos, the special chapters on Social networks (Facebook and Linkedin), blogs, and Micro-blogging (Twitter), social marketing, etc. All this I have to finish before Oxford, and beside that I have zillion other tasks so this summer for me is working summer. I hope to catch up a few days of so needed vacation and to get the energy for Oxford.

What's your PhD research about?

My PhD research is focused on exploring communication practices in the social networks, virtual communities, particularly on Facebook and young adults in Serbia, in specific media and conversation practices. I want to examine how young adults move between online and offline worlds.

No one so far examined how new digital media performances are embedded in a broader sociocultural and education frameset in Serbia, I want it to explore, so in the Fall I am finally returning back to my PhD research that I've put aside because of work. I am blessed and lucky to get the Oxford Internet Institute fellowship, which is giving me the great opportunity to collaborate with fantastic people in social media and interwebs.

It was so nice to meet you and thank you for the interview. I hope to see you again next January.

Thank you. You and Anton organized a superb conference. I hope to see you and other people next year.


See the 2008 interview series and 2009 series for more.

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