The Last Mile

After collecting all the information necessary to write the research paper, I began about created a timeline and, in a sense, compartmentalizing sections. This way, I could structure for myself a way to format the paper coherently. Organizing the paper was the easiest task. The hardest, had to be writing the actual content. During the process, I constantly had to remind myself what the purpose of the information I had collected was. I had to ask myself why had I selected certain pieces of evidence and what it meant in the grand scheme of the paper. Slowly, that was how the paper began to take shape.

Of the graphic element I did create a graph that marked frequency of fire safety legislation against time—though this is rather apparent itself during the research process of looking through books. As I continued to write through the paper, and then later on, in put from the presentation, I found the paper growing more coherent as the numbers of support grew.

Most of the documents consulted are either second hand sources of event or government run websites as I found them to be the best, or main, source of information concerning my topic. Since the last update, the paper has been written, read, shared and edited. It has gone through the developmental stage and into a product. Throughout, I do wish I had addressed more recent events, or found a modern fire to examine. Consulting more books would have been nice as well, though the paper did just fine with online resources.

From this research process, I have learned to develop a concept and how to unravel its ideas. By opening my paper to discussion, I discovered holes and new angles and found that the experience of sharing a paper was more beneficial them terrifying. Often times, I find it nerve wracking to share what I have written, but by sharing this paper with my peers, the paper became stronger with their input as they were able to notice things that I had not—seeing as my head had been stuck in it for so long, that a new perspective was necessary.

What I have learned then, from all of this, is how to share ideas and concepts—to know that allowing others to read works is much more beneficial and well worth the time and effort. While the paper was not read in its entirety, simply sharing the ideas, the structure of the paper, what it was, was enough to impart knowledge on the listener, and then questions.


Week 4: Science and Politics

At first, science and politics don’t seem to exactly go hand and hand with each other. Except they do. In reflection of the group presentations (Adam and Chris—along with others) it was interesting to see how science at Oxford has developed in parallel with the needs of the time. When there was a need for science—such as during the World Wars—there was a boom in the field. War, amongst other things, acted as a catalyst for the need of the increase in scientific study. In the presentation, it noted that Oxford was becoming overlooked as a university because it focused on the humanities rather than science. Politically speaking, if the university wanted to ‘retain’ its standing, it would have to focus on the more ‘popular’ field at the time, which was scientific study. As a result, there was an increase of revenue towards science.


Another presentation that came to mind was the animal testing group. I thought it was interesting to consider how the animal testing developed and had ideas stemming from initial concepts of researching corpses. For the sake of science, people were trying to understand how the human body worked, but after a while of grave robbing and turning stolen bodies into a hot commodity, laws had to be put in place to control how bodies came into the hands of science. What is interesting is that the bodies being taken were those of a lower class and the drudges of society. In some perspective, this might be seen as using bodies that people might not miss (because they might have been considered unimportant) are therefore, perfectly acceptable for the use of scientific investigation. However, the introduction of laws controlling the ‘ownership’ of the deceased expresses political opinion on what bodies should be used and what society believed was the ‘proper’ way to obtain bodies for research.


In Edinburgh, the Scottish nationalism was felt throughout the museum. Many of the exhibits (though unfortunately, I did not have the chance to explore its entirety) often highlighted ‘Scotland’. Many instruments, ideas, etc. were accompanied by mentions of Scotland when explaining what they were or their important. Through Edinburgh itself, there was a great sense of ‘Scotland’ rather than ‘Scotland as a part of the Commonwealth and the UK”. One of the notable scientific ‘inventions’ was Dolly the Sheep. The cloning process took place in Scotland and Dolly’s presence in the museum, along with the many other artifacts, appears to let everyone who visits to see what Scotland has accomplished. That Scotland is independent, or that it can accomplish great things within itself.


Maybe this is my personal opinion, but I think Dolly the sheep put Scotland at the forefront of what was considered possible for science. Yes, there were many failures before Dolly, but the fact that there was a successful clone showed advancement in the scientific field. Looking at Cambridge, Oxford and all the other British universities with a focus in scientific research, the fact that Scotland was able to produce something like Dolly seems incredible. Even though it is just a commonwealth state, it was able to accomplish something great. Other than Dolly, I am not sure what other standout scientific research Scotland has accomplished, but in the eyes of politics, perhaps it showed a sense of personal growth. Even though England has so many research universities, Scotland was able to accomplish something like Dolly the sheep.

Science and politics doesn’t always seem to be clear. There is a relationship, but it appears heavily dependent on the public or nationalistic tendencies. Of course there may be other relationships, but science seems also driven by politics (take, for example, the nuclear arms race with Sputnik and America landing the first man on the moon).

Finally! A Topic!!

Summary of my initial train of thought:

Research Question: What are the levels of security implemented in the shift from public to private space in Oxford and how does they relate to the perception of safety ?


Resources: Student life, student journals, student ‘handbook’, observation (visiting buildings and counting the number of entry ways/doors, porters—if any, number of floors)

                   Crime data


Places: Oxford Brookes (from street to housing), Bodleian


Public safety—crime data, police reports


 Crime in Oxford; social science library (crime stats, what kind of data is accessible)


 Narrow down what kind of crime; “bike thefts in Oxford—student”

 Chart murder in Oxford—locations over time; are there any laws that have changed how they occur?

 Find a secondary source (someone who has written about the history of ____); murder

The Oxford Fire of 1644 – title something, what is the impact

Fire Safety Laws

Building requirements/codes


National Fire Safety Laws in regards to Oxford (sample region)

Development of fire safety laws in England

Awareness of fire safety in Oxford

After what seems like forever, I’ve finally found something of interest.  It stemmed from thinking: what doesn’t involve people?  The human factor.  The one that involves feelings and creates subjective data.  At first I wanted to go with murders because, well, murders are interesting.  Except–as my partner would point out–murders are generally carried out with personal intent.  Then, I jumped to different crimes, but each one of them were somehow subject.

Looking through crime or incident reports, one thing stood out: fires.  Immediately, I went off on that tangent and I began digging up information.  There was the Oxford Fire of 1644, and immediately thought, “well, if they named it, it has to be important.”  Sure enough, it spurred me on to discovering it wasn’t until 1941 that the Oxford Fire Brigade was formed–and that is mainly only attributed to the Fire Brigade Act of 1948.  Essentially, there was no ‘established’ fire department until the early 20th century.  Even further, the volunteer fire brigade was created in 1879, but the United States had already established  Union Fire Company in 1736!

So I kept digging through legislation in England (mainly focusing on Oxford) about fire safety.  Despite there being a history of fires in Oxford and the rest of the country–and the world–building regulations were not officially created until 1971.  Walking around, this is clearly evident in older building within the last century having narrow and long staircases–queue memory of the Celtic Hotel–and the fact that today’s modern or updated buildings have outlets with switches.

In summary, my process for this week has mainly been combing through information and reading about the different legislations and how they relate to each other in the grand scheme of things.  By creating a timeline, I am able to see how the ideas of fire safety have developed since 1644 (which I consider to be the starting point because of titled fire in Oxford during that year).  I hope that my development of a timeline will help me better understand how fire safety is understood and acts undertaken to teach the public awareness of fire safety.  Just because people know that fire is a bad thing, doesn’t mean they may be necessarily prepared for it when the problem arises.

Week 3: Considering Instruments

Without instruments, many of the modern tools we use today wouldn’t exist. The scientific tools we use today are largely based and developed upon by previous models. At the Museum of Natural Science, it was incredible to see what tools people used to use in the past. It seems like a lot more understanding of how the tool worked and the science behind it was necessary in order to be able to use it.IMG_0299

Today, we have computers and other tools that make what people in the past did easier. We don’t need sundials to tell how much time has passed or need to calculate latitude and longitude in order to tell where we are. In order to use the tools, the user had to be knowledgeable on what it was they were trying to do because there was nothing like Google to help them figure out how to work a tool if they didn’t know how.

Users were specialized or informed on how to use the tool. From a modern day perspective—or at least mine, at first glance, the tools looked like pieces of art and it seemed fascinating at how intricate each instrument was in order to accomplish something like position in relation to the sun. Looking at them, I could see pieces of a puzzle, but not know how they fit together.

It amazes me to think how educated the inventors had to be in order to develop such things. All of their knowledge then added to the instruments we use today. By their initial findings on how to calculate things like time, latitude and longitude, modern day’s society was able to create objects like clocks and the GPS navigation system.

Back when those instruments were first invented, it seems like they weren’t just used a tools, but as ornaments—for example, the astrolabes.  It’s something that, even when not being used, can be enjoyed, which is much different than many of the instruments today. Instruments of the past have a feeling of antiquity, while there is nothing special about a modern day one—other than being new and expensive.IMG_0302

One of the most fascinating things is how instruments have changed over time. Stonehenge was erected using simple tools and yet it is a masterpiece of building. With such simple tools, they must have possessed an expansive knowledge of their tools and stones—how to lift great weights and place the stones in specific manners. Not only that, but the stones align themselves with the sunset and sunrise.

Instruments have become more and more complex—able to do more as they advance in technology. Looking back on the tools people used before, it’s a wonder how science and innovation have grown to what they are today. So many of the instruments we use to today are influenced by those of the past. Without them, we wouldn’t have the tools we have today.

It’s only from constant understanding and research that instruments are able to advance in their respective fields. Instead of perhaps dragging stones into place, we have cranes that can lift objects into place with one person at the helm instead of hundreds. Instead of calculating by hand latitude and longitude in order to determine location, we have computers that already have that knowledge installed into them.

IMG_0308Visiting Stonehenge and the Museum of Natural History was nothing short of an eye opener. I feel like a lot of the instruments that we use today are ones that can easily be taken for granted. Today, we have computers, cell phones, cars, etc.—thing that in the past, might have seemed unimaginable.

Revising and more Revising

Coming in to London, Oxford and the UK, I thought the ideas from before in Seattle would work just fine.  All of that was quickly changed through exploring the streets of London and exploring the UK in person.  By exploring London, I was able to get a feel of the place and realized how much of an undertaking our initial research idea would be. The scale would be enormous and something difficult. By the time we reached Oxford, it was clear that a revision of ideas was in due process.

I then came up with another concept. I wondered about the streets and public space in relation to security. Not much different from our initial concept from a general perspective, but I thought about concepts of security and the perception of it. For example, how a wider space might feel safer than a narrow street or alleyway. Upon the discussion, this concept was again scrapped and I began another undertaking.

Once again, I returned to the idea of mapping and wondered if I could compare crime rates in Oxford and London over different decades and see how they relate to perceptions of security. I wanted to see if certain types of crimes, or crimes in general, occurred in the same kinds of spot or times. Do the happen more at night? Do they happen on the same street or corner? What kinds of people are being targeted? Do they coincide with different governmental efforts against crimes, like laws, etc?

This is where I began my research at the Bodleian and it was once again, quickly scrapped. Searching through SOLO, I found my efforts fruitless in attempting to find police records or crime reports in London and Oxford. I then thought perhaps I was entering the wrong key words, or perhaps SOLO wasn’t the right place to search. Turning to Google, I found the same result: nothing. I found it difficult to find recent and past information.

As of the moment, I now turn to the broader option. Simply search in SOLO: security. To see what I can find and if there are any leads that perhaps I can take on. Reading through material, I hope I can find something that will allow me to better understand security in Oxford then and now, and perhaps in relation to London as well. I would like to understand how the concept of security has changed over different eras and how it has changed and adapted to what it is now.

Security seems like a trial and error kind of concept. Something that has developed because there was a need for it—there was a demand from the public for some kind of protection. Maybe by understanding how security developed (it’s history) then I can find a research topic of interest or something that I can develop my concept of mapping into.

Week 2: From London to Oxford

Though part of the same country, Oxford and London are uniquely different. Oxford is very much a university city. London has a hustle and bustle kind of attitude from the different people who travel to visit it. It is the site of much history and the birth of many thoughts and ideas—not that the same couldn’t be said for Oxford, but it is shown in a different way.


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Oxford is built of colleges scattered around. Shops line streets and are often neighbored by colleges. At the heart of the city, this might be the case, but around the outskirts and the Bodleian the atmosphere is very different. The noise isn’t the same as it is in London. There are more ambulances screeching at every hour of the day and Oxford feels a little less tailored towards tourists.

Of course there still is a tourist vibe, but it’s a little different. Walking throughout Oxford, besides from the name, it’s clear that this is a student driven area. While London did have a university campus nearby, it’s not to the scale of Oxford. The city is the university. Everywhere you look, there are reminders that before being a city, it is a university. The best way to describe it, in my opinion, is that while Oxford has both a city and university mixed together, it is the city growing out from the university.



There are pockets of the educational setting everywhere. London seems much more scattered. It’s building have been bombed and redeveloped, modernized and as a mix of different eras. For the most part, Oxford is just oxford. The buildings are old and built of stone. Sight of modern redevelopment seems far off, or not as easily to find as in London. People are living inside the city like London—where there were narrow passageways. Everywhere in Oxford, the streets are wide and the sense of area is different.

London has high walls as living complexes. Those don’t seem to exist as clearly in Oxford—or perhaps I just missed them. Here in Oxford, the buildings seem to be set shorter unless it’s a tower or something else meant to be tall. Otherwise, most of the buildings are short and stocky stone buildings. Oxford doesn’t seem like it was built for workers to be working within the area. Parks and other public spaces are set as large, green areas. Finding a place to sit seems more difficult than it was in London.

At least in London, the parks provided seating area whereas, if the seating at a café or restaurant is full, there is a lack of places to sit other than the occasional bench or empty doorstep (that you hope the door it belongs to is both locked and in no fear of being opened). But Oxford in itself is like a large public space. While the colleges themselves might not be open to visitors, people are welcome to walk around and enjoy the same spaces that students and educators enjoy.

Oxford and London both limit what is public and private through the use of space. Oxford doesn’t specifically designate “true” public spaces like parks, but it gives public space in the aspect of shops and areas that allow “free” entry. Colleges create private areas much like one would do for a residential area where the colleges themselves are houses of knowledge where most individuals are not allowed to pass through unless they belong to it.

As a city, London seems much more structured than Oxford. In Oxford, the buildings just seem like they’ve been tossed together and scattered about. Oxford contains the thinkers, while London the builders. It seems that both Oxford and London were built on different concepts, which can be seen through what both appear to value most—discussion or intellectuals and education.