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.

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.

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.