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The University of Southampton
Web Science Institute

Jack Webster

Jack Webster
Jack Webster

Jack was awarded his PhD in 2019 and is currently based in Sweden working at as a User Researcher at Spotify. He says 'the DTC experience has helped me in my career in a number of ways; firstly, I have a better understanding of the principles of rigorous research, which can be applied in various contexts, secondly, by improving my ability to communicate with people with different forms of expertise (e.g. Data Scientists) and thirdly, my research project improved my knowledge of the music marketplace, which has helped me to sell myself as an expert in the field.

What was your academic and professional background before you joined the CDT?

Before joining the DTC, I studied Music at the University of Southampton, specialising in a combination of musical performance and popular music studies.

Why did you choose to study Web Science?

I chose Web Science because it presented itself as an opportunity to extend my interest in how the Web and digital technologies are shaping the production and consumption of music, an interest cultivated during my Bachelor’s degree. I was also attracted to the academic challenge of learning new subject matter and identifying productive ways to combine disciplines.

What was you PhD research topic?

My PhD examined how music streaming services, such as Spotify, are disrupting the social dynamics of music consumption. My research involved conducting interviews with music industry expert informants to better understand music streaming services’ disruptive potential, and interviews with music consumers to explore if and how these platforms are shaping music consumption practices. My research was novel because it is one of the few studies that engaged with the practices and perspectives of consumers. Existing literature has speculated about the disruptive potential of music streaming services, but little is known about how the affordances of streaming (e.g. abundant access to music, personalisation) are shaping music consumption practices.

What training did you receive?

What were the benefits of being part of the CDT?

In addition to the financial support and training opportunities, the most beneficial part of being part of a DTC is exposure to different disciplines and ways of working. Web Science does not teach you to be an expert in every discipline; rather, it introduces you to different disciplinary conventions and world-views. This is valuable in the real world, as cross-functional working is an everyday reality of working life. Web Science equips you with the vocabulary to have productive conversations with people with different forms of expertise.

Any advice to prospective Web Scientists?

The best piece of advice I can offer is to carefully consider whom you request as your PhD supervisors. Having invested and responsive supervisors will have a significant impact on the experience of doing a PhD. Your PhD supervisors are your barometer for determining whether your work is good enough and whether you are doing enough of it. With a dedicated supervision team, you will be able to progress more confidently with your research. I am incredibly grateful to Prof. Susan Halford, Dr. Brian Hracs and Dr. Nicholas Gibbins for the support they have given me during the PhD and beyond.

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