“In the study, published last month in the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Joseph Henrich, Steven J. Heine and Ara Norenzayan — all psychologists at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver — condemn their field’s quest for human universals.
Psychologists claim to speak of human nature, the study argues, but they have mostly been telling us about a group of WEIRD outliers, as the study calls them — Westernized, educated people from industrialized, rich democracies.
According to the study, 68 percent of research subjects in a sample of hundreds of studies in leading psychology journals came from the United States, and 96 percent from Western industrialized nations. Of the American subjects, 67 percent were undergraduates studying psychology — making a randomly selected American undergraduate 4,000 times likelier to be a subject than a random non-Westerner.”
Posts in category 'Research'
The international conference, which is the conclusion and culmination of the Communia Thematic Network project (the European Thematic Network on the Digital Public Domain), was organised by the Politecnico of Torino’s NEXA Research Center for Internet and Society (that also coordinated the network) and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and aimed at defining a shared vision of the future of universities as knowledge institutions and identifying the main steps leading from vision to reality.
The event addressed questions such as: How is the role of universities as knowledge creating, sharing, and applying institutions going to change due to the Internet? How should universities use cyberspace to best implement their mission with respect to society? Taking into account the characteristics of the new generations of students, faculty and staff, how should the informational and the spatial (both physical and virtual) infrastructures of universities be shaped to improve learning, discovery, and engagement? What about the new opportunities to enhance the civic role of universities – who prepare people for citizenship and contribute to the public sphere – in our democratic societies?
Videos of all sessions are now online, although in a still somewhat rough format (they are now working at processing the videos further):
Monday 28 June
The first day of the conference covered the relevant history and traditions of universities, moved through the current state of play, and focused on the emerging landscape of universities, articulating both their changing role in society, the significant challenges these institutions are facing for the future and, more specifically, their role vis a vis the increasing commons of knowledge facilitated by the Internet.
Morning session (video link)
- Kick-off [00:12:56]: Juan Carlos de Martin, NEXA Center for Internet & Society, in conversation with Charles Nesson, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
- Keynote [00:53:20]: “Universities in the Age of the Internet” by Stefano Rodotà, University of Rome
- High Order Bit [01:46:00]: “Arduino, Open Source Hardware and Learning by Doing” by Massimo Banzi, tinker.it, arduino.cc
- Plenary [02:03:45]: “Digital Natives” with John Palfrey, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Marco de Rossi, Oilproject.org, and Urs Gasser, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
Afternoon session (video link)
- Plenary [00:01:19]: “Information Infrastructure” with Alma Swan, Key Perspectives Ltd., Stuart Shieber, Berkman Center for Internet & Society and Office of Scholarly Communication at Harvard University, and Martin Hall, Salford University, UK
- High Order Bit [01:27:13]: “African Universities as Knowledge Centers: Challenges and Opportunities” by Boubakar Barry, African Association of Universities
- Plenary [01:41:45]: Physical/Virtual Spatial Infrastructure” with Antoine Picon, Harvard University and Jef Huang, EPFL
Tuesday 29 June
The second day attempted cross-sectional reorientation, by examining universities’ emerging responsibilities as ‘horizontal’ themes, especially as they intersect with future challenges described in the first day’s ‘vertical’ tracks.
Morning session (video link)
- High Order Bit [00:01:12]: “Individual and social evolution: through digital gaming, out of the box” by Carlo Fabricatore, Initium Studios & University of Worcester
- Plenary [00:14:52]: “Universities as Civic Actors or Institutions” with Marco Santambrogio, University of Parma, Italy, Colin Maclay, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Maarten Simons, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, Jan Masschelein, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, and Juan Carlos De Martin, NEXA Center for Internet & Society
Afternoon session (video link)
- Plenary [00:01:00]: “Universities as Platforms for Learning” with Catharina Maracke, Keio University, Japan, Marco De Rossi, Oilproject.org, Carlo Fabricatore, Initium Studios & University of Worcester, Delia Browne, Peer-2-Peer University, Stephan Vincent-Lancrin, OECD, and Jean Claude Guedon, University of Montreal
- High Order Bit [01:15:46] by Joy Ito, Creative Commons
- Plenary [01:33:11]: “Universities as Knowledge Creators” with Carlo Olmo, Politecnico di Torino, Phillippe Aigrain, Sopinspace, Janneke Adema, Coventry University, Mary Lee Kennedy, Harvard Business School, and Terry Fisher, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
- Plenary [02:49:56]: “In Search of the Public Domain” with Lucie Guibault, Institute for Information Law, University of Amsterdam, Patrick Peiffer, Luxcommons, Jonathan Gray, Open Knowledge Foundation, Sirin Tekinay, Ozyegin University, Istanbul, Turkey, Ignasi Labastida, University of Barcelona, Philippe Aigrain, Sopinspace, and Paolo Lanteri, WIPO
Wednesday 30 June
The third day combined the three tracks and the cross-sectional issues with an orientation towards solutions and next steps.
Morning session (video link)
- High Order Bit [00:01:08]: “Why Academia Needs to Rediscover the Commons” by Jean Claude Guedon, University of Montreal
- High Level Keynote [00:28:00]: “Digital Culture, Network Culture, and What Comes Afterward” by Bruce Sterling
- High Order Bit [01:35:44]: “From Elites, To Masses: Drivers of Excellence in Communication, And Participation” by David Orban, Humanity+ & Singularity University
- Student session [01:49:58]: “Public universities, public education: From the Bologna Process to Cyberspace”, chaired by Chiara Basile, Politecnico di Torino
Afternoon session (video link)
- Final Session: “Synthesis and Proposals” with Stephan Vincent-Lancrin, OECD, Francesco Profumo, Rector Politecnico di Torino, Mario Calabresi, La Stampa, Herbert Burkert, University of St. Gallen, Jafar Javan, UN Staff College, Charles Nesson, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Chiara Basile, Politecnico di Torino, Sirin Tekinay, Ozyegin University, Istanbul, Turkey, Juan Carlos De Martin, NEXA Center for Internet & Society, and Urs Gasser, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
Energy Life includes a mobile phone application and an ambient interface that makes use of the home lighting and lamps as a means to communicate with the user. It provides feedback about consumption habits, and empowers users to become active and responsible consumers.
The efforts are part of a European Union research project that is creating new ways to allow consumers to follow and better understand their use of energy.
The technology developed in the project is being set up in two different pilot sites – one Nordic (Sweden/Finland) and one Southern European (Italy). In each site, studies are carried in a home environment. The research is highly multidisciplinary and combines a variety of approaches in the area of user studies, user-centred design and evaluation.
During recent interviews with the San Francisco Chronicle, Marlow and Patil described the trends they are seeing.
“Palo Alto, Calif.-based Facebook, for example, has developed a “Gross National Happiness Index” that measures the positive and negative sentiments expressed in status posts. [...]
The team hopes to refine its data mining to answer questions such as how happiness may be contagious or what level of influence different groups of friends have on one another.”
A group of graduate students at IIT Institute of Design have developed tools that apply findings from the fields of cognitive psychology and behavioral economics to the design process. These tools provide a head start on framing research as well as developing new strategies for solving user problems.
Brains, Behavior and Design: 5 tools to understand and influence decision-making is a collection of their research and a toolkit that includes factors, short-cuts, strategies and exercises to help us understand human behaviour throughout the design process.
The students are currently testing these tools in real world design problems in domains like healthcare and sustainability.
“Resilience theory, first introduced by Canadian ecologist C.S. “Buzz” Holling in 1973, begins with two radical premises. The first is that humans and nature are strongly coupled and co-evolving, and should therefore be conceived of as one “social-ecological” system. The second is that the long-held assumption that systems respond to change in a linear, predictable fashion is simply wrong. According to resilience thinking, systems are in constant flux; they are highly unpredictable and self-organizing, with feedbacks across time and space. In the jargon of theorists, they are complex adaptive systems, exhibiting the hallmarks of complexity.”
A key feature of complex adaptive systems is that they can settle into a number of different equilibria. [...] Historically, we’ve tended to view the transition between such states as gradual. But there is increasing evidence that systems often don’t respond to change that way. [...]
Resilience science focuses on these sorts of tipping points. [...] How much shock can a system absorb before it transforms into something fundamentally different? That, in a nutshell, is the essence of resilience.”
I really enjoyed the discussion on the importance of redundancy and social equity in resilient systems:
“Society strives for efficiency by trying to eliminate apparent redundancies, but things that seemed redundant in a stable climate turn out to be valuable when conditions change. [...]
When it comes to human populations, ecologists are hesitant to stretch metaphors too far—a biodiverse ecosystem is not the same as a diverse population. [But] it’s important that you have institutions and functions in society that also overlap. If one member of the group is lost, there will be another that can maintain the function, so the function of the system as a whole is maintained. [...]
Social equity and access to resources will also emerge as hugely important components of resilience. Though human behavior is new territory for resilience experts, numerous social scientists have documented the erosion of civic engagement, and even violence, in areas marked by high levels of social stratification.”
“Beyond making us all more productive and efficient, we ask how we can build technology to help us be more expressive, creative, and reflective in our daily lives.
Our group considers a broad range of human values, aims to understand their complexity, and puts them front and centre in technology development. An important aspect of this endeavour is the construction of new technologies that, in turn, we ourselves can shape. In so doing, we may create new ways that help us to actively realise our aspirations and desires, to engage with or disconnect from the world around us, to remember our past or to forget it, to connect with others or disengage from them. Important here are technologies which ultimately make our lives richer, and which offer us choice and flexibility in the things that we do.
SDS does this through the bringing together of social science, design and computer science. We believe that by understanding human values, we open up a space of new technological possibilities that stretches the boundaries of current conceptions of human-computer interaction.”
– Designing a technological playground: A field study of the emergence of play in household messaging
– Bridging the gap between grandparents and teenagers: Lightweight vs. heavyweight contact
– Resilience in the face of innovation: Household trials with BubbleBoard
Studies of technology use in the home
– Who’s hogging the bandwidth?: The consequences of revealing the invisible in the home
– Understanding family communication across time zones
– Home video communication: Mediating “closeness”
– Home curation versus Teen Photography: Photo displays in the family home
– Photo displays and intergenerational relationships in the family home
Supporting autobiographical memory
– Now let me see where I was: Understanding how Lifelogs mediate memory
– Narrative, memory and practice: Tensions and choices in the use of a digital artefact
– Fixed in time and “time in motion”: Mobility of vision through a SenseCam lens
– Reflecting on oneself and on others: Multiple perspectives via SenseCam
Internet on Mobiles: Evolution of Usability and User Experience (pdf)
Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy presented at Helsinki University of Technology (Espoo, Finland) on 11 December 2009.
The mobile Internet is no longer a new phenomenon; the first mobile devices supporting web access were introduced over 10 years ago. During the past ten years technology and business infrastructure have evolved and the number of mobile Internet users has increased all over the world. Service user interface, technology and business infrastructure have built a framework for service adaptation: they can act as enablers or as barriers. Users evaluate how the new technology adds value to their life based on multiple factors.
This dissertation has its focus in the area of human-computer interaction research and practices. The overall goal of my research has been to improve the usability and the user experience of mobile Internet services. My research has sought answers to questions relevant in service development process. Questions have varied during the years, the main question being: How to design and create mobile Internet services that people can use and want to use? I have sought answers mostly from a human factors perspective, but have also taken the elements form technology and business infrastructure into consideration. In order to answer the questions raised in service development projects, we have investigated the mobile Internet services in the laboratory and in the field. My research has been conducted in various countries in 3 continents: Asia, Europe and North America. These studies revealed differences in mobile Internet use in different countries and between user groups. Studies in this dissertation were conducted between years 1998 and 2007 and show how questions and research methods have evolved during the time.
Good service creation requires that all three factors: technology, business infrastructure and users are taken in consideration. When using knowledge on users in decision making, it is important to understand that the different phases of the service development cycle require the different kind of information on users. It is not enough to know about the users, the knowledge about users has to be transferred into decisions.
The service has to be easy to use so that people can use it. This is related to usability. Usability is a very important factor in service adoption, but it is not enough. The service has to have relevant content from user perspective. The content is the reason why people want to use the service. In addition to the content and the ease of use, people evaluate the goodness of the service based on many other aspects: the cost, the availability and the reliability of the system for example. A good service is worth trying and after the first experience, is it worth using. These aspects are considered to influence the ‘user experience’ of the system. In this work I use lexical analysis to evaluate how the words “usability” and “user experience” are used in mobile HCI conference papers during the past 10 years. The use of both words has increased during the period and reflects the evolution of research questions and methodology over time.
Related to her thesis, is her article “Mobile internet: Past, Present, and the future“.
The Mobile Internet is no longer a new phenomenon; the first mobile devices supporting Web access were introduced over 10 years ago. During the past 10 years many user studies have been conducted that have generated insights into mobile Internet use. The number of mobile Internet users has increased and the focus of the studies has switched from the user interface to user experiences. Mobile phones are regarded as personal devices: the current possibility of gathering more contextual information and linking that to the Internet cre- ates totally new challenges for user experience and design.
But many adults don’t see it that way-yet. During a talk at a recent US educational conference, Ito projected an image of a newspaper article that appeared after DYP issued its first press release. The researchers reported that kids are engaging in diversified and valuable dimensions of learning online. The banner headline reporting their findings proclaimed, “Chill Out, Parents.”
“That outtake focused more on inter-generational tension than on our findings,” Ito said. “The headline assumes that parents are uptight, or should be, about kids’ online activity.”
Today’s kids are growing up in a radically different media environment than their parents-and teachers-did. They are connected 24/7 to peers, to entertainment and to information. “Visceral, interactive, immersive experiences are available when and where kids want them,” Ito said.
The availability of all that compelling entertainment and information has created a gap, Ito says, between in-school and out-of-school experience. Schools need to figure out how to leverage the power of kids’ engagement with media for learning in school as well as outside it.
The research project, in collaboration with the UTS Centre for Real-Time Information Networks, explores technical approaches to sensing the presence of mobile phones in transit environments (bus, train, ferry etc.) as well as pedestrians, in order to provide real-time data on such activity, potentially informing urban planning and transport planning decisions. Such approaches might reveal how the city is being used, in real-time.
Disclosure: Experientia is working with Arup on the Low2No project in Helsinki, Finland.
The centre helps establish and promote Danish design research, disseminate knowledge, and build Danish and international networks among research institutions, enterprises and the general public.
The latest DCDR Webzine (nr. 25) contains three interesting articles:
Design research – a catalyst for innovation (editorial)
In the first issue of Mind Design in 2010, Director Dorthe Mejlhede takes stock of the activities in the Danish Centre for Design Research in 2009 and of the platform that the centre has created for current and future design research. Design research can act as a catalyst for innovation and as a source of value creation for companies and for society at large. That is why it is so important to continue to expand and support the design research environment, Dorthe Mejlhede points out.
Is design philosophical?
At first glance, design and philosophy inhabit different worlds. Design is often aimed at physical and concrete action, while philosophy is abstract and reflective. However, there are certain fundamental philosophical questions to be asked about the essential nature of design and the design process, as explained by Per Galle, an associate professor of design theory at The Danish Design School, the director of CEPHAD, Centre for Philosophy and Design as well as the main organiser of CEPHAD’s conference in January at The Danish Design School.
Using creativity to enhance consumer awareness
An Industrial Ph.D. project involving the Danish savings bank Middelfart Sparekasse and Kolding School of Design aims to design tools that draw on the creativity in our thinking and reflections. Specifically, Ph.D. scholar Kirsten Bonde Sørensen seeks to develop a new service for current and prospective customers to help them uncover their unrecognised knowledge and emotions and make them more aware of their own needs and values. The project also aims to illustrate a new type of consumer communication that is not about persuasion but rather about making consumers aware of their own values and dreams.
The report notes that a primary catalyst of change in closing the connectivity gap is the accelerated adoption of mobile phones within emerging economies. Robust market competition, affordable pricing, liberalized regulation and bottom-up innovation have coalesced to create a vibrant multistakeholder ecosystem.
Along with highlighting the rapid adoption rate of mobile phone usage within emerging economies, the report focuses on the question: “What’s next?” While the adoption of baseline voice and data services has been shown to have a material economic and social impact in emerging economies, it is essential that the evolution of communication services remains economically sustainable, innovative and socially inclusive.
In fact, all generations – Millennials (75 percent), Gen Xers (74 percent) and Boomers (66 percent) – recognize the role entertainment technologies play in helping them keep their lives in order, which helps explain why Millennials (80 percent), Gen Xers (78 percent) and Boomers (78 percent) are equally likely to desire to be constantly connected.
Danah Boyd interview – USA
Danah Boyd is a social media researcher at Microsoft Research. She met with Aleks Krotoski to discuss the changes in young people’s behaviour when online, their attitudes to privacy and the importance that might be placed upon building their identities online.
Sherry Turkle interview – USA
Sherry Turkle is Abby Rockefeller Mauxe Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT. She met with Aleks Krotoski to discuss the issues of privacy, communication and identity in the web-connected world.
Also published this week are interviews with Doug Rushkoff (author, teacher, columnist and media theorist), discussing the realities of ‘free’ content and services on the web, and Gina Bianchini (CEO and co-founder of Ning), speaking about online social networks and the changing nature of relationships and human interactions in the connected world of the web.
Digital Revolution (working title) is an open source documentary, due for transmission on BBC Two in 2010, that will take stock of 20 years of change brought about by the World Wide Web.
Kids Living and Learning with New Media
(John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning)
An examination of young people’s everyday new media practices—including video-game playing, text-messaging, digital media production, and social media use.
Authors: Mizuko Ito, Sonja Baumer, Matteo Bittanti, danah boyd, Rachel Cody, Becky Herr-Stephenson, Heather A. Horst, Patricia G. Lange, Dilan Mahendran, Katynka Z. Martinez, C. J. Pascoe, Dan Perkel, Laura Robinson, Christo Sims and Lisa Tripp
MIT Press, November 2009, 432 pages
Table of contents and sample chapters – Amazon link
Conventional wisdom about young people’s use of digital technology often equates generational identity with technology identity: today’s teens seem constantly plugged in to video games, social networks sites, and text messaging. Yet there is little actual research that investigates the intricate dynamics of youth’s social and recreational use of digital media. Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out fills this gap, reporting on an ambitious three-year ethnographic investigation into how young people are living and learning with new media in varied settings—at home, in after school programs, and in online spaces. By focusing on media practices in the everyday contexts of family and peer interaction, the book views the relationship of youth and new media not simply in terms of technology trends but situated within the broader structural conditions of childhood and the negotiations with adults that frame the experience of youth in the United States.
Integrating twenty-three different case studies—which include Harry Potter podcasting, video-game playing, music-sharing, and online romantic breakups—in a unique collaborative authorship style, Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out is distinctive for its combination of in-depth description of specific group dynamics with conceptual analysis.
This book was written as a collaborative effort by members of the Digital Youth Project, a three-year research effort funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and conducted at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Southern California.
The project was spearheaded by Mimi Ito, a Research Scientist at the University of California Humanities Research Institute.
(via danah boyd)
How much do you trust your digital life? Has the fear of identity theft or bank card fraud dampened your trust in digital services? You’re not alone. As the digital world permeates more and more aspects of our lifestyle, protecting our digital lives is more important than ever.
Researchers at Microsoft, Nokia, Philips and digital security company Gemalto recently announced the launch of a new initiative that aims to set out how consumers and businesses can do just that. Called Trust in Digital Life Partnership, their vision is to address “the fundamental societal issue of trust in new and emerging digital services.”
One of the founding members of Trust in Digital Life is Kim Cameron , chief architect of identity with the Identity and Security division at Microsoft. Mr. Cameron is a firm believer that the need to animate interest in the area of digital trust is key. In a recent Q&A interview with the Globe and Mail, Mr. Cameron outlines what steps need to be taken to secure digital identity.
The paper is being presented today as part of the User Interface Software and Technology conference, and identifies five different prototypes, each based on different sensor technologies. The devices also rely on different ergonomics, and in some cases enable different functions.
“A certain kind of techno-triumphalist may find this idea appealing, but I suspect that most of us will be slightly horrified. Do we really need a new and improved way to facilitate self-obsession? Don’t blogs and Twitter provide enough opportunity for recording the stultifyingly mundane? History is the history of people recording selected events in their own lives and in the lives of those around them, as well as their thoughts and emotions about those events. The key word is “selected”: Even the most logorrheic 19th-century letter-writer, with a busy postal service at his disposal, could preserve only a fraction of lived experience. Knowing what to record and what to discard has always been a key definition of smarts; having the capacity to record everything doesn’t necessarily change that. Total Recall promises to make us modern Montaignes but is more likely to turn us into virtual versions of Homer and Langley Collyer.”
“In a recent report “Social Science Meets Technology in Next-Generation Jobs,” Gartner Vice President Kathy Harris discusses in some detail four areas of jobs needed in the near future. Though she never really uses the words “social networks” the implication is that most companies aren’t really geared toward taking advantage of the impact of these online communities, and that the numbers will be too large to ignore, regardless of the business you are in.
The four areas detailed include:
- Web User Experience roles that include UI designers, virtual-assistant designers and interaction directors.
- Behavior Analysis roles that include Web psychologists, community designers, and Web/social network miners.
- Information Specialist roles that include information anthropologists who are expected to play historical Web fact finding and assisting in legal analysis, intellectual property management and where the quality of information is at risk.
- Digital Lifestyle Experts roles that include helping senior management understand whats going on and stay aware, and building personal brands and managing online personas for desired online effect.”
“Elsevier, the leading publisher of scientific, technical and medical information products and services, today announces the ‘Article of the Future’ project, an ongoing collaboration with the scientific community to redefine how a scientific article is presented online. The project takes full advantage of online capabilities, allowing readers individualized entry points and routes through content, while exploiting the latest advances in visualization techniques.
The Article of the Future launches its first prototypes this week, revealing a new approach to presenting scientific research online. The key feature of the prototypes is a hierarchical presentation of text and figures so that readers can elect to drill down through the layers based on their current task in the scientific workflow and their level of expertise and interest. This organizational structure is a significant departure from the linear-based organization of a traditional print-based article in incorporating the core text and supplemental material within a single unified structure. [...]
The prototypes have been developed by the editorial, production and IT teams at Cell Press in collaboration with Elsevier’s User Centered Design group using content from two previously published Cell articles. They can be viewed online where Elsevier and Cell Press are inviting feedback from the scientific community on the concepts and implementations. Successful ideas from this project will ultimately be rolled-out across Elsevier’s portfolio of 2,000 journals available on ScienceDirect.”
>> Read also this reflection by ReadWriteWeb on the matter