This week I’ve been preparing a presentation for a “career day” meeting with psychology majors. Here is an outline of my thoughts at this stage.
From the perspective of a psychologist, digital technology is a giant, uncontrolled, psychology experiment. Over the years, I have found many topics that are not only technically challenging, but have profound implications and interest for Psychology. I really wish more psychologists would get involved.
Virtual worlds – Distributed Virtual Worlds, such as Second Life, World of Warcraft, etc. are arenas in which people live significant portions of their life. These worlds have real economies, and real cultures, though they are based on novel technical mechanisms.
As Castranova points out, people are “migrating” to these worlds, because they perceive they will have a better life there.
Castranova, E. (2005). Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games. Chicago: University of Chicago.
Castranova, E. (2007). Exodus to the Virtual World: How Online Fun is Changing Reality. New York: Palgrave Macmillen.
Social media – The explosion of social media raises a plethora of issues surrounding identity and social interaction.
To give a flavor of interesting research in this area, consider Gershon’s work on “Breakup 2.0” (Gershon, 2010).. She examines a snap shot of emerging social norms about “proper” use of social media in maintaining and specifically ending relationships. These activities have been going on as long as humans have existed, and today there are many new choices for communicating.
These norms are rapidly evolving. How are various digital media to be used in relationships, dating, breakups, and so on? When you break up with someone, is it important to talk in person? On the phone? Via text message? Via email? Via a change in status, fto “single”? What about telling your friends about the event?
Gershon, I. (2010). The Breakup 2.0: Disconnecting over New Media. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Virtual organizations –
Networked digital systems enable new forms of collaboration and organization, unconstrained by distance or physical infrastructure.
Digital networks enable sharing of documents, software, and data; live communication; and collaborative production. These technologies were developed in the context of large-scale scientific collaborations and have now become ubiquitous.
Many types of organizations have adopted these technologies, with the goal to enhance existing organizations, as well as creating new, wholly virtual organizations.
Virtual organizations (one of many related terms) have many purported benefits, including low-cost, geographic dispersal, and flexibility. However, achieving the benefits is not automatic, and deploying the same technology in different situations can produce significantly different results.
It is now recognized that social and psychological issues are critical in the successful to creation, growth, and sustainance of virtual organizations.
National Science Foundation has a program “Virtual Organizations as Sociotechnical Systems (VOSS) http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=503256
Olson, G. M., Zimmerman, A., & Bos, N. (2008). Scientific collaboration on the Internet. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Alternate Reality Games –
Computer games have emerged as a new medium for social interaction within the bounds of a story. Games are very interesting for psychologists, not least because within a game, people learn complex skills, form teams, and work hard at complex tasks—and pay for the opportunity to do so.
One intriguing variant is “Alternate Reality Games” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternate_reality_game). Some people see this a new, better way to organize society, For example, McGonigal is a leading practitioner and advocate; the title of her recent book gives you the idea: Reality is broken : why games make us better and how they can change the world. There is also a community web site, AKA “the secret hideout” (gameful.org, 2012).
Kim, J. Y., Allen, J. P., & Lee, E. (2008). Alternate Reality Gaming. Communications of the ACM, 51(2), 36-42.
There are many interesting examples.
McGonigal, J. (2011). Reality is broken : why games make us better and how they can change the world. New York: Penguin Press.
http://gameful.org (I’m not sure this is really working.)
Virtual, Augmented, Mixed Reality – Digital systems have enabled whole new types of interactive media for communication, including Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality. These media raise fundamental questions about human perception, but also offer rich opportunities for experimentation. Good foundational textbooks: (Craig, Sherman, & Will, 2009; Sherman & Craig, 2003) .
These media are becoming widely used for industrial training and advertising. How should they best be used?
Digital sensing and realtime data analysis –
Contemporary sensors and data analysis enable a number of radical interactive experiences.
Observing behavior — extremely fine grained observations of human behavior in real life settings, including what is done, where, and with whom. This opens the way to unprecedented new understandings of human behavior. E.g., see Sandy Pentland’s work.
Pentland, A. (2008). Honest signals : how they shape our world. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Whole Body Interface, Embodied Computing – totally new interactive interfaces are possible beyond the Windows-Icon-Menu-Pointer (WIMP) paradigm. Can we interact with a computer or other people via computer, through gesture, dance, music?
England, D. (2011). Whole Body Interaction: An Introduction. In D. England (Ed.), Whole Body Interaction (pp. 1-5). London: Springer.
Pietrowicz, M., McGrath, R. E., Garnett, G., & Toenjes, J. (2010). Multimodal Gestural Interaction in Performance. Paper presented at the Whole Body Interfaces Workshop at CHI 2010, Atlanta. http://lister.cms.livjm.ac.uk/homepage/staff/cmsdengl/WBI2010/documents2010/Pietrowicz.pdf
Schiphorst, T. (2009a). Body Matters: The Palpability of Invisible Computing. Leonardo, 42(3), 225-230.
Van Laerhoven, K., & Cakmacki, O. (2000, October 16-17). What shall we teach our pants? Paper presented at the Fourth International Symposium on Wearable Computers, Atlanta.
Immersive and Telematic art – This technology is now in the hands of performing artists, and challenge existing aesthetics and practice—artists must now create new approaches to music, dance, theater.
Schiphorst, T. (2009b). soft(n): toward a somaesthetics of touch. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 27th international conference extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems, Boston, MA, USA.
Smith, B. D. (2011). Telematic Composition. (Ph.D. Dissertation), University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Urbana.
Digital fabrication is now available at low cost the means of production in the hands of everyone, e.g, see (Gershenfeld, 2005). This is as much a social movement as a technological one. It has been ballyhooed as the “Industrial Revolution 2.0”, and certainly has many potential implications for economics, design, and manufacturing. It also has significant implications for personal agency—learning how to make it yourself is profoundly liberating.
Gershenfeld, N. (2005). Fab: The Coming Revolution OnYour Desktop-From Personal Computing to Personal Fabrication. New York: Basic Books .
Mota, C. (2011). The Rise of Personal Fabrication. Paper presented at the Creativity & Cognition, Atlanta.
In my local town:
Fab Lab: http://cucfablab.org
Maker space: http://www.cuvolunteer.org/organizations/profile/381).
Cross species interfaces – Contemporary computer technology enables us to create interfaces that can be used by non-humans (pets, domestic animals, who knows). E.g, we can play computer games with hamsters (Tan et al., 2008). Why would we want to do this? What are the implications for all participants? See reviews in (Mancini, 2011; McGrath, 2009).
Mancini, C. (2011). Animal-computer interaction: a manifesto. interactions, 18(4), 69-73. doi: 10.1145/1978822.1978836
McGrath, R. E. (2009). Species-appropriate computer mediated interaction. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 27th international conference extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems, Boston, MA, USA.
Tan, R. T. K. C., Cheok, A. D., Peiris, R., Todorovic, V., Loi, H. C., Loh, C. W., . . . Yio, E. Z. (2008). Metazoa Ludens: Mixed Reality Interactions and Play for Small Pets and Humans. Leonardo, 41(3), 308-309.