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[scs2007] first sessions

I’m at the Microsoft Research Social Computing Seminar. It’s a fantastic group of attendees. Liz Lawley does the intro, followed by Lili Cheng. We hear a little about Social Genius.

We go around the room saying who we are and what we’re interested in. There are about 60 of us here, I think.

Now Matt Biddulph of is talking about how to make presence fuzzy. Dopplr lets you see which of your friends are going to be in a city. But why not be able to control the size of the range? So there’s a slider.

Tom Coates (who is hilarious on the back channel) is working on a project code-named Fire Eagle at Yahoo’s Brickhouse. He talks about presence as making you visible and comprehensible not just to other people but to software that could do yet more with it. You can tell Fire Eagle your location via SMS, other apps, etc. E.g., you could map all the Twitter tweets. You could use your phone to look for groups. You could automatically geotag your blogs posts or flickr photos. Tom now talks about protecting against abuse of this info. In addition to the opt outs, you can create “special places” that are off the map, so to speak.

Gilad Lotan talks about presence and objects. He likes to embed conective technology into objects. E.g., he built “imPulse” tha transfers heartbeats through a wall. The next version was wireless. When two of these pods are in the same room, they talk to each other. Likewise, he did a touch project for the Kotel. Ubi.ach (say it aloud) “takes email away from the screen.” It’s a doll that blinks when you get new email. A street exhibit in Jerusalem shows some of the missiles fired at Israel embedded in ordinary scenes. Another of Gilad’s projects creates Tibetan prayer wheels controlled by images from news feeds. Overall: Four points on presence: Connection through intimacy, range of immediacy, culture and context, and importance of the tangible.

danah boyd talks about social networking site as “networked publics” (in the Habermasian sense). They are spaces within which collections of people exist, through mediating tools. Hannah Arendt said that the presence of others assures of the reality of the world around us. Mobile phones create social spaces for teens — an always-on intimate community. [sorry, this is coming out far more disjointed than the actual presentation.] When you write, you write for an imagined audience, a public that your writing creates. Socnets do this for groups of friends/acquaintances. For teens, at socnets you display that you’re engaged in a relationship before you actually are; they’re ways of marking relationships. The intended audience is the social network. danah shows two photos of teenagers kissing by the juxtaposition (“juxtapokissin'”?) of the photos; this is because it’s so hard for teenagers to find real world public spaces. She points to the traces of relationships in the real world in which we can see time and the aging of the relationships. [Tags: scs2007 social_networks microsoft_research berkman ]

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