Graffiti of Otaku Generation

I think the title of this post (directly taken from a GAINAX animated movie released in the 80s) absolutely covers the idea of SocialTexting !!!

The topic of social navigation takes into account the very concept of Schelling Point. It is an essential element of every city’s life (for instance : time square in new york) coined by sociologist Thomas Schelling. When there is an advantage in coordinating, but people can’t communicate, how can they coordinate? A Schelling point is a solution that people will tend to converge on in the absence of communication, because it seems natural or ‘special’ to them.

The topic of SocialNav is linked to urban planning. I should read Akira Suzuki, ‘Do Android Crows Fly Over the Skies of an Electronic Tokyo?’ but this book is really hard to find… This books explains and analyzes how new mobile technologies re-shape today’s (as well as tomorrow’s) cities. Tokyo is presented as an example (Is Japan still the future ? asked Wired one year ago, I would say yes…


Yesterday was the inauguration of CRAFT (Centre de Recherche et de d’Appui à la Formation et ses Technologies, Center for Research on Education and its Technologies), the new epfl lab directed by Pierre Dillenbourg, my phD director.

I’ve met interesting people, in various fields like architects or urban planners as well as guys from the Etat de Vaud who were obvioulsy looking for consulting about mobiles devices and integrated classrooms.

I realized that I should develop my own philosophy about educational technologies. So far, I propose two tracks (two “lignes de fuite” would say Gille Deleuze):

– superhigh tech stuff : beyond the desktop/laptop computers there exists a wide range of new devices : logitech I/O pen, PDA, mobile phone (the new device pupils should have after a calculator), tablet PCs, wristwatches… Thanks to that kind of devices, artefacts become more and more pervasive/invisble/transparent (from the user point of view). This is termed “calm technology”.
– low tech devices : I am convinced that pedagogical scenario that considers old devices could be imagined (cf. bruce sterling’s dead media project)

Today's todolist :)

Gosh ! here’s the first to do list… another use of a blog I should add to the list posted yesterday !

– Write something about social navigation (a quick’n dirty state-of-the-art)
– Write a paper for CRIWG’2003 !
– Meet Pr Edoerda Charbon on tuesday (at Pearl Pu’s course), introduce myself and talk to him about possible collaboration
– Find possible use of his context-aware technologies for collaboration

invent the future classroom’s killer app !!!!

Social Navigation

The book “Social Navigation of Information Space”, outcome of a HCI workshop, gather contributions about the very topic of socialnav. I’ve only read the introduction but it appears to be a relevant reference.

SocialNav starts from the idea that “when people need information, they will often turn to other people rather than use more formalised information artefacts” (e.g. asking people for advice when lost in a city instead of studying a map). Studies on how people followed crowd are also an influence (’Follow the leader’ to bagage claim )
Continue reading Social Navigation

Misc stuff about mobile devices

I’ve just read an article about the SPV Phone (Orange and Krosoft). It explains why they locked the cell phone so that people cannot run any freeware software, but only software developed by Orange (or under orange license). It’s a shame, and their reasons are quite amazing : they locked it “because they can” and to protect users from malevolent software. The underlying reason is more because they want to earn money (developers have to buy a license :).

By the way, Frogdesign‘s new products are so sexy !!!!

The Aula community in Helsinki is more and more attractive. Being a member of the Aula community (you gotta pay a fee from 35 to 150 euros) allow you to own a share of the Aula cooperative, to use Aula’s infrastructure to organise and advertise your own projects and to access the Aula Web community and its special interests groups. This comunity is involved in various projects concerning wireless/smart mobs activities : a bunch of art/tech mix things really cool to my opinion 🙂
The wide range of aula’s projects concerns awareness of others (hunaja), new types of interactions (Cooltown and so on. Gosh those guys from finland are really innovative, it’s so rocket-science !

Why using a blog ?

After an interesting discussion with fabien and dks about weblogs, I’ve read an article concering this trend.

Weblogs serve several functions :
– selection of material: by reading some specialist’s posts you can select relevant information.
– personal knowledge management : the blog is an “outboard brain” according to Cory Doctorrow, this stance is consistant with the distributed cognition framework : the tool (e.g. the weblog) should be considered as a part of a cognitive system.
– an opportunity for social networking (between editors and readers, and readers could also be editors of their own blog).

I should read more about content syndication and social networking tools 🙂

Anyway, the observation of particular clique (i.e. a kind of bloggers’ mob) is incredibly instructive in the sense that it’s today’s form of on-line communities, fifteen years after the BBS or minitel stuff. Of course bingirl’s blog is an interesting starting point for french readers…

Augmenting socio-cognitive interactions

I’ve found notes I’ve written when attending a talk by my phD director. I put it here since it could be seen as a framework for my phD.

1. Communication tools fulfill cognitive fonctions :

Group memory : a chat, for instance, keep an history of the conversations, the questions asked… An email is a also a part of a cognitive system and not only a link between two persons. A whiteboard enable participants to have a joint understanding of the problem. The wire can play a role in solving the problem. For instance, in a chat you can scroll back to read the questions asked by the participants and answers to them sequentially (wheras in oral conversation, one cannot say “yes, no, yes) to three questions asked by three different adressees.
Storing the context : masters thesis Ott, 1999
Group mirrors : ArgueGraph : when one give a group a picture of itself, it triggers reactions. Jermann; Donath.
Awareness tools : mutual modelling
Interaction analysis  …

2. Distributed cognitive systems : the group members and the tools constitutes ONE cognitive systems : shared memory, shared cognitive load, … group metacognition.

3. Mediated communication is a substance : people interact with each other and we can do something with it.

4. Learning science needs computer science. Our approach : model/hypotheses + design/build + test/analyze (empirical studies)

Virtual Communities and social network

I am just entering the field of research concerning virtual communities (gathering of geographically dispersed people with common interests and activities) and other social considerations. My interest towards this area is quite old : from minitel stuff at the end of the 80’s till the discover of the www in 1995. At that time I haven’t thought I would study socio-cognitive things about those topics !

Howard Rheingold’s book, The Virtual Communitiesis available on-line. Even though it’s a bit old (1993), it’s a good starting point. The problem with that vision (and often with Rheingold’s book) is that there is no discussion about people who don’t (and NEVER) use this kind of technology. I think the guy is far too optimistic…

However, I still believe it’s an interesting field of research I would like to step into 🙂 All those technological widgets needs an evaluation (from a social and cognitive point of view).

Amy Jo Kim’s book “Community building on the web” seems to be a must-read for people who looks for on-line community builders. It also appears that she is writing a similar book concerning social architectures for networked video games.

Rheingold’s last book – Smart Mobs focuses on mobile collaborative “clique”. He defines a smart mob as “people who are able to act in concert even if they don’t know each other. The people who make up smart mobs cooperate in ways never before possible because they carry devices that possess both communication and computing capabilities”

The book covers his experience watching smart mobs in Tokyo or Stockholm as well as the threats of location-based technologies (is it Foucault’s always-on panotpicon ? or just a cooperation amplifier ?). The link he made to Foucault’s Surveiller et Punir is very relevant. I gotta use that kind of stuff too for the limit of my phD. It’s cleat that my work needs contextualising, for instance literature about social interaction and awareness (e.g. Erving Goffman, Deirdre Boden, Christian Heath)

Another corollary area is also Social-Network Mapping Tools : all those visualizing stuff seems attracting. I should ask Yvan to show me his work as well as what Patrick did for his phD.

Memo about my research

After having focused on the cognitive impacts of awareness tools in a collaborative video-game, my phD will adress the question of the social and cognitive effects of context-awareness tools in collaborative mobile activities. I have to find a joint activity where users are engaged in joint tasks that require collaboration and mobility. I am considering using geological field studies. Last week, I met a guy at ENS Lyon named Vincent Lignier who is a sedmentologist. He explained me briefly how they work (actually I know this sort of thing since I have a degree in biology/geology) taking the example of a mission he participated in. This conversation was very interesting since there it seems to be a niche for the use of social navigation.

Continue reading Memo about my research

First entry about Pierre la Police !!!

I finally decide to move from my low-tech html page to a database-linked blog generator (movable type as a matter of fact), blog for real ! I had begun to feel some frustration with html I think… so, let’s use one of those ready-steady tools for making weblogs…

This ain’t a warblog but a kind of misceallenous repository for my stuff 🙂
Sometimes I will switch to french if I am too lazy. I warn you guys.

This log covers my thoughts on lots of think concerning my research as well as personal thought about hot (or weird) topics and cultural likes/dislikes. My connections to Sesame Street or Teletubbies addicts won’t be mentionned at all 🙂

Last week-end I was clearly mesmerized by the absolutely great french comics writer Pierre la Police. I don’t know whether lots of people like this kind of humour (I don’t think so actually) but he’s of my favourite author at the moment : rather than irony, the absurd dialogues combined to awfull drawings make me laugh out loud. His parody of american super-heros (the two mutant brothers) who lived in an absurd word where people can die as well as turning into plastic (or melt dehydrate or loose one’s ass or…) are incredible ! And terrific design though.
Continue reading First entry about Pierre la Police !!!