Digital Discrimination and Social Networks Conference

academia,events,internet,social networking — Tags: , , — Danica @ 9:55 pm, March 31, 2014

I recently had a chance to attend and participate at the ICUD International Conference: Digital Discrimination and Social Networks, that took place takes on March 13 and 14, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. The ICUD Project aims to Creatively Unveil hidden forms of Discrimination on the Internet, especially on social network sites such as Facebook, and provide practical tools to combat discrimination online. This project is co-funded by the European Union’s DG Justice: Fundamental Right and Citizenship programme.

It was a wonderful opportunity and space for interaction, discussion, learning and exchange of ideas and experiences: for social workers, academics, researchers, educators, Internet experts, NGOs, activists, and anyone interested in the issues surrounding discrimination on the Internet.

Complex topics like teen usage of Internet tools and social networks, racial discrimination, digital divides, network strategy against discrimination, hate speech, online gaming communities, LGBT issues, presence and representations of women online, youth and identity were discussed during the two-day conference.

Here is the abstract of my talk about the digital divide as a form of hidden discrimination:

Digital inequalities such as digital divides are a big issue in the information society, potentially influencing engagement in political, social, and educational life. They create marginalized, excluded groups who do not have access to the Internet, to information, or maybe to the necessary skills for using these devices (computers, mobile technology) and social applications. At some point, these people will not be able to engage fully in social, economic or political life.

Opening up the access to knowledge and its deployment in everyday work and education is crucial for producing the results and fostering the competences of the members of one’s society. Access to information is the key to an individual’s position in society. We are all participating on a daily basis in a networked world and we are the creators and the producers of the content online, all together in the same hyper-connected world where the issues and patterns of inclusion and exclusion need to be observed and addressed.

In this talk, digital inequalities on the internet will be explored from socio-technological and educational perspectives. There will be some interesting data and indications that beside the unequal access to the internet and computers, there is a social divide in regards of internet use, the lack of 21st century literacies, the knowledge gap, and communication and collaboration issues between two status groups: youngsters (students) and educators (professors) in higher education environment in the Balkan region. The importance of collaborative and participatory possibilities for bridging the digital divide will be discussed as they indicate a hidden form of discrimination.

The possibilities of internet usage and social media in the learning environment as a tool for collaboration and participation that encourages and fosters communication processes and decreases the widening gap will be discussed. There are communication and collaboration issues detected among professors and students. Main findings has revealed the three main factors of the digital divide, and there will be offered the possible recommendations about solutions which might lesson these divides.

The author will provide, beside web analysis and observations from the research, also qualitative data from semi-structured interviews with respondents from academic community on their internet usage, contributing input to determine the role and importance of the collaborative and participatory possibilities of social media and new literacies for bridging the digital gap.

Digital divides are not just about technology: the digital divide as a form of hidden discrimination from Danica Radovanovic

Addressing The Digital Divide: The Internet and Social Inequality in an International Perspective

academia,Serbia,World wide — Tags: , — Danica @ 11:55 am, June 12, 2013

 

I first started working on issues and research related to digital inequalities in an internet perspective two years ago. The research holds both theoretical and empirical implications of the digital divide in the Balkans, South Eastern Europe. With the help of colleagues Massimo Ragnedda  (Northumbria University, UK) and Glenn W. Muschert (Miami University, USA), who were a pleasure to work with, I teamed up with them as editors, and conducted research which has now been published as a book chapter on the digital divide and social media in the monographic publication, by Routledge.

I am pleased to say that the book, ‘The Digital Divide: The Internet and Social Inequality in International Perspective’, has now been published; my own modest contribution is the fourth chapter. The volume looks great and I had the honour to collaborate with a wonderful team of scholars world wide, addressing the issue of the digital divide from various demographic and socio-economic factors, as well as how the infrastructure, products, and services affect the way the internet is used and accessed. Since I was examining the digital divide in the internet from a sociotechnological and educational perspective, I warmly recommend it to any who explore social media and collaboration in higher education systems.

This book provides an in-depth comparative analysis on the international level of inequality and the stratification of the digital sphere. More information about this book, alongside availability, can be obtained directly from Routledge.

Connecting the Quantum Dots

academia,Science,technology,World wide — Danica @ 12:31 pm, February 25, 2013

(This post was originally written for Australian Science)

Last week, after I spent a couple of days in Brest, Brittany at a ESF, EU workshop/seminar brainstorming with other internet and scientific researchers on interesting topics related to  internet science and innovation,  I got myself back to Paris. I visited a French national institute with an international reputation for  scientific excellence - ESPCI (École supérieure de physique et de chimie industrielles) and the CNRS department of Physics, Quantum Foundations – a group dedicated to  research on quantum effects in materials. Also, I took the opportunity to meet up with two Australian Science writers who reside in Paris: Rayna, and Charles.

ESPCI Paris Tech stands for Physics and Chemistry Higher Educational Institution (a French “Grande École d’ingénieurs”). Founded in 1882, ESPCI is a major institution of higher education – an internationally renowned research center, gathering  leading scientific innovators like Nobel Prize laureates Pierre and Marie Curie, Paul Langevin, Frédéric Joliot-Curie, Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, and Georges Charpak.

ESPCI ParisTech

ESPCI ParisTech

At ESPCI, I met with Arjen Dijksman, a physicist and researcher interested in tiny semiconductive nanoparticles, known as “quantum dots”. His background is in applied physics, and his research interests are focused on time-resolved spectroscopy of core-shell CdSe-CdS quantum dots. Arjen works at the Laboratoire de Physique et d’Étude des Matériaux − (Department of Physics and Materials Study) – an inspiring and interesting lab, and a place for the scientist interested in these innovative fields of physics.  Arjen is also a science blogger at Physics Intuitions, and you may not know the fact that Arjen is also the scientific database creator for Physics Quote of the Day: hashtag on Twitter #xsw (exploring the scientific world), he spent years collecting interesting quotes from famous scientists.

Before going to the lab, we stopped by ESPGG  – the  Pierre-Gilles de Gennes center, where science meets culture and society.  This open place is promoting international exchanges, meetings, lectures, exhibitions, and joint discussions between researchers, science communicators, journalists, artists, and storytellers interested in science and culture. Matteo Merzagora, a program director, introduced us to the Biophilia Education program happening this month: workshops led by musician Björk at the intersection between science, education and musical awakening.

IMG_5087

Pierre-Gilles de Gennes center, Paris

During the lab tour, Arjen showed me the labs and demonstrated synthesis of Quantum Dots. Arjen’s research puts into practice the results of quantum mechanics using semiconductor nanocrystals. To the contrary of insulators, in which electric current can not flow, and conductors, where it can circulate easily, semiconductors are materials in which  current can only flow if one adds a little extra energy.

In his laboratory, Arjen synthesizes these crystals, dubbed  quantum dots . They are sometimes called “artificial atoms” because their diameter is of the order of a few nanometers – the size of a few atoms. Cadmium selenide, a semiconductor material, is often used because in that case, they show amazing properties of fluorescence. In particular, electrons are confined in the small volume of the quantum dots. They are unable to move out of this space. (more…)

Urban informatics and new opportunities for interdisciplinary exchange

As an internet researcher and social media consultant, I ask some of the guests of the Australian Science magazine and knowledge network to tell me and my readers more about themselves, their current projects, and their views on topics including internet technology, the use of the Web in science and education, and certain aspects of the digital technologies that influence our everyday lives and work. You can see the published interviews so far - here.   Earlier this month I had a conversation with Marcus Foth, the interview is published for Australian Science.

Marcus Foth is an Associate Professor and Director of the Urban Informatics Research Lab, as well as the Principal Research Fellow at the School of Design, Queensland University of Technology. He has authored and co-authored over 90 articles published in journals, edited books, and conference proceedings, as well as the Urban Informatics web site. You can follow him on Twitter.

Welcome to Australian Science. Would you, please, tell our readers a little bit more about yourself? Where do you come from, both geographically and philosophically? What is your scientific background, and your professional scope? 

Certainly. I was born and grew up in the Northern part of Germany, in a town called Lübeck, at the coast of the Baltic Sea, about an hour from Hamburg. After high school I moved what appears to be as far away diagonally as possible within Germany in order to commence a computer science degree at the University of Furtwangen in the Black Forest that offered a – at the time – unique specialisation: Medieninformatik which combined technology applications and media studies. This was in 1997. The internet was just starting to become commercially successful, and many current students were still working on kiosk installations and multimedia CD-ROMs which were the latest fad at the time.

This degree program included two industry internships as well as an opportunity to study abroad. Together with friends of mine we looked at a number of options and eventually applied for advanced standing into the Bachelor of Multimedia program at Griffith University in Brisbane where we continued our studies in 2000. Due to the credit transfer, we were able to graduate at the end of 2000. This was my first year in Australia, and I had an amazing time. So much so that I decided to take advantage of a Government initiative that made it easier for recent IT graduates to apply for permanent residency. I was also lucky that my application was processed very rapidly: I applied in March 2001 and returned to Brisbane in July 2001 on my PR visa.

I had finished all my coursework for the German CompSc degree, and all that was left to do was the graduation thesis. In the meantime, I enrolled into a Master of Arts in Digital Media program at Queensland University of Technology which was flexible enough to comprise project units that allowed me to write my thesis “Backing up the Smart State: E-Security in Queensland’s Small and Medium Enterprises.” This way I was able to graduate in 2002 with the CompSc Honours degree from Germany and an MA from QUT at the same time with only one extra year of studies.

QUT offered a great and dynamic environment. I was not part of the Faculty of IT, but the newly formed Creative Industries Faculty. So I was surrounded by colleagues from very different disciplinary backgrounds such as, anthropology, cultural studies, media and communications, visual arts, film and TV, music, communication design, etc. It was a stimulating environment to be part of, and I happily accepted the faculty’s generous offer to fund a scholarship to enable me to do my PhD with them.

This journey spanned already two very broad areas: technology (the computer science and multimedia parts) and people (the media and communication and creative arts parts). During my PhD studies I added a third area of great interest to me, that is, place. At a time when the internet was heralded as the death of distance, and policy makers and commercial entities were promoting telework, e-commerce, and distant education, I went quite the opposite way by suggesting that ‘place still matters’. My PhD thesis “Towards a Design Methodology to Support Social Networks of Residents in Inner-City Apartment Buildings” looked at the way that web-enabled technologies could be useful for local communication and interaction within community networks.

My PhD studies formed the headstone for the next couple of years: Right after graduating I was part of a great team of academics across media and communication studies, urban sociology, and architecture that won a three year Discovery grant from the

Australian Research Council including an Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship that supported my research between 2006 and 2008. We were successful with an additional two ARC Linkage grants the following year, and I spent some time at the Oxford Internet Institute as a Visiting Fellow in 2007. So these successes tremendously helped to build up momentum around what I eventually started to call urban informatics. However, this term is not my invention, it just seemed the most appropriate one.

Would you explain to our readers a bit about the Urban Informatics Research Lab, for those in the science and technology who may not be familiar with the Lab? Can you give us a story about the inception, history, work and achievements of the Urban Informatics Research Lab?

The Urban Informatics Research Lab was initially just a small but growing group of research staff and students working on a number of related grants funded by the ARC and partner organisations. This was back in 2006, and for a while we flew under the radar of the university’s administration winning research grants and squirrelling research papers.

The lab operates across the three domains that I mentioned earlier: people, place and technology, and so we house post-docs and research students from a variety of backgrounds: humanities and social science; urban planning, design and architecture; and human-computer interaction, information technology and computer science. What binds us all together is the shared focus on the nexus of all three areas. We came up with this definition of Urban Informatics that we are proud to say, was published in the CSCW 2011 proceedings on page 1. The fact that the paper appears on page 1 is actually arbitrary, but I still like to point it out ;-)

Urban informatics is the study, design, and practice of urban experiences across different urban contexts that are created by new opportunities of real-time, ubiquitous technology and the augmentation that mediates the physical and digital layers of people networks and urban infrastructures. (Foth, Choi, & Satchell, 2011).

A main driver of our work is the motivation to deliver not just rigorous research but also real world impact. We first started off with a study that significantly shaped the social sustainability strategies of the Kelvin Grove Urban Village, the Queensland Government’s flagship urban renewal project in inner-city Brisbane. The lab has also produced a number of technology innovations, such as CityFlocks – an early mobile location-based recommender system, DispoMaps – an iPhone app to temporarily share a map with your location details with others and then dispose of it safely, FixVegas – a mobile app that lets you take a photo of city assets and street furniture that require repair and submit a maintenance request to the local council, CapitalMusic – a mobile app to visually share what music you are currently listening to with people in your vicinity, and Discussions in Space – a hybrid mobile phone and public screen application that allows passersby to contribute content via SMS or tweets.

Can you share with us some personal notes regarding the Urban Informatics Research Lab, any challenges you faced along the way, and the outcome?

In the beginning our lab heavily depended on income from national competitive grants and we were lucky that the time was right for the research that we applied for. We still compete for national competitive grants, but we are also increasingly talking directly with partner organisations from the public and private sector about new research opportunities.

At the moment, we have research programs looking at urban planning and community engagement; environmenal sustainability and energy monitoring; food culture and the food interactions in the city; libraries as new hubs for digital culture and social innovation; and there are a number of applications in the pipeline and on the boil that may add new initiatives to the lab later this year and early next year.

Recently, the Urban Informatics Research Lab won the merit award in the R&D category at the iAwards QLD 2012 . Congratulations on the award! Can you describe the R&D project in particular? 

Thank you. Yes, the iAward was for Discussions in Space. We used it as a community engagement tool originally for a project with Brisbane City Council, but it has now been used successfully in a variety of other contexts, too, such as at Federation Square in Melbourne. In collaboration with FedSquare, Discussions in Space is used to engage with visitors during events such as Oprah’s visit, New Years Eve, Cadel Evans’ Tour de France victory parade, the Queen’s Royal Visit, and Thoughts for Molly Meldrum.

We are very pleased that Dr Ronald Schroeter’s excellent work on Discussions in Space has been recognised as the 2012 iAwards National Merit Recipient in the (more…)

Small talk in the Digital Age: Making Sense of Phatic Posts

The World Wide Web 2012 conference has started, and I have presented earlier his morning after the keynote talk: Greg Ver Steeg - Information Theoretic Tools for Social Media. I talked about small talk, phatic communication and its functions, and online communication dynamics. How tweets and mundane Facebook updates about weather, food, what you’re doing, where are you doing, and how – are actually healthy for the online communities, human relationships, and sustaining social network systems. I provided plenty of interesting examples (see some of the slides), and had nice and inspiring questions from the audience.

You can read the paper in CEUR online database; I would be happy to read your thoughts and comments here. Check out the paper (pdf), it is available for downloading and reading as part of CEUR Vol-838.

Find my slides uploaded on a SlideShare.

WWW2012 and Phatic Posts: Even the Small Talk Can Be Big

Brief information for those coming to WWW2012 – you can check the programme. On Monday I will be presenting at ”Making Sense of Microposts”#MSM2012 workshop.  For others – please take a look at the article I wrote for the Scientific American on better understanding the phatic element of communication as applied to online discourse and networked connectivity.

Phatic Posts: Even the Small Talk Can Be Big  

Social media and micro-blogging have been fascinating to me ever since I first encountered them. In the last 3-4 years there has been an enormous growth in social network sites and in the numbers of people using them, especially on the two most popular services, Facebook and Twitter.

That fascination grew to become a doctoral research focus that has explored the different forms of communication dynamics being formed online. I was, in particular, curious why people post trivial, mundane updates and messages to each other – a behavior I have come to term “phatic posts”. It’s not just young people, but also professionals from different walks of life as well as internet researchers, including myself.

I used to tweet from the airplane before taking off, or being alone at the airport at 5am checking into Twitter to see if anyone’s awake in “my time zone’’, or logging in to my Flickr account to see if someone commented on my latest photography. I was not the only one engaging in such behavior; au contraire, many internet researchers and geeky people I know would demonstrate similar patterns of (more…)

Phatic Communication, or why the little things in social media really matter

I’m very pleased to say that my paper for The World Wide Web 2012 #WWW12 conference got accepted. It is on the phatic aspects of communication in an online sphere. Phatic communication expressions – a concept developed by the anthropologyst Malinowski and expanded on by the linguist Jakobson – denote brief, non dialogue and non-informational discussion or communication exchanges that can also be in the form of different types of signals.

However, in the paper I am arguing that the stuff you think is pointless and does not have a practical information value - your posts on Facebook and Twitter, the likes, the pokes and the tweets about food, weather, the mundane brief status updates – all turn out to have a vital role and social value  that even merits a new phrase – “phatic-posts”  - which the paper coins.

These phatic posts deliver values of staying up-to-date with a micro and macro world of events and news, flirting, chat and public expressions of everyday life and emotions among the participants. The paper explains multiple effects of phatic posts: social, validation, conflict-avoidance, and others. I won’t reveal everything now.

The paper will be published in the ACM SIG proceedings, and if you are curious this Wordle has a summary of (more…)

Connectivity Doesn’t End the Digital Divide, Skills Do #social_media

I wrote an article at the Scientific American blog highlighting digital divides – or digital inequalities, if you prefer – from other perspective, pointing out that these digital divides go far beyond pure infrastructure issues and need to become a key focus of engagement for profit and nonprofit organizations as they continue their missions to develop programs for social and digital inclusion.

Everyone’s talking about internet access: from European media to US media, stressing connectivity issues that merely compounding existing social inequalities as “new digital divides”, as if they are something new in the networked society. They are not.

According to the available measures, the selected indicators (such as gender, income, occupation, online experience, internet penetration, type of internet connection, etc.) are significantly related to the levels of (one’s country) per capita GDP, literacies, education, level of democratization, etc.  Being as one of the contributors for the forthcoming Routledge book on Digital Divide, I have presented some of the findings from my research, where I used the combined methodology: from web desktop analysis to online surveys and qualitative semi-structured interviews (N-125).
(more…)

The Internet and Social inequality: social media and digital divide

This is a post on what I was working on in the last few weeks, writing a book chapter for the great edition on the Internet and digital inequalities in International perspective including International contributors, and submitting some other papers on social networks and communication dynamics online.

Since many of you asked me on Twitter, email, Skype what the book chapter is about – I wanted to share with you a piece of it (the book is supposed to be published next year). It is individual work that is the result of several years of experience, qualitative research (semi-structured interviews), observations, recent talking and writing on different kinds of digital and social divides, social media and communication practices present on the Internet, and recently measured by quantiative (online surveys) and qualitative (semi-structured interviews, web desktop analysis, observation, etc.) research of mine. In short my focus for this book was on Internet and social media in European perspective – Balkan countries. My manuscript is theoretically grounded on social theories developed by the classical sociologists like Max Weber, Giddens, Meyorwitz and I applied them to the issues of Internet inequality.  (more…)

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