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…)

Making sense out of data: coding, creating, contributing

Ok,  here’s what I’ve been doing in the previous couple of weeks (among other things).  I cannot reveal it completely right now, just a little sneak-peak (see the snapshot). Beside e-resources and data I’ve been collecting, processing, and analysing, I’ve created a huge analogue map made out of more than 60 printed spreadsheets all over the office wall, and added some colour and cross-thematic coding. Now my creativity, the scientific story-telling, and writing is what I am challenging myself with in the next couple of weeks.

Many of you searched in the box up here on the site how to overcome digital divides, and what are digital divides present in social media now so I know there is also a lot of interest in those topics. Some of my work on this will be published early in December.  The book chapter I’ve contributed to the Routledge Advances in Sociology series will be published in May 2013.  The link to the forthcoming book is http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415525442/

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…)

Open Linked Data, Serendipity, and the Future of Web

Being a Semantic Web, Open Linked Data, Open Source enthusiast, and at some point the contributor to the AP for the FOAF and other metadata standards, recently I had an opportunity to talk with Kingsley Idehen on his current projects,  views on the use of the Web technologies, Open Linked Data,  WebID, serendipity, and certain aspects of the Internet that influence our everyday lives. The interview is published for Australian Science.

Kingsley Idehen is the Founder & CEO of OpenLink Software. He is a recognized technology enthusiast and expert in areas such as: Data Connectivity middleware, Linked Data, Data Integration, and Data Management.  He is also a founding member of DBpedia project via OpenLink Software. Kingsley’s  background is quite varied: he had planned to become a scientist in the genetic engineering realm but ended up being more fascinated by the power Information Technology and its potential to reshape mankind. From science, accounting, and programming, he followed his scientific instincts to architect OpenLinkVirtuoso, a powerful and innovative open source virtual database for SQL, XML, and Web services. The Virtuoso History page tells the whole story about Kingsley’s vision and accomplishments. You can follow him on Twitter and read his Google+ posts.

Would you explain to our readers a bit about the OpenLink Software, for those in the Web technology who may not be familiar with it? Can you give us a story about the inception, history, work and achievements of the OpenLink Software?

OpenLink Software develops, deploys, and supports bleeding edge technology covering the following realms:
1. Relational Database Connectivity Middleware — ODBC, JDBC, ADO.NET, OLE-DB, and XMLA Drivers/Providers
2. Disparate Data  Virtualization
3. Personal & Enterprise Collaboration
4. Relational Tables (RDBMS) and Relational Property Graph (Graph DB) based Database Management Systems
5. Federated Identity Management.

I founded OpenLink in 1992 with open database connectivity middleware supporting  all major RDBMS products as our focus. By 1998 we evolved our vision to include RDBMS virtualization, and by 2000 we decided that the Semantic Web technology stack provided all the critical standards that would enable us extend data virtualization to include other data sources and formats beyond the RDBMS.

OpenLink was initially associated with dispelling the performance myth that undermined the early promotion of the Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) standard from Microsoft. In the Semantic Web and Linked Data realms our Virtuoso hybrid data server underlies critical parts of the Linked Open Data cloud (starting with DBpedia which lies at the core) as well as offering the largest publicly accessible Linked Data space on the planet, against which anything (human or machine) can perform ad-hoc queries that drive lookups while also aiding the emergence of other Linked Data Spaces on the LOD cloud.
Naturally, our technologies are used extensively across enterprises worldwide due to performance, scalability, and security that underlies every item in our product portfolio.

Is there any existing tools and methodologies developed by either you or your team in the OpenLink Software or others that you would like to mention? 

* High-Performance ODBC Drivers for all the major RDBMS databases
* ODBC Drivers for the World Wide Web — yes, the World Wide Web of Linked Data (or LOD cloud) is exploitable and accessible to any ODBC, JDBC, ADO.NET, or OLE-DB compliant application
* Virtuoso — high-performance and massively scalable hybrid DBMS (relational tables and property graphs).
* Linked Data Middleware — that transform output from a plethora of Web 2.0 and SOA services into structured Linked Data
* URIBurner — a public instance of the middleware mentioned above that enables anyone transform existing data into Linked Data
* OpenLink Data Spaces — platform for enterprise and personal data spaces that includes in-built Federated Identity and sophisticated Linked Data functionality
* DBpedia — Linked Open Data Cloud nexus that runs on Virtuoso (re. Linked Data Deployment and Data Management).

Some useful links and downloads: ODBC Drivers for the World Wide WebVirtuoso Commercial EditionVirtuoso Open Source Edition,  Linked Data MiddlewareURIBurnerOpenLink Data Spaces, and DBpedia.

Do you collaborate with similar organisations/institutions worldwide in the field of the Open Linked Data? Would you tell us more about your involvement within the DBpedia project?

Yes, as demonstrated by DBpedia (Frei University and University of Leipzig), Sindice (DERI), and Bio2RDF(Carleton University and others).

Virtuoso is the Linked Data Publishing and Database Management system behind DBpedia. Net effect of Virtuoso is you have a massive collection of Linked Data derived from Wikipedia that’s available to the entire public. This instance enables you browser through pages that describe entities while also delivering ad-hoc query functionality via a Web Service that supports the SPARQL query language, results serialization formats, and HTTP based wire protocol.

In addition to providing the live instance, we also provide quality assurance, support and maintenance. Publishing and maintaining DBpedia is a challenge, and we even offer packages that enable others instantiate personal or service specific instances via Amazon EC2 AMIs (virtual machines).

DBpedia is basically germination of the seed planted by the Linked Data meme published by TimBL circa. 2005. In turn, DBpedia (more…)

Nikola Tesla and the magic of science

Science,technology,World wide — Tags: , — Danica @ 11:57 am, July 11, 2012

Science is but a perversion of itself unless it has as its ultimate goal the betterment of humanity – Nikola Tesla

One of the greatest people in the history of science, and the greatest inventor of the post industrial society, Nikola Tesla, is the visionary that many people have never even heard of or about his work. He could visualise the future inventions with the greatest facility. Numerous articles have been published, books have been written related to this magician of the science. There are many sources about this man who lit the world, and his developments.

Among many Tesla’s inventions,  the most relevant that influence directly our everyday life include: radio, wireless telegraphy, remote control, robotics. He even photographed the bones of the human body. But the high point was the realisation of a childhood dream: harnessing the raging powers of Niagara Falls, and bringing light to the city. Tesla has over 700 patents to his name: invented the World First AC Generator which led to electrical development and enlightment of the world. This high frequency high volatage electricity is used today in many communication devices.

Also, Tesla’s Wireless power System including certain devices is now considered to be an untouched method to transmit electrical current without wires. Extraterrastrial Radio Transmitter – Teslascope, radio transceiver designed with the intention of communicating with extraterrestrial life on other planets. It received publicity after Tesla’s statement on the device was published by Time magazine in their July 20, 1931 issue celebrating Tesla’s 75th birthday.

We should mention here Tesla’s Earthquake Machine invention that probably many people never heard of. This is an excerpt from the New York World Telegram, July 11, 1935:

“Nikola Tesla revealed that an earthquake which drew police and ambulances to the region of his laboratory at 48 E. Houston St., New York, in 1898, was the result of a little machine he was experimenting with at the time which “you could put in your overcoat pocket.” The bewildered newspapermen pounced upon this as at least one thing they could understand and Nikola Tesla, “the father of modern electricity” told what had happened as follows:

Tesla stated, “I was experimenting with vibrations. I had one of my machines going and I wanted to see if I could get it in tune with the vibration of the building. I put it up notch after notch. There was a peculiar cracking sound. I asked my assistants where did the sound come from. They did not know. I put the machine up a few more notches. There was a louder cracking sound. I knew I was approaching the vibration of the steel building. I pushed the machine a little higher. “Suddenly all the heavy machinery in the place was flying around. I grabbed a hammer and broke the machine. The building would have been about our ears in another few minutes. Outside in the street there was pandemonium. The police and ambulances arrived. I told my assistants to say nothing. We told the police it must have been an earthquake. That’s all they ever knew about it.”

Nikola Tesla – called “the greatest geek who ever lived“, was not only the physicist, electrical engineer, philosopher, futurologyst, genius who lit the world, but above all – the humanist who created for the mankind.

Check out this very interesting TED presentation of Marco Tempest, who combined the projection mapping and a pop-up book, visually telling the story of Nikola Tesla.

Image source.

Australian Science cross-post.

summer updates and the best ways to contact me

I have few announcements, and the ways on how you can contact/find me this summer:

-         Science Online 2013 last call for program suggestions. If you want to participate in ScienceOnline 2013, the 7th annual international meeting on Science and the Web next January, NC, USA, add your program suggestion at #scio13 wiki. If you like my proposal within the education track and want to join me to conduct the session together: Digital Divide in Education and Science: Bridging the Existing Gaps (scroll down to find) – please add your name/contact on the wiki page before July 1st 2012. I’d be glad to meet those of you interested in digital divides that go beyond pure technological issues/affordances and discuss it with a wider audience.

-          Australian Science contributions. If you’d like to contribute and join an international, multidisciplinary, wonderful group of science and tech bloggers, researchers, scholars, and write for Australian Science, you can contact me on my editor’s email: danica@australianscience.com.au.  Also, please read my note we published earlier this year, it will give you better idea and help you see if you fit.

-          Mentoring and replying to students’ emails and enquiries.  I am sorry that I can’t mentor and help students world wide on certain issues in academia, as a research or reference guide as I used to do so far, voluntarily, whenever I had time. The next few months will be brutal and I have to say ‘no’.  Also, you are welcome to quote from my blog or my publications and research whenever you like. Please, just cite it properly (you can use Google Scholar Citations) so that your professors or reviewers don’t think you’re plagiarizing.

-         Speaking/workshop/training gigs during the summer: I have to say ‘no’ since I am engaged with the project which is now my highest priority. You can contact my speaking/conference/events agent for the future events starting from October 2012, by using the contact form.

I am practicing saying ‘no’ for the sake of being free for future engagements this Fall. I hope you understand. It doesn’t mean that I’ll be hermiting all the time, though I often will. I am open for scheduled meet-ups, conversations, brainstorming sessions, chats (see below how to contact me). I’ll be writing mostly in my hideaway, out and about, in the green areas, or just going for a weekend escapades around Europe when I need a breather.

Of course, there are situations where you can always contact me: a) want to share something interesting that requires my attention from the Fall 2012, or some life/cultural/artistic/literature/book you read/ info or event that can distract me in a good way from the project, b) you want to blog and contribute for Australian science, and c) for conferences, workshops, events enquiries – send your email on my contact form on the web site.

I may also blog randomly when inspired. I may also randomly scribble on Google plus, and post on Tumblr. When I create there’s usually the silence but if you see my Last.fm overwhelmed with various tunes – it also denotes that I may be working or dancing around.

The best ways to find and contact me.

Here is the communication protocol I created. Before you read it you’ll notice that messengers, g-chat, etc. are missing. Have in mind that I avoid IM/text messaging, especially, in the next couple of months due to work overload, and preserving my wrists from RSI. I rather use voice/email for non/formal communication. OK, here are the best ways to contact and find me (the URL of the protocol can be found here as well):

Email. If you want to share information, make a specific request, converse and meditate on some topic – email is the best way on the internet to contact me. Both professional and personal. I like to receive and read e-motion in my mailbox. I may not reply right away depending on the overload-ness for that day/week, but certainly you’ll get the reply. And vice versa – if I happen to check my email, I may respond right away.

Twitter. If you can’t email me, sending a reply or a direct message on Twitter is the best online tool for quick and concise information online, usually non formal and professionally related. I also exchange direct messages with friends and colleagues on my private account.

SMS. If you can’t email me, and don’t use Twitter – you can sms me. I usually prefer to receive sms before calling, whether friends and family or colleagues.

Phone. I may be an old fashioned gal, but I still use and converse via phone. If you are a colleague or professional partner, you can check my availability via email or sms, and we can arrange an appointment. Friends and family can call me anytime especially if there’s an urgent request or you simply need to chat with me.

SKYPE. If you can’t call me: I use Skype for professional, academic, and consulting purposes, as well as for the communication with colleagues. I avoid to use IM on Skype for a small talk, instead I prefer voice/audio chat-conversation with friends and colleagues, and/or video call (if we have an appointment, and I’m not in my PJs). I like Skype since I maintain most of my professional and friends contacts there, beside an email and phone.

Face-to-Face communication. If you can’t Skype with me: I do love meetings, tweet-ups, rendez-vous, brainstorming, coffee/tea/lunch breaks, etc. – in person! Due to living at different places and countries or travel for business and pleasure; planning (more…)

Highlights from The World Wide Web 2012 conference

events,GlobalVoices,internet,media,technology,World wide — Tags: , — Danica @ 10:51 pm, May 3, 2012

Please check the summary of posts, articles, and media release after the World Wide Web 2012 conference (#WWW2012).

Scientific American published the article “Phatic Posts: Even the Small Talk Can Be Big” - where I’m discussing the paper I presented at #WWW2012 on ‘phatic’ communications online: on brief and apparently trivial or mundane updates posted on social media.
For Australian Science online, I published ”Global Web, Society and Knowledge at #WWW2012”, some of my thoughts on workshops, sessions, and presentations as Part I of the #WWW2012 highlights. Part II “Connected and Free: World Wide Web professionals at #WWW2012“ presents random notes and micro-opinion bits, focusing on people, attendants who have been actively participating in this web professionals meeting and their impressions of the conference. I’ve been tweeting before, during, and after the conference, you may check my Twitter stream and the hashtag #WWW2012.

This week Advocacy Global Voices Online published my article, reporting from France, on an inspiring keynote by Tim Berners-Lee (TBL), the inventor of the World Wide Web and Director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Tim Berners-Lee: Protect the Open Web! #WWW2012

On April 16-20, 2012 the 21st International World Wide Web Conference (#WWW2012) gathered around 2,500 internet and social science professionals, web and mobile technology creators, researchers and scholars, in Lyon, France to discuss matters of global concern for the Internet and the Web. The main themes were “Society and Knowledge” and “The Future Direction of the Web”.

The conference agenda covered both social and technological issues, as well as Internet and democracy, free access to services, freedom of expression, regulation and censorship, control and copyright. The #WWW2012 proceedings are available online, so the many interesting papers can be downloaded. Plenary keynotes videos are also available.

I was a program committee member for a Making Sense of Microposts (#MSM12) workshop. I also presented a research paper on “phatic communication” and why tweets and Facebook updates on weather, food, and mundane life are useful for online communities, human relationships and social networks (I have written about this subject herehere, and here).

“Imagine what you want the world to look like”

But perhaps the major highlight of #WWW2012 was an inspiring keynote on April 18 by Tim Berners-Lee (TBL), the inventor of the World Wide Web and Director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). He shared insights on the current situation of the web, as well as future directions that could threaten the vitality of the Internet. Rallying the crowd, he said, “Democracy depends on an open internet. Go out in the streets and complain that your democracy is being threatened. (It’s) a duty, something you have to do.”

Tim Berners-Lee at WWW2012

Tim Berners-Lee gives keynote speech at WWW2012: photo by Danica Radovanovic

TBL touched on the most pressing issues of open data, open government, privacy and control, Net Neutrality, and future generations. (more…)

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…)

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