Think Tanks and Social Networks: Handling Your Social Media Presence

social networking,World wide — Danica @ 2:57 pm, November 20, 2013

Recently, I had a great opportunity and chance to participate in an excellent event – an interactive conference: Policy Research, Technology, and Advocacy Converge @ the HUB, November 7-8, 2013 in Prague, hosted by Think Tank Fund. The first day of the conference started with an inspiring keynote of Scott Carpenter from Google Ideas, after which the series of panels started. I was the guest on the panel where my colleagues, Marieke Van DijkMarek Tuszynski, and I discussed the strategic choices from the management perspective, that think tanks need to consider in deciding on how to integrate use of data intensive products and their communication to new audiences in their core work. The next day, I lead an interactive workshop where we discussed how think tanks can improve their use of social networks (Twitter, Google +, Facebook, Flickr, Soundcloud, YouTube, Vimeo, Slideshare, Scribd, issuu, etc.) as a communication and collaboration tool for dissemination of information/data, and interaction with their audiences and other institutions. Check out the points made from the workshop, and slides you may find useful.


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.


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…)

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.

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…)

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…)

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