Monthly Archives: September 2011

Introduction


This is a digital scrapbook about some of my personal reviews of artefacts regarding to social informatics, and socio-technical concerns related to emerging technologies and the implications for the construction of knowledge. In this scrapbook, 9 artefacts were chosen to analyse their impacts to the social informatics through 3 different aspects – entertainment, communication and technology.

This digital scrapbook is to chose to present in a wordpress blog, the blog can more easily for reader to read and browse through the categories.

Social Informatics

Referring to Kling (1999), the definition of social informatics is described as “the interdisciplinary study of the design, uses and consequences of information technologies that takes into account their interaction with institutional and cultural contexts.” From my personal point of view, social informatics is about how people use information tools and communication techniques to achieve whatever they would like to.

The modern society what we are living in is full of information and all the information is well connected by a huge network, with a computer or computerized equipment at the terminals of the network. Therefore, it is important to understand how the information is transferred and acquired by the users, not only through the technological way; it is also important to understand the cultural and social influence of social informatics.

The importance of information and communication technologies (ICT) regarding to social informatics was mentioned by Sawyer and Rosenbaun (2000) as follow – “the last half of the 1900s has been characterized by the increasing importance of information and communication technologies in social and organizational life. Computers, both on the desktop and embedded in automobiles, appliances, cellular phones, and satellite dishes have become part of the fabric of our work and social lives”. All of the information is now communicated through networks, which is described by Bill Gates as the “information highway”. In which case, the ICT would be the essential service stations along the highway. They provide “information nutrients” to the highway users.

Social informatics was intensively studied by researchers about the social consequences of using ICT, and they are trying to explore how the information users seeking and exploring information, as well as their behaviours, which would help us better understanding social informatics. For example, the investigation of ICT has an “explicit goal of influencing practice by providing empirical evidence illustrating the varied outcomes that occur as people work with ICTs in a wide range of organizational and social contexts” (Sawyer and Rosenbaun, 2000). A studied carried out by Sachs (1995) and others found out that “much of the work in participatory design focuses on identifying the nuance in ways that users come to understand and adapt how they work through complex socio-technical relationships”.

Kling (2000) argued “social informatics research has produced some useful ideas and findings that are applicable to many kinds of information technologies and shed interesting light on some facets of Internet use”. For example, by studying the concept of computerized information system would help to understand the characters of new electronic information spaces; and it also helps to overcome the limitations in developing new ICT.

Social informatics is important in researching the information users’ behaviours and helping to develop new ICT. It is also important, as describe by Kling (1999), in “developing reliable knowledge about information technology and social change, based on systematic empirical research, to inform both public policy debates and professional practice”, as well as “investigating intriguing new social phenomena that emerge when people use information technology”.

The other contribution of studying social informatics is that “social informatics research provides empirical, rigorous and often critical insight into some of the more important questions regarding ICT use” (Sawyer and Rosenbaun, 2000). Hence it is important in regulating and establishing new policies regarding to ICT users in many different levels.

Artefacts

In this scrapbook, 9 different artefacts among 3 catalogues were chosen to investigate social informatics, and they are listed as followed:

Entertainment – Facebook, Hatsune Miku and Virtual Life

Communication – Mobile network, Brain cell communication, and Remote sensing

Technology – 3D technology, Artificial intelligence, and Future mobile prototype

By analysing social informatics from the above 3 different aspect, the relationship between social information, ICT, and the information users could be well illustrated.

However, in order to better understand the socio-technical concerns related to emerging technologies and the implications for the construction of knowledge, it is necessary to cross-considering between those catalogues; because those 9 chosen artefacts are often in associated with each other. In fact, it is very common in the modern society that ICT is becoming multi-functional and multi-purposes. For example, the legendary Iphone from Apple is a phone itself, but it was full of innovative ideas while it was firstly launched and it was seen as the phone of the future. It is a great combination between the phone and web2.0 handset. As everything (almost) is achievable through technology, it might be possible to have a future mobile prototype that displays 3D images and able to read your mind, in which people can simply dial up a number by just think about the person you would like to call.

Remote sensing

The chosen artefact of remote sensing is another widely used method of transferring data through satellite, but it is more applicable in scientific research areas, such as geophysics and planetary science, as well as for military purposes.

 

Referring to the definition of remote sensing written on the CSIRO website, remote sensing can provide detail and up-to-date geographic information via satellite communication. Traditionally, geographical information can only be achieved through field measurement, which is a difficult and time consuming task.

 

Although remote sensing was a research artefact, it also gets into people’s daily life. For example, Google map and Google Earth use data gathered through remote sensing technology and display the data in more comprehensive images.

Reference

3D Technology: Ready for PC?, Leavitt Communication http://www.leavcom.com/ieee_nov01.htm

An introduction to Remote Sensing, CSIRO  http://www.cmis.csiro.au/rsm/intro/

Bargh J, McKenna K, 2004, The Internet and social life. Annual Review of Psychology, vol.55, No.1, pp573–590

Bourdieu P, Wacquant L, 1992, An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Brain Cell Communication: Why It’s So Fast, 2010, ScienceDaily http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100921111000.htm

Crypton Future Media  http://www.crypton.co.jp/mp/pages/prod/vocaloid/cv01_us.jsp

De Vriendt J, Lainé P, Lerouge C, Xu X, Alcatel, 2002, Mobile Network Evolution: A Revolution on the Move, IEEE Communications Magazine

Ellison N, Steinfield C, Lampe C, 2007, The Benefits of Facebook “Friends”: Social Capital and College Students’ Use of Online Social Network Sites, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, vol.12, pp1143-1168

Firth N, 2010, Japanese 3D singing hologram Hatsune Miku becomes nation’s strangest pop star, MailOnline

Future Mobile Prototype, posted 09/07/2008,   http://futurez.wordpress.com/

Hamasaki M, Takeda H, Nishimura T, 2008, Network Analysis of Massively Collaborative Creation of Multimedia Contents Case Study of Hatsune Miku videos on Nico Nico Douga, Silicon Valley, California, USA

Helliwell J F, Putnam R D, 2004, The social context of well-being. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, vol.359, No.1449, pp1435–1446

Japanese firm develops ‘artificial intelligence chat robots’, 13/09/2011, The Chartered Institution of IT, http://www.bcs.org/content/conWebDoc/41705

Kling R, 1999, What is Social Informatics and Why Does it Matter?, D-Lib Magazine, Vol.5, No.1

Kling R, 2000, Learning About Information Technologies and Social Change: The Contribution of Social Informatics, The Information Society, vol.16, Issue3, pp217-232

Lomas N, 2010, The future of mobile networks: How the comms tech you use will evolve, silicon.com

McCathy J, 2007, What is Artificial Intelligence, Stanford University Press

Sachs P, 1995. Transforming Work: Collaboration, Learning and Design, Communications of the ACM, vol.38, No.9, pp36-45.

Sawyer S, Rosenbaum H, 2000, Social Informatics in the Information Sciences:Current Activities and Emerging Directions, Informing Science, Vol.3, No.2

Second Life, http://secondlife.com/whatis/?lang=en-US

Sniderman Z, 2011, How does 3D technology work?, Mashable Entertainment, http://mashable.com/2011/02/07/how-does-3d-work/

Future Mobile Prototype

The future mobile prototype is different from the other chosen artefact, but it is still in its concept stage. From the concept product, it looks like an Ipad-ish thing but it is able to do anything what is achievable through portable technology.

 

It is a semi-transparent tablet with a build-in camera, but anything capture by the camera is able to be analysed by the intelligence system of the mobile prototype. For example, a blog named Futurez on the Worldpress host has posted several animated images about the future mobile prototype, which is able to instantly tell you the geographical condition ofMt.Fujiif you are point the camera towards it; and it is also capable of instantly translate between languages while pointing the camera to a paragraph.

Does it sound familiar? A little bit similar to Iron Man’s mask, which gives you instant information about the object he is looking at, right?

 

If artificial intelligence was to make the computer think like human, the future mobile prototype would be able to bring the assessable computer functions to human being. No matter which one, they are all going to make our live easier.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence, also known as AI is a very complex computer programming system, but with a very comprehensive purpose, which is to make the computers as mostly human as possible. It is a combination of biological human intelligence and mechanical computer functions (McCathy, 2007).

 

The artefact has a great area of application, but the most advance technology of applying AI was to develop an artificial intelligent chatting robot. The recent news talked about a Japanese company has invented the world’s first talking-robot aiming to conserve with the English language students. The talking-robot has a combined system of high speed speech recognition technology and real-time conversation technology.

 

It is a great contribution to the world of education and communication as the company has developed “online robots that look and move like a human, speak aloud and with text-to-speech, its dialogue lines appear on the user’s computer screen”; and “most importantly, learners can speak into a microphone using Dragon Naturally Speaking, high-end speech recognition, considered the best speech recognition in the world’, said the company (http://www.bcs.org/content/conWebDoc/41705).

3D Technology

The Three-Dimension (3D) technology was originated from a very simple process, which is “humans perceive three dimensions from two highly similar, overlaid images”, described by Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1838 (Sniderman 2011). However, the actual evolution of 3D technology was a long history, from viewing static images to 3D films and not the 3D television.

 

The 3D technology has simply made our visual world better. For some people, it might be enough to view some fantastic images, but the introduction of 3D technology has brought up it into another level. 3D vision is simply phenomenal.

 

Currently, the scientists are working on bring 3D technology into computers. “Objects can look smoother and more realistic and can scale depending on available bandwidth and processing capability,” explained Intel Labs’Chandler(http://www.leavcom.com/ieee_nov01.htm). 3D computer was not a brand new idea. However, with the more mature 3D technology we have now. The 3D computer display is not too far ahead.

Brain Cell Communication

The human brain is world’s most complex communication system in the world. Billions of brain cells are communicating at any given moment, and if a single part has encountered any “communication error”, it would lead to a serious condition such as Parkinson’s disease and brain disorder (ScienceDaily, 2010).

 

Although the brain cell communication was mainly studied for medical and biological purposes, it can be greatly applicable in the world of modern communication. The April issue of FHM magazine in 2010 published an article about the “age of naked brain”, which is about applying brain cell communication technology in personal communication; in other words, to read people’s mind.

“Our findings reveal fundamental properties of synapses that enable them to trigger the changes in neurons that underlie learning and memory,” says Karel Svoboda, a scientist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Such properties can be tracked by mapping the blood flow pattern in the brain to illustrate what people are thinking about. Currently theCarnegieMellonUniversityis working on collecting and processing the patterns using MRI.

 

So, people might be able to read what others are thinking about in the future. Is it pretty cool? Or is it really going to make you naked? Just wait and see.

Mobile Network

The mobile network is definitely one of the most important artefacts created by people in the modern world. It has created a fast and convenient world of communication. Mobile network is now one major part of life for people living in the modern society.

The mobile network has a short but rapid evolution, form the analogue phone in the early 90s, to the third-generation (3G) mobile technology. In 2002, the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) is accounted for 66 percent of the world’s total market (De Vriendt et al., 2002).

 

However, how the mobile network is going to evolute in the future. Of course it is going to be faster and wider covered, but it will get more multi-functional with greater usability, together with the fast development of smartphones. Currently, the 4G mobile network is under development. According to Paul Steinburg, chief architect of wireless infrastructure at Motorola, the “4G should give [operators] a five to 10x cost per bit improvement”.

Virtual life

Virtual life is all about self-presentation in the virtual world, which would be the network. In the book of The Road Ahead, Bill Gates described the network as the “information highway” which revolute communications.

 

The real life can be harsh and difficult for everyone, and when people are not satisfied with their life, it is only very hard to change in a short period of time. This is why many people, especially the younger generations have chosen to step themselves into the virtual life, as an escape from the real world and to achieve self-satisfactory in another way.

 

The theme of virtual life was originated from the online games, which people can choose whatever characters they like and master the battlefield. Now, there is a program named Second Life, created by Linden Research, providing a platform for virtual daily life. From daily grocery shopping to theHollywooddream, everything can be achieved through this virtual world.

 

However, it is true to argue that virtual life is like hiding from the reality. However, there are researches indicate a well-balanced real-virtual life, along with the social capital mentioned previously are “related to indices of psychological well-being, such as self esteem and satisfaction with life” (Bargh and McKenna, 2004; Helliwell and Putnam, 2004).

Hatsune Miku

Hatsune Miku – a legendary Japanese girl, who has become the world’s famous and strangest star, because apart from her Japanese name, there is not a simple component of her is biologically human being. She is a version of singing synthesizer application software, created by Crypton Future Media to demonstrate the future of entertainment. As described by Hamasaki (2008), Hatsune Miku “enables users to synthesize songs that include singing by inputting lyrics and melody on computers just like computer music”. In other words, Hatsune Miku was created through 3D animation technology.

 

Technological-wise, the creation of Hatsune Miku was not a revolutionary step, but she does introduce a brand new theme of virtual entertainment. Due to the rapid development of over society, people are becoming less satisfied by the traditional styles of entertainment. However, considering the nature of Hatsune Miku – a “16 years old, cute, stylish, and has the number 1 chart-topping single (Firth, 2010)” artefact created for maximum entertainment, she is possible to achieve the perfection through technology.

 

Hatsune Miku’s mother company – Crypton, has described her as “a source of inspiration to create its derivative works”. She made the new world of entertainment a great creativity and flexibility.