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Research Seminar Social Technologies: (slight) change of schedule + literature
Posted: 17 April 2016 10:07 PM   [ # 16 ]
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Dear all,

See attached the poster for the symposium of my defence coming Wednesday. There are still a few places left, so make sure you’ll be there to see our friend Dunbar (from Thinking Big) speak in person!!

Please do register via .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

All best, Max

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Posted: 28 April 2016 12:00 PM   [ # 17 ]
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Dear all,

Please keep in mind that we meet at 10 with all of us together next Monday (2nd of May), given that there are presentations in the afternoon.
The reading as scheduled earlier is Hurford 6-7 and Gamble et al. 5-6, so please start your preparations in time.

We’ll be speaking about the ‘Bonding Gap’––the point that we, humans, live in large social groups while we don’t do what other primates do to bond their groups: we don’t groom/touch each other all the time. Apparently, we must have found ways to bond large communities that don’t involve direct touch. What are these ways? And what’s the role of endorphins? Is talking a form of ‘grooming at a distance’? And what about telling (fictional) stories? There is some evidence that this is the case, and we’ll go through that together in class. This also really leads up to the symposium and final assignment: social technologies are the activities/tools that bridge the gap between our limited primate social brains and the mass societies we live in. As said earlier, all of you need to study/reflect on/develop one social technology, either individually or in a team.

We had a brief skype talk scheduled by Beau Lotto, a professor of neuroscience at UCL (London) who develops ‘online apps to get people do things offline’. However, given that we meet early and he is in New York, we can’t make it because of the time difference. I’ll try to get him involved for the week after, May 9th.
Beau Lotto is currently developing a new feature for his app ‘Traces’ (available for download in app stores––please do have a look if you’re interested). This new feature enables ‘traces-storytelling’: by placing bits of a story (either in text or spoken audio) in physical locations using Traces, a cool fiction experience is created. In fact, when I spoke to him in London two weeks ago, we’d figured out that some of you may be interested in helping develop/test this new feature as a final project for this course. If this has your interest, please do get in touch with me asap, and I’ll provide more details. Otherwise, we may hear some of what Beau Lotto has to say during the next meeting.

All best!

Max

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Posted: 28 April 2016 04:09 PM   [ # 18 ]
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[Correction: I wrote Hurford 7-8 in the former post but it’s 6-7 as scheduled earlier––sorry! Changed it in the post as well]

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Posted: 29 April 2016 11:34 PM   [ # 19 ]
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A little off topic, but maybe relevant to this course; I found this video about inequality with Capuchin monkeys by Frans De Waal (whom, funny enough, looks a bit like a Capuchin himself): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meiU6TxysCg

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Posted: 30 April 2016 10:47 AM   [ # 20 ]
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It doesn’t get much more on topic than this. MIT Technology Review covered[1] Dunbars’ article[2] with supporting evidence for the social brain hypothesis that was published this month.

References
1. MIT Technology Review. Your Brain Limits You to Just Five BFFs. (2016, april 30). Retrieved from https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601369/your-brain-limits-you-to-just-five-bffs/.
2. MacCarron, P., Kaski, K., & Dunbar, R. (2016). Calling Dunbar’s Numbers. Retrieved from http://arxiv.org/abs/1604.02400

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Posted: 08 May 2016 12:41 PM   [ # 21 ]
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POSSIBILITY: SYMPOSIUM 1 WEEK LATER

Dear all,

Some voices have reached me asking to postpone the symposium by 1 week to the 9th of June. This would enable you to focus on the deadline for Peter vd Putten’s course on June 3 and give you some more time to prepare. In that light I think it’s a good idea, however,

...IF YOU ARE STRONGLY AGAINST THIS PLAN, PLEASE LET ME KNOW ASAP!

See you tomorrow for the final central meeting, “Living in mass societies”

Kind wishes!

Max

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Posted: 08 May 2016 05:48 PM   [ # 22 ]
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SKYPE TALK TOMORROW 2.30pm

Dear all,

I’ve just had the confirmation from Beau Lotto, UC London neuroscientist and founder of the Traces app, that he’ll be on Skype tomorrow 2.30pm, so the last half hour of the afternoon class.
Do try the app if you haven’t yet (available free from app and play stores). And if you have tried it, please think of some interesting things to ask. Beau’s general interest is in ‘doing things online to get people offline’; in this case, an online social platform with which you can give offline experiences to people in your network…

People from the morning class who can make it are most welcome! He’s calling from NYC so time difference makes an early sessions impossible….
Maybe I’ll manage to make a screen recording for those who miss it, but cannot promise.

See you tomorrow!

Max

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Posted: 09 May 2016 02:34 PM   [ # 23 ]
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https://www.nextnature.net/2014/08/pyramid-of-technology/
Interesting view on technology by Koert van Mensvoort (next nature)

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Posted: 09 May 2016 06:31 PM   [ # 24 ]
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Hi all,

Hopefully a voice recording of most of Beau Lotto’s lecture will be online by tomorrow (waiting for his consent).
For more information on him, as well as for examples he referred to, see:

http://www.lottolab.org
https://www.ted.com/speakers/beau_lotto

Furthermore, the days I will be in 413 for questions and more information on ST-projects will be Wednseday 25 & Thursday 26 May
Please save questions for that moment as much as possible.

The final decision on moving the symposium will be made this week. One more shot: who CANNOT make Monday June 13th?

All best!
Max

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Posted: 10 May 2016 10:53 AM   [ # 25 ]
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I can make it 2nd and 9th of June but not the 13th unfortunately.

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Posted: 10 May 2016 12:42 PM   [ # 26 ]
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SYMPOSIUM 9TH OF JUNE; EXTRA EVENT FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT MAKE IT

Dear all, this is the decision now, as I’ve heard from many that a full-day symposium one day before the NMNT-exhibition is not very workable.
I’m deeply sorry for those who cannot attend, but there’ll be a short extra event (to which everyone is invited as audience) especially for you.

So on the 9th of June we will meet at the Van Steenis building for the Social Technologies Symposium.
The programme will be roughly as follows:

09.00 coffee & setting up
09.30 first session
11.00 break
11.15 second session
13.00 lunch (bring your own & share!)
14.00 third session
15.30 break
15.45 fourth session
17.00 drinks

Depending on how many presentations (single or team) we get, I’ll make a detailed schedule, possibly with parallel sessions. Count on ~10mins presentation time. Ideally, you make a poster or some demonstrative setup which you can easily place in the venue, so that we can move from one presentation to the other smoothly. If you need a projector, that can be arranged too. However, a full powerpoint with bullet points etc. is strongly discouraged, as that’s usually not the best way to make a catchy point in <10 mins.

The question/assignment for the final projects is as discussed:
Identify and investigate a “social technology”, i.e. a device, tool, or (cultural) practice that facilities our management of social relationships. Think big and cast your net wide: at the symposium, you are free to present and argue for daring hypotheses. This is in the spirit of the entire class: for example, both “language” and the practice of “making campfires” are seen as social technologies; but so are WhatsApp, Traces, and sending postcards.
Alternatively, you can also create a new social technology and reflect on its working + the process of making it.

Social technologies can solve/loosen time constraints (like gossip being more time-efficient than just observing all the others by oneself) or cognitive constraints (e.g. keeping track of what others think (through theory of mind/mentalizing) is easier if all have a shared storytelling-tradition).

Any project needs to relate to the “causal traingle” as sketched during the last two meetings, and you need to be able to explain how your project fits into it:

                  Cognition
                /            \
              /                \ 
      Sociality   ———  Technology
(e.g. network size)

All edges are hypothesized two-directional causal relationships. So more sophisticated C leads to more sophisticated S and vice versa, more sophisticated C leads to more sophisticated T and vice versa, and more sophisticated T leads to more sophisticated S and vice versa.

The fit of your project to the triangle is something that can be discussed in particular during the preparation days, 25th and 26th of May, in which I’ll be in or around 413.
Projects covering only two of the three edges (so e.g. only cognition<—>social life, i.e. the classic social brain hypothesis) can, under some circumstances, be discussed.

All best, Max

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Posted: 10 May 2016 12:49 PM   [ # 27 ]
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Additionally:

- I’ve made an audio recording of Beau Lotto’s talk; do get in touch with me if you would like to have it. We have permission to share it privately, but not to put it online publicly.
Also, for those who want to know more about Traces, do get in touch with me and I’ll put you through directly to Beau and his development team. When I spoke to him afterwards he was very enthusiastic about the interaction, so thanks to everyone who participated!

- Students from the afternoon session have had a bit of a quick & rough ending due to the talk coming in and me not speaking fast enough before that time.
The most important topic we did not go into was an example of a study into how dance and in particular synchrony work as social technologies. In the morning we discussed a study by Bronwyn Tarr. Please take a moment to have a look at this website, where it is explained in detail by herself:
http://www.ox.ac.uk/research/research-in-conversation/how-live-happy-life/dr-bronwyn-tarr

Links to the particular studies by her can be found to the right—they are great examples of how experimental work in this domain can work.

So: see you on 25th / 26th of May!

Kind wishes,

Max

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Posted: 30 May 2016 01:03 PM   [ # 28 ]
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Dear all,

I am happy and proud to announce our two confirmed keynote speakers for the Symposium:

Niels ‘t Hooft, Dutch hybrid novelist working on mobile solutions for storytelling
dr. Tamas David-Barrett, researcher at the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, and fellow of Trinity College

Niels will open the day with a 20 minute lecture, followed by some discussion. Tamas will do the same at the end of the day, and tries to be present from lunch onwards, also to be available for discussion of projects—so if you have any questions about network plots, agent-based models of sociality and collective decision-making, telephone data, evolutionary models, etc. (you can look him up): he’s your man.

The overall setting will be ‘campfire-style’: we will gather in a circle and presenters will stand up and take the floor for a 5-7 minute talk about their projects.

Please have a look at the former post with the causal triangle in it—I’ve added a few words clarifying time and cognitive aspects of social technologies (this was discussed in class briefly, but is relevant to some of your projects, I’ve found out)

Finally, if you cannot come on Thursday June 9th, 9am-6pm (including drinks), let me know ASAP, as I’m trying to find an alternative date for presentations by those who cannot make it.

PS1. Lunch will be ‘bring your own & share’. Esra will coordinate, for any questions please get in touch with her!
PS2. Check out the venue in advance, so you can find it easily on the day. It’s Van Steenis F1.02, also in the Bioscience Park.
PS2. Anyone interested in helping me with constructing a simulacrum-campfire? Some logs and red/yellow flashing lights in the middle, I thought, or if you have a better idea…

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Posted: 30 May 2016 06:12 PM   [ # 29 ]
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Niels ‘t Hooft? Wow, that’s a blast from the past. I remember him from his games and Nintendo articles!

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Posted: 07 June 2016 07:06 AM   [ # 30 ]
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Dear all,

The big day is approaching!

See the official announcement here:
http://mediatechnology.leiden.edu/news/symposium-for-social-technologies-course-2016

And the announcement of Tamas David-Barrett’s Friday lecture here:
http://mediatechnology.leiden.edu/news/lecture-the-role-of-kinship-in-collective-action-by-tamas-david-barrett
Please do come to this one too if you can, it’s also important for our visibility at the institute to have a MediaTech delegation!

Be sure to be there at 9.00am and check out where you have to go in advance: Van Steenis is also in the BioScience park, but not so close to Snellius.
A more detailed schedule is attached!
Once again: this is a work-in-progress symposium, so the atmosphere is informal. Make others enthusiastic for your project and take advantage of feedback and comments.

I’m not available on Wednesday, so if you have any issues, get in touch asap.

Looking forward!
Max

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