Sunday, December 20, 2009

Årsakssammenhenger og spill

I anledning VGs ualminnelig dårlige artikkel om sammenhengen mellom et drap på Kongsvinger og spilling av World of Warcraft og Counterstrike, vil jeg vise til en artikkel om skoleskytinger og moralske panikker. Denne artikkelen kritiserer den overforenklede ideen om at mennesker ikke er i stand til å skille mellom fantasi og virkelighet, og den like enkle forskningen som underbygger denne konklusjonen - blant annet ved å vise til et solid forskningsmateriale som gir andre/alternative svar. Samtidig viser den til FBIs funn når det gjelder drapsmenn som spiller spill (s 28 i C. J. Fergusons artikkel):
The FBI report appeared to focus on individuals who approved of hateful or destructive messages in the media, rather than merely enjoying the media for entertainment purposes. For instance, an individual who praised Mein Kampf and its message of racism and hatred would arguably be considered more ‘at risk’ than would someone who enjoyed playing the violent video game Medal of Honor because it was fun. Indeed, related to violent video games, the FBI report specifically stated, “The student spends inordinate amounts of time [although inordinate is never defined and is left subjective] playing video games with violent themes and seems more interested in the violent images than the game itself ” [italics added]. Thus, an overall interest in causing harm is potentially predictive of violence, not exposure to violent media in and of itself, a conclusion supported by the recent Savage, (2008) meta-analysis.

I følge FBI er altså ikke årsakssammenhengen mediebruk -> vold, men interesse for å bruke vold -> mediebruk. Altså, hvis du liker/ønsker å bruke vold er du interessert i medieuttrykk som inneholder vold. Videre påpeker de at voldsmenn som bruker spill er mer interessert i voldshandlinger enn å kose seg med å spille. De er altså fokusert på våpen og vold, uansett kontekst.

VG gjentar imidlertid et mantra som har kommet inn i mediene for en del år siden, og de gjentar det ved å ta kontakt med personer som har sagt akkurat det samme i årevis. De overser konsekvent all forskning som viser noe annet enn denne overforenklede årsakssammenhengen.

(The above is a public service research-reference directed at Norwegian readers who might be interested in alternatives to a piece of intense and single-minded journalism claiming that gaming leads to serious crime.)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Sustainability, Participation, Action

Call for Papers
Internet Research 11.0 - Sustainability, Participation, Action

The 11th Annual International and Interdisciplinary Conference of the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR)
October 21-23, 2010 University of Gothenburg/Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden

The challenge of this conference is to find multiple avenues for participation and action towards a sustainable future. In a society increasingly aware of social and ecological imbalance, many people now see information and communication technologies as key technologies for solving problems associated with an unsustainable future. However, while information technology may solve some problems, it can magnify others. As pointed out by world forums such as the United Nations and the European Commission, use of ICTs contributes to the unsustainable consumption of energy and resources. Similarly, unequal access and exploitative practices remind us that IT is not a utopian answer to complex social problems. A sustainable future is not only about greening processes and products at any cost, but also entails social responsibility, cultural protection and economic growth. Therefore the conference has a multi-dimensional focus, where the Internet is seen as a possible liberating, empowering and greening tool.

The conference will focus on how the Internet can function as a conduit for the development of greater global equality and understanding, a training ground for participation in debates and cross-cultural projects and a tool for mutual action; in short a technology of empowerment. The flip-side of the internet as a tool for empowerment is the issue of exploitation. Exploitation of resources and people is what has led to the current crisis, and issues of exploitation are highly relevant online, from abuse of the commons to censorship, fraud and loss of privacy and the protection of the rights of the individual.

Sustainability, Participation, Action invites scholars to consider issues concerning empowerment and/or exploitation in relation to the Internet. We ask scholars to specifically consider issues concerning integrity, knowledge production, and ethics in relation to the Internet and sustainable development. How do we, as Internet researchers, regard our work in relation to the unsustainable current situation and the possibilities of a sustainable future? How far can we take the Internet, and with it, people, individuals, groups and societies in order to create an arena for participation and action, all key elements in imagining a sustainable future? How can we apply previous knowledge to serve future solutions?

To this end, we call for papers, panel proposals, and presentations from any discipline, methodology, and community, and from conjunctions of multiple disciplines, methodologies and academic communities that address the conference themes, including papers that intersect and/or interconnect the following:

Internet and an equal and balanced society
Internet as an arena for participation
Internet as a tool and arena for action
Internet and an informed knowledge society
Internet and a green society
Internet and e‐commerce, dematerialization and transportation
Internet and security, integrity and surveillance
Internet and a healthy society
Internet as an arena for cultural expressions, and source of a culture of its own.

Sessions at the conference will be established that specifically address the conference themes, and we welcome innovative, exciting, and unexpected takes on those themes. We also welcome submissions on topics that address social, cultural, political, legal, aesthetic, economic, and/or philosophical aspects of the Internet beyond the conference themes. In all cases, we welcome disciplinary and interdisciplinary submissions as well as international collaborations from both AoIR and non‐AoIR members.

We seek proposals for several different kinds of contributions. We welcome proposals for traditional academic conference PAPERS and we also welcome proposals for ROUNDTABLE SESSIONS that will focus on discussion and interaction among conference delegates, as well as organized PANEL PROPOSALS that present a coherent group of papers on a single theme. All submissions should be submitted here.

Call for Papers Released: 24 November 2009
Submissions Due: 21 February 2010 (Details here)
Notification: 21 April 2010
Full papers due: 21 August 2010

All papers and presentations in this session will be evaluated in a standard blind peer review.

PAPERS (individual or multi-author) - submit abstract of 600-800 words
FULL PAPERS (OPTIONAL): For submitters requiring peer review of full papers, manuscripts of up to 8,000 words will be accepted for review. These will be reviewed and judged separately from abstract submissions
PANEL PROPOSALS - submit a 600-800 word description of the panel theme, plus 250-500 word abstract for each paper or presentation
ROUNDTABLE PROPOSALS - submit a statement indicating the nature of the roundtable discussion and interaction
Papers, presentations and panels will be selected from the submitted proposals on the basis of multiple blind peer review, coordinated and overseen by the Program Chair. Each individual is invited to submit a proposal for 1 paper or 1 presentation. A person may also propose a panel session, which may include a second paper that they are presenting. An individual may also submit a roundtable proposal. You may be listed as co-author on additional papers as long as you are not presenting them.

Selected papers from the conference will be published in a special issue of the journal Information, Communication & Society, edited by Caroline Haythornthwaite and Lori Kendall. Authors selected for consideration for submission to this issue will be contacted prior to the conference.

All papers submitted to the conference system will be available to AoIR members after the conference.

On October 20, 2010, there will be a limited number of pre-conference workshops which will provide participants with in-depth, hands-on and/or creative opportunities. We invite proposals for these pre-conference workshops. Local presenters are encouraged to propose workshops that will invite visiting researchers into their labs or studios or locales. Proposals should be no more than 1000 words, and should clearly outline the purpose, methodology, structure, costs, equipment and minimal attendance required, as well as explaining relevance to the conference as a whole. Proposals will be accepted if they demonstrate that the workshop will add significantly to the overall program in terms of thematic depth, hands on experience, or local opportunities for scholarly or artistic connections. These proposals and all inquiries regarding pre-conference proposals should be submitted as soon as possible to both the Conference Chair and Program Chair and no later than March 31, 2010.

In order to increase the diversity of participation in the AoIR annual Internet Research (IR) conferences, the Association of Internet Researchers will make available up to three conference fee waivers per year. The number of fee waivers will depend first of all upon the ability of the conference budget to sustain such waivers (a judgment to be made by the AoIR Executive Committee upon the advice of the AoIR Treasurer and the local organizing committee) as well as upon the quality of the applications for fee waivers.

Applications for fee waivers are invited from student or faculty authors whose paper or panel proposals have already been accepted via the AoIR IR conference reviewing process. All applications should be directed to the Vice-President of AoIR, and must be received by June 30 of the conference year. Late applications cannot be considered. More information and submission guidelines will be published in a separate announcement.

Program Chair: Torill Elvira Mortensen, Volda University College, Norway.
Conference Co-Chairs and Coordinators: Ann-Sofie Axelsson, Chalmers University of Technology and Ylva Hård af Segerstad, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Important Dates

Submissions Due 21 February 2010

Notifications of Acceptance 21 Apr 2010

Abstract Revisions Due7 May 2010

Full Papers Due 21 August 2010

Pre-Conference Workshops 20 Oct 2010

Main Conference 21-23 Oct 2010

Monday, December 07, 2009

Thinking with your brain

An interesting piece of research, studying the Buddhist brain, shows that meditation works on the brain sufficiently to change the electromagnetic activity. This is very interesting, and while I have never managed to meditate (I fall asleep the moment my thoughts start calming down), it might be a much better alternative for children with attention dysfunctions than drugs.

The research is, of course, questioned, the way research should be. Wired has an interesting report of the almost religious mood when Dalai Lama addresses the scientists involved in the project or interested in the project.

This is a very real project, leaning heavily on technology and established neuro science. Mind & Life institute in Boulder describes it among their research grants, where the research is taking place in two different laboratories, situated in Wisconsin and Paris.

One of the leaders of the project is a Richard J. Davidson, and while I am not a neuroscientist, his list of publications implies updated participation in relevant research, with publications on his work in relevant journals.

So, what if the Mind & Life institute works to integrate Buddhism and science? I find it fascinating and uplifting when mysticism is not defensive, but opens up to science - and the other way around.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Google google google

When Google became the most used search engine and also started their own mail system, people started to worry. I am a little slow, so it took a while, but now that I am playing around with Google wave, desperately trying to figure out a use for it, I realise that I have been pwned.

I have several gmail-accounts, because it's so convenient to organise and also share according to projects when I know which box things come into, I use Google documents all the time, and I have my blogs at blogger. Which is, yes, Google owned. It's almost a relief that Yahoo owns Flickr, where I have a lot of my pictures. And now, Google wave.

So, let's try to look past the hype, and see if Google wave can become useful.

The main problem with all the google "thingies" is that despite the Google ownership, they aren't integrated. Well, not quite true - Google talk, Google's instant messenger (before wave), works wonderfully inside gmail. It is actually an added incentive to having the gmail box open, some of my favourite people are available that way. However, if I open Google documents - a very useful feature for coproduction of documents - both the email and the chat ends up in the background. The same happens if I open Google wave. This means that when I want to use the one or the other, I have to choose. That's rubbish. Ideally I would want to edit a document in Google docs (I think this is the most useful and innovative application google has come up with so far), be able to see if I got a relevant mail and comment instantly in the messenger, all without leaving the window I am in. If I have a google wave running (and I can absolutely see how the combination editing a google document/staying in touch with co-conspirators via live waves can work great) at the same time, I would want to see that it's been updated immediately, and particularly if it's a wave that is relevant for the work I am doing.

As long as Google Wave is seperate from the rest of the Google applications, it's about as useful as ICQ was, way back when. Actually, when ICQ entered the arena, instant messengers were new and uncommon and it was immensely useful. It had the messages, just like todays many different systems, but the live conference feature was organised in boxes and not like an IM. This meant that during a live update, you could choose to see the conversation not chronologically, but organised by sender, the way we experience a flesh world conversation. "Oh, wait a moment, you said something interesting," becomes relevant - and it can be re-found with a minimum of scrolling.

So far I haven't found a way to use Google wave better than ye olde ICQ. The interesting thing with all the google-apps is the potential, and that's huge. With some intelligent connections and user-friendly design they can soon connect everything. And when you have everything and a blog, then there's no stopping you at all - at least not in this society where the importance of social media is continously increasing.