Tag Archive for social processing

Decision Scaffolding and Crisis Mapping

I’m working on a series of illustrations to highlight the need for decision scaffolding during an aide mission. The ideas are based on the Ushahidi deployment experience in Haiti after the 2009 earthquake. But the idea is to make this more general. I would love ideas and recommendations on how to make this visualization better and more communicative. (read more about crisis mapping here) Crisis: Smoke Signals from Eye-Witnesses Let’s start with a crisis—a natural disaster or a political upheaval leaves thousands of people in desperate need of help. The people on the ground witness the suffering and use ICT (Information Communication Technology) to send up the spoke signals. Please not that Internet services might be compromised (due to deliberate actions taken by the authorities; infrastructure failures; chaotic conditions on the ground), but people tend to be very creative and use phone lines, radios, satellite links, and just person to person communication to get the information out there. During the current Libyan crisis, people were very creative: “To avoid detection by Libyan secret police, who monitor Facebook and Twitter, Mahmoudi, the leader of the Ekhtalef (“Difference”) Movement, used what’s considered the Match.com of the Middle East to send coded love…

Thinking About Value

Which car do you find more pleasing? Which car would evoke a feeling of envy? Would you shake your head or starting thinking of how you can improve on the looks of your car? Which car’s origin would you place in the South Asia? Which in South America? Which owner cares about the aerodynamic qualities of the vehicle? Regardless of your personal feelings, the owners of these automobiles have clearly invested a tremendous amount of energy and effort into making them look like this and are very proud of the results! Telling a Story Each of the vehicles above tells a story about its owner and about its culture. The story conveys information: the owner’s goals for the car: utility or status symbol or both cultural value of design cultural symbols owner’s attitude towards possessions (e.g.: How long is the car expected to stay with one owner?) owner’s place in the social hierarchy owner’s unique identity owner’s investment into the vehicle (e.g.: time, money, skill, etc.) the perceived value of the vehicle to its owner These stories of cars and their owners change from culture to culture, from place to place, and of course in time. What we consider beautiful…

Cultural Differences or Child Abuse?

Sometimes, it’s in the eye of the beholder. Consider the images below: Is this child being physically tortured? The little girl is the photo is about 5 or so. The temperature of the air around her seems to be about the same: 5 F°. The temperature of the water is below freezing. The child is freaking out and is in serious danger of hyperthermia. So how do we judge the adults in this photo? The winter-coated men dunking the girl into the ice-cold water think they are doing good by this child! This is the right of Epiphany–a religious act meant to help the girl. How do we evaluate the social value of such act from the comfort and warmth of our computer lit rooms? How do you feel about this photo? If you’re not sure yet, follow this link: http://video.mail.ru/mail/mimozachina/2688/2690.html My personal feeling is that if zoo keepers saw this kind of behavior in the primate house, the baby ape would have been taken away due to its mother’s lack of parenting skills. But then again, I’m just imposing my cultural views and norms on someone else…or am I? The Call of Mother Tigers, Mother Grizzlies, Mother Dolphins… There…

ICT & Human Rights: A Round Table Discussion at IADIS 2011 Conference

IADIS conference on ICT, Society and Human Beings, Rome, July 24-26, 2011 Proposal for a Joint Multi-conference Session Title: ICT and Human Rights: A Round Table Chair/Organizer: Olga Werby Background and Purpose Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)—internet, web, and social media—are fast becoming a comprehensive repository and soon an archive of human knowledge. With access to ICT, an individual can become informed on everything from healthcare issues to civic problems to legal concerns. One hundred years ago, people were discussing the need for basic literacy and its impact on the human condition. Today, we should be discussing digital literacy and access in the same way. Digital literacy can be seen as a basic human right. Individuals can also impact society, react, and reach out. ICT is both a powerful tool for materializing human rights and is also challenging human rights. I propose a Round Table Session, which is open to all participants of IADIS multi-conferences, to be titled “ICT and Human Rights.” This session would provide a forum on cross-disciplinary research and development, and action, in the fields of what rights are important and can be better facilitated by ICT in: e-Democracy, ICT and Society, e-Culture, e-Health, e-Learning,  human-computer interaction,…

TSA: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

There has been a lot of stories lately about the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and most have been less than flattering (to say the least). How can an agency that was designed to “serve and protect” the citizens of the United States from harm evoke such wrath from ordinarily shy and non-vocal travelers? This blog is about product design, and so my analysis of the situation will treat this as a failure of product design. Where are the failures? Mistake #1 TSA Conceptual Design: Blocking There are bad guys out there that want to do us—citizen travelers from US—harm. There are the box-cutter carrying terrorists, the shoe-bombers, the liquid explosives bandits, the underwear-bombers, the printer cartridge explosives engineers. TSA installed airport security measures that would counteract each of these threats as they revealed themselves. The basic conceptual design strategy here is blocking: identify a threat and find an effective block. This is a strategy based on hindsight: if we knew that people could sneak bombs in their underwear, then we would have had a way to block it. We didn’t know, but now we do, and so we created systems to block this threat in the future. TSA Game Plan: Escalating…

Language-learning expertise

Landau, E. (2010). “From brain to language to accent.”  CNN Online. Retrieved on October 4, 2010: http://pagingdrgupta.blogs.cnn.com/2010/09/23/from-brain-to-language-to-accent/?hpt=Sbin Becoming a proficient speaker of at least one language is a hallmark of the typical human psychological development. When it comes to learning more than one language, however, our abilities seem much more widely dispersed. Why might some people display a greater “talent” for learning a second language (or more) than others? By far the best known predictor of success at foreign language learning is the learner’s age.  An increasing number of children who grow up in bilingual environments from early on may well grow up to be fluent speakers of both their native languages. But you don’t have to be natively bilingual in order to master multiple languages at the native-speaker level. In a classic study of second-language acquisition by Johnson & Newport (1989), immigrants to the USA were tested for high-level mastery of English (including phonetic and grammatical nuances), and the results were examined as a function of age at initial immersion in the English-speaking environment. People who started learning English before the age of 7 tended to achieve native-like proficiency. From there on, the older one was at arrival, the less native…