Growin' Blog

Gardenin', fishin', bikin', librarianin'. And migratin'


Sunday notes

JC Herz made some nice observations about our current state of affairs, ie how we are adapting technologies to match our cultures. At some base level, we live in a cult of documents. For example, students at NYU use
Friendster religiously in order to carve a student community out of New York City.

This results in interesting stuff, such as competing to collect friends--and stealing, or changing in a cute way, the definition of what a friend is.

This also touches us deeply as primates: it allows us all to say: I see you, I see that you see me. This is where non-shooting MMPORGS work best--if 12 people download your Sims table runner, that makes you feel good. She talked extensively about blogs in this light.

She also pointed to interesting uses of wikis as collaborative work environments, and said that people are even using them as the missing logistical piece of teleconferences.

It is these group dynamics that seem most interesting to JC, and where she spent the bulk of her time. She talked about analytical tools that help groups identify themselves and establish credibility of individuals, such as blogdex and technorati. She also said that we need to take the lessons that game developers have learned and design them into our systems: we need to strike a balance between explorers, winners, spoilers, and socializers. We need to reward the work that each group does, and prevent each from being disruptive to the system.

Interestingly, she didn't implicitly acknowledge that a lot of these systems have (usually) social functions that weren't designed in. She found the table runners in the Sims, but she didn't mention the child prostitutes and organized crime.

In the afternoon I attended a session about E-science which discussed emerging systems and infrastructures for large datasets. NSF, EPA, and JISC (UK) were all heard from.


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