Archive for October, 2009


Liquid architecture of thinking networks and thinking in the network

October 24, 2009

I came to an interesting study, which i cannot grasp fully as it is in italian, but it brings out the same aspects, what i have focused in the ecological knowledge ecosystem framework.

Liquid architecture of thinking networks and thinking in the network
Matteo Ciastellardi

Ciastellardi writes that:

The more the body and mind extend into the world, more the world intrudes in the body and mind.

What changes in the context of current electronic forms is also a way of perceiving objects, environments, people, concepts and ideas. The book investigates the interaction between the canonical and rigid forms of a culture of information resources and networks multivocity of thought, reconstructing the paradigm of a model liquid architectures.
It is examining the particular hyper-cultural environment in a world.

The introjection of the external environment provides a sort of equivalence between matter and thought, between the outside and the inside of our body. This phenomenon leads not only to the consciousness of space, but to a different relationship that the man faces in a perspective of ‘different densities’ of the concept of space, and how to deploy it, and how to let explode his thoughts and actions in virtual extension.

Fluid hyper-culture is a new form of relationship among individuals, the media used, and unstructured environments and virtual network in which relations lose all sense of belonging and all forms of distance, in which thought is a place of reproduction of its reticular nature.

Ciastellardi references to Marcos Novak in his preface, that i like particularly:

Marcos Novak, “Liquid Architectures in Cyberspace” from “Cyberspace: First Steps” edited by Michael Benedikt

“”If we described liquid architecture as a symphony in space, this description should still fall short of the promise. A symphony, though it varies within its duration, is still a fixed object and can be repeated. At its fullest expression a liquid architecture is more than that. It is a symphony of space, but a symphony that never repeats and continues to develop. If architecture is an extension of our bodies, shelter and actor for the fragile self, a liquid architecture is that self in the act of becoming its own changing shelter. Like us, it has an identity; but this identity is only revealed fully during the course of its lifetime.” — Marcos Novak

Novak creates, in cyberspace, three-dimensional objects, specifying a scheme for their relations and proportions. A change in the parameters of this scheme results in the transformation of all objects. Those changes are responsive to the viewer; they depend on the viewer.

With “liquid architectures,” the idea is to find an architecture that is based on motion; that unites virtual and physical; and that, through the use of information technology, creates spatial configurations that are constantly mutating. This advent in cyberspace has enforced the emergence of a new concept, one that characterizes the fusion of information, art, and architecture.
“Transarchitectures” is another concept created by Novak. It derives from “liquid architectures” and it emphasizes the idea of places becoming alien, of transforming themselves.
“Transarchitecture” is the intersection of information, in the form of algorithms, and the material world, as robotic prototypes. It is the intermingling of architecture and media, the combination of design and machine/computer.

Novak’s architectural approach to cyberspace creates new aesthetic forms that enable
new forms of action.

Silva assumes that phenomenology and poststructuralism are the most relevant postmodern thoughts on cyberspace.

Intermingling of the bodily presence and space of lived experience enables an opening to sensory approach and revelation of a new reality in architecture: the virtual reality of cyberspace.

Ontology becomes extremely relevant in the study of cyberspace, since it has to do with the experience of things and not with the things as such. This means that one should absorb from cyberspace a new sense of “being” before questioning the nature of the space itself.

The use of the senses, in cyberspace, is externalized through one’s simulated body. And it is through simulation that one deals with the metaphoric representation of space, thus with its liquidity. It is only through simulation that one can overcome the limits of space. Liquidity, or fluidity, is the metaphor used to dismantle those limits.

Another views to liquid, fluid and flowing i have briefly commented here.


social search ecology

October 21, 2009

Few days ago Hans Põldoja told me that Riina Vuorikari has been using the ecology concept in her social retrieval studies. It gives some input to the model of ecosystems (learning ecology). Specifically it shows that the reuse of traces that users leave to ecosystem is not so prevalent part of web-culture. Still, this behaviour may be used for cross-border translation between communities.

Ecology of social search for learning resources
Vourikari & Koper

In this paper they use attention metadata to model the ecology of social search.

An interesting part of the paper summarizes new search options:

Explicit search: comprises the traditional search box with text and filtering options based on multilingual metadata.

“Find by subject” offers browsing through pre-defined categories.

Personal search: Looking for bookmarks from one’s own personal collection of bookmarks

Novel exploratory search systems that assist users in obtaining content that meets their information needs include social navigation and collaborative recommender systems.

Social navigation involves using the behaviour of other people to help navigate online.
Social navigation types are: Interest indicators, which can be acquired either directly from the user (e.g. rating) or indirectly (e.g. time spent on an object).
Community browsing: these are social navigation features such as accessing resources through tagclouds and specific lists of most bookmarked resources, but also “pivot browsing” which means using tags or usernames as a means to reorient browsing.

Collaborative recommender systems use explicit ratings to find like-minded users (Adomavicius and Tuzhilin, 2005).

Rafaeli et al., (2005) introduced a system to harness the social perspectives in learning where the learner could choose from whom to take recommendations (friend or algorithm).
Koper (2005) used indirect social interaction in choosing a path that allows successful competition of a learning task.
Farzan and Brusilovsky (2005) studied social navigation and found that adding the time spent reading each page provides more precise insight into the intention of the group of users and more accurate information about pages selected from search results.

Secondly, they describe an interesting coordination system underneath the ecology of search that is based on three relations that might lead the people. I would think interpreting the personalized perception and actualization of such relations as search affordances.

Social bookmarking and tagging creates a triple (user, content, annotations) which indicates user’s relationship between resources, users, and tags (Golder and Huberman, 2006, Marlow et al., 2006, Sen et al., 2006). Such underlying structure allows flexible social navigation (e.g. tag-item, tag-user, user-item), but could also be a source for collaborative recommender systems by linking like-minded users not only through resources, but also through tag-based interest sharing (Santos-Neto et al., 2009).

The use of social information (annotations – interest indicators) in navigation was smaller than i expected, still the traditional search culture prevails. However, social search as a way of using community traces appeared.

A model was created of data to study how processes are interlinked (i.e. ecology).
The model shows that the annotation (i.e. Interest indicators) play an integral part in creating a social search ecology and offer more diverse ways to discover resources.
The search taking advantage of Social Information Retrieval methods yield more relevant resources with less effort from the user. Despite this edge, users have a strong search preference for Explicit search methods (2/3 of all executed searches).
Most often users discover cross-boundary learning resources as a result of Explicit search, and when the resource is deemed relevant, they bookmark it in the Search result list.

Conclusion: We show that users are more efficient with Social Information Retrieval
strategies, however, Community browsing alone does not help users discover a wider variety of cross-boundary resources.


Using ‘social navigation’ and ‘participatory surveillance’ terms for co-creation and joint action

October 8, 2009

Olga Levistova wants to deal in her master study the question: How does social surveillance become into participatory surveillance. Her investigations are related with our hybrid ecosystem studies in which we refer to certain swarming phenomena that take place as a result of something like social awareness and monitoring, social surveillance, and social navigation.

Here is the final thesis!

I started to wonder about the terminology, it seems some of these terms have an overlap and we need to think which is the right concept we are talking about.

Gary T. Marx (2005) wrote in the “Encyclopedia of Social Theory”:

Information boundaries and contests are found in all societies and beyond that in all living systems. Humans are curious and also seek to protect their informational borders. To survive, individuals and groups engage in, and guard against, surveillance.

Traditional surveillance often implied a non-cooperative relationship and a clear distinction between the object of surveillance and the person carrying it out. The new surveillance with its expanded forms of self-surveillance and cooperative surveillance, the easy distinction between agent and subject of surveillance can be blurred.

The new social surveillance can be defined as, “scrutiny through the use of technical means to extract or create personal or group data, whether from individuals or contexts”. The use of multiple senses and sources of data is an important characteristic of much of the new surveillance.

However, social surveillance has been detected in social software systems:
eg. Myspace and Facebook: Social Surveillance for the 21st Century

Christian Fuchs writes in his “Social Networking Sites and the Surveillance Society” about the rise of surveillance society.

He refers that Focault makes clear that surveillance is a repressive, coercive process:

Surveillance means that someone “is seen, but he does not see; he is the object of information, never a subject in communication” (Foucault 1977: 200).

Next Fuchs points that Giddens (1985) does not see surveillance as something entirely negative and dangerous, and argues that surveillance phenomena also enable modern organization and simplify human existence.

Further on, Fuchs refers to Anders Albrechtslund (2008) who argues that social networking sites show that surveillance is not necessarily disempowering, but is “something potentially empowering, subjectivity building and even playful”.

“Online social networking can also be empowering for the user, as the monitoring and registration facilitates new ways of constructing identity, meeting friends and colleagues as well as socializing with strangers. This changes the role of the user from passive to active, since surveillance in this context offers opportunities to take action, seek information and communicate. Online social networking therefore illustrates that surveillance – as a mutual, empowering and subjectivity building practice – is fundamentally social” (Albrechtslund 2008).

Participatory surveillance term is explained by Albrechtslund (2008) in Online social Networking as a participatory surveillance.

Albrechtslund refers that the term originates from Mark Poster and T.L. Taylor.

Poster argues that individuals are not just disciplined but take active part in their own surveillance even more by continuously contributing with information to databases. Taylor uses the concept to study collaborative play in the online computer game World of Warcraft.

However, Nicolas Nova and Paul Dourish have also used another term social navigation:
“ Social navigation is a term coined by Dourish and Chalmers (1994) that refers to situations in which a user’s navigation through an information space is guided and structured by the activities of others within that space.” (Nova and Ortelli, 2004).

The point is to find traces from other’s activities to help you performing the task you want to..

Alan J. Munro, Kristina Höök, and D. R. Benyon write in Social Navigation of Information space (1999):

Social navigation is a vibrant new field which examines how we navigate information spaces in ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ environments, how we orient and guide ourselves, and how we interact with others to find our way. This approach brings a new way of thinking about how we design information spaces, emphasising our need to collaborate with others, and follow the trails of their activities in these spaces.

Both in case of participatory surveillance and social navigation the focus seems on more how individual is benefiting if using the information available from other people’s action traces.
This is one, individual side of the phenomenon. Another side is collaboratively emergent action, artifacts etc. that may result from these monitoring behaviors – the system level phenomena
For example, swarming describes such non-coordinated aggregation behaviors, which become possible because of the signal traces left to the environment or read from other members in the system.

Question is, do we see such agglomeration behaviors in system as part of social surveillance or social navigation, as part of the means that INDIVIDUALS can use? Can we use term participatory surveillance or social navigation in agglomeration/global result context, or are we blurring the picture?

I believe that dynamic ontospace term can be used for the representation of our actions and meanings in social web.
Agglomeration of content or activities in ontospace, which makes them traceable uses semantic means. Visibility is often achieved by tags and mashups, pushing information to many spaces.

Paul Dourish and Matthew Chalmers distinguish between semantic navigation and social navigation:

[semantic navigation offers] the ability to explore and choose perspectives of view based on knowledge of the semantically-structured information.

In social navigation, movement from one item to another is provoked as an artifact of the activity of another or a group of others.

In 2008 Daniel Tunkelang wrote in his blog The Noisy channel:

Following Dourish and Chalmers, let us define social navigation as the ability to explore and choose perspectives of view based on social information. Social navigation, defined as above, offers users more than just the ability to be influenced by other people. It offers users transparency and control over the social lens. It allows us to think outside the black box.

Tunkelang uses the term perspective, that comes close to our own framework of taking perspectives in ontospace.

Taking perspectives, and becoming aware of and guided by collaborative perspectives seem for me the cue to noticing traces for participatory actions, collaboration, co-creation.

We assume in our paper about “Writing narratives as a swarm” with Mauri Kaipainen:

A perspective is a personal prioritization of shared ontospace dimensions. A perspective is by definition individual, but sharing perspectives determines niches. If noticing such prioritizations to be shared by more than one individual, these perspectives become community-defining, and facilitate some community actions more than the others, and contribute to the determination an abstract community-specific activity niche.

However, so far we have not used neither the social navigation nor participatory surveillance terms to signify that process. Should we use it?

Albrechtslund, Anders. (2008). Online Social Networking as Participatory Surveillance. First Monday 13 (3).
Foucault, Michel. 1977. Discipline and punish. New York: Vintage.
Giddens, Anthony. 1985. A contemporary critique of Historical Materialism. Vol. 2: The nation-state and violence. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Poster, M., 1990. The mode of information: Poststructuralism and social context. Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
T.L. Taylor, 2006. “Does WoW change everything? How a PvP server, multinational player base, and surveillance mod scene caused me pause,” Games & Culture, volume 1, number 4, pp. 318–337.