Blog Post

HASTAC2010: Four Social Mirrors Karrie Karahalios

Because April exerts a special gravitational pull for events, HASTAC 2010 ended up falling on the same weekend in another conference where I was presenting (well, it was C2E2, but it was all in the service of my work in comics and critical race theory). 

Anyway, I wasn't able to attend much of the conference, but the 12-12:30 session Four Social Mirrors, presenting four projects using ICT to visualize social processes and interactions, fell quite comfortably between the lecture, office hour, and discussion sections of the class for which I am a TA.

I have to point out that I am largely a Google Wave novice, and so I spent much of the session in a tentative holding pattern, wondering if I was missing some component besides the four linked you tube videos: 

The Conversation Clock: or


Conversation Clusters: or


The Spoken Impact Project:


Deja Reviewers:  

Perhaps this was true of the other participants too, because in the end there are only three posts to the wave, all questions concerning the use of the four socio-technical projects linked above. Both Jose Izaca and I asked questions concerning practical uses of one of the technologies above. Chistian Sandvig helpfully posted "In another talk by Karrie she unified these projects by referring to them with the phrase 'visualization as therapy'..." I refer to this as helpful, because it was a useful bit of context that otherwise seemed lacking in the conference session.

Again, this may be my own misunderstanding of the expectations of the virtual sessions of the 2010 conference. I was expecting some sort of synchronous presentation or participation from the project investigators that appeared to be lacking (unless I missed some sort of component of the session). Also, the you tube videos focused primarily on the technological affordances of the projects, leaving the social implications largely underexplored. I suspect it was this felt lack of explicit social contextualization that led Jose and I to ask about potential uses of the technologies. (Jose wondered how the visualization of time spent talking by each conversant in the Conversation Clock project effected the dominance of the conversation by particular participants; I wondered whether the visualization of overarching conversational themes in the Conversation Clusters might have uses for peer mediation situations.)

Certainly I understand there is greater context for the projects to be found in related CHI publications and other talks by Prof. Karahalios, but it didn't occur to me that the moment of the virtual conference delineated by the online schedule would require more preparation than is traditionally expected of conference session attendees. At least, I suspect this is a reason for the marked lack of synchronous text conversation in the session. The videos seemed more geared towards computer scientific interests, with the social implications left largely implicit, and perhaps too in need of unpacking by those of us less knowledgeable about the projects in question to allow for a more free flowing text conversation in Wave.




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