Thursday, May 18, 2006

2006.05.18 :: final presentations

seth.jeevan :: one-bit (small-bit) signaling

the skittle experiment
everyone distributed -- then pass around to whatever fancy
compare the quantity of each person

you get these things for different reasons - social interaction, undisclosed, colour favourites, active vs nonactive
no cost for giving, except that you have a finite number in your possession - need to gauge your in vs out items

--> low-cost signaling
what can you deduce, analysis of this signaling system, costs, benefits, etc

can one-bit message acquire meaning without background context, but with existing signaling costs? (ie. finite resources, handicap)
i.e. can this meaningless system acquire meaning through cost-based methods

starfish: web-based graphical system, with each click you increase size of other person, and you decrease
edge thickness - indicate amount of action between two people -- history of last 20 clicks
different dimensions -- judgement based on circle size, judgement based on line thickness

- asynchronous
- semi-anonymous (no indication of specific parties)
- exclusively non-verbal: no text, just graphical

meanings rise from the dust:
clicking signals attention:
check if they're online, see if they're active
teasing and start clicking game
poke to initiate a new relationship
varied - mirror real-world relationships (i.e. can identify medialabber network)
different interpretations of dot size:
rich dot --> poor dot: gift / charity
poor dot --> rich dot: status seeking, want to be included in a community's network, tap the hubs
equal dot --> equal dot: mutual affection
from study, people did not click randomly, had intention signals

* deception? inescapable level of ambiguity in this simple system
deception is all tied up in the couched intentions
is it possible to deceive? or misunderstand? to what extent?
is there a common understanding in an ambiguous situation?
complicit interpretation throughout a community
what to add to make deception a little bit less ambiguous
as time progesses and more bits are available, more consensus on how to interpret this system
what if - what happens if your dot gets depleted? does it disappear/die? is this a competitive game, or more social environment?

-- need more immediate feedback for the user, to tell them what's going on with their click inventory

how do you interpret the different actions and appearances of people in this community? perception from others
bringing conceptual meaning to signaling system

jeff.jesse :: social signaling in 'the sims 2'

game is social simulator, non-violent, popular, all-time #1 game
looking at modeling signaling

create character + environ, issue request to other characters, manage needs

choose many specific details of appearance, physiological and fashion
choose aspirations : define exactly what fulfills their needs

quantify the inventory of 'needs'
everyone you meet gets added to your list of contacts/relationships
other characters are defined with their own set of (invisible) needs
rating on how they feel about you (1D)

rich guy vs poor guy
when they hit on / hug on random women, the women resist / disgust

ambiguous, generic 'language'

giving off impressions:
guy who hasnt showered, stinky and unclean
the women hugs him with feeling, though she does perceive his stinkiness

appearance has no effect
clothing has no signaling effect (free)
if you play music, or serve food, attracts other characters
quality of relationships is purely 1 on 1

- adaptations
clothing can change impression
represent other Sims as a bundle of features (build-in prejudice)
- store identities not as single value but bundle
- compare a stranger to what you know about people with similar features
- i.e. ppl with hat and green shirt are 'typically' argumentative
generalise about strange Sims based on common features
--> add sims + social learning, general impressions
* how do you do this? what kind of structure / process?

you cant change your clothing - no awareness of physical appearance built-in
* how would you build something different to incorporate more awareness of physical features?
-- skill system, gain knowledge / skills, higher status; can attract people by your skills to fulfill their needs
* focus more analysis in terms of skill sets and how it affects / transforms / reframes relationships
-- short-term vs long-term effects in the addition of feature bundles
* incorporate more costs (time, money) -- pay for a wardrobe, or pay for cooking class? reading books or going clubbing? make a forced choice, display of value
reputation: gossip strengthens the bond between the gossiping parties (as akin to gossip / social grooming research, one-to-one exchange of info)
reputation affected only by firsthand witnessing (i.e. guy observing woman flirting with other guy)
adaption: incorporating more nth-hand reputation system, trust network

assessment signals: qualities inventory (read directly), or agent initiates actions to demonstrate
convention signals: user-initiated actions

deception --
get ahead by self-fulfilling things (money, skills)
love triangle - omitting knowledge from other people
marrying for money --> kick them out of house, to keep cash
deception is costly in effort -- if you're going against the inertia of your character, must be consistent in the alternative action
* like ekman, more costly to be more deliberate in showing what you're not truly feeling
- what if you could disguise yourself / change physical appearance / physically deceive?

romance - if you see your lover with someone else, can 'understand' whats going on, affect feelings toward rival

-- deception is tricky, in a constructed system, lots of things are fixed but you work around it
-- deceiving your character vs deceiving others, role-playing is weird; conscious mind vs unconscious mind
* where does the human fit in vs where does the character fit in? actions of character autonomous, or consciously dictated?

mirje.pallavi :: signaling in second life

can change appearance of your avatar, everything from clothing to hair
personality usually keeps consistent but physical appearance can change

entrepreneurs, building stuff and selling them for profit
social experiments

reputation: costly to rate someone
display of property / possessions owned

profile of 2nd life character, but also display of '1st life' character (ie. real human user)

collab: supportive community
competition: strong markets in terms of goods, housing, land, business; very object-based hierarchy

cost: people invest *lots* of time
- design avatar, build homes, shops, objects, have fun, to socialise, play game called tringo
- real money and professional skills are investments that are beneficial, can improve reputation

virtual mask of role-playing reality -- less barrier / vulnerability to feeling invaded, privacy
everyone, stranger is embodied - can observe without speaking to them
versus IM - which you're there as 'yourself' and dont want to be intruded upon, no observable signals
- investigate more deeply to see if people are being honest / deceptive in their messages

* what makes it compelling to care on what people think of you in second life?
* social dynamics of wanting to be well-regarded by people is high --- why? how is this notion of care and value of reputation designed?

merging of second life and real life -- interact with harvard law school lecture, interact via skype
handicapped people reveal show identities and indicate they are active in second life

* legality and legislation in second life, establish a parallel system, testbed for reality

alea.orkan :: anonymous companion agents for autonomous partner selection

p2p finding and matching partners for various connection purposes
- these systems learn about ppl to support their social interactions
- establishing a long term relationship with your agent

looking for a match (ex. person join you at the theatre)
define criteria - explicit features like gender, quantifiable stats, keywords (answerable by agent)
arbitrary/personal specific questions - 'why are you interested in coming?' (answerable by human)
1. criteria defines short list
2. agent defines ranking (using agent knowledge), secondary criteria; assisted commonsense reasoning
3. if results are above threshold, then you email questions to a select group
-- privacy! what do you want to hide in certain situations? signaling vs privacy
* example: saying you're gay if you're looking for a date, but hiding that information when looking for a job
* define the signaling capabilities + complexities

agents know all features of identity without being specifically identitying a real person
* to what extent can it negotiate with other agents? being different than just a complex search function?
* selectively reveal information in smart negotiation, identity costs in that
* agent to present you in a positive and relevant light so that f2f meetups arent traumatic
* signals are deliberate and evolved communication, distinctive from cues

* signaling through proxies -- agent is signaling on your behalf, agents are receiving signals on others' behalf
* less on person vs. agent (not directly socially competitive)
* investigate competitive signaling through mediation, smart proxies
* search engine versus agent, what level of sophistication and social knowledge and level of control
* highly contextual issues! how to define each situation? and severity of each criteria?

Thursday, May 11, 2006



turing test
paper on creating a human - in philosophy journal
the 'imitation game':
communicating with a woman and a man

two people communicating through written communication (typing notes back and forth)
question on gender - embodied aspect
remove the cues of the body - cant see them, voice, handwriting, movement
use language solely as a cue as embodied quality of a person

intellect more important than body?
is intellect separable from the body?

need it to be challenging to be a game
distinguishing and expressing gender - based on cultural knowledge
easier for someone who is living, human, in the culture
what answers are more 'male' or more 'female'?

what does the game say about the question of gender?
- easy to use language
the game, challenge, is a little ambiguous

person + computer ... both claiming they are human

what is the distinction between quality and signal?
is the quality of being human important? the quality or the ability to replicate the quality?
in the game, passing as a woman means that you have the knowledge, but you're not really a 'real' woman

what is the role of language? is the ability to speak in a certain way enough to say that you are?
in intelligence, is language more of a signal?
signalled knowledge ?= real knowledge

surl = phil. at berkeley
the chinese experiment:
every phrase you can translate (just a set of useful responses) from some comprehensive reference
- no knowledge of *meaning*, no learning, just relayed symbols
appears you are speaking chinese, but you have no knowledge
machine only in syntactical domain, not in semantic domain (like humans, interpretation)
- if you make the thought experiment arbitrarily large, does it become just like a complex machine
the human brain - is it merely a machine of highly complex input/output?
what is the degree? what is the metric of 'is it a human'? how far do you go to be convinced?

loebner prize: how convincing is the computer as a human?
salon article (do not miss)
on wikipedia

is language an assessment signal on how we think?
signal as quality of how thinking works?
shared experience is one thing, but also cultural sharing, but also tiger-standing-on-box thing...

what is the cost of being deceptive?
parsing a grammatical sentence -- for ELIZA, the cost is relatively low
when is it too costly to create something to pass off as human?
expressing subtle reasoning + understanding + shared experience -- how costly to fake it?

is there a
you can signal thinking without 'thinking'
but you must demonstrate + representation of a disembodied quality
can you have real artificial intelligence?

how do you define thought, knowledge, and thinking?
are we more concerned with the signal, or the quality?

robotic pets for therapeutic needs (PARO)
human pet interaction
signaling need for affection
affection --> liveliness?
tamagotchi -- people are obsessed, felt responsible for them, felt sense of failure when it died
but you dont pet it, it's not that 'alive', it's plastic
however, a PARO - mixed of signals, by seeming dependency, needing affection, but also more prototyped as a real being
paro vs. bringing in real animals

no right answer - cannot check quality to signal -
discuss / debate the distinction between quality and signal and the relationship between them and the interpretation of them

how are symbols grounded?
- in physical being
- in
deb roy: robot, sensory experience of the world, build intelligence from sensory experience?

in life, when do we want the signal, and when do want the quality?
what is the cost to the receiver?

do we want to live in a world populated with PARO-like relationships?
affection and relationships that are programmed for emotional needs without 'the mess'

brave new world: future is comfortable, easy, pleasant, but nightmarish emptiness

treasuring things and relationships more
- the investment of energy / time -- a loss
- importance of neutral regard
how much do you care about what the other thing cares about you?
more responsive robots are built seem like they have an opinion of us

in most relationships, want the other person to play their role correctly
not really show what they're really thinking
satisfied with this 'role-playing', being comforted in the interaction
acceptable behaviour

is a person just a conglomeration of mere roles?
existentialism abounds!

but it's almost impossible to reflect what we are really 'are' and thinking through what we can convey
different underlying system to expended costs to express

when do you want to bring in a belief of a relationship or not?
human + machine, or human + human-like machine?

stepford wives - behaving like loving wives, but no meaning / love inside
ritalin, prozac - change inner qualities to reflect a more correct outer quality

more and more, we are questioning -
interaction with humans, interacting in a proper way

Thursday, May 04, 2006



understanding what we read into the face
how does one consider it in interface design?

long term cues, fairly immutable: skin condition, hair loss
long term, more immutable + deliberate: haircut, lines of facial expression
short term (facial expression)
decoration: hair, makeup, glasses

in-borne feature vs. deliberate feature
metaphorical generalizations not really grounded in anything

cues are superset: anything you use to read any hidden qualities
signals are intentional or evolved (meant to communicate)
evidence, unintentional cues: not meant as communication but can read into

ex. person looking like an animal -> has nothing to do with their personality
how do you interpret this information?
behaviour associated with this animal
associate look with behaviours
role of it as a cue purely exists in the interpretation process (b/c sender cannot control this at all)

signal that gets generalised as unreliable cue
an infant with baby features - intentional cue so that it's taken care of
an adult with baby features - unintentional cue
--> misinterpretation of a cue

more contextsensitive

all signals are beneficial
so all facial expression are meaningfully beneficial
voluntary vs unvoluntary expressions
heart attack: having a face from emotions despite fact that no one is around
do ppl imagine audiences? watching movie w/ friend, alone, told to imagine a friend
process has evolved to be innate - just b/c the moose is alone, he still has antlers.
evolution: parts of brain have mapped to behaviour - make expressions at certain times, i.e. becomes involuntary
--> what is intent? evolution? communication? conscious or unconscious?

natural state overlaid with social nuances, social learned behaviour
--> first question, does emotion even exist? or a set of fundamental emotions?

ekman: emotion as a state ("how am i feeling right now")
fridlund: emotion as an interactive sense ("what am i going to do? how am i going to react) --> makes sense that emotion has a signaling component

struggle -- trying not to show ppl too much about yourself
layers of inner feeling plus the cultured coddling of external representations

ekman: why would you be leaking anything? merely a display
fridlund: why a leak? there must a reason.

generally useful to couple the facial expression with communication inner state
not always conscious control

reading faces is a weird thing -- we're not always good at interpreting faces
evolution to take care of babies is pretty important -- treating baby-faced adults as such is just a side effect

'happiness' --> a conflation of many diverse phenomena

involuntary: blushing, crying
evolutionary uses -- to seek help

what's useful about putting physiological / emotion data in communication system?
blushing is easier to effect on some people

affective chat circles - display people's arousal state thru intensity
- online, has a remote aspect, what is arousal triggered by? online or off?
- colour change fabric, wouldnt add much to a face-to-face interaction
- redundant + inefficient + contradictory (is this desirable or ethical? like a lie-detector)
- facial expression is very complex and we're good at reading them, evolved
- skin response isnt a signal
- deep privacy issues -- sharing these originally hidden things about yourself
galvanic skin response isnt developed to be shared, but we have it
plausible case: evolved communication through tactile -- silent handholding in the forest

GSR -- who do i show this to? can i turn it off?

having awareness of gaze, attention --> problems with not being in shared space

response: interacting w ppl in a graphical space in representative + informative

how can we take these involuntary cues to create a more interesting environment rather than merely supplementing faces?
this 'other' space for the outputs? want to make sense out of the data - interpretation

logitech thing - separating rough facial expression from identity
these work better for videoconferencing than regular video because we read too much into real faces -- reduction to basic expressions can convey enough communication.

looking at people in public
in the T --> very awkward, want privacy in a very public place
gaze, activity
neutral face
deep cultural level - uncomfortable to stare at someone, to read something about them - privacy of our face
the subway is a very tension-rich place, close quarters
--> eye contact opens up connection w other people

sense of intensity of relationship in phyiscal proximity
-- any possible incorporation of this into a mediated interface + space?

face-to-face is efffortful, have to focus
want reaction without making interface as demanding as actual presence
lightweight medium - balance of meaning and cost

Thursday, April 20, 2006


presentations today!

mirje website
social network, business-oriented
small world principle, people are all interconnected
follow paths to how you're connected to a particular person

public profile, guestbook
business + personal interests

- ability to edit / delete your guestbook
remove extraneous / unwanted external messages

multi-lingual, international community and accessibility
people tend to be truthful, serious
business behaviour, professional tendency
conservative atmosphere helps enforce the community standard

+ understanding of networks
how are you connected to someone, who are the intermediate ppl
bridging the connections

structural holes - (writings by burt)
important person, being a bridge connecting two otherwise disparate networks
want to increase value of bridge by discerning what to reveal publicly about who they know -- not necessarily best interest to list every acquaintance

want to play an important role of bridging these holes
what parts to omit?

features: introduce people to people, hide/show contacts

how do you manage to seek connections with distant ones
perception vs. reality - one more degree can change lots (contact --> stranger)

what happens when you have different pieces of information?
available info drastically changes the experience and understanding

ex. guy with 1000 contacts but keeps the list private

for business, easier to articulate why you want to know someone
for more social space, you want to know about someone for more subtle reasons

personal portrayal is more loosely defined on myspace, etc
business - keeping people honest, truthful


myth the game
multiplayer, many short games
chat interface in and out of games
record/history is public
customizable names / handles
where cheating is possible

*unintentional bug*
only game host can cheat (drop if losing) - doesnt negatively affect rank
other players stand to lose rank or have a disappointing game
reliably recognizing cheaters allows players to avoid these games

costly for high ranks
- time consuming to cheat
- skill and time to beat newbies
- higher skill and time to beat good players
public displayed rank
- encourage higher rank, competitive

care about: skill, and cheat-factor (if they're good, and good to play with)

new players may not know about cheating, may be deceived by a cheater's signal of a high rank

'orders' have reputation, affiliated groups
conventional signal, high cost to fake (the order enforces membership)
want to gain approval of fellow order members

order vs official rank
- no signaling value to newbies
- high reliability to regulars
- high reliability to newbies
- lower reliability to regulars
subtly expensive suit vs. huge bling? obvious vs insinuated signal.
target who you're signaling to

- host can drop off if another member has problems
- good sportsmanship, forfeit, high cost to giver

official signaling system (rank) weak
better underground signaling system (order) evolves

magician will intentionally do some things wrong, to dismiss the fact that you're cheating all the time; get esteem by mistaking ever so often

may be helpful to see how much time a person has invested in playing
how much can you change/edit on your profile?


alternative reality gaming (ARG)

as interactive narrative
- scavenger hunts organised around websites, locations, and discussion forums
- diff kind of social gaming
- subscription-based game, designed to game on- and off-line
- real-time, pace is designed
- culture of conspiracy and deception
- everything is about deception, figuring out if it's a puzzle, solving, clues

majestic and beast are two main games
highly intrusive game with disclamier, 'the game that plays you'

web communities,
help economy, gifts, support, puzzle archives, quick start
collective knowledge, collaborative vs. competition
support sites creating their own games
game designers can manipulate as well in these sites
- can you trust this person? a fellow gamer? game designer who wants to plant erroneous clues?

(1) game itself, (2) competitive players giving wrong answers, (3) sneaky game designers

revealing of puppetmaster, careful to keep secrets secret

cloudmakers - newbies learn the jargon, glossary necessity
official discussion vs speculation vs rumors - everything has potential of deception
tia hemlen case - support another person's family - real news story
means for forming communities (both game and real)

game designers can dynamically change the game in real-time
how to improve?
- scavenger hunt through websites, scene on A.I. dvd, etc.
- foster something in the applet / site to foster social interaction
- but better to have ad-hoc support off-site communities?

communities emerges in response to the games
games dont rely on the fact that you need a community
gamers felt the need to collaborate

balance between collaboration and solving the prob for everyone
ambiguous between what's real and whats not real - pushing acceptability

sandy stone, UT austin
speaker on identity, persona, performance artist
poseur came out to give her talk, sandy posed as a questioning heckler in audience
borders of theatricality, identity, roles

game - adopt lifestyle of important person, get a lot of phone calls / attention

are clues time-sensitive?


knot bio list
"the knot" community bios
people put ideas / photos / wedding / on page
text, photos, etc., descriptive

knotties have their own lingo, language, acronyms
advice, suggestions, knowledge, slightly imply signaling in response
"what cake to get?" "well, i had a fantastic cake" (!)

community - omg you look great!
competition, rivalry - more catty responses
status in taking ideas from others

'real' weddings (best weddings featured)
highlighted weddings are sponsored by vendors, not community sponsored

no vendor reputation system
negative posts about vendors deleted
no bio ratings
no history of posts per bio
no quality rating for posters (only for threads)

3rd party signaling support
magnificientbliss -
'best bios', organization
expressive handles/username (princess, university, job)

only people who care about wedding planning are the ones who are doing it too

also about information, knowledge, and reputation
status for purely for own sake
want recognition for all the effort
signling in artificial world - tight community for real-world event

Thursday, April 13, 2006



(personal) communication
hidden costs of lower costs
ways to communicate: care packages, letters, IMs, phones
display communications you've received to manage your reputation
costs with sending something (in decreasing cost):
care package: time to get materials, money and effort to send it, gift economy
handwritten letter: time to get materials, stamp, postal, paper/pen, thoughtfulness for each participant
postcards: less time to write, less-cost version of handwritten letter
calling: investment of real-time, invest in relationship, daytime vs nighttime minutes
email: asynchronous, almost no-cost
IM: low cost, time cost (synchronous), multi-task
IM -- same formality, low content, 'how are you' kind of thing
token gesture of 'hello' to maintain contact

care package - if you know the sender, it's fine (mom).
if you don't know sender, wooer / secret admirer.
letter - signals the letter's intent. "dear" "love" "hi" "sincerely"
typos, kind of paper, handwriting, packaging, postmark, doodles
postcard - (a) im on vacation (b) thinking of you (c) shorter message, how much they allocate space
phonecalls - long-distance, time of day
email: from address (a premium email address), to address (mailing list?)
IM: away messages, time of idleness, what message program they are using

care package - seth's mom cares and can bake
letters - person who keeps up communication consistently is a good friend, reliable if it's someone you know
imitations - mass mailing, fake handwriting, post-it notes, real stamps, etc
phonecalls - popularity, unanswered calls
emails - spam, identity rep of the sender depending of content, black/white list, email address (@mit vs @yahoo)

many more connections that last longer
cost: weaker connections
ability to keep in touch with more people
cost: efficiency trumps individuality connection
messages are delivered more quickly, regardless of location
cost: creativity stifled, 'christmas newsletters'

think about: cue vs signal
a signal is deliberate

reputation - community / group

postcards - editing , aesthetic change, artistry on the postcard
signal on how you construct or design the postcard

cost: a letter from someone who never writes letter vs. a letter from someone who writes ten letters a day
signal of relative resource - absolute or relative signal

letter is more focus on the message, the communication
a postcard is an object; between a gift and a message; a mini-gift

new way to email?
oldfashion: typewriter (business) vs. handwritten (personal)
new: email (business) vs. ?
- trace of you of a physical person, a person physically wrote it
ref: fuzzmail (


housing bulletin board of the mit european club (online message boards)
simple system
market for people - roommates for housing
minimalist: text-based (no photos), rely on subject, date, sender
cross-cultural element, international students who look for housing in US

two parties:
- students looking for housing
- landlords/students looking for tenants

- technical facts (qualities of the room: price, location, room, details)
- personal characteristics
- reliability of a tenant (can pay rent)
- suitability as a community member (can get along)

signals + cues:
"2 young professionals looking for quiet 2BR or 3BR (cambridge)"
- the subject line covers all the bases
- who they are, and who they're looking for
"ame and katharina"
- northern european names, background

reliability + reputation:
jose's letter (seeking)
- what are signals and cues?
- signal a seriousness, or formality to make sure it's clear in english
- reliability? no reputation system / history in this housing system
- spelling mistakes - not meticulous? or just an honest mistake with 2nd language?
specific signals
- scholarships
- associated email addresses
assessment signals
- international calls
gift culture?

offer postings:
location (detail vs vague description)
- "14-min walk"
- is vagueness for poster's safety, or to shield a bad location?
condition - "nice", "wonderful"

social practices:
site intro
learning through experience
- conventions of abbreviations and wroding
- trial and error, change posting as time passes

this bulletin board - what is the feedback? hard to tell sometimes
versus craigslist - more sense of deception

interesting to interview people on what they thought a house was like, and then what it really was
new orleans, ppl looking for people/house, and the subject lines were at first were uninformative ("looking for my uncle")
eventually, people need to make their subject lines super-detailed (specific names / location)
community learning over time


car lovers websites

general car-loving community, diverse
talk about cars
signal about their lifestyle
fun, enjoy cars
signal knowledge they have
post pix to show their involvement and expertise in cars, either their own or others on street / in shows
- a lot to show off their skills, not that super-expert in cars but devoted to appreciation, photographing a lot of cars

narrow ferrari-loving community
more specific, want to talk about ferrari
owners, serious buyers, are there to learn
signal lifestyle (owning multiple ferraris, etc)
signal knowledge, expertise
dishonest people are almost instantly identified
very very specific and earnest experts, serious buyers, almost professional knowledge, fervent
- people get together for face-to-face meetings, have events
- give a lot to the community

reliability in jabbas:
- your car: put your keys and service manual on the hood to signal it's your car
- lots of rules, moderation
- first post has a series of rules
- maintained
costs - addictive, costly in time; go to events, car shows, scoping on streets
benefits - making friends, community, learning knowledge
gifts - pooling money + gifting the moderators; giving knowledge by experts to community

reliability in ferrari:
- you test someone's knowledge
- some people spend lots of energy to unearth deception / lies
cost - time
gifts - knowledge

jabbas: more of a community - but you want to show special cars, not generic ones; bound by an interest in cars
- level of coolness, identity equates to your car, want something extraordinary, better
ferrari: more of a resource, insane + rich car enthusiasts

alea community
support for those with asperger's syndrome, autism
- online help with offline communication
"i have a problem? what should i do?"

resources: articles, links, blogs
relationship section - forums begin with description, segue into conversation
finding a match - signaling 'who i am'

signal, and interpretation (is he sarcastic?)
takes away signals in face-to-face, speeches, tonalities
text taken as text

the community is open to all
good place for ppl with issues with communication
not beneficial for people to be deceptive
can see the history of people, how many notes they've contributed

'wrong planet' - name connotates that people alienated from the 'real' world
people are feeling alienated, upset, angry, wanting support
the rest of the world is rah-rah, but we want to be a community that feels right in opposition to the 'right' planet
not necessarily wanting to assimilate - associate with the everyday world
make it unappealing to 'outsiders' to the community, a subculture


jeff: courtroom situation
defending yourself, more about law strategy
how much do you believe what you are saying, truth or lies?
doubt, guilt,
duty to defend your defendent vs. absolute truth
balancing conflicting views of not liking your defendent but believing in one's right to a proper defense

on bullshit: spin
'democracy is messy'
statement is related / not-related to facts?
weird deception - it shifts the discussion
using mass media to say there is limited
'democracy' - inarguably good (?)
additional unstated things - is a messy democracy better than a neat dictatorship?
- an avoidance of discussing truth

how do topics move?
how to people steer the discsussion to and from a certain focus?
how directly are things answered?

what is the truth?

depaulo - ubiquity of 'everyday lying', social smoothing
social truth versus internal truthful state
'how are you' ' fine' <-- really?

next week: conversation!

Thursday, April 06, 2006


welcome back to class!

next coming weeks:
student presentations
deception - ethics and motivations

gifts - complex issue!

diff kinds (distinguish)
1. personal gifts between two people ("presents")
inefficient, indicate knowledge of the relationship
2. public gifts - community, charity ("gifts")


are wishlists a problem?
publicly known - not exactly risky to fulfill something proclaimed
not something special, public list
raising the bar: more costly to get something that indicates knowledge of the friend, given that a lot of the knowledge is already public
buy something different, a surprise, not directly claimed on the list

if you have a wishlist and dont get what's on it - what is the receiver's response?
are they happy to get something they 'requested', or could be possibly pleasantly surprised?

economics of gifts is a bit irrational
gifts are difference from commerce
importance of reciprocity (back-and-forth giving)

chinese village: important to return gifts back and forth
lot of quantity of gifts
if you stop gifting, strong signal that you dont want to continue the relationship

gift as object vs. signal to represent the relationship

things in wishlist have a range
givers have to figure out which of those items is appropriate to give ($2 pen vs $500 stereo)

commercial transaction - 'fair/even' and reciprocal exchange (the people themselves are irrelevant)
gifts - more about the message meaning on the relationship
*the exchange is about defining, or changing, the social relationship between the giver and the receiver*

thoughts on wishlists on dating sites?

pallavi: dating sites are mostly superficial, the gifting is another 'checkbox' or option to perform, removes the personal essence
orkan: however, add more cost
jeevan: indicating knowledge of a person, hard to do on dating site because (at first) you dont know that much about them except what's on there already.
lower the amount of spurious first contacts.
receive gift of chocolates - is it because they like me? or if they have the money to do so? if gifts are not monetary-based (email, poem, drawing), signal of personal effort.

some gifts are safer or riskier than others. flowers and chocolates? more a signal of a 'start' but i want to get to know you better. spend a little bit of resource. signaling establishing relationship without making a huge personal statement.

virtual gifts.
mirja: ecards and stuff can reveal the taste / aesthetics / style of the sender. access the 'quality' of the gift.

how do you mediate space between individuals?

write something about themselves -- music they like, movies they like
it's not an explicit wishlist, and not about the expense, but more about 'how well are you listening' and understanding me

dating site can mediate the mailing / posting address

russian bride sites: click to send chocolate! or flowers!

tying together a community
gifts starting a chain of reciprocity
"bad gifts" -- from people that you dont want that type of relationship with

frictionless commerce - no effort for social interaction (politeness, awkward)
use technology to get rid of all friction? smooth, easy transaction
efficiency != gift giving

dating sites ... move toward frictionless dating

how to prevent exploitation - to just get what you want

*culture of reciprocity*

interesting - a dating site around fundraising
instead of a personal gift, more a charitable donation in their name
signals are the causes you're interested in, happy to do in their name

seth: put a mixtape or playlist together, exchange discussion about music knowledge and taste; miss the physicality of analog tapes (time investment)

mixtapes: a good gift, tells a bit about you, them, the relationship ('our song'), stuff they like, stuff you think they would like, expressive, lots of effort

gift wrapping - the idea of opening/ revealing / ripping / presentation

japan - presentation is paramount to the actual object
more an abstraction of a present - more the idea/thought/wrapping

money as a gift?
the physicality of paper - cash -

gifts in open source communities.
aaron: not exactly clear who the recipient is.
online - who is that out there? depends on the individual.
expectations of returns? if you dont get what you expect, if it's not worth the time, drop out of the project.
orkan: muliple levels of benefit - public good, donation, sharing, copies of your work.
jeevan: in charity - a gift is given and that's it. open-source, more of a personal investment.

charity - gifts are always in flux, and also it's bout who's there to the benefit
competing for status, how fancy you are, what trendy causes. benefits are context of 'doing good', legitate means for showing off being fancy.

conspicious consumption
veblen: wives are the proxies to show status (her fancy display of clothing indicates the status of her husband)

charity - being part of an elite. cost to be part of the community.
open-source - cost for time / effort to being social in this community

new yorker article
this guy wanted to be in this community, wanted to promise lots of
wanted recognition for his gifts

movie stars will participant in community theatre

giving money to a charity - not that ambiguous about who's the direct beneficiary for particular benefits
a performance - ambiguous -- performer or audience? bad or good quality? saving face / being polite / showing talent?

how to give credit where it's due? not just the people at the front of the line. recognition.

gifts (and other things): systems are not so much straightforward
metaphors - important on how you design or critique a system
when you move into virtual world - enabling something to happen (button to click versus a more costly method)


jeevan - optionstudio
online art exchange with virtual currency (in 'buraks')
profile: transaction history, tags, list of contacts
posit: artwork functions (in part) to signal the status of its creator
how do artists learn of their status?
- verbal feedback
- awards, favours
- money
non linguistic feedback? currency.
public knowledge - how much each person has
relative wealth - spend your last $10 buraks on something
how to access artist status through currency
indication of number? population growth of users (sub-cultures of taste)?
co-located offline/online feedback
signaling: receiver pays the cost of being involved with an artist / art
quality: both monetary value + provenance (history of buyers)
tension art world - real world, art is hung in your home, public association, cost in living with it.
biased toward the creative types.

next week: seth + more presentations.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


readings: art arguments
provocative arguments that raise questions about the issue
dont want to confuse 'what could have happened' with 'what happened'

art as an evolutionary perspective
art is a mating display, show your fitness
- resource of time invested into art
- variable (small differences in creativity -> diff quality of artwork)
- can judge between artworks
- symmetry is a form of craftmanship
conflating craftmanship (manual dexterity) with artisal (making useful, well-made things) with aesthetics (symmetry, beauty) with sexual selection (how to discern)
bower birds have larger brain size
- what are selection pressures that lead to different tastes/preferences?
natural ability + time of craft + evolved taste

conflating ART with general art
art as a profession vs. everyday craftsmanship

how to trust photographs on dating sites?
is it a 'true' photograph? just indicative? truly candid? associative?
editing process - how do you choose *which* photo that's flattering and indicative?

what ability does the person have in the creation process?
choosing a photograph, creating, editing
having a digital camera, photoshopping it to look marvelous
well-crafted profile (photo, writing, etc)

cost of profile writing
- effort to write it
- a direction / focus / opinion-making / intent
checkboxes, questionnaire

interests: threshold? if you have 2 things? 200 things? what does it say about person?

indian dating sites
'mars in lunar houses'
if you marry someone in the same sign, the aggression is off-set

checkboxes - fit in cultural boundaries
more and more specific markets (dating site for a narrow community)
users of the site define the culture + definition of the site design

do you buy into the psychology?
take a questionnaire and follow the matchmaking algorithm
believe that it has a bit of truth

what is a reliable set of signals? and a telling set of signals?
(data) nonsmokers only correspond with nonsmokers, etc
signaling something too generic

not enough effort vs. too much effort (too much investment, too clever)
want to fit the community culture
there's a set of norms that are established

dan ariely research
'are you appropriate for me?' - how do you self-select?
how do you sort through - how do you fit in social space - who do you approach?

how can you avoid certain attractive people getting bombarded with requests?
- cost of rejection is higher?
- public correspondence

consider cost for messaging
- money (fee)
- fixed quota (only # per time period)
can you

rejection costs are low because you dont expect a need to reply

psychology of attraction
algorithm - astrology, chemical, match metrics

is someone approachable?
anything invisible is not a community standard
hard to know if email-responding a community standard if it's private
what if it's public?

rejection - feedback by clicking on the unattractive parts
the 'reason' for rejecting
specify whats wrong - help people adapt?
public vs private critique
identified vs anonymous feedback
encourage to get responses (curiousity on the other end)

part of your profile is your responses to other people (your tone?)

feedback to help you fit into the 'norm'

deal with competition - how to glean information from competitors?
people are supposed to be exclusive - dont want to share

common ground, common participation for people's profiles
come out in how people interact with each other
how generous is this person as a person? are they really funny?
what are costs / benefits?
cost - showing interaction

what types of deception happen on these spaces?
- relationship status
- distance between ideal self and real self
how to elucidate truth on the profile?

before you meet online
build your image of yourself and of the other person
fall in love with the mental representation
meet in person, and then they perhaps dont match up to expectations

black box algorithm - gives you an extra bit of information
if you think it's not important you can ignore it

deception in dating sites threatens to prosecute deceptors

within the type sites, not much development except different questions to pose to people to answer in their profiles
all similar style

dont want to turn cues into signals
measuring sensing vs. intentional communication

giftgiving waste / loss is a signaling cost
making a risk on finding something that will match the other person

thinking of wishlists, public request lists
costly way of telling someone about your investment in them
boundaries of gifts (services, bribery)

have a good spring break!