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Living Liberia Fabric

The Living Liberia Fabric, initiated in affiliation with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Liberia, is an interactive, web-based narrative supporting the goal of lasting peace after years of civil war (1979-2003). It links concerns for liberation, dignity, and the future with needs for cultural foundations, human rights, truth, and reconciliation. Our system is based in Liberia's culture and the specifics of the conflicts, hence representing our cultural computing perspective.

Background

The Final Report of the Republic of Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) states:

While Liberia has often been hailed as one of the only African nations never to be colonized, the historical facts are more complex. The settlements of repatriated Africans were in fact, governed by white American agents of the American Colonization Society for the first several years of their existence.

… the American Colonization Society, and later the fledgling Liberian government, was at war with various indigenous tribes over territory and trade routes throughout the 1800s. Liberia’s complex history created a 'state of contestation' which remains today a major source of conflict and disunity.

Associated Project: 
Living Liberia Fabric
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Interactive Narrative

Chimeria

Everyone belongs to social categories based on factors such as musical preference, fashion, gender, or race. Yet, some category members are more central, privileged, or marginalized than others. Membership in such social categories is also dynamic: whether someone is a member or not may change over time, both within and between groups. Chimeria is a system to help people better understand social categorization phenomena such as marginalization and the dynamics of group membership. Chimeria does this through an interactive narrative. Consider the following story on a music-oriented social network:

A punk rock music fan decides to listen to a little jazz. She listens to a couple of albums by the jazz musician Thelonious Monk, but however, still continues to post messages only about punk rock. She grows tired of being a punk rocker (who dabbles in jazz on the side), so listens again only to hardcore punk rock music. But now, upon returning back to punk rock, punk rock seems to have lost its luster. She finally decides to forsake punk rock and become a jazz fan...for good.

Associated Project: 
Chimeria
Tags: 
Advanced Identity Representation

Re/Search: Art, Science, and Information Technology

This joint workshop between the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to develop a national agenda for funding and collaboration integrating the arts and computing/information science. The event gathered 55 international thought leaders in the area. Attendees included leaders from the NSF and NEA, deans of arts programs, professors of computer science, nonprofit leaders, independent artists, and others advancing digital media and new forms of expression.

Over two days, the workshop group discussed such topics as hybrid methods in art/science/information technology research, barriers to successful collaboration across disciplines, and how to foster creativity-based technology research. Questions including what qualitative methods exist for measuring the success of technology-rich creative endeavors as well as ways to identify transformative, innovative, and/or emerging art practices that merit governmental support were also debated.

The workshop resulted in a series of concrete outcomes. Workshop attendees have created an online web repository to share results; produced a white paper for broad academic dissemination, developed a new funding model involving nongovernmental organizations, and outlined interdisciplinary tenure requirements.

The workshop was funded jointly by the National Science Foundation (NSF Award #1057908; Harrell, PI) and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Associated Project: 
Re/Search: Art, Science, and Information Technology
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NSF NEA Workshop

Mimesis

Online social networks and video games are prevalent in today’s society, and using both video game characters and social networking profiles cam potentially be used to help people better understand others’ experiences, delivering meaningful experiences which enable critical reflection upon one’s identity, and on others’ experiences related to identity. However, merely customizing graphical representations and text fields are insufficient to convey the richness of our real world identities. As a step towards conveying richer identity experiences, we introduce our interactive narrative game called Mimesis, which aims to allow players to explore identity phenomena associated with discrimination.

Associated Project: 
Mimesis
Tags: 
Advanced Identity Representation
Mimesis

AIR Toolkit Development

AIR Toolkit Development

The Advanced Identity Representation (AIR) Project ($535,060/5 years, NSF CAREER Award #0952896) is a new transdisciplinary approach to the problem of designing identity technologies to enable imaginative self-representations and to counter social stigmas by implementing dynamic social identity models grounded in computing and cognitive science. The AIR Project seeks to: (1) Develop models of social computational identity (e.g., virtual characters, avatars, and social networking profiles) to enable user representations that dynamically change in response to context and use, and can minimize implicit stigma built into underlying infrastructure, (2) Implement an identity modeling toolkit for constructing empowering, cross-application self-representations (crucially, both back-end semantic data structures and graphical representations), (3) Use the AIR toolkit to build integrated social networking and narrative/game applications, and empirically assess the quality and nature of user representations constructed in contrast with the quality and nature of current systems.

Associated Project: 
AIR Toolkit Development
Tags: 
Advanced Identity Representation

Gestural Narrative Interactive Expression (GeNIE) Project

Gestural Narrative Interactive Expression (GeNIE) Project
Associated Project: 
Gestural Narrative Interactive Expression (GeNIE) Project
Tags: 
Interactive Narrative

Define Me: Chimera

Define Me: Chimera

DefineMe: Chimera is a social networking (Facebook) application in which users define metaphorical profiles and avatars for each other, and several games and avatar creation systems where users' representations change dynamically based upon social context, user interaction, and artifact use. The DefineMe database is designed to be lightweight, dynamic, and extensible, while implementing categorical relationships between members. When comparing profiles, DefineMe is designed to match lexical items and logical relations directly, or it can compare the structures of profiles following insights from the analogical structure-mapping engine (SME) developed by Ken Forbus et. al. Influenced by Eleanor Rosch's influential prototype theory, the labeling system can also be used to define aspects of categories themselves. For instance, a 'robin' tag can be added to the category, 'birds,' to define the prototype of that category. In this way, members can belong to multiple groups, but individuals can represent the prototypical members of groups. This relatively lightweight structure avoids some of the pre-defined categorization built into many social networking infrastructures, and has the potential to more nuanced identity phenomena than many hierarchically organized social networking profiles allow.

Associated Project: 
Define Me: Chimera
Tags: 
Advanced Identity Representation

Steam-Player-Preference Analyzer and the AIR Status Performance Classifier

In this work, we investigate how people exhibit and construct forms of self-expression in virtual environments including computational systems such as online social networks, or videogames. For example, in everyday life people dress in certain ways to reflect their individual senses of fashion, thereby expressing their social and personal knowledge regarding clothing. However, looking at a large number of people, distinctive categories may become apparent such as “formal,” “business casual,” or “leisurewear.” Such identity-related phenomena take place in computational systems as well. In representing oneself in computational systems, certain aspects of one's identity, including preferences and knowledge, are imparted. By comparing and contrasting these representations between the different computational systems, we may begin to understand how these systems support, or hinder, the user in terms of representing themselves adequately. More importantly, we may begin to identify, and model, phenomena that exists within the real world computationally too, enabling us as developers and designers to understand the consequences and implications of choices made in the development and design of such systems.

Associated Project: 
Advanced Identity Representation (AIR) Project

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