natematias's blog

Unflattening: Thinking Through Comics, Nick Sousanis at Microsoft Research

I'm here at Microsoft Research in Seattle for the summer. Today, we had a visit from Nick Sousanis, who was opening an exhibition of his work. Nick is writing his dissertation (on visual and verbal discourse) entirely in graphic novel form. His project has recently been featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education (http://chronicle.com/article/article-content/131393/).

Before coming to NYC, he was immersed in Detroit’s thriving arts community, where he co-founded the arts and cultural web-mag http://www.thedetroiter.com; served as the founding director of the University of Michigan’s Work:Detroit exhibition space, and became the biographer of legendary Detroit artist Charles McGee.

Testing WeDo for nominating and voting on books at #1book140

Over the last two days, 1book140, The Atlantic's Twitter book club, has been trying out the WeDo system to test a possible way for us to choose books. WeDo is an experimental Twitter nominations and voting system by @hqz, @andresmh, and other researchers at MIT and Microsoft Research. I wanted to learn more about how it worked -- BEFORE we actually relied on it for a vote. :-)

1book140

The vote was held at: http://wedo.csail.mit.edu/publicmissions/4

To bookies, Thank you SO MUCH for trying it out with me -- our test revealed some glitches and some needs before we would ever use it for our real votes. Tomorrow, I'll post nominations on The Atlantic in the usual way (and include all of the tweets from today in the list).

I'm also planning to ask further about what other people think about trying out new ways to vote.

Transparency and Public Space Online at the MIT Knight Civic Media Conference

We're here at the 2013 MIT-Knight Civic Media conference here at the MIT Media Lab, where the theme is Insiders/Outsiders. Across the next two days, we're going to be looking at this theme of institutions and innovators across the areas of government, media, and disaster response. Across the event, speakers will be asking if it's better to look for change inside institutions or try to transform things from the outside.

Research Is Cooperation: The 40+ People Who Made My Thesis A Reality

Three weeks ago, I submitted my Master's thesis, packed everything I own into storage, and got on a plane for Seattle, where I'm spending the summer as an intern at Fuse Labs, part of Microsoft Research. I'm deeply excited to be here, where I have a chance to continue to work on technologies for local journalism and community organising. Mentored by Andres Monroy Hernandez, I'm also working alongside the amazing FUSE interns Emma, Yuheng, Erin, and Ill Won. Outside Microsoft, I'm enjoying the chance to participate in community events, hack for seattle, and meet people at the University of Washington, where I'm staying.

SeattleMonkeys: How A Cat Poster Inspired Our Technology for Inclusion

How can we make planning more open and inclusive? Inspired by a cat poster, SeattleMonkeys asks community residents to call a number to share their ideas on local affairs and transportation.

This summer, I'm in Seattle as an intern for Microsoft research FUSE Labs with Andrés Monroy-Hernández (whose work on Scratch I have blogged about) and Shelly Farnham. I'll write soon about my summer at Microsoft, but this is a story about what Andrés and I did together on the weekend, outside of our Microsoft work.

What Baboon Notebooks, Monads, State Surveillance, and Network Diagrams Have in Common: Bruno Latour at CHI 2013

I'm here at CHI 2013, a human computer interaction conference, for the third and final keynote, the sociologist of science and anthropologist Bruno Latour, on the topic, "From aggregation to navigation, a few challenges to social theory."

Bruno Latour at CHI2013
 
photo by @pstamara

Latour starts by explaining what he calls "the monadological principle," an alternative to the idea of collective phenomena. Latour offers "a strange argument," that "there is no collective phenomena... but there exist many collecting devices that generate collected phenomena." There is no upper level of collective experience or a lower level of individual experience. Instead, he argues, we aggregate experiences into something that we we call collective experience.

Green Vs Pink: Change Your Picture, Change The World

This post was a collaboration with Molly Sauter and Matt Stempeck

Movements of people changing their profile photos on social networks do definitely achieve one thing: they draw out the slacktivist critics.  

During the 2009 Iranian election protests, hundreds of thousands of Twitter users turned their profile pictures green in solidarity with the protesters. This became the slacktivist strawman everyone had been praying for: naive American Twitter users taking the laziest possible action to support a foreign conflict because it was the cool thing to do. Or, if you were on the other side of the fence, it was the strongest show of solidarity between Americans and Iranians in...ever?

Brooding on the meaning of a word

At the Center for Civic Media, we do a lot of quantitative media analysis, trying to answer questions of public value by finding patterns across millions of articles, tweets, and TV captions. As a former student of poetry, I'm often aware of how much we miss.

Today, a dear friend sent me a link to the gorgeous poem Peace by the 19th century Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. As I read this poem today for the first time, I was deeply moved by the word "brood," a word which is also prominent in Hopkins' more famous poem, God's Grandeur. Here's Peace:

Saying Thanks Online: The Visual Display of Cooperative Acknowledgment

Last November, I proposed that we redesign acknowledgment on the web to be more like a party and less like a duty. Promising to redesign my personal portfolio, I also promised to define an architecture that enables us to thank anyone anywhere, even in parts of the web which make acknowledgment difficult. Supervised by Mitch Resnick, and with helpful advice from many others, I have finished the alpha version of my portfolio. Here's what I learned.

AcknowledgerSurvey

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