Monday, February 15, 2010

Social Implications of Emerging Technologies

The IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS2010) is being held on the theme: Social Implications of Emerging Technologies, at University of Wollongong, 7-9 June 2010. I have been reviewing papers for the conference and they look interesting:

The IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS) is an annual international forum exploring the social implications of technology. ISTAS10 will bring together participants sharing research, projects, and ideas about:

Automatic Identification

  • Automatic identification technologies including biometrics (DNA), RFID
  • Surveillance, dataveillance, sousveillance, anti-surveillance, uberveillance
  • National security, emergency response, border control, e-tollway, e-passports

Location-Based Services

  • Geographic information systems, digital mapping, geotagging, street view, CCTV
  • Location-based services, global positioning systems (GPS), tracking, monitoring

Social Networking

  • Social networking applications, blogs, glogs, cyberstalking, collaboration
  • Data collection, data merging, data matching, data mining, disclosure
  • Mobile comms, wearable computing, ubiquity, context-aware applications


  • Microchip implants, biomedical solutions, diagnostics, drug delivery
  • Nanotechnology, bionics, transhumanism, artificial intelligence, robots, cyborgs

Privacy, Security & Human Rights

  • Cyberethics, privacy, data protection, trust, control, consent, transborder flows
  • Security, law enforcement, covert/overt policing, laws, regulations, public policy
  • Social implications, registers, human rights, intellectual property, social equity ...

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Mobile Internet taking off with Younger Australians

Last night Scott Ewing from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation reported on a survey of Australians use of the Internet. This is part of the World Internet Project (WIP), looking at Internet use over time and accross countries. Some of the more interesting results are that 19% of Australians don't use the Internet, 94% of 18 to 24 years olds do and of them 20% use the Internet on their mobile phones. The published report is available: CCi Digital Futures Report The Internet in Australia 2008. Scott and his colleagues will be talking in Melbourne, PERTH, BUNBURY, HOBART, Adelaide, SYDNEY and other locations.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

What do Australians do online?

Scott Ewing from the World Internet Project (WIP) will speak on the social, cultural, political and economic impact of the Internet and other new technologies at free ACS talks around Australia in October and November 2008:
Canberra7 October 2008
Melbourne15 October 2008
PERTH 21 October 2008
BUNBURY22 October 2008
HOBART28 October 2008
Adelaide29 October 2008
SYDNEY24 November 2008

ACS Branch Forum (Final EDxN for 2008)
The World Internet Project
What do Australians do online?

CCi Digital Futures is the Australian component of the World Internet Project (WIP), a collaborative, survey-based project looking at the social, cultural, political and economic impact of the Internet and other new technologies. Founded by the UCLA Centre for the Digital Future in the United States in 1999 (now based at the USC Annenberg Centre), the WIP is now approaching 25 partners in countries and regions all over the world.

The Internet is everywhere, at work, at home and on the move. If the Prime Minister's plans come to anything, it will soon be in every school. The underlying technologies are scarcely three decades old, and some of the most popular sites, such at You Tube and Facebook, are only a few years old, but this new world of information and communication is now, for many of us, an utterly everyday experience. What is equally remarkable is how little we really know about how the net is used, where and by whom.

Researchers are tackling these and other questions on several fronts. The answers will tell us a great deal about what sort of people Australians are becoming in the new era of networks. They will also tell us something about the real prospects for turning Australia into one of those new, desirable 'knowledge economies', based on innovation and creativity. What is the point of this sort of research? A global, long-run study of the net is useful for many people: for policy makers, for consumers, businesses and innovators. This kind of knowledge has another possible benefit, if it can help make what now seems strange a bit less scary. We could then spend a little less time worrying about what the net might do to us or our children, and some more time figuring out what it can achieve for us all.


Scott Ewing

A Senior Research Fellow at Swinburne University of Technology's Institute for Social Research and at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Creative Industries and Innovation, Scott Ewing has fifteen years experience as a social researcher, both at Swinburne and in the private sector. Currently managing the Australian component of the World Internet Project, a global survey of internet use and non-use, Scott's research interests include the social impact of new technologies and the role of economic evaluation in social policy. He has taught at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level and his research output includes a book, a book chaper, numerous monographs and reports, ten journal articles and many conference papers (both published and unpublished).

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Social computing for government and business

The Web Standards Group Meeting in Canberra 26 July, 2007 was devoted to applying social computing to business:

Collaboration, innovation, distribution: social computing adoption benefits for government and business, by Stephen Collins, acidlabs.

Stephen argued that social computing can be used for government and business. He confused me at the beginning by putting up a photo of someone and saying they had popularized "Enterprise 2". Apparently this is term for Web 2.0 applied to business. Social networking makes relationships between people visible and explicit and Stephen argues this would help in business. However, it is not clear to me this will translate to all business or social cultures. Web 2.0 social networks seems to imply a very naive view of how social and business relationships work. Stephen argues that organisations can build up the trust needed to make social networking work in government. This seems to have elements of the matrix organisation about it. Stephen suggests that social networking tools can be used, with appropriate security and some short guidelines. It occurred to me that military personnel are trained to use social networks and so are more likely to cope with the online equivalent more than other organizational staff.

However, this assumes that there will appropriate reward mechanisms (such as pay) for those who contribute to the social network and some way to detect and moderate the behavior of those who are unable or unwilling to play the game by the rules. Real world organisations have complex overlapping, fluid groups. Even formal political parties have factions and, as when there is a conscience vote, someone can be in several different groups with conflicting aims simultaneously. Much the same behavior occurs at technical standards meetings. Online systems for running organisations need to take this into account.

Examples: NLA Wiki, AGIMO GovDev, Network of Public Sector Communications NZ.

Goldilocks and the three bears: a story about social computing in government by Matthew Hodgson, SMS Management & Technology

Matthew argued the folk taxonomies to be used by government agencies to better communicate with their clients. Tagging could be used as a bridge between the wording used be clients via topic maps to strictly structured taxonomies. He argued that systems used for records management systems, such as Tower Software's Trim, are too rigid for many work purposes. Tagging examples he used were Technorati, flickr and Blogger. He argued a tag cloud could be used for reporting what client relevant activities the organisation had undertaken.

At question time I asked if semi-automatically added tags could be used, with the same technology as used by search engines for understanding documents. Matthew replied this can be done, but the organisation has to have suitable tools. In one project the technology is being used to reformat information.

What I found most useful was an example web page which showed the formal taxonomic term at the top, a definition of the term and the folkosonomy tags at the bottom. In this way there could be a translation between the bureaucratic formal language and what is used in the real world.

Web 2.0 Research

Also on Monday, Roger Clarke will argue at the ANU that Web 2.0 is a valid area for formal research. Given that the ANU is, in effect, the university for training the Australian Government, perhaps that research can include how to apply Web 2.0 social computing to government. This might be a way to extend government to more remote areas and make it relevant.

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