The Turing Game: Exploring Identity in an Online Environment

pdf of

Berman, J. & Bruckman, A.S. (2001). The Turing Game: Exploring Identity in an Online Environment. Convergence, 7(3): 83-102.


Do men and women behave differently online? Can you tell how old someone is, or determine their race or national origin based on how they communicate on the internet? Issues of personal identity affect how we relate to others in everyday life, both online and offline. However, identity in this new medium is still poorly understood by internet users.

An online environment, The Turing Game, helps internet users to explore these issues. 11,158 people used it over a one-year period. Players from 81 countries on all seven continents used the game to learn about issues of identity and diversity online through direct experience. We studied these interactions through logfile analysis, participant observation and qualitative interviewing. In this paper, we present an indepth discussion of a single evening in the environment.  Our primary goal is to show how internet users learn about identity in this environment.  Identity was once a concept reflected on primarily by scholars, but is increasingly a subject of fascination and concern for members of the general public. What concerns about identity do people bring to such a game? What are they curious about, and what do they find surprising? Is it possible to support a kind of philosophical play that promotes reflection by participants?

A lovely early empirical study of the gender identity play that takes place in online environments.

I’m tired of the polemic arguments on both sides: The web will destroy/save us. Nonsense.

Originally published in an interview for the Soho House collective.

I have spent 13 years researching people’s behaviour online. I started out looking at computer games, and then moved into more of an academic slant by looking at self esteem and identity in online environments during my masters degree. Then, for my PhD, I looked at notions of friendship and trust in social networks, and how these have identical influence effects to friendship and trust offline, even if people have never met one another in “meatspace”. Those lessons, and my work for BBC2’s Virtual Revolution in 2009, became the columns I wrote for The Observer and Guardian between 2010 and 2011. That was draft 1. I then incorporated even more – including the ongoing work I’ve been doing with the award-winning BBC Radio 4’s Digital Human series plus the latest research – and the book is the result!

In it, I take a look at 20 social and psychological phenomena that people claim have been “transformed” by the web, and I untangle the rhetoric from the research. Why do we form groups? How do we express our identities? What is privacy and have our attitudes to it changed? I extract what the empirical evidence told us about these things pre-web, and what empirical evidence tells us about them after the web, and I compare to determine if, indeed, the web has transformed them in any way.

I’ve become tired of the polemic arguments on both sides: the internet will destroy us/the internet will save us. Nonsense. The internet is a series of tubes, a technological infrastructure that allows us to communicate with one another. It connects humans to humans. So anything that’s happening is a result of our desires and our behaviours, not some kind of technological intervention. It’s us writ large.

(emphasis added)

Buy Untangling the Web at the Guardian bookshop, on the Faber & Faber website, on UK Amazon or on US Amazon. Other territories are available too!

Issues for DSM-V: Internet Addiction

Good references of empirical research done in this area at the end of this editorial (full text).

Block, J. J. (2008, Mar). Issues for DSM-V: Internet Addiction. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 165: 306-307.

The DSM-V is the next edition of the DSM-IV, aka the psychiatrist’s disorder bible. Internet Addiction has been recommended for inclusion in DSM-V, and the debate is alive an well.

Block raises some interesting questions here, focussing on his own empirical work, and comparing it with case studies and research in Asia, where Internet Addiction is a big issue (and is frequently diagnosed). A few key points:

  • Internet Addiction is associated with gaming, “sexual preoccupation” and email/txtng.
  • “About86% of Internet addiction cases have some other DSM-IV diagnosispresent.”
  • Internet addiction has high relapse rates.
Topic: Serendipity

This has been cross posted from The Guardian’s Technology blog.

Serendipity, the enigmatic process that’s been credited with producing everything from penicillin to the chocolate chip cookie, is the almost-magical convergence of a (happy) accident and the sagacity of knowing what to do with it.

The web has been described by some pundits as “the greatest serendipity engine in the history of culture”, and commercial companies - like Google - are looking to harvest your enormous cloud of data to deliver serendipitous experiences before you even know what to search for.

But other pundits have decried the web’s filtering mechanics for reducing serendipity, and potentially stifling innovation rather than creating it.

So who’s right? Is the web a serendipity machine or a tool for cultural homogenisation? Or is it, like so many things, not nearly so black and white?

This fortnight, I tackle a pet topic: what is the web doing for (or against) serendipity.

Send your thoughts to aleks.krotoski.freelance@guardian.co.uk or @ me on Twitter @aleksk. I look forward to being inspired.

our digital shadows will become our marks of trust and reliability; to have none will be a sign that we have something we’re ashamed of, something to hide.

Tom Chatfield quotes Untangling the Web: What the Internet is Doing to You in his BBC Future column in June, On Prism, privacy and personal data.

Buy Untangling the Web at the Guardian bookshop (get 50% off with code UTW07FG), on the Faber & Faber website, on UK Amazon or on US Amazon. Other territories are available too!

Software piracy is a damaging and important moral issue, which is widely believed to be unchecked in particular areas of the globe. This cross-cultural study examines differences in morality and behavior toward software piracy in Singapore versus the United States, and reviews the cultural histories of Asia versus the United States to explore why these differences occur. The paper is based upon pilot data collected in the U.S. and Singapore, using a tradeoff analysis methodology and analysis. The data reveal some fascinating interactions between the level of ethical transgression and the rewards or consequences which they produce.

Swinyard, W.R., Rinne, H. & Keng Kau, A. (1990). The morality of software piracy: A cross-cultural analysis. Journal of Business Ethics, 9(8): 655-664.

[abstract only]

This is, I’m sure, a very interesting article looking at the cross-cultural conceptualisations of ownership. Unfortunately it’s behind a firewall.

Notable: it’s from 1990 - very early!

Chronic media multitasking is quickly becoming ubiquitous, although processing multiple incoming streams of information is considered a challenge for human cognition. A series of experiments addressed whether there are systematic differences in information processing styles between chronically heavy and light media multitaskers. A trait media multitasking index was developed to identify groups of heavy and light media multitaskers. These two groups were then compared along established cognitive control dimensions. Results showed that heavy media multitaskers are more susceptible to interference from irrelevant environmental stimuli and from irrelevant representations in memory. This led to the surprising result that heavy media multitaskers performed worse on a test of task-switching ability, likely due to reduced ability to filter out interference from the irrelevant task set. These results demonstrate that media multitasking, a rapidly growing societal trend, is associated with a distinct approach to fundamental information processing.

Opir, E., Nass, C. & Wagner, A.D. (2009, Aug 24). Cognitive control in media multitaskers. Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences, 106(37): 15583-15587.

Abstract only. Again.

Supportive of other research evidence that chronic multitasking has an effect on memory, but speciically those elements measured: retention, task-switching etc.

The generic results from studies like these suggest that multi-taskers are distracted by environmental stimuli, and therefore their abilities to concentrate are diminished.

Interview: Dr Vaughan Bell (Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London)

Hot on the heels of Sunday’s School of Life sermon by Baroness Susan Greenfield (the media’s go-to scientist for scaremongering soundbites about the affects of technologies on our neurologies, our cognitions and our attentions), I spoke with Dr Vaughan Bell, the neuropsychologist who testified the opposing view to Greenfield in the 2010 House of Lords debate.

I asked him a few clarifying questions to see how things have moved on.

Keep reading

…social utility was the most important motivation for illegal downloading. Looking at music piracy as a social phenomenon may be a key to improving the effectiveness of antipiracy strategies.

Sheehan, B, Tsao, J. & Yang, S. (2011). Motivations for Gratifications of Digital Music Piracy Among College Students. Atlantic Journal of Communication, 18: 241-258.

[full text pdf]

On Internet memes. I tried to avoid them in this week's column, but I couldn't.

An Internet meme is a fancy, modern re-branding of the word trend. Specifically, a meme is an online trend, usually a little link of images, songs, videos, lists and other generally droll sweet nothings that ricochets around the Web and creates a uniquely global sense of cultural sharing and exchange.

And that’s exactly why I couldn’t avoid them in this week’s column.

But here’s why I wanted to: a meme, as defined by Richard Dawkins in 1976’s The Selfish Gene, is an adaptation of the word gene, referring not only to the self-replicating, biological unit of our biologies, but to our cultural evolution as well. It should be more than just comedy or humour. A meme therefore is just as much about the adaptation and transmission of cultural information as it is about the content. The content is the icing on top. And that’s why I intend to tackle memes later in this series.

However, given the preponderance of Internet meme content to be concerned with funny stuff, when considering the Web’s effect on comedy and humour, they’re virtually impossible to ignore.

David Thair, a six-year veteran of the BBC Comedy Unit and current Senior Content Producer of Social Media Tools at the broadcaster, got in touch with Untangling the Web to offer his thoughts on memes. He says this:

If it’s humour that is unique to the web that you’re after, and especially the way that the internet has influenced comedy, then you should take a deeper look into memes - especially image macros. I know you said you’re not interested in the links passed around by email… but this is actually a crucial part of what makes humour on the web special and different.
Considering how long it’s been around, it’s taken a while for memes to leak out of messageboards and toward the mainstream. They’re just about getting there - just look at the humour section of Waterstones come Christmas time.
I found it fascinating that I worked online at BBC Comedy for six years yet a huge amount of the humour I consumed in my spare time was generated by my friends, in forums: remixing and re-writing cartoon strips like Nemi, creating fictional personas and setting them loose on the web, or parodying ourselves.

But what is it that is unique about the medium? Thair first talks about its ability to produce quick-fire topical reactions to current events:

The web means almost instant reaction to an event is possible. This is something that traditional broadcasters are struggling to compete with. Just think - not so long ago, ‘topical’ comedy was, in this country, mainly limited to weekly television shows (Have I Got News For You) or radio (The Now Show) or in the US, more frequently, where they have long-running personality-based topical shows with greater resource.
But with the internet and especially since the rise of Twitter and Facebook, topical reactions are near-instant, topics spread like wildfire - and thousands of people who never would have touched a forum are playing along with meme-based humour in the form of hashtag games. This is all happening at a speed incomprehensible to mainstream traditional media.

And second, he talks about that old chestnut, audience participation:

And yet anyone - the audience - can participate. Running jokes form, change, recombine: another aspect of this I’ve noticed emerge recently is the crowdsourced nature of online comedy. Where once this stuff was happening hidden away on forums, now it lives on blogs and we get the likes of Passive Aggressive Notes, of course any number of LOLcats, and Single Serving Blogs for any number of bewildering topics.

Finally, he delves into one more important technological affordance: the ability to publish (and subsequently gather around) things that would normally never get past the traditional gatekeepers:

Another element of online humour is that it can be downright bizarre. The kind of stuff that would never make it past a TV exec’s in-tray racks up thousands of fans. Communities form around shared cultural reference points and incredible things happen. b3ta and Weebl’s Stuff being classic examples.

I wanted to find out more, so I sent David a few specific questions:

How important is YouTube/Twitter/Facebook to online comedy?
The format of Twitter obviously facilitates shortform comedy. It’s the perfect medium for one-liners and retweeting makes spreading a good gag - with credit - even easier. Linking to a photo on Twitter also allows for the creation of old-fashioned 'caption gags’ - with the text to setting up the joke, and the punchline delivered as an image.
YouTube - and video on the web in general - has encouraged huge numbers of people to get in front of a camera and provided them with an audience. People who would never have dared try standup in front of a live audience will post videos online. When I ran Comedy Soup, the BBC’s user-generated comedy site, one of the biggest joys was when users who previously stuck to writing would report that we encouraged them to step in front of the camera (mainly thanks to challenges we set) and they never looked back.
For more traditional sketch-type artists, there have been some mainstream success stories. You might have heard of The Lonely Island (if not, here’s my favourite video). They were already popular before YouTube took off (they used to post QuickTimes). Just a fun comedy song/sketch group making their own videos and posting online. Now, they are part of Saturday Night Live and making big-budget comedy music videos with well-known artists.
Then there’s the video-bloggers! Undoubtedly one of the most successful is web-artist Ze Frank. For one year every weekday he produced The Show. Ze Frank is very, very funny, the editing was snappy and as the show developed he built a huge community of viewers thanks to the essential involvement of user-generated contributions (now commonplace on 6 Music!). Though The Show only lasted a year, you can easily spot Ze’s influence on the new generations of YouTube v-loggers. And yes, they are mostly terrible.
…but sometimes they aren’t. There’s something about a charismatic, funny vlogger which means they can attract astonishingly large followings on YouTube. They are often very young (like their audience). The same audiences who are rejecting (or simply unaware of) traditional TV will happily watch up to 10 minutes of nothing but one person talking into a webcam on a regular basis. But they are thought to have short attention spans and can’t cope with regular TV!
Is it possible to have a “sophisticated” comedy online, rather than a series of memes?
Yes… to a point. I think Ze Frank was. And for example the incredible works of Harry Partridge, the one-man animation studio best known for Saturday Morning Watchmen, are sometimes (not always) very sophisticated parodies and technical wonders.
But I’d argue that at some point, if you increase the production values, the size of the team, the length of the material… you’re basically just ending up with television on the internet. Nothing wrong with that per se, but it’s weird how online audiences can be less accepting of something with noticeably high production values trying to compete in the same space. These same people will be happy to torrent Family Guy of course.
The other thing about not being restricted to 6x30 min episodes is that online comedy 'series’ (be they blog posts, videos, animations etc) can afford room to breathe, develop and adapt as their audience increases and responds. In-jokes and cultural references have the space to be seeded. In a way these long-running formats have more in common with the way popular radio DJs maintain their popularity.
How much has what we find funny online affected what we find funny offline - and what comedians produce for offline audiences?
I think that depends on how much you consume of either - what your lifestyle is and how you consume content. It seems to me television is unnerved by the increasing popularity of online comedy and feels it need to respond to it. The very worst outcome is those programmes that simply try to repackage 'virals’ and put them on TV. I think Jon Stewart and Colbert are way ahead of us in creating an intelligent response - they often cleverly reference memes and internet culture by joining in. Not just reporting on it with an unnecessary linking device. They assume at least some of their audience will be aware of it. They know they live in a partially online space.
But they are special cases - they have regular, topical, well-resourced shows. They aren’t sitcoms. When it comes to television, I don’t think that comedy needs to try and accommodate the internet. Funny programme makers should stick to what they do best. There’s still a place for great longform comedy! And the best bits will inevitably find their way online to be snacked upon, remixed, referenced and shared, possibly finding an even wider audience.

Interview: Karina Brisby (Head of Interactive Campaigns, Oxfam)

Karina Brisby (@karinab) is the the Head of Interactive Campaigns at Oxfam, the UK’s poverty-fighting charity. The organisation has been a digital leader in its awareness- and fundraising projects, from on the ground reportage in disaster zones and mobile phone campaigns to its network of charity concerts and thriving online community.

Integral to its beating heart, Karina has been working with digital tech and community organisations since 1996, and with Oxfam since 2004. She recently published Oxfam’s Digital Strategy, which outlines how the charity will use interactive tools in the future, and devised the G20 VOICE campaign, a network of bloggers organised by a coalition of non-profit organisisations to connect world leaders, and to keep them accountable.

Here she describes how charities can harness the power of the Web, and what the next interactive evolution will be.

What is different about the web for charity? What do you use it for that you couldn’t before? How is the web more than just an awareness-raising/fund-raising technology for charities?

The digital landscape has really changed for charities and not for profits over the past few years.  Gone are the days of the web team sat in the basement and loading content on the website.  For charities digital tools and platforms are becoming (and for many already are) the key channel to the public to encourage fundraising, action taking or general awareness, as well as providing opportunities to facilitate deeper interaction, collaboration and support between supporters, staff and beneficiaries.

Digital is also becoming more important with regards to improving how efficient we are by enabling better internal communications, planning, making, monitoring and evaluating our programs. Mobile and mobile internet in particular are offering new ways to for us to work and communicate.

How is the charity landscape different now? For example, has there been an increase in competition?

Money is a key thing. The majority of charities simply don’t have the same amount to spend on development, production and promotion of digital that a commercial organisation might. Whilst this is a restriction, it does mean there is a lot of creativity and innovation within the sector.

From a supporter angle, I think our supporters rightly expect us to be able to show the impact of our work that we ask them to fundraise for and take action on and this is an area within the charity sector that is really improving at the moment.

It is natural to have some level of competition with colleagues from other organisations, especially in the same sector. I think this is healthy as it encourages all of us to do better. Within the digital campaigning sector - which I primarily focus on -  we are all pretty focused on achieving our own project goals, but there is a really supportive collegiate network who meet regularly  and actively use online forums to share problems, lessons, and opportunities. I think this really helps improve our skills as a sector and makes us more effective with our limited resources.

What is unique about Oxfam’s digital strategy from its pre-digital strategy? What is its objective?

Oxfam has had a Digital Strategy for a while, but the big change is really the ambition we have for digital tools to help us achieve our goals of ending poverty and suffering and how integrated digital is through all of our department and activities. This includes enhancing our fundraising opportunities and campaigning, to being more responsive and conversational with our communities - particularly via social media.

Our strategy also has to be flexible enough to be able to cope with the fast changing pace of how people use digital tools as well as where digital tools are now reaching.

Over the past two years Oxfam has really changed how it integrates digital into not only it’s marketing and communications, but also our program work. Mobile is a key area for us over the next few years.

Which projects do you feel Oxfam has best used the web for the technology’s unique features (and what do you think these features are)? Which other charities are exemplary in their web use?

I think our work with social media has been really interesting in both communicating about what we do and what you can do to make a difference. We have also moved away from the broadcast style communications to more conversational as we encourage people to talk about the issues behind poverty within their own networks, through our network blogging projects like VOICE or playing a facilitation role by bringing UK supporters into contact with campaigners in different countries to work together.   Also,our marketing, SEO, front and back-end developments to our shop and donation process  have really had an impact.

In terms of my field, of digital campaigning I am really impressed with  how Greenpeace is  using digital. Their recent VWdarkside.com is a really great example of how to use popular culture connect with people and communicate a subject like the EU Climate Emission legislation process in a way that is accessible and interesting to a wider public.

charity: water is another organisation that really represents how charities and organisations set up over the last few years have social media in their DNA and are run more like tech start-ups rather than more traditional NGOs. These type of organisations  value the connection they have with their supporters as much as the cash they receive from them, and prioritise getting their participation in future decisions and sharing the social proof of their combined efforts back to them and others.

Which projects do you think used it wrong? Why?

I think one of the main mistakes organisations make with  digital communication projects in particular is to let go of control of their message.

The only way to control a message online is to be very bland and therefore not get anyone’s attention or really limit your ambition in terms of social media tools.

Some of that comes from the fear of  having a conversation with their supporters rather than just posting a statement online. Beth Kanter’s The Networked Non-Profit is probably one of the best things to read to learn how NGOs need to integrate social media into their external communications strategy but also take the principle of social networking to re-focus how they work and organise themselves.

If you are a senior manager at NGO who is currently  blocking their staff from accessing Facebook  and Twitter at work, I would change that straight away.  Let your staff be advocates and promote your organisation by being active and vibrant participants within their own networks.

How have people’s relationships with Oxfam and its campaigns changed because of the web? And conversely, how have they not changed?

People expected us now to provide much more evidence and impact of what we talk about  and how their efforts with us have made a difference. Which is a great thing in my book. Social media and blogging help with this, which I think we utilise the best when we are big global events like the UN Climate Change Summit or the G20.  We try to give our supporters a insiders look  of how our team uses their campaign efforts to get the attention of decision makers.

I think despite the ability to receive information from friends and family, people still want organisations they trust like Oxfam and others to provide insight and evidence of what is going on in the world and I don’t think that will change.

What are the new techniques you use to convince people to support Oxfam? What is different about what they demand?

We still use email  as a key way to inform people about opportunities to support Oxfam’s work, how to help in a crisis or to help change underlying issues  that prevent ending poverty and suffering.

Mobile and social media are providing new ways for people to interact with us from QR codes on clothing in our shops so you can find out more about the people who support us, to google maps video and blog updates about our work in Haiti to quick ways to donate with us via your mobile, to twitter and hashtag actions, or organising meetups of global supporters via phone and online,  we are using lots of different ways engage people with Oxfam.

What do you think will be the next digital opportunity for charities using the web? Will it be a new kind of technology, a new kind of interface, a new browsing experience?

MOBILE.  Mobile  and mobile internet is key for many charities for many different reasons. Those of who work with technology across many countries, using mobile in a way that works across different levels of access and levels of sophistication will continue to be an interesting challenge.

The Youth of the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

People under 25 form the majority of the population in many middle East and African Countries. It is they who are doing the most innovative work in adapting technologies, communication styles and channels so they work for them, whether it is looking at how to build ultra cheap touch screens, how to organise within a culture of repression or kludging a solar powered system together for their village. I think all NGOs should be looking to the youth in these countries to inspire us and lead the way to new ways of thinking about technology for social good.

...copyright reform was more than a reaction to changing technologies. Lawmakers had to weigh competing definitions of the public good and ideas about the purpose of copyright to determine how its citizens should be permitted to use cultural works

Cummings, A.S. (2010, Dec). From Monopoly to Intellectual Property: Music Piracy and the Remaking of American Copyright, 1909-1971, The Journal od American History, 659-681.

Comprehensive long-view analysis of the historical construction of ownership in the US around music in the pre-Web era.

…money is simply a means, a material or an example for the presentation of relations that exist between the most superficial, ‘realistic’ and fortuitous phenomena and the most idealized powers of existence, the most profound currents of individual life and history. The significance and purpose of the whole undertaking is simply to derive from the surface level of economic affairs a guideline that leads to the ultimate values and things of importance in all that is human.

Simmel, G. (1978). The Philosophy of Money (3rd ed). Routledge: New York.

Seminal philosophical text  by the German academic on the nature of money and its role in society. Full text (pdf) in the link above.

The experience of losing our ‘net connection becomes more & more like losing a friend

Sparrow, B., Liu, J., and Wegner, D. M. (2011, 5 Aug). Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our FingertipsScience, 333(6043): 776-778.

abstract only, tho I have access via LSE.

The advent of the Internet, with sophisticated algorithmic search engines, has made accessing information as easy as lifting a finger. No longer do we have to make costly efforts to find the things we want. We can “Google” the old classmate, find articles online, or look up the actor who was on the tip of our tongue. The results of four studies suggest that when faced with difficult questions, people are primed to think about computers and that when people expect to have future access to information, they have lower rates of recall of the information itself and enhanced recall instead for where to access it. The Internet has become a primary form of external or transactive memory, where information is stored collectively outside ourselves.

emphasis added

Here are my notes & quotes:

Storing information externally is nothing particularly novel, even before the advent of computers. In any long-term relationship, a teamwork environment, or other ongoing group, people typically develop a group or transactive memory, a combination of memory stores held directly by individuals and the memory stores they can access because they know someone who knows that information… The present research explores whether having online access to search engines, databases, and the like, has become a primary transactive memory source in itself.

results from experiment 1: when asked difficult trivia questions, do people think about computers more quickly?

Although the concept of knowledge in general seems to prime thoughts of computers, even when answers are known, not knowing the answer to general-knowledge questions primes the need to search for the answer, and subsequently computer interference is particularly acute.

results of experiment 2: will people only remember keywords when they think they’ll have access to a computer to look up information int he future?

Participants apparently did not make the effort to remember when they thought they could later look up the trivia statements they had read. Because search engines are  continually available to us, we may often be in a state of not feeling we need to encode the information internally. When we need it, we will look it up.

they were more affected about whether they’d be able to look something up later than whether they had to remember it at all.

results of experiment 3: do people remember things better when they know if/where info is saved?

…believing that one won’t have access to the information in the future enhances memory for the information itself, whereas believing the information was saved externally enhances memory for the fact that the information could be accessed, at least in general.

having a search function - on the web or on a computer - means that you won’t use cognitive capacity to remember  where you saw it, but knowing something’s been erased will use “memory demands”.

finally, results of experiment 4: do people remember where saved information can be found?

“where” was prioritized in memory, with the advantage going to “where” when “what” was forgotten…This is preliminary evidence that when people expect information to remain continuously available (such as we expect with Internet access), they are more likely to remember where to find it than to remember the details of the item. One could argue that this is an adaptive use of memory—to include the computer and online search engines as an external memory system that can be accessed at will.

and their conclusions:

..processes of human memory are adapting to  the advent of new computing and communication technology.

we are learning what the computer “knows” and when we should attend to where we have stored information in our computer based memories. We are becoming symbiotic with our computer tools, growing into  interconnected systems that remember less by knowing information than by knowing where the information can be found.

and the kicker:

We have become dependent on [our gadgets] to the same degree we are dependent on all the knowledge we gain from our friends and co-workers—and lose if they are out of touch. The experience of losing our Internet connection becomes more and more like losing a friend.

Watch on untanglingtheweb.tumblr.com

Baroness Susan Greenfield at the BBC for the launch of The Virtual Revolution asking, ‘is the web changing our brains?’

What is the potential impact of technology, such
as computer gaming, on the brain?

pdf of the keynote seminar of the all-party group on scientific research in learning and education in the House of Lords in March 2010.

An epic battle between Baroness Susan Greenfield (it’s infantilising our brains) and Dr Vaughan Bell (evidence for increased attention + contextual analysis of new technologies and public fears).

Worth the read.

Digital Diplomacy: Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds

a report for the Carnegie foundation by @josholalia & @ritajking, from February 2009.

The Understanding Islam through Virtual Worlds project specifically endeavored to consider how the Internet can lead to a greater firsthand understanding of Islam for policymakers, diplomats, and people worldwide, and to explore how the Internet allows people to experience the culture of Islam in a manner conducive to substantive dialog between cultures.

We recommend expansion and empowerment of digital diplomacy efforts, and augmentation of exchange programs by adding a virtual component.