Tag Archives: Professor Shaun Lawson

Leading figures in human computer interaction converge in Lincoln

The 800th anniversary of Magna Carta is the inspiration for this year’s British Human Computer Interaction Conference (HCI 2015), hosted by the University of Lincoln, UK.

HCI 2015, which takes place from 13th-17th July, will focus on our ever-evolving digital society and the role interactive technology plays in mediating and communicating political views. A total of 220 delegates from 18 countries will be in attendance.

Organised by Lincoln’s Social Computing (LiSC) research centre, the conference is inspired by the anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta in 1215, an event viewed as an international cornerstone of liberty and one that challenged society’s relationship with authority

Director of LiSC, Professor Shaun Lawson said: “Lincoln is home to one of only four surviving copies of Magna Carta and will take a major role in the 800th anniversary celebrations coinciding with our hosting of HCI 2015. The theme reflects the increasing public consciousness of how interactive technologies fundamentally affect our privacy, rights, and relationships with authority, government and commerce.

“This conference will set the agenda in the UK and internationally around the design of future interactive digital systems. The research community used to be interested in the use and design of a device, but now it’s more about the experience and the way digital technology affects our lives, including our political and democratic lives.”

The keynote speakers, Chris Csikszentmihalyi, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Cristina Leston-Bandeira and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, will discuss how Magna Carta is more relevant than ever in an age where interactive digital technology constantly shapes our lives and our relationships with each other, as well as those in authority.

Assange, for instance, has recently spoken about the Wikileaks’ claim that “top secret intelligence reports and technical documents” from the US National Security Agency (NSA) state it spied on communications by successive French Presidents from 2006-12.

Creating digital technologies for dementia care

Designers, coders, hackers and researchers are coming together for an event aimed at exploring how digital technologies could support and improve dementia care.

Create-4-Dementia, from 30th to 31st May 2015, is the first public event of the Social Computing and Mental Health Research Network led by the University of Lincoln, UK, and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Thee two-day hackathon will culminate in the creation of digital prototypes.

Network leader Professor Shaun Lawson, from the School of Computer Science at the University of Lincoln, said: “The design of technology to address issues around dementia has received a lot of attention, but it remains a very difficult and sensitive area. At this event we want to draw in people with any and all relevant skillsets so that everyone’s voice is heard – in particular we want to see if we can rethink entire aspects of the approach to designing for dementia.”

The Social Computing and Mental Health Research Network was created to address challenges around creating online mental health services that could offer a more compelling and convenient way to access information, therapy and support.

The network, which is conducted in partnership with Newcastle University School of Computing Science in collaboration with NIHR MindTech Healthcare Technology Co-operative at Nottingham, aims to create a new interdisciplinary research community, by developing interaction between science, technology, clinical and commercial groups and charities.

Experts in a number of fields, such as social computing and human computer interaction, are working together to try and understand what the challenges are in using mobile and web applications, as well as social media, to assist people with mental health problems and create new collaborative multidisciplinary research proposals.

On the Create-4-Dementia event, Dr Michael Craven, Senior Research Fellow with MindTech and the University of Nottingham Faculty of Engineering, and member of the Centre for Dementia, said: “This is a great opportunity for engineers and software designers to engage with unmet needs in dementia and begin to formulate technology solutions.”

Teams will compete for juried prizes to the value of £1,000 and can apply for additional research funding of up to £10,000.

For more information on  the event, which is taking place at the Great Northern Museum in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, visit http://create4dementia.com/apply.

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Wikileaks founder to speak at conference

Controversial Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been invited to speak by the organisers of this year’s British Human Computer Interaction Conference to be held in Lincoln.

The previous editor-in-chief of the website WikiLeaks, which Assange also co-founded in 2006 after an earlier career in hacking and programming, will appear by video link on 17th July, 2015.

Organised by the University of Lincoln’s Social Computing research centre in conjunction with the BCS Interaction Specialist Group, the British Human Computer Interaction Conference (HCI 2015) is inspired by the anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta in 1215, an event viewed as an international cornerstone of liberty and one that challenged society’s relationship with authority.

Taking place on the University’s Brayford Campus from 13th-17th July, the conference will focus on our ever-evolving digital society.

Director of Lincoln’s Social Computing research centre, Professor Shaun Lawson said: “The conference has invited Julian Assange to speak to delegates as he has a range of views, experiences and knowledge relevant to the conference themes of digital civics, online democracy and citizens’ relationships with authority and government.

“Experts in the field of human computer interaction who are investigating the role interactive technology plays in mediating and communicating political views will be joining Assange to discuss the topic. Researchers wanting to be involved or submit papers can find more information on the conference website.”

Lincoln is home to one of only four surviving copies of Magna Carta and will take a major role in the 800th anniversary celebrations, coinciding with the city hosting HCI 2015.

Professor Lawson added: “The overarching conference theme reflects the increasing public consciousness of how interactive technologies fundamentally affect our privacy, rights, and relationships with authority, government and commerce.

“This conference will set the agenda in the UK and internationally around the design of future interactive digital systems. The research community used to be interested in the use and design of a device, but now it’s more about the experience and the way digital technology affects our lives, including our political and democratic lives.”

Lincoln’s Social Computing research centre is focussed on the social aspects of human-computer interaction (HCI). This includes investigations into how people engage with mobile and social platforms including online social networks, micro-blogging services, and social and pervasive games. Much of the group’s recent work is built upon the hypothesis that such technology can provide a compelling platform to deliver serious messages about societal issues, as well as interface between computing and the arts.

The centre’s grant income in the last five years totals around £1.5 million. Professor Lawson is currently leading a new research project that will investigate how social media can play its part in both inciting discrimination against and building understanding of marginalised communities. The CuRAtOR (Challenging online feaR And OtheRing) project, funded by a £750,000 grant from the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Empathy and Trust In Communicating ONline (EMoTICON) call, will focus on understanding how empathy and trust are developed, maintained, transformed and lost in social media interactions.

For more information on HCI 2015 please e-mail hci2015@bcs.org or visit the website

What can the Twitter storm over Benefits Street teach us?

A new research project will investigate how social media can play its part in both inciting discrimination against and building understanding of marginalised communities.

The CuRAtOR (Challenging online feaR And OtheRing) project, led by the University of Lincoln, UK, will explore where and how representations of certain minority groups by government and broadcast media can lead to discrimination driven by social media.

Cultures of fear can be spread, either deliberately or otherwise, by a wide range of agents including the media, government, science, the arts, industry and politics.

Examples of this include the recent portrayal of a (seemingly) whole community of benefit claimants in Channel 4’s Benefits Street. Observations of social media discussions about the documentary highlighted high levels of antipathy, anger and abuse directed at the community portrayed within the programme.

Funded by a £750,000 grant from the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Empathy and Trust In Communicating ONline (EMoTICON) call, the research will focus on understanding how empathy and trust are developed, maintained, transformed and lost in social media interactions.

Principal Investigator, Professor Shaun Lawson from the School of Computer Science at the University of Lincoln, said: “One way of marginalising communities is by instilling fear in the general public. What is not understood at present is the interplay between traditional broadcast media, government messages and what’s happening online with social media, particularly on Twitter and Facebook.

“There are significant unanswered questions on what role online digital media can have in propagating cultures of fear and mistrust. The big question, however, is whether the outwardly vitriolic reaction to the people in programmes like Benefits Street is actually enforcing the negative perception, and if not what is really happening.”

The second aspect of the three-year project will investigate the possibility of creating alternative digital experiences that might counteract the negative effects of this kind of discrimination.

Professor Lawson said: “It’s about making people think more critically and challenge what they view as fact. We need to create the environment to foster that kind of thinking and make sure people are aware of the bigger picture. So, if a company makes a TV programme, how can social media be used to counteract certain negative kinds of messages and make people think more deeply about those issues? How we create those new experiences is what we hope to achieve through the research.”

The project will also look at how the media and emerging digital data contributes to the unfair portrayal of communities. For instance, the release of open crime data is intended to increase confidence in our law enforcement agencies, yet its effect is to increase fear of crime.

The project team, which also involves researchers from Bath, Newcastle, Nottingham and Aberdeen universities, will be investigating whether this type of data can be used in a more critical way.

Dr David Cobham, Head of the Lincoln School of Computer Science, added: “This is the latest in a series of extremely thought provoking projects undertaken by the Lincoln Social Computing (LiSC) Research Centre. LiSC is one of the UK’s leading technology research units investigating the way social media are being used and abused. The CuRAtOR project helps us understand how society can harness the power of social computing for the greater good. Given that our lives are increasingly affected and influenced by social media, this line of technology research is incredibly revealing and is absolutely essential.”

For more on the EMoTICON call, go to http://lncn.eu/uwy2

Fear definition