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 or visit the website

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