Jean Cocteau once said that the art is science made clear, but what he didn’t indicate is that the science is creating different forms of art including the art of connecting people and communicating science. Bora Zivkovic is a unique, energetic, technologically-savvy, and multidisciplinary scientist, connector, and blogger. I met Bora twice: during the Science Online 2009 and Science Online 2010 conference in Raleigh NC, USA, and on many other occasions online, and he would always motivate me with incredible energy and passion for science and people. I would say that Bora is the real science connector, not only communicating and articulating science in its many forms but also connecting people, networks, and the scientific communities world wide.
Born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia (now Serbia), Bora’s studies of veterinary medicine were interrupted by the 1990s war in the Balkans, when he arrived in the USA. He went to graduate school at North Carolina State University where he studied how bird brains measure time of day (circadian rhythms) and time of year (photoperiodism). He started A Blog Around the Clock in 2004 as a prolific science blogger. He was the online Community Manager for the open access journal PLoS ONE. He is now the editor of Scientific American’s blog network, organizes the annual ScienceOnline conference, and is the editor of The Open Laboratory, an annual collection of the best writing from science blogs.
He even interviewed me once, as a host of a series of interviews with various scientists, bloggers, educators, and journalists; and now is my turn to ask Bora questions I always wanted to ask him. I had an opportunity to interview him and here are the questions and perceptive, knowledgeable, and fun responses.
Recently the Science Online 2012, #scio12 has finished, and impressions are still spreading online among scientists, bloggers, journalists by sharing blog posts, videos, tweets. How do you feel after this year’s conference? Do you think that some things and social dynamics during this conference have changed comparing to previous conferences? I’ve seen familiar names tweeting online, people I met in person in 2009 and 2010. What has changed in the conference dynamics since then?
We were very aware that growing a meeting by 50% can change the dynamics. We spent the entire year discussing strategies for ensuring that the intimate atmosphere of the meeting does not vanish. I wrote quite a lot about this in my long blog post after the event, especially about the need to make sure that so many new people feel welcome and instantly included into the community – including all the fun parts of the event. We completely changed the daily schedule in order to foster more informal interractions, we (really, Karyn Traphagen) designed the Cafe Room with this in mind, and we put quite a lot of effort in our communications on the blogs (including my post which was recommended to all to read beforehand), emails and social media, to prepare everybody for the unconference format and for the unique blend of serious discussions and crazy fun of ScienceOnline. For the most part, judging from what people are saying on their blogs and in our feedback forms, we were successful.
I wrote an article at the Scientific American blog highlighting digital divides – or digital inequalities, if you prefer – from other perspective, pointing out that these digital divides go far beyond pure infrastructure issues and need to become a key focus of engagement for profit and nonprofit organizations as they continue their missions to develop programs for social and digital inclusion.
Everyone’s talking about internet access: from European media to US media, stressing connectivity issues that merely compounding existing social inequalities as “new digital divides”, as if they are something new in the networked society. They are not.
According to the available measures, the selected indicators (such as gender, income, occupation, online experience, internet penetration, type of internet connection, etc.) are significantly related to the levels of (one’s country) per capita GDP, literacies, education, level of democratization, etc. Being as one of the contributors for the forthcoming Routledge book on Digital Divide, I have presented some of the findings from my research, where I used the combined methodology: from web desktop analysis to online surveys and qualitative semi-structured interviews (N-125).
This is a post on what I was working on in the last few weeks, writing a book chapter for the great edition on the Internet and digital inequalities in International perspective including International contributors, and submitting some other papers on social networks and communication dynamics online.
Since many of you asked me on Twitter, email, Skype what the book chapter is about – I wanted to share with you a piece of it (the book is supposed to be published next year). It is individual work that is the result of several years of experience, qualitative research (semi-structured interviews), observations, recent talking and writing on different kinds of digital and social divides, social media and communication practices present on the Internet, and recently measured by quantiative (online surveys) and qualitative (semi-structured interviews, web desktop analysis, observation, etc.) research of mine. In short my focus for this book was on Internet and social media in European perspective – Balkan countries. My manuscript is theoretically grounded on social theories developed by the classical sociologists like Max Weber, Giddens, Meyorwitz and I applied them to the issues of Internet inequality.
When I’m not exploring social media, writing, researching, consulting, travelling, creating photography and else, I’m curious about other things that are interconnected with Information-Communication technologies. This is my first text for the Scientific American blog on robots and new technologies.
They learn to speak, write, and do arithmetic. They have a phenomenal memory. If one read them the Encyclopedia Britannica they could repeat everything back in order, but they never think up anything original. They’d make fine university professors.
R.U.R. (1920), Karel Čapek
My first experience with robots was through popular culture and literature when I was a little girl. I was fascinated with the first computers, space and robots: Star wars and R2D2 (first indication of my geekiness), watching many times and dreaming of Blade runner, reading short stories by I.Asimov. Later on, during college, courses on information systems, cybernetics caught my attention, from the cybernetic communication models to cybernetic organisms being described as cyborgs and the larger networks of communication. I was interested in techno-science and feminist-cyborg studies of Donna Haraway and S.Turkle’s cyber-analysis of the robots sociability, her studies on intimate bonds we form with our artifacts (robots and computers), and how they shape who we are. Finally, with the Internet expansion my interests switched to Information and communication technologies and Computer-Mediated Communication, networked and learning systems.
Then, last December at TED Women I’ve reached a “robotic moment” watching a roboticist from MIT, Cynthia Breazeal, who talked about robots in communication technologies: mobile, expressive, performing collaborative tasks, and socially engaging, something that interconnected with my internet studies and research on communication in different contexts.
People interact with robots identically as with their computers. They trust in them and they are emotionally engaged. To find out more about the possibilities of robots and their proliferation in society (in learning, medicine, space, everyday life) as well as the European robotic scene, I was talking with researchers in Cognitive Robotics Sasa Bodiroza and his colleague Guido Schillaci from the Cognitive Robotics Department at the Humboldt University of Berlin.
DR: Welcome to The Scientific American blog. Would you, please, tell my readers a little bit more about yourself? What is your scientific background?
SB: My name is Sasa Bodiroza and I am a PhD student in the Cognitive Robotics Group at the Institute of Informatics, Humboldt University of Berlin. I work together with my colleague Guido Schillaci, under supervision of Prof. Verena Hafner.
I finished my BSc and MSc studies in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the School of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade. My bachelor and master theses were in the area of fuzzy logic: developing a system for student learning.
GS: Hello, my name is Guido Schillaci and I’m from Palermo, Italy. I’m a Ph.D. student at the Humboldt University Berlin where I’m a member, with Sasa Bodiroza, of the Cognitive Robotics Group supervised by Prof. Verena Hafner. We’re involved in the International Research Network INTRO (INTeractive RObotics) funded by EU.
I have a Bachelor Degree in Computer Engineering and a Master Degree in Computer Engineering for Intelligent Systems, both from the University of Palermo. I studied for one year at the School of Computer Engineering (ETSIIT) of Granada, Spain. My thesis dealt with machine learning techniques for robotics.
DR: What’s your PhD research about?
My research is a part of an international research network INTRO (INTeractive Robotics), a project in the EU 7th Framework Program (FP7). The network consists of four university partners: Umea University, Humboldt University of Berlin, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Bristol Robotics Laboratory, and two industry partners: Robosoft and Space Application Services.
I am interested in the use of gestures in human-robot interaction. I focus on dynamic gesture analysis, which includes recognition, learning and synthesis of gestures. Another important aspect are methods for determination of human gesture vocabularies, as well as sets of gestures fit to the particular robot morphology.
I would like to inform you that Call for papers for the workshop Making Sense of Microposts (MSM) at the Extended Semantic Web conference 2011 is announced. The workshop is interdiscipinary and gathers academics and professionals from the Semantic Web technologies and Social/Web Science studies. Also, have in mind that we will have a best paper award. (I’m on the Steering committee.)
“Making Sense of Microposts” (MSM), will cover the topics of: information extraction and leveraging of semantics from Microposts; making use of Microposts’ semantics; and social studies related to Microposts that could help build appealing new systems based on this type of data. The workshop has two main points of difference from existing Social Semantic Web workshops which partially treat Microposts: (a) the interdisciplinary nature and interest to bring together the Social Sciences and Semantic Web research; (b) the focus on Microposts’ usage in making appealing tools for Web users and showing how the Semantic Web makes a difference in those applications. One of the main goals of MSM is to bring together the researchers from various disciplines treating the question of Microposts from different angles. We are particularly interested in submissions describing theories from the Social Sciences related to the creation and potential usage of Microposts that could inspire the creation of data structures, ontologies and finally interfaces that make advanced use of Microposts. We also envisage submissions that describe the application of Semantic Web technologies, either in enabling the inference of new facts, or the gleaning and enriching of knowledge from collections of such data.
Do you remember the stories when computer engineer advices you to store all the important files on the partition D, and the partition C is for the Program files? Well, forget about it. The hard drive on my laptop is dead. In a seconds. No data saved. On both partitions. “But HOW?”, my friend screamed out this morning.
I have been using laptop computers for over a decade. Simply, my dynamic life style, frequent travels and the change of living and working places since the end of the 90’s determined that I will be using laptops. I had them many and experienced different malfunctions, software errors, but never so far had any major problems with hard discs, major enough to have complete crash and lost of data. I heard that such situations usually happen on weekends when technicians are not working. Now I believe in that.
“Open Access” to information [and knowledge, D.R.]– the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need – has the power to transform the way research and scientific inquiry are conducted. It has direct and widespread implications for academia, medicine, science, industry, and for society as a whole.
I have been writing earlier about the Open Access movement and its importance for the science, research and technology, as being involved in the several Open Access projects since 2005. This year’s Open Access Week, October 18 – 24, is dedicated to the collaboration and participation through a broad range of initiatives around the globe, including many universities, research institutes, digital repositories, online databases, and other initiatives that support Open Access.
It is very important that the academic and research community continue to learn about the benefits of Open Access, since many electronic resources relevant to the education are still under locked archives, databases, and numerous valuable material stays behind the iron gates. Institutions, scholars, researchers, educators, librarians are encouraged to share what they’ve learned with peers, share their production, and to inspire wider participation in making Open Access a new norm in research, technology, scholarship.
I’ve collected a short list of links to digital repositories, online databases with various e-resources, thesis, articles, papers. Feel free to include your list or share some interesting Open access project.
Does it matter to you? And how?
– JISC (brings advice on implementing OA to the universities and research institutions)
– SpringerOpen, open access for authors in all disciplines
– The London School of Economics. LSE Research Online