SMSC at ISEA2009

I will be traveling to Belfast on Tuesday to attend ISEA2009, the International Symposium on Electronic Art. I will also be giving a short presentation on the Social Media for Social Change project. As a refresher, SMSC is a design research collaboration between me, three undergraduate students, and members of the Action Mill that is funded by the Philadelphia Applied Research Lab at the University of the Arts. The fundamental question we are asking is: how can we reimagine civil discourse in the context of social media and networked communication? Our objectives are: 1) to learn more about human interaction (online and offline); 2) to create structural changes (as opposed to merely tweaking existing tools); and 3) to build environments that accommodate divergent perspectives, mediate disagreement, and encourage civil debate.

Quite unexpectedly, the deliverable we have produced at the close of this first phase is a haptic board game called The NIMBY Game. Using real-world land use and zoning dilemmas often faced in cities, players must negotiate these in order to collectively plan their city while balancing the pressures of self-inerest and common good. We think it’s quite useful for understanding better structures for civil discourse — and it’s also pretty fun to play. We’d like to release the game as a limited edition multiple once the final glitches are worked out. (As Rob from the Action Mill says, “Board games are the new indy film.” Works for us!)

Anyway, if you’re going to be in Belfast for ISEA and trying to determine which of the myriad presentations and panels to attend, please do come. I present on Saturday, August 29 at 14:30 in a location called “Waterfront Hall Bar I and II” at the University of Ulster. See you then.

UPDATE: Here are the slides of the presentation I gave: