Drawing on work in cognitive science, urban design, anthropology, etc., as well as on research in the sociology of online communities, we will
examine the ways social cues are communicated in the real and the virtual world,
discuss the limits imposed upon on-line communities by their
mediated nature, and explore directions that virtual
societies can take that are impossible for physical ones.
Examples of the issues we will study in depth include:
- Visual representations of people: what information does the
face convey in real life? what are the advantages and
drawbacks of using faces in a synthetic graphical space? how
can other representations be designed to convey identity,
- Fashion on the net: how do people use material objects to
convey social information such as status and affiliation in
the real world - and how is this process transformed in the
information ecology of the virtual world?
- Ubiquitous sociability: As computing escapes from the desktop
and becomes an integral part of our clothes, houses, streets,
etc. new sociable interfaces become possible. What are some
of the cultural and cognitive factors that will shape the
evolution of these new media?