Two telepresence robots roll into a human-computer interaction conference. Sounds like the beginning of a very nerdy joke, but it really happened (#2017). A few weeks ago in Denver, Colorado, a robot I was piloting over the internet from my computer in Idaho stood wheel-to-wheel with a similar ‘bot in a pink skirt controlled by a researcher in Germany. We huddled. We introduced ourselves by yelling at each other’s screens. Given the topic of the conference, this particular human-computer interaction was a little too on the HD touch-screen nose. But as much as the huddle symbolized of the future, it was also a political statement about a troubled present.
“It is a political statement, right? That we can allow people to come,” says Gloria Mark, General Chair of CHI and a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine. She says that even with the telepresence robots reserved for people wth denied visas, the conference still lost some attendees over the looming ban. “They just didn’t even want to take a chance of coming,” she said.
Read the full story at Wired.
Informatics Professor Bonnie Nardi has published a new book on the computerization of the economy titled Heteromation, and Other Stories of Computing and Capitalism. Co-written with Hamid R. Ekbia, a professor of informatics, cognitive science and international studies at Indiana University Bloomington, together they investigate the often “hidden” participation of digital technology users that yield economic value for companies via an essentially free labor force in computer-mediated networks. Nardi and Ekbia have coined this practice as “heteromation.” In their book, they consider different types of heteromated labor of capital accumulation, such as “communicative labor, seen in user-generated content on social media; cognitive labor, including microwork and self-service; creative labor, from gaming environments to literary productions; emotional labor, often hidden within paid jobs; and organizing labor, made up of collaborative oups such as citizen scientists.”
The hardcover and e-book versions of Heteromation are available for purchase from MIT Press.
The machines, usually paid for either with funding for students with special needs or from grants and donations, allow students who might otherwise be socially isolated to stay in touch and even make eye contact with classmates and teachers. That helps keep their spirits up and helps them stay motivated academically, according to Judy Olson, a professor at the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine. Olson is the coauthor of a paper on telepresence robots in education that was presented at the Association for Computing Machinery’s recent annual conference on human-computer interaction.
Read the full story at Fast Company.