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The social life of information

The social life of information

Ralph Dum (Future Emerging Technologies Directorate, Information Society & Media European Commission)

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Insite Project

August 08, 2012
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  1. The social life of information Human relations go digital and

    how this will shape the IT agenda in the future Ralph Dum Future Emerging Technologies Directorate Information Society & Media European Commission ‘We are animals suspended in webs of significance that we ourselves have spun’ (Clifford Geertz).
  2. There are many webs that humanity has spun IT has

    reshaped all of them and has weaved ‘the Web’ Facebook The Web: A social space IT helped humanity spin global ‘webs’ (trade, finance, terrorism) They are all interconnected! Governing such global ‘hyper-connected’ networks becomes a challenge Can we profit from the collective power of such networks?
  3. The ‘ambiance’ is the coherent collection of signs that trigger

    the enacting of a class of behaviors. (Jean Baudrillard, Le système des objets) Ambient intelligence in urban space Hundertwasser (1952) ‘Transautomation Motivation: Can IT help trigger a class of sustainable behaviours? Can IT create such an ‘ambiance’ in social space?
  4. Villagers carry a GPS to record location of their hunting

    grounds, sacred trees and important rivers to fight illegal logging GPS helps Pygmies defend forest J. Lewis (UCL) Symbols are used instead of alphabet Integrate Human and IT data collecting capacity Example: Communities collectively become ‘human’ sensors
  5. Street-level London air pollution warnings via mobile phones: Nitrogen dioxide

    concentrations Integrate Human and IT data collecting capacity Example: Participatory sensing in FET project Everyaware Data collected by mobile phone users linked via a social network Participation has triggered enhanced awareness of environmental risk From objective monitoring - temperature, noise, air quality... to subjective monitoring - opinions, personal experiences ... “Tell me, I forget. Show me, I remember. Involve me, I understand” ( Chinese proverb)
  6. Future(s): Web as Polis -Real-time feedback on policies -Republique 2.0

    (Michel Rocard) -Can ‘the Web’ help drive political agendas? Future(s): Web as social lab -Social Sciences2.0: Web-based social experiments -Facebook as census -‘Twitterology’ Present: Web as Agora -Blogs/twitter: Hyde park online -Can ‘the Web’ help drive social change? -Participatory approaches integrating IT and human cognition Past: Web as Alexandrian Library -‘The Web, the next Revolution after Gutenberg ‘ (‘The Economist‘) -Wikipedia: collective knowledge The ‘Web’ as social space
  7. Integrate human and IT intelligence Example: Federate intelligence of millions

    of web users CAPTCHA Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart) (Luis von Ahn) OCR cannot recognize ‘morning’ in above text, a human user can REcaptcha Collective digitising of old books 100Milions humans collaborate
  8. ‘Why don’t we do what we know we should be

    doing’ (1) The awareness/coordination obstacles: Why don’t we care/act? -The problem of trust (in experts, models, authorities) -We have limited trust in experts or expert data and do not react to them. -Major disruptions occur before we react (‘boiling frog’) -'Policy is not Nescafé' ( Hubert Vedrine) -Societal dynamics needs to be part of the policy process towards a sustainable future (see tragedy of the commons) How to make our networked societies more sustainable? Two obstacles 'More is different' (2) The connectivity obstacle: How to orient of our actions in a highly connected world? -Societal/policy decisions in different sectors are no longer disconnected: no more silos - Unintended consequences of actions in unexpected areas (why do bio-ful subsidies cause foot riots?) -Highly connected systems behave differently -In interconnected systems rare events escalate: ‘I am not worried about the mean. It’s the tail!’ (Sir N. Stern) -How to deal with systemic risks? How to make global social networks resilient and sustainable? (1) Joseph Tainter in ‘Why do complex societies fail?’ (2) P.W. Anderssen
  9. New tools/concepts to tackle the connectivity obstacle: - System models

    and simulations of highly connected networked systems - Build on lessons learned form complex systems modeling - Put to use the IT driven surge in real time data and with integrate human ‘sensing’ - Dealing with highly entangled global socio-economic networks as a key challenge - Develop means to help humans understand unanticipated consequences of their actions - Mental models necessary for understanding a highly connected world - Tools to help humans better deal with multidimensionality of tasks/actions - Tools to convey the results of models and to present data: narratives, games New participatory tools/concepts to tackle the awareness obstacle: - Societal trust in collective knowledge, innovative trust mechanisms based on reputation - Tools/platforms for collective data gathering - Engagement via participation to trigger novel sustainable forms of societal organization How to make our networked societies more sustainable? Tools from IT and concepts from complex systems thinking Initiatives launched in FET/INFSO: -Towards a ‘Science of global systems’ (WP2011-2012) -Platforms for Collective Awareness (foreseen in WP2013) -Global system dynamics and policies www.gsdp.eu
  10. The views expressed in this presentation are the author’s, not

    the European Commission’s Ralph Dum Future and Emerging Technologies European Commission ralph.dum@ec.europa.eu see also - GSDP Global Systems Dynamics and Policies: www.GSDP.eu - Collective awareness initiative 2013: ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/collectiveawareness/