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Launching Fox Harrell's Professional Website (foxharrell.com)

Today, we are extremely happy and excited to announce the launch of Professor Fox Harrell's professional website over at http://www.foxharrell.com!
 
On behalf of Professor Fox Harrell, we'd like welcome our readers to visit the page, which contains information about Fox's current research and several of his ongoing projects. It will also serve as a medium for Fox Harrell to communicate with his readers through his musings, thoughts, and ideas via blog posts. It presents a great opportunity to get to know him and his ideas better, and to stimulate active discussions his readers.
 
Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you over at foxharrell.com!
 

ICE Lab Director Fox Harrell in the News

Over the past couple of months, Professor Fox Harrell has been featured on several press outlets. Here is a summary of the articles and interviews that have occurred together with links to their respective locations.
 
"Virtual Reality Technology to be used for Art and Self-Expression," Boston Business Journal, 27 March 2014
Boston Business Journal's Sara Castellanos interviews our very own Prof. Fox Harrell, who talks about how virtual reality technology could be used in ways beyond gaming, ranging from art to self-expression and empowerment.  
[Link]

"Digital Soul:The Computer, Imagination and Social Change," The Root, 24 March 2014
Fox Harrell introduces a number of new theory and projects related to his work with Phantasmal Media and discusses about using the computer to develop technology and culture such as video games, social media and, most important, new forms of digital media that push beyond those boundaries. This article was also featured on the Chicago Tribune.
[Link]

 
"Spike Jonze’s Her: Sci-fi as Social Criticism," BBC, 13 January 2014
Fox Harrell talks about the movie Her, directed by Spike Jonze. He describes how people's interactions with objects involve relationships and meaning. He also talks about how the technologies shown in Her reveal some of the values of their creators and the society in which they exist.”
[Link]

ICE Lab Director Fox Harrell publishes a new book on computing and culture

ICE Lab Director Fox Harrell has just published his newest book, Phantasmal Media: An Approach to Imagination, Computation, and Expression with the MIT Press.
 
In the book, Harrell considers the expressive power of computational media. Carefully grounded in computer science, cognitive science, and media studies, and using illustrative multicultural references ranging from classic cinema to science fiction, Harrell’s work has been called a manifesto on how computing can create powerful new forms of cultural expression.
 

The ICE Lab at Digital Humanities 2013

The ICE Lab recently presented in Lincoln, Nebraska at the Digital Humanities 2013 conference. This was hosted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 16-19 July, 2013.

We presented two long-papers at the conference:

The first, "The Advanced Identity Representation (AIR) Project: A Digital Humanities Approach to Social Identity Pedagogy," gave an in depth overview over the activities at our lab, and how our processes and applications relate to the digital humanities field. It was a chance to share both the vision and work processes of our lab, as well as describe the theoretical framework underlying the many of our projects, also touching on how we fulfill our pedagogical aims.

Launching Chimeria

Today, we are happy to announce the launch of Chimeria!

Chimeria is a system to help people explore and better understand experiences related to social group membership such as privilege and marginalization. Everyone belongs to social categories based on factors such as musical preference, fashion, gender, or race. Yet, some category members are more central, privileged, or marginalized than others. Membership in such social categories is also dynamic: whether someone is a member or not may change over time, and this both occurs within and between groups.

These dynamics of group membership are simulated in Chimeria using an artificial intelligence-driven interactive story. Users interact with various characters within a novel social networking interface. Based on a player’s musical preferences and decisions in an online conversation, the system dynamically generates an interactive conversation centered upon snippets of music that takes place between the user and the other characters. This interactive conversation, grounded in a sociolinguistics model of conversational narrative, allows an engaging experience in which players may encounter various social category membership phenomena which occur in the real-world.

You can play Chimeria here: http://groups.csail.mit.edu/icelab/chimeria/
More information on Chimeria, including some of our research, here: http://groups.csail.mit.edu/icelab/?q=node/138

Chimeria

Everyone belongs to social categories based on factors such as musical preference, fashion, gender, or race. Yet, some category members are more central, privileged, or marginalized than others. Membership in such social categories is also dynamic: whether someone is a member or not may change over time, both within and between groups. Chimeria is a system to help people better understand social categorization phenomena such as marginalization and the dynamics of group membership. Chimeria does this through an interactive narrative. Consider the following story on a music-oriented social network:

A punk rock music fan decides to listen to a little jazz. She listens to a couple of albums by the jazz musician Thelonious Monk, but however, still continues to post messages only about punk rock. She grows tired of being a punk rocker (who dabbles in jazz on the side), so listens again only to hardcore punk rock music. But now, upon returning back to punk rock, punk rock seems to have lost its luster. She finally decides to forsake punk rock and become a jazz fan...for good.

In this story, a central member of a category moves toward the margins of the category, back toward the center, and finally changes categories altogether at the end. This pattern of movement within and between categories is the sort of phenomenon that Chimeria models mathematically. The story could have been one of racial or gender group membership; but for the initial version of Chimeria we have chosen music-related identity as a focus domain.

These dynamics of group membership are simulated in Chimeria using an artificial intelligence (AI)-driven interactive story. Users interact with various characters within a novel social networking interface. Based on a player’s musical preferences and decisions in an online conversation, the system dynamically generates an interactive conversation centered upon snippets of music that takes place between the user and the other characters. This interactive conversation, grounded in a sociolinguistics model of conversational narrative, allows an engaging experience in which players may encounter various social category membership phenomena which occur in the real-world.

Fox Harrell named in ARTFORUM Top 10

Arthur and Marilouise Kroker have included Professor Fox Harrell in their Top Ten for ARTFORUM. Arthur and Marilouise Kroker are writers and lecturers in the areas of technology and culture and together edit the influential electronic journal CTheory.

Fox Harrell, an MIT research professor working at the interface of the humanities and artificial intelligence, has rewritten the codes of computer gaming to combat social stigma, bias, and prejudice, as well as to reveal biographies yet untold—those still unwritten stories about the disappearance of identity in the digital haze of network culture.

Launching Mimesis Beta

Mimesis cover image

We're excited to launch the public beta of our interactive narrative game, Mimesis! In Mimesis, you play as a mimic octopus who has lost her way, and encounters various undersea creatures on her way home. Will the anglerfish help or hinder you? Is the seahorse getting snippy? Use your heart and emotions to guide your conversations with them as you move toward home!

Mimesis allows players to explore a a subtle form of social discrimination. Mimesis engages players in experiences "microaggressions," or subtle everyday acts of discrimination that compound, affecting health and happiness negatively, yet, in their subtleties, are often dismissed.

We hope you enjoy our game, and if you have any feedback that is not covered during the play experience, please don't hesitate to let us know!

You can play the beta version of Mimesis here: http://groups.csail.mit.edu/icelab/mimesis/
More information on Mimesis, including some of our research, here: http://groups.csail.mit.edu/icelab/?q=node/97

In the Media

"Fox Harrell on NPR speaking about "Pong" and video games"
Associate Professor of Digital Media Fox Harrell spoke recently with Action Speaks, whose podcasts celebrate great, America-changing anniversaries. [Read More]

"Prof. Fox Harrell discusses virtual self-identities with WGBH's Innovation Hub"
From host Kara Miller's segment on "How Social Media Is Defining Us". [Read More]

"In Media Res: Recent News from the Comparative Media Studies periodical"
An article, "Taking on social discrimination and self-representation," appears in the following CMS publication (pg. 21): In Media Res (Spring 2012 edition). [Read More]

Mimesis

Online social networks and video games are prevalent in today’s society, and using both video game characters and social networking profiles cam potentially be used to help people better understand others’ experiences, delivering meaningful experiences which enable critical reflection upon one’s identity, and on others’ experiences related to identity. However, merely customizing graphical representations and text fields are insufficient to convey the richness of our real world identities.

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