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0 And GRAND 2013

This conference report is being taken live so it will be full of errors to amuse you.

These notes are from the overlapping Canada 3.0 conference and GRAND 2013 conference. Parts of the first day were shared.

May 14th

Chris Anderson on Making

The opening keynote was given by Chris Anderson of Wired. He talked about the making revolution. He talked about how we are seeing another personal revolution where manufacturing is now becoming personal.

The idea that you need a degree to be a designer is outdated. Now we are all designers, but we have to get good at it. Families and schools now need to get the tools. The act of consumption becomes an act of creation/design.

He argued that "Their [children] relationship with plastic has changed." New relationships with stuff.

The next generation of youth is used to 3D worlds and CAD at some level through games like SIMS and WOW. They will be comfortable with this personalization of manufacturing.

This leads to interesting problems, like issues around the copyright for stuff. You need to put "not" in front of your description as in "This is not a model of ..." to avoid copyright infringement.

Jane McGonigal

Jane McGonigal Connects the popularity of gaming with the lack of engagement of American workers. Does this mean that gamification can get them all engaged?

She talked about lack of engagement in school and work. She then argued that games might be a way of re-engaging people.

She has put up a web site with the research about gaming, Show me the science.

She talked about the positive emotions games feel and want: Joy, Relief, Love, Surprise, Pride, Curiosity, Excitement, Awe and Wonder, Contentment, and Creativity. She then had us play a game to experience some of these emotions.

She summarized her argument to the effect that "games make us resilient".

While I'm skeptical of her generalizations about the application of gaming to the problems of the world, I love the creativity she brings to designing games. She showed two:

  • Find the Future is a game designed for the New York Public Library that brought 500 youth into the library for a night of writing the future.
  • Urgent Evoke is a game about developing ways to change the world.

Big Data

SSHRC organized a panel for Canada 3.0 on Big Data with the title Building Effective Digital Infrastructure Towards Excellence in Research and Training.

Patrick Horgan from IBM started with the three Vs. The is a lot of data (Volume); it is unstructured coming in difference Varieties, and it is coming faster and faster (Velocity.) He then added two more Vs (Veracity and Vulnerability.) IBM thinks the best thing to do is to analyze data. So why don't people do it? The problem is organizations and skills. Organizations aren't set up to analyze their data and they don't have people with the skills.

I suspect that in the digital humanities were are training big unstructured data analytics, but it isn't recognized as such. Should we jump on this terminology and promote our students in this way.

Wendy Cukier from Ryerson talked about examples from her uni including Irene Gammel who is a CRC in literature who started a Modern Literature and Culture Research Center. She talked about how researchers in the humanities have lots of data, but haven't been funded to do big analytics.

Tim Jenkins of Open Text? talked about where the data comes from in big data. He argued that most of the information is in the "deep web" - data behind firewalls that are managed by organizations.

Jenkins talked about how we are shifting from tool makers (engineers) to the tool users (humanities and social scientists.) The complexities can only be handled by people who have a feeling for the subject matter. They can't be analyzed only by algorithm - we need people who know what questions to ask and whether the answers are reasonable.

He then talked about open government and how a lot of the data that is useful (like Google Maps) actually comes from governments.

Vincent Larivière talked about how big data is a consequence of the digital and how we do research. The digital has meant that we can generate and disseminate more data. There are also new phenomena and data sources. There is an increase in collaboration. We communicate differently in the academy - we have gone from the journal article to the blog and now the tweet.

2 Minute Madness

The last event before the poster session was the 2-Minute Madness when each of the projects had 2 minutes to present what they are doing. Everything went to fast to really take notes.

Barry Wellman presented some interesting statistics about GRAND itself. We seem to be happier, collaborating more, and collaborating across disciplines.


At the end of the day there was a poster session with far too many excellent posters reporting research. For example I saw a demo of that allows you to visualize social networks from Twitter and other sources. There was a neat un-poster about The Science, Poetics and Theories of Touch. Their poster was not a poster - it had panels with text on one side and tactile objects on the other. Brilliant. Propinquity was being shown by Jane Tingley. Propinquity is a neat proximity game out of Concordia. The full list is available at

Wednesday May 15th

In the morning we had a number of project meetings. GRAND is going through a renewal process so we have to redevelop the projects. Managing big projects is like building and rebuilding a large organization on the fly. I feel for the central committees that have to figure out how to fairly organize us.

Women and Games Panel

Jen Jenson hosted a great panel on [ | Women and Games]] (scroll down). Brenda Baily Gershkovitch, CEO of Silicon Sisters Interactive talked about her trajectory and what Silicon Sisters is developing. She showed a trailer for a game that is aimed at women's fantasies called Eternal Romance: Rose. It looked like a Japanese visual novel or dating game. Lots of very handsome male (and some female) characters that you can date.

Cecily Carver, Co-director of Dames Making Games talked about helping outsiders to get creatively involved in making games. They run incubators and other neat events in Toronto where women create games and learn the tools. She suggested that many don't think they can make games if they can't program and that is what Dames Making Games is trying to overcome.

Grace gtz, Co-founder of Fat, Ugly or Slutty is a developer. (Go to the site to understand.) She showed slides of horrid online behaviour women are subjected to that the site documents. The site started as a joke and then got a lot of attention. She talked about how many women think they are alone in being abused and the site helps feel less so. The common advice is "don't feed the trolls." The problem with this is that is encourages the trolls and fails to challenge them. She quoted "John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory" to the effect that a normal person given anonymity and an audience becomes a "total fuckwad." Grace was bothered by the anonymity in the equation. She would prefer to talk about consequences so we don't get total fuckwads. She is trying to figure out how to add consequences into the games. She mentioned an Extra Credit episode, Microsoft working on the problem, and New York Times article on the issue. Game companies will work on this if they get public pressure. Riot has a team trying improve player behaviour in their League of Legends game.

Anita Sarkeesian is a Media Critic and Creator who created Feminist Frequency (with crowdfunding support - see my blog entry She showed part of her Damsels in Distress Part 1 video. She talked about how she is trying to use pop culture (video) to change things. She talked about the importance of story-telling even though it has been commercialized. Stories can add to the conversation. She ended by noting the paucity of female protagonists in games.



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