comments on facebook

These comments were started in response to a friend, who was taking a stand against Facebook and their take-it-or-leave-it end user license agreement (EULA). They’re not the most profound comments, nor the most well-crafted, but I think they need to exist (also) outside of Facebook’s corporate walled garden. Ironically, after I posted the first comment, the Facebook iPad app prompted me to take a survey about how (un)comfortable I was with the state of Facebook, with specific questions asking about the algorithmic feed. So, I filled it in to indicate that I am very (VERY) uncomfortable with the algorithmic news feed…

From the Facebook post that triggered my responses:

OK, then: I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, messages or posts, both past and future. With this statement, I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308- 1 1 308-103 and the Rome Statute). NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity. All members must post a note like this. If you prefer, you can copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as the information contained in the profile status updates.

And, my responses:

No. By using Facebook, you give them the right to do everything outlined in their EULA. You don’t have to like it, but you agreed to it by activating your account. I’m seriously considering nuking my Facebook account (again, for maybe the third time) because of Facebook’s creepiness and overreaching, and their messing around with privacy and experimentation with algorithms – I can’t trust their algorithmic news feed because I have no idea how it works (but I do – it is obviously optimized to maximize eyeball-time rather than to act as a news feed). But Facebook is where many of my extended family exist online, and where many of my non-online-innovation friends hang out. So, I’m stuck. Nuke my FB account to withdraw from corporate greed, or keep connected with friends and family, while choking back the distaste. Sigh.

I’d guess that unless FB is reclassified as a utility rather than a proprietary social network, there’s not much hope. It’s completely their game, and if we don’t like it, we have to leave. Or, governments have to step in to say it’s more than a social network and needs to be regulated to ensure we have fair and equitable access to the information managed on our behalf. It’s now the biggest news publisher, with no transparency on editorial oversight over the algorithms. Kind of a scary thing to have in a democracy…

and so, here we are. Democracy vs. Capitalism. When many (most?) people are unclear about the definitions of either. When everyone is a lottery ticket (or a TLC reality show contract) away from being a millionaire, they identify with successful capitalists and against “the people” (who are then recast as freeloaders and bums). When popularity and fame are equated with democratic representation, we’re left with reality show dropouts as viable contenders for the most powerful governmental position on the planet. Holy shit this is scary stuff.

Collaboration station demo

The Taylor Institute has 5 learning studios, designed for active and collaborative learning. People who are using the space have access to some great technology to support their work, including 37 “collaboration stations” (we really need to come up with a better name for those…).

Here’s a quick-ish demo of the basic functionality provided by the stations, recorded using the lecture capture system built into the learning studios.

Technologies mentioned and/or used in the video:

some light reading on technology and robots as tutors

  • Bartneck, C., Kuli, D., Croft, E., & Zoghbi, S. (2008). Measurement Instruments for the Anthropomorphism, Animacy, Likeability, Perceived Intelligence, and Perceived Safety of Robots. International Journal of Social Robotics, 1(1), 71-81.
  • Burgard, W., Cremers, A. B., Fox, D., & Hähnel, D. (1998). The interactive museum tour-guide robot. Aaai/Iaai.
  • Castellano, G., Paiva, A., Kappas, A., Aylett, R., Hastie, H., Barendregt, W., et al. (2013). Towards Empathic Virtual and Robotic Tutors. In Artificial Intelligence in Education (Vol. 7926, pp. 733-736). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
  • Corrigan, L. J., Peters, C., & Castellano, G. (2013). Identifying Task Engagement: Towards Personalised Interactions with Educational Robots. 2013 Humaine Association Conference on Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction (ACII), 655-658.
  • Dautenhahn, K. (2007). Socially intelligent robots: dimensions of human-robot interaction. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 362(1480), 679-704.
  • Ganeshan, K. (2007). Teaching Robots: Robot-Lecturers and Remote Presence (Vol. 2007, pp. 252-260).
  • Gockley, R., Bruce, A., Forlizzi, J., Michalowski, M., Mundell, A., Rosenthal, S., et al. (2005). Designing robots for long-term social interaction. ” On Intelligent Robots “, 1338-1343.
  • Han, J. (2010). Robot-aided learning and r-learning services.
  • Han, J., Hyun, E., Kim, M., Cho, H., Kanda, T., & Nomura, T. (2009). The Cross-cultural Acceptance of Tutoring Robots with Augmented Reality Services. Jdcta.
  • Harteveld, C., & Sutherland, S. C. (2015). The Goal of Scoring: Exploring the Role of Game Performance in Educational Games. the 33rd Annual ACM Conference (pp. 2235-2244). New York, New York, USA: ACM.
  • Howley, I., Kanda, T., Hayashi, K., & Rosé, C. (2014). Effects of social presence and social role on help-seeking and learning. the 2014 ACM/IEEE international conference (pp. 415-422). New York, New York, USA: ACM.
  • Kanda, T., Hirano, T., Eaton, D., & Ishiguro, H. (2004). Interactive Robots as Social Partners and Peer Tutors for Children: A Field Trial. Human-Computer Interaction, 19(1), 61-84.
  • Kardan, S., & Conati, C. (2015). Providing Adaptive Support in an Interactive Simulation for Learning: An Experimental Evaluation. the 33rd Annual ACM Conference (pp. 3671-3680). New York, New York, USA: ACM.
  • Kennedy, J., Baxter, P., & Belpaeme, T. (2015). The Robot Who Tried Too Hard: Social Behaviour of a Robot Tutor Can Negatively Affect Child Learning. the Tenth Annual ACM/IEEE International Conference (pp. 67-74). New York, New York, USA: ACM.
  • Kenny, P., Hartholt, A., Gratch, J., & Swartout, W. (2007). Building Interactive Virtual Humans for Training Environments. Presented at the Proceedings of I/ “.
  • Kiesler_soccog_08.pdf. (n.d.). Kiesler_soccog_08.pdf. Retrieved June 15, 2016, from
  • Kopp, S., Jung, B., Lessmann, N., & Wachsmuth, I. (2003). Max – A Multimodal Assistant in Virtual Reality Construction. Ki.
  • Lee, D.-H., & Kim, J.-H. (2010). A framework for an interactive robot-based tutoring system and its application to ball-passing training. 2010 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Biomimetics (ROBIO) (pp. 573-578). IEEE.
  • Leyzberg, D., Spaulding, S., & Scassellati, B. (2014). Personalizing robot tutors to individuals’ learning differences. the 2014 ACM/IEEE international conference (pp. 423-430). New York, New York, USA: ACM.
  • Leyzberg, D., Spaulding, S., Toneva, M., & Scassellati, B. (2012). The physical presence of a robot tutor increases cognitive learning gains.
  • Lin, R., & Kraus, S. (2010). Can automated agents proficiently negotiate with humans? Communications of the ACM, 53(1), 78-88.
  • Mitnik, R., Recabarren, M., Nussbaum, M., & Soto, A. (2009). Collaborative robotic instruction: A graph teaching experience. Computers & Education, 53(2), 330-342.
  • Mubin, O., Stevens, C. J., Shahid, S., Mahmud, A. A., & Dong, J.-J. (2013). A REVIEW OF THE APPLICABILITY OF ROBOTS IN EDUCATION. Technology for Education and Learning, 1(1).
  • Nkambou, R., Belghith, K., Kabanza, F., & Khan, M. (2005). Supporting Training on a Robotic Simulator using a Flexible Path Planner. AIED.
  • Nomikou, I., Pitsch, K., & Rohlfing, K. J. (Eds.). (2013). Robot feedback shapes the tutor’s presentation: How a robot’s online gaze strategies lead to micro-adaptation of the human’s conduct. Interaction Studies, 14(2), 268-296.
  • Peterson, I. (1992). Looking-Glass Worlds. Science News, 141(1), 8-10+15.
  • Rizzo, A., Lange, B., Buckwalter, J. G., Forbell, E., Kim, J., Sagae, K., et al. (n.d.). SimCoach: an intelligent virtual human system for providing healthcare information and support. International Journal on Disability and Human Development, 10(4).
  • Ros, R., Coninx, A., Demiris, Y., Patsis, G., Enescu, V., & Sahli, H. (2014). Behavioral accommodation towards a dance robot tutor. the 2014 ACM/IEEE international conference (pp. 278-279). New York, New York, USA: ACM.
  • Saerbeck, M., Schut, T., Bartneck, C., & Janse, M. D. (2010). Expressive robots in education: varying the degree of social supportive behavior of a robotic tutor. the 28th international conference (pp. 1613-1622). New York, New York, USA: ACM.
  • Satake, S., Kanda, T., Glas, D. F., Imai, M., Ishiguro, H., & Hagita, N. (2009). How to approach humans?-strategies for social robots to initiate interaction. ” -Robot Interaction ( “, 109-116.
  • Serholt, S., Basedow, C. A., Barendregt, W., & Obaid, M. (2014). Comparing a humanoid tutor to a human tutor delivering an instructional task to children. 2014 IEEE-RAS 14th International Conference on Humanoid Robots (Humanoids 2014), 1134-1141.
  • Shin, N., & Kim, S. (n.d.). Learning about, from, and with Robots: Students’ Perspectives. RO-MAN 2007 – the 16th IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication, 1040-1045.
  • Swartout, W. (2010). Lessons Learned from Virtual Humans. AI Magazine, 31(1), 9-20.
  • The (human) science of medical virtual learning environments. (2011). The (human) science of medical virtual learning environments, 366(1562), 276-285.
  • Toombs, A. L., Bardzell, S., & Bardzell, J. (2015). The Proper Care and Feeding of Hackerspaces: Care Ethics and Cultures of Making. the 33rd Annual ACM Conference (pp. 629-638). New York, New York, USA: ACM.
  • Vollmer, A.-L., Lohan, K. S., Fischer, K., Nagai, Y., Pitsch, K., Fritsch, J., et al. (2009). People modify their tutoring behavior in robot-directed interaction for action learning. 2009 IEEE 8th International Conference on Development and Learning (pp. 1-6). IEEE.
  • Walters, M. L., Dautenhahn, K., Koay, K. L., Kaouri, C., Boekhorst, R., Nehaniv, C., et al. (2005). Close encounters: spatial distances between people and a robot of mechanistic appearance. 5th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots, 2005., 450-455.
  • Yannier, N., Israr, A., Lehman, J. F., & Klatzky, R. L. (2015).  FeelSleeve : Haptic Feedback to Enhance Early Reading. the 33rd Annual ACM Conference (pp. 1015-1024). New York, New York, USA: ACM.
  • You, S., Nie, J., Suh, K., & Sundar, S. S. (2011). When the robot criticizes you…: self-serving bias in human-robot interaction. the 6th international conference (pp. 295-296). New York, New York, USA: ACM.

experimental soundscape, mark II

I just sat in the atrium and shaped this soundscape as people were walking through, trying to simulate some kind of response to motion. It’s still pretty muddy, but I think there’s something there. The trick will be in getting it to be unobtrusive and ambient while still providing information…

we made it

I’m still amazed at how intense the last several months have been. The Taylor Institute construction was completed, the AV systems were installed and integrated, and an seemingly endless series of high profile events have taken place. The past 6 months have been by far the most intense, high stress, high energy, high profile, and chaotic that I’ve ever experienced. And we’re currently on the last major event for awhile.


Each of these items is an epic event, taking weeks or months of planning. Each has taken 100% of our attention, and we’re learning about life in a world-class teaching-and-learning research facility. But, I’m looking forward to the end of Congress 2016, which is the last major event for awhile1. REDx is the last #congressh2016 event in the Taylor Institute (aside from a tour that I give on Friday, but that’s trivial), and we might actually be able to relax and enjoy the event.

The biggest thing I learned, or had reinforced because I already knew it, was that the Taylor Institute team is absolutely fantastic. An extremely creative, passionate, interdisciplinary team where everyone works incredibly well together to do amazing things. I can’t wait to see what everyone is able to do, once we’ve recovered from this insanely busy High Profile Event Season, and we can all focus on our our jobs again.

Whew. We made it. It’s been one hell of a year so far. Looking forward to things settling down a bit, and then to playing with instructors and students to try some fun things with learning technologies and spaces for the rest of the year.

  1. the next major one I’m aware of is a learning technologies symposium which I will now be able to start planning, targeting late 2016 or early 2017. More to come on that front… []

on untethering

I’ve been without work email for almost a week, as a result of a rather large-scale malware incident that took many systems on campus offline. Many folks in IT have been working around the clock to restore hundreds of computers and systems, and I’m thankful for their efforts. It’s a heroic, thankless task, and they are likely getting some steam from people despite the fact that they’re working flat-out to resolve this.

But, it’s given me a chance to think about things. Having no email or calendar for nearly a week. Initially, I was really freaked out. I basically live in email. Everything is in there. It’s my living archive of things I need to remember, and I’d expected to be paralyzed without it. And my calendar has become my only way to cope with the constant stream of demands on time. If it’s not in my calendar, it doesn’t exist. Often, I’m booked solid all day every day, for the next couple of weeks1.

And, we are legally restricted from using non-university-provided email or calendar tools because we need to comply with data retention policies so that things like FOIP requests can be handled. If I spun up a separate work email/calendar account, FOIP requests wouldn’t have access to those, and there would be no institutional record.

So. No email or calendar for a week. And it’s been awesome. I still find myself occasionally checking email, but largely, I’ve been actually talking to people more, or texting, or using other channels as needed. And I feel like I’ve been more productive, less stretched-too-thin.


I need to learn from this. I’ve given email and calendar so much power that I’m basically just along for the ride. A robot, following the algorithm generated by the Exchange server. Be here at this time. Do this thing. Answer this question. Then go to this place at this time. I feel like I’d lost some autonomy, some control, some flexibility, although I was busy. So busy.

“How’s it going?”

“Oh. You know. Busy. So busy!”

“Yeah. I know what you mean.”

“Can’t talk. Gotta go! Busy!”

Yeah. I don’t want to be That Guy™. I need to untether, even after I get a shiny new email account this afternoon.

The other thing that happened this week – my Wahoo RFLKT bluetooth bicycle display died. It connects to Cyclemeter on my phone to show data (time/speed/distance/average speed/whatever), and I’ve loved it. But I’ve been riding without any live data this week. I still record the data using Cyclemeter on my phone, but I can’t see the data while I’m riding.

Again, I expected to be twitchy without the constant feedback. But, again, it’s been awesome. I feel more relaxed. I’m enjoying the rides more. There’s something about not having a constant stream of data running in the background. I don’t know how fast I’m going. Or what time it is. Or how late I am. I just focus on riding.

So. I’m thinking a lot about untethering. The data is still very important to me – for the bike, it’s motivating to have a record of the rides – for email, it’s how people communicate2. But I’ll be trying to take back some of the power I’ve given it.

  1. in a rolling event horizon – more than 2 weeks out, and the calendar is pretty empty, but booked solid for the next 2 weeks – which makes it super-fun to try to accommodate last minute, even urgent, requests []
  2. still, in 2016, email is the common platform. We use other tools, but everyone uses email []

experimental soundscape

I played with a few layers of modulating soundscapes – one is a humpback whale track, the other, samples from a Speak-N-Spell. Not sure how annoying this might get in a longer-playing session, but some kind of cool effects that might be useful to be connected to inputs such as location, speed, vector, group size, etc.

on pretention – simpler is gooder

Just realized that last post about soundscape app for iOS sounded horribly pretentious. Wow. Not sure I’ll get to Thing Explainer level, but I’m going to try really hard to break out of jargon.

So. What I was meaning to say was that I’m messing around with a cool iOS app for making computer generated sounds (not music, but not noise). I want to try playing with it to see what kinds of sounds I can make with it, and am wondering about how those sounds might be triggered or changed based on signals such as people moving through a room or something else. I started playing with converting movement into signals and that kind of works. Now I need to figure out what to do with that data – what kinds of sounds or visuals might be interesting in response to what people are doing in a space.