Situating Digital Interactivity: Explorations on Place and Embodiment in Interaction Design

Tuesday, 17 February, 2015, 3:00 PM

CNM Meeting room, AS6, #03-33

Marshall McLuhan once theorised technologies of electronic mediation as extensions of human beings’ corporeal reach, expanding the anthropologically defined limits of perception, control and interaction into greater distances and novel modalities. In contemporary environments, digital interaction acts more and more as the central form of conduit, the main interface of mediation, between two sensory spheres: the human and the spatial. Given these developments it becomes critical to understand new media through a phenomenologically-grounded framework that considers sensory-motor interaction, embodiment and sense of place. Within this broader philosophical agenda, Dr. Gokce Kinayoglu’s talk will focus on two specific research projects. The first is an Audio-Augmented Reality experiment that was done at the UC Berkeley Campus with the aim of analysing the influences of soundscape on environmental evaluations. The second one is the user-experience research carried out at the Hybridlab, which led to the creation of the embodied design interface and virtual environment Hyve-3D.

Gokce Kinayoglu is an architect, educator and interaction designer studying the influence of immersive and mobile interfaces, embodiment and multisensory perception pertaining to the experience and design of urban and architectural environments. He is the co-founder and creative director of the Montreal based Design Media Research Lab. He holds a PhD in Architecture from University of California at Berkeley with a Designated Emphasis in New Media (2009). His doctoral research has focused on soundscapes and the study of embodied multi-sensory environmental perception in real virtual and augmented environments. He has taught as an adjunct professor in Interior Architecture and Digital+Media departments at Rhode Island School of Design. In 2012 he joined Hybridlab, a research group at the School of Design at the University of Montreal where he contributed to the conception and development of Hyve-3D (Hybrid Virtual Environment 3D), a room-size collaborative 3D Virtual Environment for architectural and industrial design.

Dr Zhang Weiyu is now Associate Professor Zhang Weiyu

Dr Weiyu ZhangCNM’s faculty and Graduate Studies Advisor , Dr Zhang Weiyu has been promoted to Associate Professor.

Dr Zhang graduated from Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania. She received a Master of Philosophy from the School of Journalism and Communication, Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her Bachelor of Arts degree came from the Journalism major, Nanjing University, P. R. China.  Her research interests cover online deliberation; and youth, ICTs and civic engagement in Asia.  Details of her research and teaching accomplishments can be found at
Congratulations, A/P Zhang!



In Conversation with Prof Barry Wellman, Lim Chong Yah Professor: Only Connect

This Semester 2 of FY 2014/15, CNM hosts Lim Chong Yah Professor Barry Wellman, FRSC (Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada).  During his one and a half months with us, Professor Wellman will teach NM5771, Networked Society as well as give two talks – one on Wednesday 4 February, 3pm, CNM; the second one on Friday, 13 February 2015, 5pm – 6pm, LT 12, FASS.

Well-known for his scholarship on social networks precipitated by the Internet and social media technologies, Professor Wellman is the co-director of NetLab Network at the Faculty of Information of the University of Toronto. His areas of research are community sociology, the Internet, human-computer interaction and social structure, as manifested in social networks in communities and organizations, all of which are driven by an overarching interest in the paradigm shift from group-centered relations to networked individualism. In 2012, he co-authored with Lee Rainie, the prize-winning Networked: The New Social Operating System (MIT Press). To date, he has written or co-authored more than 300 articles, chapters, reports and books. Among the concepts Prof Wellman has published are: “network of networks” and “the network city” (both with Paul Craven), “the community question”, “computer networks as social networks”, “connected lives” and the “immanent Internet” (both with Bernie Hogan), “media-multiplexity” (with Caroline Haythornthwaite), “networked individualism” and “networked society”, “personal community” and “personal network”; and three with Anabel Quan-Haase: “hyperconnectivity”, “local virtuality” and “virtual locality”.

Prof Wellman shares with CNM his thoughts about research and why the self-sufficient individual is a specious entity.

I entered into researching about social networks because I was inspired by my professors when I went to grad school at Harvard. Harrison White was the best network analyst there was and taught us about looking at people beyond categories. He urged us to look for connections instead. Other mentors included Charles Tilly.  Tilly was an urban historian who had taught that the relational ties people had, went beyond the group and the neighbourhood, into networks. I realized how true this was when I joined a “Save our Neighbourhood” meeting, held to stop the Spadina Expressway from cutting through downtown Toronto.  At first sight, the group appeared just like groups from other cities fighting to preserve neighbourhoods against cars. But as I looked harder, I realized that many of those activists in that room did not even live in downtown Toronto. They were not a little neighbourhood group at all. They were a network of community activists who had come from all over Toronto.

My approach to research is a dance between theory and evidence collection. I usually start with basic questions; refine these through interviews before getting out more precise questions through quantitative research like in-person surveys.

A utopian networked society would be people having multiple, partial and dynamic connections that change formations according to the needs of the individuals and their groups; so that the whole networks move forwards as people support one another in large, diverse, dense and ever-morphing patterns of interactions.

I am worried about surveillance by governments and large companies, and people not being connected to one another in person. That said, in practice, everyone is connected in flexible and multiple ways, and not captured by any one group. Instead, they just build computer assistance into their networked selves.

The best relationships combine face-to-face and online and grow the important social capital fostered in these interpersonal ways.

The best way(s) to keep a relationship is mutual exchange and not make too many demands on the other person. This axiom is borne out in American anthropologist Elliot Liebow’s study of the street corner culture of poor black men in Washington DC in the 1960s. Liebow found that sustainable relationships among the urban poor were those that featured a give-and-take reciprocity.

A personal pursuit I have not tried but would be keen to do is to be point guard for basketball, NBA.  

A person I would never want to part with is my wife, Beverly.

My favourite social media platform is Twitter.

Being self-sufficient is a myth. In Chapter 2 of Networked Society, we observed that even a ‘rugged individualist’ like golf superstar Tiger Woods admitted that he was “connected and constructed by his membership in multiple social networks” (p. 39). A neuropsychologist has even argued that the brain craves social interaction. In other words, we are wired to interact and move in networks. Even amongst those who think they are free agents; they should realize that their decisions are situated in the environment that shapes them.

A visitor to Toronto got to realize that it is even more multicultural than Singapore. Fifty per cent of people in Toronto are born outside Canada. First-time visitors should also know that Toronto is below freezing point five months of the year.

Singapore is a new adventure for Bev and I. Everything is the same and yet different. We appreciate how the opportunity to do the same things in different ways.

We have come here to learn!

In Conversation with A/P Evelyn Ho from Asian Pacific American Studies at USF

In this second semester of AY2014/15, NUS students enjoy the chance to read a new module, NM4883C, Communication & Asian Holistic Healthcare.  The module is taught by Associate Professor Evelyn Ho who is visiting from University of San Francisco where she is professor at the Department of Communication Studies and the Asian Pacific American Studies Program.  A/P Ho’s teaching and research interests lie in exploring the intersections of health, culture and communication.

She shares with readers, among other things, her thoughts on the importance of culture in health communication research, on what patients can teach us and on her penchant for an oft-used interpellation:

I entered into health communication research, and specifically, the culture aspects of health communication research because of my initial interests in cultural communication research. I remember a moment when my White American roommate went to the acupuncturist and having never gone before, I asked her “How was it? Did it hurt?” Her response stuck with me. She said, “Don’t you know? You’re Chinese!” I knew years later there was something culturally important in that conversation. 

What I learnt from patients in my studies is that they need to be heard. They are talking to me because they believe that I am in a position to do something with the information they are sharing. This has been particularly humbling for me because while sometimes I am in a position, many times I am not. 

An aspect of research that policy-makers ought to recognise is that people are usually much more complex than the aggregate and that people themselves – communities/groups/individuals need to be at the table when those policies are made. 

An urgent issue / area which researchers in public health should address today is inequality in access to care. The best teachers I know have insisted that if health care is not free to the poorest among us, we have not accomplished anything.

To me, health is being well enough to thrive and operate freely in the world. 

And to be healed is to return to the state of health.

A personal pursuit I have not tried but would be keen to do is climb Mount Kinabalu, although I’m not sure my old knees would handle the pounding.

A word I frequently use is “dude” – I try not to but it just sometimes comes out – there’s a great article about this term that I use for teaching, written by Scott Kiesling. Like that article states, sometimes it’s used as a condolence “Dude, I’m sorry.” or sometimes as an expression of surprise “Dude! Get out!”. Unlike an actual “dude” though, I never use the drawn out “duuuuude” to show acceptance. 

If I landed a million dollar research / teaching grant, I would keep doing what I’m doing with less administrative duties! I love the teaching and research and honestly, most of the service I do back home I care deeply about too because it promotes various critical diversity issues on campus.

A visitor to San Francisco got to realize that it is much colder there than you think! It’s often windy and foggy and you should always bring a jacket with you. Once armed with a jacket, then get outside! There are amazing nooks and crannies all over our very small (7 mile by 7 mile) peninsula. You can walk all the way across from Bay to Beach in just a few hours and see everything from bison, to waterfalls, to skyscrapers, to outdoor murals, to museums, to sea lions, and hear many languages in the mix.

Singapore is so lush and tropical. I’m loving all the different plants and flowers.  The people I’ve met so far have been kind and open and super helpful! 

And I have come here to learn from Singaporeans about health :)

We welcome Lim Chong Yah Professor Barry Wellman

image001-2We welcome Lim Chong Yah Professor Barry Wellman to CNM. Prof. Wellman will be with us from January 2015 onwards.

Canadian-American sociologist Professor Wellman is currently the director of NetLab at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Information (iSchool). His research spans over a wide range of topics in networks, including virtual community, the virtual workplace, social support, community, kinship, friendship and social network theory and methods (NETLAB, n.d.). He has authored and co-authored numerous world-renowned articles, chapters, reports and books including the “Networked: The New Social Operating System”, which received the PROSE award for sociology and social work in February 2013, and “Social Structures: A Network Approach”, which International Sociology Association named as one of the hundred most significant sociological books (Sociology: University of Toronto). In 2012, Toronto Globe and Mail recognized Professor Wellman as the receiver of highest h-index for citations among all Canadian sociologists (Sociology: University of Toronto). He was also granted the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oxford Internet Institute in 2014 (Oii internet awards), and career achievement awards from the Community and Urban Sociology section of the American Sociological Association (2006), Communication and Information Technologies of the American Sociological Association (2004), Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association (2001), Mentoring Award, International Network for Personal Relationships (1998), and The International Network for Social Network Analysis (1994). Additionally, in 2007, Professor Wellman received the tittle of “Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Professor Wellman will deliver a public lecture on February 13, Friday at 5 PM (venue TBA). During his visit, he will be using Room 20. As he said in his interview with Figure/Ground in 2012, it is important to: “make alliances with faculty who you not only like, but who are really topnotch, can open doors, and also tell you what’s going on” (Illiadis, October 30, 2012). Accordingly, we invite CNM students to take the opportunity and introduce themselves to Professor Wellman.


Iliadis, A. (October 30, 2012). A Conversation with Barry Wellman. In Figure/Ground. Retrieved From:

NETLAB: Studying the Intersection of Social Networks, Communication Networks and Computer Networks. Retrieved From:

Oii Internet Awards: Recognising Excellence. University of Oxford. Retrieved From:

Sociology: University of Toronto. CV Barry Wellman. Retrieved From:

Dr Chen Xiangyu, Visiting Researcher with CNM-CARE, on resistance in Chinese cyberspace

CNM welcomes Dr Chen Xiangyu, who is visiting from Nanjing Forestry University until November 2015.  During his visit, Xiangyu will be giving research talks and work with the CNM-CARE unit.

Dr Chen’s research interests include the relationship between social resistance and new media, collective behaviours in Chinese cyberspace, communication for social change, social impact of new communication technologies, political communication, civic participation communication, environmental protest and communication culture.

He shares with us his work and plan for his visit.

What is your main research interest?

My research focuses on the resistant behaviours in the Chinese society, especially those that happen in cyberspace. When I speak with the scholars of Singapore about my researches, the majority of them think my researches are very political sensitive, because when it comes to the social resistance, most of Chinese leaders wouldn’t like to talk about it and always keep silent. Actually, some points about Chinese problem are distant from the Chinese reality. In recent years, there have been a growing number of Chinese scholars beginning to study the social resistance from many directions.

Social resistance is becoming one of the most important issues in China, with the Chinese government having to deal with the effects of protest from a whole new perspective.  Without an effective mechanism to express opinion, more and more protestors are choosing the Internet to express their points of view. Over the past decade, some even regard online platforms as the only one approach to contest and advocate.  Now, while some online protests have led to desired outcomes fairly quickly, many have not.  In the case of being ignored by government leaders, protestors may resort to extreme ways of galvanising cyber citizens, including starting rumours in order to pressure government leaders to come out from hiding behind their bureaucracy and take accountability.

Studying resistant behaviour in the Chinese cyberspace has taught me that it is not enough to explain Chinese society only through using the Western theoretical frameworks. This is not to say we should discard Western theory. However, the more I learn about Western theory and the differences between Western and Chinese theoretical frameworks, the more I understand China.

Why have you chosen to come to CNM?
CNM is the one of the best Communication and Media Studies departments globally. You are well-known for adopting a multi-disciplinary approach to studying communication. Most notably, is the culture-centred approach (CCA). There are many factors affecting the resistant behaviours taking place in the Chinese cyberspace. The most important I think is the Chinese culture because culture not only determines the motivation, but also shapes the form of resistances. I have come here to learn more about CCA and how it can help me understand Chinese online resistance.

What do you hope to accomplish while you are here?
During my visit, I shall broaden my theoretical knowledge of new media and social movements by attending talks and seminars and utilizing the abundant library and electronic resources. Where possible, I shall be pleased to give talks and exchange my points with scholars in Singapore.

What are your first impressions of CNM and NUS?
NUS is the one of the most serene and beautiful universities around the world. When I come here for the first time, I am deeply attracted by the campus scenery and academic atmosphere. What I sense in CNM is warm-hearted help, incredible patience and excellent academic strengths. I look forward to a productive and memorable visit.

Shaking off the jitters in public speaking ~ Here’s how

Extempo Raneous Records, the winning team of this semester’s GEM2027 Public Speaking Students’ Creative Video on “Oral Style and Delivery”  shows us how to overcome our nerves in public speaking:

Extempo Raneous Records is made up of Beh Wen Ming James, Maureen Yong Mu Ling, Seow Wei Liang, Tay Joon Kit Daniel, Wang Yue Yao and Yang Xue Ying.

CNM bids farewell to Assistant Professors Ingrid Hoofd and Giorgos Cheliotis

Assistant Professors Ingrid Hoofd and Giorgos Cheliotis will leave CNM before the end of 2014. They share on this blog their thoughts and feelings as they look back on their stints at CNM.

Dr Ingrid Hoofd
I have been in CNM close to nine years! My first semester was as an adjunct, and after that as an assistant prof for 8½ years.

What will definitely stay with me is the collegiality and warm atmosphere within CNM. It really felt like a community despite all our differences in research approaches. I also learnt  a lot from being in a predominantly social science department; although I had to get my deep intellectual dialogues mostly from outside the department, being in CNM gave me a lot of insight and appreciation of that field as well. And as the lone humanist, I also had a lot of freedom to shape my own research and the humanities bit of the curriculum.

I am heading for Utrecht University in the Netherlands, where I will be at the Department of Media and Cultural Studies in the Humanities Faculty, specifically their subdivision New Media & Digital Culture. To all NM students: Come do an exchange semester there, or check out their postgraduate degrees!

Dr Giorgos Cheliotis

I am returning to Greece to look after my ailing mother, and to recover from health issues I myself have been facing because of the climate here.  That said, I for one know I will miss the tropical storms, rich flora, and abundance of tropical fruit!

I am grateful I am for the opportunity to spend all these years at CNM. Coming from a computer science background, I must admit I knew little of the communications field when I first joined.  I have learnt a lot since. In fact, much of my recent work is attempting a synthesis across disciplines, taking things I have learnt about reliability and validity assessment in the social sciences and applying them to the methods that primarily, computer scientists use to observe online populations.

My time with CNM has been an important milestone in my career and I’m sure it will continue to influence me for a long time to come. I wish you all the best in your careers and hope that our paths will cross again in the future!

Prof Mohan Dutta presents the keynote at Indiana University’s Health Connections Common Conference

Wednesday 29 October, 9am-2:30pm

Whittenberger Auditorium, Indiana University

Keynote Address

Communication and spaces of structural transformation: Collaborating for alternative imaginations

Prof. Mohan J. Dutta

In this talk, I will outline the communicative processes of organizing in offline and online spaces that create avenues for alternative imaginations. Based on our ongoing culture-centered fieldwork in disenfranchised communities across the globe, the talk will highlight the key elements of interpretation and meaning that serve as nodes of organizing. I will attend specifically to the flows of meaning in networks of communication and the interpretive frames that serve as organizing entry points. I will also draw upon the intersections of culture, community and technology to discuss the interplay between online and offline spaces.

Mohan J. Dutta is a Professor and Head of the Department of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore and Courtesy Professor of Communication at Purdue University. He is the founding director of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) at the National University of Singapore and served as the founding director of Center on Poverty and Health Inequities at Purdue University.

Dutta teaches and conducts research in international health communication, critical cultural theory, poverty in healthcare, health activism in globalization politics, indigenous cosmologies of health, subaltern studies and dialogue, and public policy and social change. Based on his work on healthcare among indigenous communities, sex workers, migrant workers, rural communities and communities living in extreme poverty, he has developed an approach called the culture-centered approach that outlines culturally-based participatory strategies for addressing unequal healthcare policies and global disparities.

Dutta has published numerous articles and book chapters, and co-edited several volumes on health communication and communication theory. He has authored several books including, most relevant to this conference, Communicating health: A culture-centered approach (Polity Press, 2008), Communicating social change: Structure, culture, agency (Routledge Press, 2011), and Neoliberal Health Organizing: Communication, Meaning, and Politics (Left Coast Press, 2014).  Currently the editor of the book series, “Critical Cultural Studies in Global Health Communication,” with Left Coast Press, Dutta also sits on the editorial board of seven journals.

Adopted from


Bruised and abused: The perils of everyday domestic work

By Professor Mohan J. Dutta and Satveer Kaur, Centre for Culture-centred Approach to Research & Evaluation

CARE will be launching our first campaign created by foreign domestic workers (FDWs) in Singapore, “Respect Our Rights”, to raise awareness among Singaporeans about the rights of FDWs in Singapore.

This campaign is part of a larger effort aimed at curbing human trafficking and addressing specific issues pertaining to the exploitation of FDWs in Singapore.

Member of Parliament, Christopher de Souza, has drafted a bill for Parliament this October to tighten human trafficking laws in Singapore. CARE research, driven by the voices of the domestic workers, along with other groups such as the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME), seeks to create a discursive space for the discussion of a victim-centered approach in the execution of this bill, where victims are entitled to receive far more protection than they currently do. Protection includes having access to shelter and food, legal aid, medical aid, and other basic resources in order to alleviate their trafficked conditions. More information on the victim-centered approach to human trafficking can be found at HOME’s website.

Our ethnographic research with FDWs in Singapore who have been sheltered at HOME suggests the need for addressing health rights as integral to the lived experiences of FDWs.

In our culture-centered project emphasizing listening to the voices of FDWs, we hear voices of FDWs suggesting the importance of having access to fresh food and water every day, seeing a doctor promptly when they are ill, receiving their salary from their employer on time every month, having adequate sleep, not being overworked and abused physically, sexually or verbally as integral to addressing their physical and mental health. These key provisions are stipulated in their employment contract but are frequently flouted by errant employers

The concept of the cultured-centered approach inverts the research process by centering FDWs at the center of decision-making. Our roles as researchers for the FDWs are guided by the problem configurations and solution frameworks developed by the FDWs.  As an exemplar of the CCA process, the “Respect our Rights” campaign is aimed at communicating specific messages about respecting the basic rights of FDWs to all employers of FDWs in Singapore.

The campaign will be launched in the form of television advertisements on Starhub’s cable platforms, bus stop advertisements, newspaper advertisements on The Straits Times, and online platforms where our documentary film will be aired.

All media materials for the campaign were conceptualized and designed collaboratively by the FDWs and CARE, and are aimed at raising awareness on the common issues faced by FDWs. Embedded is a teaser trailer on the upcoming campaign launch on 21 October 2014.

Addressing the issue of migrant worker rights is crucial, especially in a burgeoning first-world economy like Singapore where numerous transient workers make up a critical mass of economic support for the country. In just the first quarter of 2014 alone, HOME received 405 distressed calls from domestic workers on a myriad of issues, with 159 of them reporting verbal abuse.

CARE has been working closely with HOME on fostering spaces for FDWs to share their stories, and collaborate on problem identification and solution development on the basis of these stories. HOME houses domestic workers that have fled their employer’s place of residence for reasons such as abuse and exploitation. CARE has conducted almost 50 interviews, three focus groups and 11 advisory board meetings with FDWs to garner a deeper and meaningful assessment of the structural and agentic constraints they face when engaging in domestic work in Singaporean homes.

To gain a greater insight on these issues, visit our campaign website and/or our Facebook page.

Reproduced from