Research Talk by A/P Milagros (Millie) Rivera

“Mobile phones and the creation of alternative spaces by South African youths”


Date & time:

Wednesday, 11 April, 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM



School of Computing

13 Computing Drive

Singapore 117417



Many studies focusing on developing countries or marginalized communities have framed mobile phones as an effective strategy for poverty reduction, citing their relative lower infrastructural cost compared to landlines, relative affordability compared to the personal computer, important role in information dissemination, and ease of use (Bhavnani, Chiu, Janakiram, & Silarszky, 2008; Diga, 2008; Slater & Kwami, 2005; Cecchini & Scott, 2003). While poverty and social inequalities are important issues, research focusing on the social use of mobile phones would provide a greater understanding on how people in developing countries have appropriated the technology and the role that it plays in their lives. Moreover, such a study could help assess the cultural impact of the mobile phone and uncover the symbolic meanings that are attached to the artifact and its use. Finally, although much research has been conducted on marginalized communities, these communities are made up of pockets of people who differ in social status and life circumstances. For instance, among the economically disadvantaged there may be various groups who face different challenges and for whom the mobile phone may play a different role.

This paper focuses on such a group. Specifically, we examined how South African youths from the township of Makhaza in Khayelitsha, transitioning from high school to tertiary education or full time employment, used their mobile phones and the meanings that the devices hold for them. Using “space” as a key construct, this paper relies on Victor Turner’s theory of ‘liminality’ (Turner, 1979), Michel Foucault’s concept of heterotopias as conceptualized by Wearing (1999), and the power of contexts and spaces Shields (1991), to understand the uses of, and meanings ascribed to, mobile phones by youth in transition. The interplay between these theoretical approaches paints a bigger picture of the youths’ lives and social circumstances and how these, in turn, are represented and expressed through the everyday use of mobile phones.



Associate Professor Milagros (Millie) Rivera is the Head of the Department of Communications and New Media in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the National University of Singapore. Dr. Rivera’s work centers on new media regulation and the impact of new media on society and individuals. Her work has been published in Communication Education, New Media and Society; Communications of the Association for Computer Machinery; Journal of Science, Technology and Society; Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies; Asian Pacific Law and Policy Journal; Media Asia; Asian Journal of Communication; Journalism and Mass Communication Monographs; Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly; Journalism History; Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal; Federal Communications Law Journal; World Internet Law  Report; and Communications and the Law.

Research Talk by Mr. Tim Merritt

“The impact of team-mate identity on cooperation in games”

Date & time: Wednesday, 5 Oct 2011, 15:30pm – 16:30pm

Venue: CNM Playroom, AS6, #03-38


Much attention in the development of artificial team-mates has focused on replicating human qualities and performance. However, all things being equal, do human players respond the same to human and artificial team-mates – and if there are differences, what accounts for them?

Although there have been a few comparative studies of how players respond to humans and agents in the context of cooperative interactions, the work to date has not been extensive and no attempts have been made to explain the findings. This talk reports on research to understand differences in player experience, perception, and behavior when playing with either human or AI team-mates in real-time cooperative games. A number of game-based experiments were conducted to explore the impact of team-mate identity. Results suggest that people feel, perceive, and behave differently with human and AI team-mates in various ways. It will be argued that the differences observed are broadly the result of being unable to imagine that an AI team-mate could have certain attributes (e.g., emotional dispositions). One of the more surprising aspects of this insight is that the “inability to imagine” impacts decisions and judgements that seem quite unrelated (e.g., credit assignment).


Tim Merritt is pursuing his PhD at the NUS Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and Engineering under the supervision of A/P Kevin McGee in the Partner Technologies Research Group.  His thesis research focuses on understanding how human players respond to human and artificial team-mates in cooperative games.  Before joining NUS, he was a researcher in the Agora Game Laboratory at the University of Jyväskylä working on the Nordic Serious Games Project. Tim also worked as a consultant designing, implementing and maintaining enterprise monitoring and management solutions for Siemens. He has obtained an M.A. in Digital Culture from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland and a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Xavier University, OH, USA.

Dr. T. T. Sreekumar’s research provides insight into the cultural dimesion of mobile technologies in rural India

Dr. T. T. Sreekumar conducted a study on the use of mobile phones by fishermen in Kerala, India, and found that mobile technologies had amplified the deeply ingrained impulse toward cooperation in their culture and enabled new modes of cooperation as well. The research report has recently been published in Information Society.

For more information about the research paper, please see

And here are some photos taken during the field trip courtesy of Dr. T. T. Sreekumar.

Fish vendors

Fish workers

Research Talk by Professor James Gomez

“Social Media and Elections: Facebook Politics in Malaysia and Singapore”

By James Gomez and Tan Ge Hui

Date: Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Time: 2 p.m.

Venue: CNM Playroom, AS6 03-38


By early 2010, Facebook was the latest and most popular Web 2.0 platform used by the opposition parties in Singapore and Malaysia. In Singapore, the major opposition parties and its key figures had all established some form of presence on Facebook page, in Malaysia opposition parties and its key figures had gone further using the Facebook platform in several by-elections. In the general elections scheduled to be held by 2012 and 2013 in Singapore and Malaysia respectively, Facebook is expected to figure dominantly as a platform. This comparative study situates itself within the body of political communication research that evaluates Facebook`s effectiveness in harnessing voter support. The study plots pre-election use in Malaysia and Singapore and projects how social networking sites such as Facebook might figure in the general elections of these two countries. Such an analysis will provide researchers an opportunity to evaluate social media’s potential to contribute to democracy and political change in these two countries and the Southeast Asian region in general.

Keywords: Malaysia, Singapore, opposition parties, general elections, social media


Dr. James Gomez is presently Deputy Associate Dean (International) and Head of Public Relations, School of Humanities, Communications and Social Sciences at Monash University, Australia. He is co-editor of a forthcoming book entitled New Media and Human Rights in Southeast Asia which part of Routledge’s Media, Culture and Social Change in Asia series. His recent publications include, “Online Opposition in Singapore: Communications Outreach Without Electoral Gain”, (2008) Journal of Contemporary Asia. Vol.38, No.4 and “Citizen Journalism: Bridging the Discrepancy in Singapore’s General Elections News”, Sudostasien Aktuell – Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs (6/2006), German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Germany. He can be contacted at

Tan Ge Hui earned her Master in Communications (2009) and Bachelor in Business and Commerce (2007) from Monash University, Australia. Her primary area of interest evolves around the study of alternative media and youth. She has researched on “Facebook and Youth Privacy”, “MTV and Chinese youth” and “Facebook and Opposition Parties in Malaysia” during her course of study. She is currently pursuing a translation course in Melbourne. She can be contacted at

Research Talk by Mr. Preetam Rai

“Technology and Social Media and Peer-Learning in South East Asia”

Date: Wednesday 25 August 2010

Time: 3 – 4 p.m.

Venue: CNM Playroom, AS6 03-38

In this presentation we will discuss the impact of technology and social networks on the young people in South East Asia and Asia in general. We will look at how they are building platforms for knowledge sharing, self-improvement and networking beyond their borders. We will take a tour of these low cost, user generated learning events called “Barcamps” now happening all over South East Asia. We will side-track into technology and lifestyle trends: What social networks are popular in Vietnam? How can we stay on top of Korean or Arabic Internet conversations?

About the speaker:
Mr. Preetam Rai is an Educational Technologist at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. He
is always on the move helping groups across Asia in putting up technological and cultural events. He was the former South East Asian editor at Global Voices Online, one of the biggest social media content aggregation services. He is often consulted by organisations to help launch their online initiatives in the region. Preetam won the Apple Distinguished Educator 2010 award for his IT and educational activities, and work with Barcamps within the region.

Research Talk by Dr. Chung Siyoung

“You create and I will use: The contributors and users of Wikipedia”

Date: Wednesday 11 August 2010
Time: 2 – 3 p.m.
Venue: CNM Playroom, AS6 03-38

The phenomenon of collaborative knowledge building has received growing attention from both researchers and practitioners. With the rapid advancement of computer-mediated communication (CMC) tools such as Web 2.0 applications, knowledge sharing has moved beyond face-to-face exchanges to virtual social contexts such as blogs, shared Web spaces, online forums, social networking sites, Wikipedia, and shared electronic databases. I am particularly interested in two aspects of such social contexts: the contributors and the users.

In this talk, I will discuss how and why people participate in collaborative knowledge-building practices in the context of Wikipedia. Wikipedia, a Web-based user-created encyclopaedia, is a prominent example of a collaborative, user-generated content outlet based on the open source model. I will also talk about key motivational and social factors that influence knowledge-sharing intentions, and how these factors are theoretically linked to attitudes, subjective norms, behavioural control beliefs, and behavioural intentions.

I also study the users of Wikipedia, examining the effect of psychological traits such as need for cognition and motivation on information search and consumption behaviour among college students. Understanding how and why people create and use collaborative learning spaces is expected to broaden our knowledge about roles and capability of social media in education and learning contexts.

About the speaker:
Chung Siyoung is a Visiting Fellow of the Communications and New Media Programme at the National University of Singapore. She received her Ph.D. in Communication from Cornell University in 2006. Her research interests are uses and effects of social media, online piracy behaviour, online privacy, and civic engagement and new media.

CNM welcomes Visiting Scholar Dr Byungho Park

CNM is honoured to host visiting scholar Dr Byungho Park. Dr Park comes from the Business School at KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology). During his one and a half month in Singapore, he will be doing research on Singaporeans and media consumption, in collaboration with CNM Programme’s faculty members. His research centres on media effects, human motivational system, cognition and behaviour. Dr Park will be in Singapore until August 31st, 2010.

About Byungho PARK

Dr Byungho Park

Dr Byungho Park

After graduating from Korea University (BS, Computer Science, 1993), Byungho Park worked for Samsung Electronics for five years before he proceeded to graduate studies.  Dr Park (Ph.D., Mass Communications, Indiana University, 2006) trained under Dr Annie Lang in the areas of media psychology and psychophysiology.  He was assistant professor at the National University of Singapore (Communications and New Media Programme) for two years, and is an Assistant Professor at the Business School at KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology).  He has two broad areas of interest: one is neuromarketing, which he sees as an area that applies psychophysiological research methods to marketing research (including advertising); another is human motivational system, which is related to personality and marketing, thus also having connection to neuromarketing.  He is particularly interested in individual differences in human motivational system, which is believed to lead to differences in cognition and behaviours.