Microsoft Fuse Labs Blog

Apr 16

[Talk] Tracing the Constellation of Actors in the Peer Economy - 4/16 @ 12pm

Tomorrow (4/16) we’ll have a Denise Cheng from MIT presenting her research on the peer economy. This is what she has to say about it: 

Americans’ normative understanding of work is imploding. Throughout most of the twentieth century Americans equated landing a job to a lifetime of smooth sailing. In recent decades, faith in gainful employment has collapsed, and other models are emerging to fill the void. The peer economy is one such model.

Whether by radio, by newspaper or by screen, you cannot miss it. Stories abound about hobbyists who sell crafts on Etsy. Dwellers use Airbnb to rent out parts of their living space to travelers. Ordinary people who use their cars as private drivers for a few hours a day. This is the peer economy. At its base are online, peer-to-peer marketplaces that enable people to monetize skills and assets they already have. Peer economy platforms equip suppliers or providers with tools that empower them to transact with strangers and, in turn, depend on these transactions for ongoing income.
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I lay out the expanse of the peer economy and why it is so exciting. The flexibility of working in the peer economy brings in many people who are defined out of the traditional workplace—homecarers, the elderly, the mentally disabled, alongside the underemployed college graduate. Powering this momentum on a macro level are investors, companies, corporations, scholars, policymakers, and more. On the micro-level, however, there are very real risks, and I will detail known problems in the space, including tax remittance, regulatory skirmishes, liability, and operational costs. 
Finally, the peer economy’s expanse is also why it is so confusing. Peer economy, sharing economy, collaborative economy, crowdsourcing… liberal use of these terms have led to widespread misunderstandings. I suggest that inaccurate terminology leaves the peer economy vulnerable to criticism and peer economy users in limbo as policy begins to take shape.
 

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Feb 13

Latest Kodu Goodness

One Login Everywhere

We put some finishing touches on our Kodu and Socl integration. Kodu users now only need their Socl login to share their worlds and make forum posts, and can like and comment on worlds from the desktop client.

Add Your Own Language

Kodu has an awesome volunteer community that has been translating clients into different languages.Previously, users had to install the latest client whenever we changed a language, but now they get the latest & greatest when they start up Kodu.  Currently supported languages include: Arabic, Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Icelandic, Italian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, and Welsh.  Klingon anyone?

Etc.

We added karma to the Kodu forums – if you’ve got enough, you can vote up posts!  We also fixed some bugs– now games made with the desktop client should work now with the Win8 client, and vice versa.  Check out the Kodu Game Lab site for the latest!

Feb 11

NewsPad Editor is now open source

Last year, Nate Matias, spend the summer at our lab developing and experimenting with NewsPad, a collaborative editor for neighborhood news articles. Today, together with our work-in-progress paper (to be presented at CHI 2014), we are releasing the source code of the project on GitHub under the Apache license.

NewsPad is a web app that helps communities of people collaborate on news articles, even when they don’t see themselves as writers. It helps people choose a headline, structure their article, and ask others to add material. The software, which supports real-time collaborative editing and content curation, incorporates the best ideas from Wikipedia, Storify, and online text editors. Here’s how it works:

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Feb 06

How to Ignite Your Creative Mind on Socl

I feel the need to be enticed. To see the world through a new lens – one that’s filled with vibrant colors and jewel tones. I want to go where dreams float on the far side of fashion and fantasy and know that when I come back, my world will forever be enhanced, changed, enlightened.

When we explore Socl, we find ourselves relishing in the limitless creative expression we can inspire in one another. Fashion is one thing, but when shared with friends from around the world, it elevates. 

On Socl we have what are called collections. Collections are posts you and the community organize around the subjects you love. When you see a post you like, simply collect it. 

Below are a few posts from Tina’s Personal Style collection. Tina is one of our most imaginative community members and her collections are stunning. Have a look…

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Jan 23

[Talk] Snappers and hunters in action: Mobile crowdsourcing of hyperlocal news—Tue 1/28

UPDATE: Check out the video of this talk.
Next Tuesday, we have Heli Väätäjä from Tampere University of Technology visiting our lab to present her work on cooperative news making through mobile crowdsourcing. Below is the description of her talk:
The importance of reader’s content (images, video clips, stories) is rapidly increasing in journalism as the source of news and as news content. Our research focuses on cooperative news making with the readers. The activity is facilitated by a news organization, currently Metro in the metropolitan Helsinki area in Finland.  In 2012, the studied newsroom received 35 000 reader’s photos sent by 30 000 individuals. Majority of the 4000 stories published in 2012 were based on reader’s photos that were used as tip-offs for news in the newsroom. Since 2010 we have studied both reader initiated contributions and carried out field studies with mobile task-based cooperation in which newsroom creates the tasks. We have addressed the following themes: 1) What motivates readers to participate? 2) What influences their participation when using mobile tasks? 3) How to manage the content quality with social feedback? I will address in this talk the main findings from our studies.
 
More about Heli
Heli Väätäjä is a Researcher and Project Manager in the Human-Centered Technology Group at the Department of Pervasive Computing, Tampere University of Technology, Finland. Her current research interests focus on mobile crowdsourcing of creative content, content creation and consumption in journalism, cooperation using mobile systems, context-awareness, and complex industrial systems. Heli has a multidisciplinary background in human-computer interaction, signal processing, measurement technology, telecommunications, as well as in applied animal behavior. She publishes actively in the fields of HCI and open innovation and is an active reviewer in the field of HCI. Heli has previously worked at Nokia Research Center as a Research Engineer (1995-2007), and as a Research Scientist at Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT, 1993-1995). She defends her doctoral thesis “Framing the user experience in mobile news making with smartphones”in March 2014. 
The lecture will be held on Tue 1/28/2014 in Microsoft Research Building 99, room 1915A.
 
 
 

Dec 11

Socl Creativity Goes Mobile - Inside Microsoft Research - Site Home - TechNet Blogs -

Dec 09

What Can Happen in an Hour of Code? -

How do you spark excitement about computer programming among preteen girls?

“Make me a Hunger Games arena.”

That’s the challenge Kate Miller presented to a group of middle schoolers during last summer’s Penn Girls in Engineering, Math & Science Camp (GEMS) at the University of Pennsylvania, where Miller is a sophomore bioengineering major.

Using Kodu, a visual programming language from Microsoft Research that makes it easy for students to create games, characters, and landscapes, the girls quickly dived into the task of creating a physical environment that drew on their shared interest in popular culture.

 Kate Miller with students

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Dec 04

MSR FUSE Labs 2014 internships

FUSE Labs at Microsoft Research is seeking interns for 2014. For these positions, we are looking for graduate students from Computer Science, Information Science, Design, Media Studies, Social Science, and other fields with a focus on social computing and social media.

FUSE Labs is a research and development lab at Microsoft Research focused on the design, study, and development of socio-technical systems. We are a uniquely multidisciplinary team where you have the opportunity to work with developers, designers, and other researchers interested in building systems and studying them critically. Our goals are to contribute to the academic community as well as to invent the next generation of social technologies. Some of the topics that are currently of interest for FUSE Labs are civic media, creative collaboration, informal learning, communities of interest, hyperlocal media, information visualization, and machine learning applied to social data. That said, we are open to a diversity of methodologies. 

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#YoSoy132, one year after the “Mexican Spring”

Last year, Gilad Lotan and I spent some time analyzing the #YoSoy132 protests in Mexico using data from Twitter. Several articles and even books about #YoSoy132 have come out since. For example, De Mauleón wrote an excellent piece for Nexos (in Spanish) that resembled some of our own analysis.  Sadly, Gilad and I got busy and abandoned the project, but after this recent conversation, we decided to dig out our notes and post them here in the event that they might be useful for others.

The rise and fall of the “Mexican Spring” 

Exactly a year ago, in December 2012, the newly elected Mexican President Peña Nieto took office amid violent protests. As early as May 2012, a number of massive student protests against the then candidate Peña gained a lot of attention on social media, both inside and outside Mexico. The Occupy movement and the international press called these protests the Mexican Spring for its similarities with other “hashtagged” protests. In our analysis, we only focused on the first few months of the protests. Today, #YoSoy132 is only a shadow of what it was, but during the election it was able to accomplish several important victories, including the organization of an online presidential debate (broadcast on YouTube), and the introduction of the issue of media monopolies and media bias to the forefront of the political discussion.

We focused on the origin and spread of the #YoSoy132 student protests by lookign at Twitter trending topics, follower connections, and the content of the tweets. We found that despite the common assumption that the movement appeared “out of the blue,” after an incident involving a candidate’s visit to a university, we can actually trace the movement’s gestation to several months before the trigger incident. Additionally, we found that despite the attempts to link the movement to traditional political groups, i.e. a political party, the movement actually activated typically disconnected groups of people across the political and class spectrum.

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Poster in support of #YoSoy132 posted on the Occupy website

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Nov 15

Kodu meets Socl!

We’re combining two FUSE projects, Socl and Kodu (better together, like peanut butter and chocolate!)   Kodu is our newest creation experience on Socl.  Besides collages, Picotales, BLINKs, and video parties, you can now invent your own games using a simple, visual programming language. Anyone can create with Kodu, whether you’re a kid or kid at heart! Explore worlds from the community on the Socl Kodu channel.

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Kodu is free, but you’ll need to download Kodu to get started creating your worlds.  Start learning and get ready for Code.org’s Hour of Coding for Computer Science week December 9-15, 2013. Check out collections of some Kodu favorites here:

Kodu Classic Arcade

Kodu Board Games

Kodu Digigirlz 2013

Kodu Imagine Cup

Kodu Rollercoaster Worlds!

More information, tutorials and lessons plans are available on the Kodu Game Labs website.