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Author Archives: Matthew Lombard

Call: HaPoC 3: Third International Conference for the History and Philosophy of Computing

Call For Papers

HaPoC 3: Third International Conference for the History and Philosophy of Computing
8-11 October, 2015, Pisa

The DHST commission for the history and philosophy of computing ( is happy to announce the third HAPOC conference. The series aims at creating an interdisciplinary focus on computing, stimulating a dialogue between the historical and philosophical viewpoints. To this end, the conference hopes to bring together researchers interested in the historical developments of computing, as well as those reflecting on the sociological and philosophical issues springing from the rise and ubiquity of computing machines in the contemporary landscape. In the past editions, the conference has successfully presented a variety of voices, contributing to the creation of a fruitful dialogue between researchers with different backgrounds and sensibilities.

For HaPoC 2015 we welcome contributions from historians and philosophers of computing as well as from philosophically aware computer scientists and mathematicians. Topics include but are not limited to

  • History and Philosophy of Computation (interpretation of the Church-Turing thesis; models of computation; logical/mathematical foundations of computer science; information theory…)
  • History and Philosophy of Programming (classes of programming languages; philosophical status of programming…)
  • History and Philosophy of the Computer (from calculating machines to the future of the computer; user interfaces; abstract architectures…)
  • History and Epistemology of the use of Computing in the sciences (simulation vs. modelisation; computer-assisted proofs; linguistics…)
  • Computing and the Arts: historical and conceptual issues (temporality in digital art; narration in interactive art work…)
  • Social, ethical and pedagogical aspects of Computing (pedagogy of computer science; algorithms and copyright; Internet, culture, society…)

Our invited speakers are Nicola Angius (Università di Sassari, IT), Lenore Blum (Carnagie Mellon University, USA), David Allan Grier (IEEE & George Washington University, USA), Furio Honsell (Università di Udine, IT), Pierre Mounier-Kuhn (CNRS & Université Paris-Sorbonne, F), and Franck Varenne (Université de Rouen, F).

We cordially invite researchers working in a field relevant to the topics of the conference to submit a short abstract of approximately 200 words and an extended abstract of at most a 1000 words (references included) to Read more on Call: HaPoC 3: Third International Conference for the History and Philosophy of Computing…

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Virtual noses keep real-world VR sickness at bay

[As a commenter notes, it’s surprising this hasn’t been investigated sooner; the story is from Ars Technica and more information, including the article abstract, is available from Purdue University’s coverage. –Matthew]

Simulator with virtual nose

Virtual noses keep real-world VR sickness at bay

Simulation sickness solution may have been sitting right in front of our faces.

by Kyle Orland – Mar 25, 2015

As the new wave of virtual reality headsets barrel ever closer to consumer reality, the effects of “simulator sickness” on a significant portion of the population remain a concern. A group of researchers at Purdue University say they’ve found an easy way to mitigate this effect by adding one bit of reality that most VR simulations leave out: a virtual nose sitting persistently at the corners of your vision. Read more on Virtual noses keep real-world VR sickness at bay…

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Call: Designs on eLearning (DeL) 2015: Technology, Culture, Practice

Call for Papers

Designs on eLearning (DeL) 2015: Technology, Culture, Practice
16-17 September 2015

Application deadline: 15 April 2015
Accepted applicants will be notified by late May

The DeL 2015 conference is now accepting applications for panel discussions, workshops or short paper presentations on the following themes (see below):

  • Cross-disciplinarity
  • Understanding practice & culture
  • Engaging students in digital spaces
  • Digital identity
  • Digital scholarship

As digital technologies continue to transform the creative and pedagogic landscape, we face exciting possibilities and new challenges for the future of education. Titled “Technology, Culture, Practice,” DeL 2015 aims to explore forms of learning that take place in digital contexts within and beyond HE institutions. Read more on Call: Designs on eLearning (DeL) 2015: Technology, Culture, Practice…

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Walk through the belly of a tornado in virtual reality

[As the second headline in this story from Popular Science suggests, we could recreate the experiences of, and learn about and prepare for, a variety of natural disasters using presence-evoking technology. You can watch the Weather Channel segment on MSNBC’s website and read detailed information about the tornado recreation in Virginia Tech’s coverage. –Matthew]

Read more on Walk through the belly of a tornado in virtual reality…

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Call: Examining the Evolution of Gaming and Its Impact on Social, Cultural, and Political Perspectives (Book chapters)

Call for Chapters: Examining the Evolution of Gaming and Its Impact on Social, Cultural, and Political Perspectives


Dr. Keri Duncan Valentine (West Virginia University)
Lucas John Jensen (The University of Georgia)

Proposals Submission Deadline: March 30, 2015
Full Chapters Due: June 30, 2015


The maturing field of video games offers unparalleled narrative complexity, experimentation with new game mechanics, and avenues for in-game creativity. Can the interactive nature of video games shift a player’s perspective on sociopolitical and cultural topics by placing them in unique and challenging situations, characters, and/or points of view?

As video games grow in popularity, ambition, scope, and technological prowess, they also mature as an art form, shedding old definitions tethered to video games as competitive exercises with simple sets of mechanics. Over the last four decades, video games have made great narrative strides, from the rather simple days of Pong and Mario Bros. to the branching narratives of the Mass Effect series. In fact, those who view videogames as an art form often point to game narrative and storytelling as a place where videogames have not only matured, but have offered something different than other narrative experiences like literature or film. Greater technological capabilities, in addition to years of experimentation and maturation, have expanded the ability of games to tell different kinds of stories, offering branching paths.

The question of “what makes a game a game?” looms larger than ever in this expansive era of video game storytelling. As plots and characters grow, branch, and develop, so, too, expand the boundaries of storytelling provided by video games. Simply put, video games can do more stuff than they could before, and the notion that games are competitive exercises first and foremost has been subsumed by the possibility of video games as a new type of storytelling medium. In traditional definitions of gaming, a set of rules and a victory condition/win scenario were essential elements to a game. Because of this, most video game definitions have followed, focusing on the rules and winning as the things that made video games “games.” This debate is not a new one, but a recent growth in boundary-pushing and experimental game mechanics, precipitated in no small part by easier game development tools and an explosion in indie game developers.

Traditional definitions of “video games” rely heavily on the notion that games are competitive exercises. This book will examine their power to change perspectives in any number of dimensions, including the social, artistic, cultural, political, and scientific.


This book will survey the current landscape of video games and summarize recent trends in video game narrative, transformative changes, and emergent gaming that are broadening the definition of “video games” and causing perspective shifts – whether aesthetic, cultural, social, political, scientific, or even mathematical – by forcing players to embody different personas or engage with perspectives they might not normally encounter. How do video games, with their integration of interactivity, storytelling, and aesthetics, cause players to shift perspectives?

We are interested in tracing the development of games as transformative art and media. New video game types have emerged that challenge the notion of games as exercises in fun escapism. An explosion in independent games has led to games about topics as serious and diverse as living with depression (e.g. Depression Quest), LGBT issues and family dysfunction (Gone Home), the drudgery of bureaucratic work (I Get This Call All the Time), or working in an autocracy (Papers, Please). By placing players in these unique points of view, these games might shift player perspective on these issues. Similarly, technological prowess has allowed games to offer worlds with physics and dimensions that are not accessible through other media, exhibited in games such as Portal, Fez, and Monument Valley, where playing with perspective itself is the central mechanic. Finally, we hope discuss some implications that perspective shifts from games might have on the use of video games in educational settings, whether formal or informal. Read more on Call: Examining the Evolution of Gaming and Its Impact on Social, Cultural, and Political Perspectives (Book chapters)…

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Immersive Telepresence: New systems for a declining market

[This informed view of the market for high-end telepresence systems is from NoJitter, where the story includes the mentioned video and two more images. –Matthew ]

Cisco IX 5000 at Cisco Collaboration Summit 2014

[Image: Rowan Trollope’s IX 5000 demo at Cisco Collaboration Summit 2014]

Immersive Telepresence: New Systems for a Declining Market

Super big video conferencing systems may only serve a niche in the enterprise, but that hasn’t stopped ongoing development from Cisco, Polycom, and Huawei.

Brian Riggs | March 02, 2015

When it comes to video conferencing these days, virtual meeting rooms, mobile and desktop clients, cost-effective cloud services, and similarly democratizing solutions are in. Super big systems that deliver a super quality experience at super crazy prices are out. Or are they?

If you go by the numbers, things look pretty gloomy for immersive telepresence solutions, those high-end systems that use HD video, life-size images, just-so lighting, and custom furniture to create the illusion that all participants are in the same conference room. While Ovum doesn’t do forecasts of communications systems, some of my friends at rival analyst firms do. IDC analyst Rich Costello, for instance, said in December 2014 that multicodec telepresence equipment revenue was down nearly 16% year over year. Earlier in 2014 the numbers were even less kind, with the estimated year-over-year decline ranging from just over 26% to nearly 35% depending at which quarter you look.

Moreover, the market for immersive telepresence systems is only about one-tenth the size of that for regular room-based systems — $34 million compared with $347 million, again according to IDC. But that’s revenue for just one quarter. There’s about $130 million to be made annually from immersive systems, and even if the figure is dwindling that’s still a big chunk of change. This is at least in part why we’re seeing not just continued development on and incremental upgrades to immersive telepresence systems but vendors releasing entirely new generations of their systems. Read more on Immersive Telepresence: New systems for a declining market…

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Call: “Digital Animals: Inhabiting the Intersections of Nature, Culture, and Technology” (for TRACE journal)

Call for Papers – Digital Animals: Inhabiting the Intersections of Nature, Culture, and Technology

The University of Florida’s TRACE journal publishes online peer-reviewed collections in ecology, posthumanism, and media studies. Providing an interdisciplinary forum for scholars, we focus on the ethical and material impact of technology. We welcome submissions in a variety of media that engage cultures, theories, and environments to “trace” the connections across and within various ecologies.

The first issue of TRACE explores current conversations at the intersection of animal studies and digital media studies. Animal studies scholars argue that animals influence the ways we engage with philosophy, critical theory, literature, and filmic technologies. Moreover, posthumanist theorists, such as Cary Wolfe and Donna Haraway, challenge how humans relate to animals–decentering humans as the reference for understanding relationships between nature and technology. TRACE’s Digital Animals: Inhabiting the Intersections of Nature, Culture, and Technology extends conversations by examining the role of digital media in animal lives and representations.

Building on recent conversation in Antennae’s “Virtual Animals” and similar publications, TRACE questions how digital technology augments human-animal interactions and reimagines alterity, agency, affect, identity, embodiment, and experience. Animals influence digital media by challenging anthroponormative approaches to technology use and design. From drone surveillance systems shaped like sharks to ipad apps for cats – animals drive innovations in digital technology. This issue invites scholars to explore the shared ecology of animals and technology.

Contributions should make evident how cultures conceptualize nonhuman species, as well as illustrate how digital media can either reify or challenge established perceptions.

Topics for papers may include:

  • Representations of animals in digital games, social media, applications, hypertexts, internet memes, etc.
  • Digital media designed for nonhuman animals
  • Digital imaging, modeling, motion capture, or 3D printing of or related to animals
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Animal robotics and prostheses
  • Microchipping, tagging, and other mechanisms of digital tracking
  • The roles of digital media in animal rights advocacy or ethics
  • Posthumanism and systems theory

Read more on Call: “Digital Animals: Inhabiting the Intersections of Nature, Culture, and Technology” (for TRACE journal)…

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Are virtual reality headsets too immersive for their own good?

[The author’s answer to the question in the headline is no. This is from Forbes. –Matthew ]

Oculus Rift

Are Virtual Reality Headsets Too Immersive For Their Own Good?

Seth Porges

In the burgeoning world of virtual reality, to use is to believe. With few exceptions, I’ve found it takes but a quick demo on an Oculus Rift (or one of its growing number of competitors) for skeptics to realize how awesome—and awesomely immersive—the tech can be. Five minutes, and all your held-over-from-the-nineties notions of VR (and, as the show Community recently pointed out, its disastrous effect on nineties cinema) are likely to dissolve into wide-jawed yelps of “Awesome”.

But a tech that rises on its promise of immersion also opens itself up to a similarly grounded liability. The problem: These days, people tend to multitask their media. We watch TV while tapping a tablet while texting on our phones while browsing on our laptops. This is one reason I’m bullish on the future of podcasts: The audio-only nature of the medium makes it easy to consume while you are taking on other tasks such as hitting the gym or driving to work.

By their very nature, VR headsets require total and undivided attention; and an almost zen-like ability to disengage from our phones or email. And I don’t even want to know what would happen if you wore one to the gym or while driving to work.

There are two ways to read this problem, one of which is that it is not a problem at all. If you’re using a VR headset, you are likely using it in a hyper-engaged manner that is music to the ears of developers and marketers. Just because a TV is on doesn’t mean anybody is paying attention to it. I can’t imagine using an Oculus Rift and not paying attention. Read more on Are virtual reality headsets too immersive for their own good?…

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Call: 14th Intl. Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia (MUM 2015)

Announcement and Call for Papers

14th International Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia (MUM 2015)
30.11. – 2.12., 2015 in Linz, Austria

Organized by University of Applied Sciences
Upper Austria and Johannes Kepler University Linz
in-cooperation with ACM SIGCHI

MUM 2015, the 14th International Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia, will be held on 30.11. – 2.12.2015 at the Ars Electronica Center Linz in Austria.

Import Dates:

Paper submission deadline: August 21, 2015
Notification of review decisions: October 9, 2015
Conference dates: November 30 – December 2, 2015

MUM is a distinguished forum for advances in research and technologies that drive innovation in mobile and multimedia systems, applications, and services. At MUM academics and practitioners gather to discuss challenges and achievements from diverse perspectives, in a single track conference format. This year’s conference aims to continue the tradition of innovation and excellence in research established by previous MUM conferences. In addition to the peer-reviewed accepted papers, the conference program will include keynote presentations, posters, demos, videos and a doctoral school.

We welcome high quality full and short paper submissions that offer an original contribution relevant to the field of mobile and ubiquitous multimedia. Successful full paper submissions typically represent a significant advance for the field. Short papers offer a focused contribution to the research program. Short papers are not work in progress reports but offer completed, rigorously researched/developed work that makes a significant contribution to the field of mobile and ubiquitous multimedia. Short papers are likely to have a smaller scope of contribution than full papers, but they are expected to make a solid contribution to the field. Paper topics could include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Mobile and ubiquitous multimedia applications and systems
  • Mobile user interfaces, interaction design and techniques
  • Mobile games, entertainment and advertising
  • Mobile social network and multimedia services
  • Context-aware and location-based mobile and ubiquitous services
  • Mobile Augmented Reality systems and applications
  • Architectures, systems, and algorithms tackling technical challenges of mobile systems
  • Middleware and distributed computing support for mobile and ubiquitous multimedia
  • Tools and development systems for building mobile and ubiquitous multimedia systems
  • Case studies, field trials, and user experience evaluations of new applications and services
  • Social and privacy implications of mobile and ubiquitous multimedia systems

Read more on Call: 14th Intl. Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia (MUM 2015)…

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Widerun brings virtual reality to indoor cycling

[If they can solve the motion sickness issues, biking in VR has great potential – watch just a little of the video included in this story from VentureBeat to see how it’s different than current screen-based biking exercise equipment; the story also includes a photo gallery of virtual environments. –Matthew ]

Widerun with Oculus Rift

Widerun brings virtual reality to indoor cycling

March 20, 2015
Paul Sawers

Virtual reality (VR) is creeping into just about every orifice of our lives, across music, gaming, sports broadcasting, and more. There’s even a dedicated accelerator for VR startups. Now, an Italian company is making moves to embed virtual reality firmly in the fitness realm, with a device designed to bring the great outdoors to indoor cycling.

Bike trainers, or “turbo trainers”, are already fairly common contraptions among cycling enthusiasts, allowing them to use their actual bike (as opposed to an exercise bike) indoors — this can be useful for winter training. Widerun, on the other hand, is a bike trainer designed to connect to VR headsets. Read more on Widerun brings virtual reality to indoor cycling…

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