Designers of online environments shape the social potential of these paces far more profoundly than do the architects of our familiar physical spaces: they determine whether participants are anonymous or named, whether history persists, whether reputations are prominently displayed or privately discussed.
In this talk I will present several design projects from the Sociable Media Group. Some are visualizations of online interactions, which reveal important but hard to perceive social patterns. Others are experimental mediated social spaces, where the goal is to balance legibility with innovative computational capabilities.
The focus will be to show how design affects identity, reputation and trust - the foundations of society.
Judith Donath is an Associate Professor at the MIT Media Lab, where she directs the Sociable Media research group. Her work focuses on the social side of computing, synthesizing knowledge from fields such as graphic design, urban studies and cognitive science to build innovative interfaces for online communities and virtual identities. She is known internationally for pioneering research in social visualization, interface design, and computer mediated interaction. She created several of the early social applications for the web, including the first postcard service ("The Electric Postcard"), the first interactive juried art show ("Portraits in Cyberspace") and an early large-scale web event ("A Day in the Life of Cyberspace"). Her work has been exhibited at the Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston and in several New York galleries; she was the director of "Id/Entity", a collaborative exhibit of installations examining how science and technology' are transforming portraiture. Her current research focuses on creating expressive visualizations of social interactions and on building experimental environments that mix real and virtual experiences. She has a book in progress about how we signal identity in both mediated and face-to-face interactions. Professor Donath received her doctoral and master's degrees in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT, her bachelor's degree in History from Yale University, and has worked professionally as a designer and builder of educational software and experimental media. She is currently a Faculty Fellow at the Berkman Center of Harvard Law School.