Remembering Jacob

Portrait of an academic anomaly: Telecom remembers Jacob Koruth

by Mike Lang and Ken Rosenberg

Each of us has our own idiosyncrasies. “Oh, lord,” Jacob Koruth would exhale before diving into a difficult task.

Oh, lord.

Often seen with a half-finished New York Times crossword puzzle nestled under one arm of his tousled coat, Jacob embodied what it means to be a non-traditional student. As a Ph.D. student in his sixties, some undergrads might have mistakenly considered him to be one of their professors. Few would expect a man of his age to be a student, but then Jacob was not one to be limited by traditional expectations. In fact, in addition to his prescribed scholastic duties, Jacob added lessons of his own; no moment was wasted. Though he sometimes had to resort to a “cheat sheet” for the nuances of pronunciation, Jacob frequently stopped former Ph.D. student Satoko Kurita in the hall for a quick exchange of words in Japanese – and then Zheng Wang, for a round of Chinese. Because Jacob was always eager to connect with people, language was a barrier he deemed worth overcoming. However, Jacob would have extended his multilingual capacities regardless of external motivation. He was driven to learn for the sake of learning. “We talk a lot about intellectual curiosity in this business,” said Julie Fox, Telecom professor, “but Jacob embodied it.”

In 2010, Jacob earned his doctorate. A little over a year later, he died.

This blog has never covered death. Still, as someone who touched the lives of so many people in the department, someone who covered so much territory in his seven-year tenure at the university, Jacob we had to tread into that reality of life. Therefore, it fell on us to write about a good man but one that, sadly, we did not have the chance to meet ourselves. From the stories of those who knew him, we have learned so much about who he was and what he did in, with, and for the department. Even so, we cannot claim anything more than acting as a conduit for all the stories that keep his memory alive. We convey them here, in respect.

Formerly an engineer in India, Jacob eschewed the comfortable life of retirement to continue his lifelong pursuit of learning and achievement. In a twist on the familiar familial flow into the university system, Jacob actually succeeded his daughter, Mary Ann, as a student at IUB. Mary Ann was a MIME (“Master’s in Immersive Mediated Environments”) student in our department.  This is how, over phone calls with his daughter, Jacob became acquainted with the work of Annie Lang, Betsi Grabe, Julie Fox, Rob Potter, and many other Telecom figures – including the man who would eventually become the chair of his master’s committee, former IU professor Thom Gillespie.

“He reversed everything,” Thom said, recounting his time spent with Jacob. This was not merely in reference to the unconventional daughter-father progression of university admission, but also the relationship that was forged between teacher and student. After several classes together, “we were just friends,” Thom said. The two of them worked together in MIME, which meant that not only was Jacob an older man returning to school, he was coming back to study new media – a field most older people do not properly grasp, as Annie quipped. Unlike most of his contemporaries, who often struggle with just sending an email, Jacob was knowledgeable and enthralled enough to intelligently question the cultural and societal implications of such media.

After his master’s, he went on to pursue a PhD under Annie’s supervision.  Befitting his technical and meticulous nature, Jacob’s research is a reflection of Annie’s tutelage. His dissertation was methodological in nature. He focused on heart rate variability and its potential to separate influences of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems by their unique frequencies, in order to separate attention from arousal. Not only was this new to media research but, at the time, it was fairly new to psychophysiological research in general; Jacob was one of the first to explore this avenue of study in our field.

Jacob also served as a research assistant to Julie for a semester. Since it was his first semester delving into psychophysiological measures, Jacob was keen on making sure he got everything right. Not only did he succeed, he also found a potentially costly mistake while pouring over the data. When rearranging variables, another researcher had accidentally pasted some incorrect data into a particular field. Because he was new but, more importantly, because he was Jacob, he found that discrepancy. In general Jacob had his own modalities. For instance, unlike his peers, Jacob wrote his comprehensive exams longhand. “Only with Jacob would I actually agree to read that,” Julie said. His contributions to others work also had a special touch. When it came time for Betsi to publish her book, Jacob was the second acknowledgement and was cited as a “tireless worker.”

This zeal was not limited only to research; it applied to Jacob’s teaching experience, as well. He remembered students’ names, even specific details about them, well after the semester had passed. Grad student Mark Bell recalled his optimistic outlook on students. While it is common to bemoan one’s undergrads in grad-to-grad “backstage” communication, which is rife with comments of “can’t believe they couldn’t …” and “when will they learn,” Jacob would say things like “students are doing amazing things; they’re full of energy.” According to Mark, “He never had anything but enthusiasm and wonder for the undergrads and other graduate students in our program.” As excited as he was about his students, his praise was not blind; it carried a price, an onus of expectation. Because of his kind nature and passionate stance on learning even undergrads towed the line. As a grandfather-type figure, perhaps the youngsters realized the wisdom of following the wise. Whatever the reasons, according to Rob, “they bought it. It was cool.”

As Annie is fond of saying, there is no difference among the milieus of communication: “It’s all brains talking to brains.” In this same vein, Jacob’s enthusiasm for various aspects of his life was not bounded or discrete. He loved life, in all its aspects, with a fervor that few can match and all can respect. “I cannot think of a single moment that Jacob was not genuinely happy and heartwarming,” said Zheng Wang, Assistant Professor at Ohio State University, who worked alongside Jacob in the lab while a PhD student. Sharon Mayell, who helps run the lab – the Institute for Communication Research (ICR), to be precise – noted “he was kind, considerate, gentle and unpretentious.” Another former Ph.D. student and currently an assistant professor at Dong-Kuk University in Korea, Yongkuk Chung: “When I asked him why he tried to get a Ph.D. at such late age. He told me that life is long, and the life without a challenge is boring, and studying in the lab is his real joy.” When someone passes, quotes of this nature abound. Both Betsi and Julie acknowledged how her quotes and those from her fellow ICR members sound a bit cliché. “We’re typically very generous to dead people,” Betsi cautioned, “but don’t be shocked if it comes gushing,” she assessed predicatively. “I know they meant every word,” Julie said.

Being initiated into Jacob’s life was a promise to stay in touch, regardless of where he went or how much time had passed. One time, after class, Annie picked up a pen she found on the table and found it to be AMAZING. “Oh God,” she said after jotting down a few words, “I love this pen. I have to have one of these pens.” Taken with its quality, she searched the internet and discovered that it was only manufactured and sold in India and was not available for purchase or shipping to the U.S. Of course, it was a simple matter of logic to determine the owner of the pen; she went to return it to Jacob at their next meeting – but he told her to keep it. (It turned out that the pens cost about 19 cents each.) Later, after Jacob returned to India, Annie received a package. It was full of pens and refills; that was Jacob: once a friend, always a friend.

When everything was falling down, Jacob still looked up. His initial dissertation hypothesis was not supported by the data. Instead of panicking, like most grad students would, Jacob reflected and found the results “interesting.” The findings helped inspire a secondary analysis, in which he found a deeper explanation of the relevant phenomena. A good-faith inquirer always defers to the data, and Jacob did just that. Looking at the available data about Jacob himself, it is obvious that he was a kind, passionate, deeply intellectual man who “led a good life,” stated Thom. He did not mean “good” as a way of expressing that Jacob lived happily or comfortably, but richly and fully, and with an intrinsic joy that few find in this life. Reflecting on his lack of tears, Rob decided he is not sad; he ultimately concluded it is not what Jacob would have wanted, anyway. When you think about Jacob and feel “down,” do what he did: look up, instead.

Working on this blog post on Jacob proved to be an immensely rewarding task but, even as we conducted interviews and worked to collect information, we knew we were only grasping just a small portion of what he did and, significantly, the lives he touched. Unfortunately, we did not have the time or space to find and include everyone who knew or worked with Jacob – his impact at IU was too big to capture in one blog post. If you have thoughts, feelings, or specific memories that you would like to share, don’t hesitate to stop us to tell us about what made Jacob special to you.

Brown Bag

Female anchor sexuality on display: Findings of cognitive fog and brewing cat fights at the news reception end

– Professor Betsi Grabe and PhD students Ozen Bas and Leila Samson

Abstract:  Two years ago, right after an initial round of data analysis, we presented in T600 the findings of an experimental investigation of male and female news consumer responses to a sexualized and unsexualized version of a female news anchor.  Grooming and dress code conventions were rapidly evolving from underplaying to displaying female sexuality and we wondered how this trend might affect news comprehension. The results showed  that men were cognitively distracted by subtle visual reminders of the female anchor’s sexuality–to the point of poor memory for the news she presented. More interesting to us was another key finding: women had the direct opposite cognitive response to anchor sexualization.  In fact, women remembered news better when it was presented by the sexualized than unsexualized version of the anchor. Thus, subtle cues of the female anchor’s sexuality drove gender-based information processing outcomes at the news reception end.  The implications for informed citizenship and a number of theoretical curiosities prompted us to analyze open-ended responses that we had not looked at yet.

We are back to report to T600 the findings of this follow-up investigation into why women cognitively favored the sexualized anchor’s reporting. The data point to the likelihood that sexual cues sparked sexual competition in women that might have enhanced cognitive resource allocation and memory formation for the news reported by the sexualized anchor. We look forward to discussing the evidence that lead us to this conclusion and show the complexities of intra-sexual derogation patterns that emerged from this study. This was a long but rewarding road back into a large data set that produced insights well beyond what we imagined to find.

An audio recording of the seminar: Brown bag: Feb. 3, 2012 – Betsi, Lelia, and Ozen

Ozen Bas (MA, University of Leeds, UK) is a second year Ph.D. student in the Department of Telecommunications at Indiana University.  Her research interests focus on the role of media in democratic processes. She has presented her work at the International Communication Association and Association for Politics and the Life Sciences annual conferences.

Maria Elizabeth (Betsi) Grabe is a Professor in the Department of Telecommunications at Indiana University and a Research Associate of the Department of Political Sciences at University of Pretoria, South Africa.  She does research at the intersection of news user demography (social class & gender) and message variables to understand information processing and its implications for informed citizenship.  Her book, Image Bite Politics: News and the Visual Framing of Elections (with Erik Bucy; Oxford University Press, 2009), received the 2010 Outstanding Book Award from the International Communication Association and the 2010 Distinguished Book Award from the Communication and Social Cognition Division of the National Communication Association. She also publishes in media and communication journals.

Lelia Samson (M.A., West University of Timisoara, Romania) is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Telecommunications at Indiana University. Her main research investigates how various elements of identity (especially gender-, sexuality- and age-related factors) interact with media content during information processing.  Her work has been published in Communication Research, Psychophysiology, and Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media and presented at annual conferences of the International Communication Association, Association for Politics and the Life Sciences, Society for Psychophysiological Research, and The International Academy of Sex Research.

Audio Books Cure Boredom, October Glory in the Rugby World Cup, Kinsey Brown Bag

Multi-tasking with Audio Books

Over the past few years, general availability and ease of use have increased the popularity of audio books.  Professor Annie Lang is an avid “reader” of audio books.  She shared with us some of her personal experiences with audio books.  She has been listening to audio books for over ten years –first on cassette, then on CD, and now digitally.  She joined around six or seven years ago and has since accumulated over 475 books in her personal library, books she can pass on to friends or choose to read again.

Annie has noticed several things about her reading habits since embracing digital audio books.  First, she admits she is more than willing to read “trash” on paper, but doesn’t have time to listen to it in audio book form.  Conversely, she explains, “I’ve been reading better-quality books on audio.  Classics that I’ve never had a chance to read because they were on paper – the beauty of the language ties you up.  It’s a different experience for us media folks.”  Second, Annie finds herself listening to audio books whenever she is involved in an activity that doesn’t require a lot of cognitive effort.  Now that she is “reading” while walking, gardening, and knitting, she is reading more books than ever before.

Her productivity at work has increased too.  She has been scanning work and course-related readings into .pdf format and uploading them to Amazon’s Kindle converter so they can be transcribed to audio.  It is important to note that the converted audio file is a text-to-speech algorithm that generates an automated voice and not a human one.  While this might be off-putting for some, Annie says she has been listening to it long enough that she can no longer tell that it’s a computer-generated voice.  “My brain fills in the gaps and I don’t notice the automation or the words that it mispronounces.  My brain just fixes them.”  You can listen to a text-to speech sample, one that Annie has completely adjusted to, below.

Doctoral student Bridget Rubenking didn’t start listening to audio books until she started taking long road trips by herself.  One of her road trips is an annual event, a family reunion of sorts that happens every summer in Ogden, Iowa.  Every July, her family would make the 12.5 hour drive from Cleveland, Ohio to Ogden and now, as a graduate student, Bridget has been making the trip from Bloomington.  “It’s a 9.5 hour drive from here.  I listen to audio books on the way there and back, with some music mixed in.”  Bridget explains that audio books are versatile, as you can choose one for whatever mood you are in.  She usually chooses more light-hearted selections, if only for the reason that she has listened to some books that have left her in tears while driving.

As for her book selection process?  “I posted a Facebook status asking for suggestions this past summer.  I got a dozen good suggestions and confirmations of the collective favorites.  Also, I always ask my mom because she knows good books and what I like.”  Her favorite audio book to date is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which she found to be funny, thoughtful, compelling, and satisfying her penchant for precocious children.  When it comes to actual readers of the books, she has enjoyed self-narrations by David Sedaris and Chelsea Handler, but her ultimate preference is for readers with accents.  “It doesn’t matter from where.  I just prefer to hear people with lovely accents to read me lovely books.”

October Glory: The Rugby World Cup

October is here. In the American sports world that means two things: football, and playoff baseball. Between stadium shaking upsets, fantasy football frenzy, and ritual Saturday tailgates, no other month offers such sweet sports satisfaction. Yet, amidst the coverage of Peyton Manning’s neck injury, the record-setting collapse of the Boston Red Sox, and the collective groans of fantasy owners who took Chris Johnson in the first round, the world’s fourth largest sporting event is unfolding in front of a rabid international fan base. The Rugby World Cup, trumped by only the FIFA World Cup, the Olympics, and le Tour de France in terms of global popularity, is largely swept under the rug by American sports media outlets and ignored by Americans too occupied with the big two. However, a few in our department are displaying their rugby spirit, providing a brief look into one of the coolest sporting events in the world.

Count me among the Americans who had never paid attention to Rugby. Outside of a brief introduction by my English co-worker over the summer, the sport hadn’t crossed my mind until MS student Craig Harkness walked into T505 wearing an English rugby jersey only to receive a ribbing by Professor Mark Deuze. Inspired by their zeal (and the deer in headlights look of the rest of the class, myself included) I figured the fourth largest sporting event in the world needed a little bit of American recognition.

For the uninitiated, a Rugby match is played by two teams, each fielding 15 players on a field roughly the size of a soccer pitch. For two 40 minute halves, players from each team attempt to score points by moving the ball into the team’s in-goal area (think running into the endzone), or kicking the ball through a set of uprights in the team’s in-goal area. Players move the ball by running, passing and kicking. Blocking is not allowed, and players can only pass the ball backwards or laterally. If you’re a football fan needing a visual reference, think the classic hook and ladder play from the 1982 Stanford vs. Cal game (when the marching band prematurely went on the field), but for 80 minutes. Opposing teams attempt to stop the advancing team by tackling the ball carrier. For this reason, Rugby is largely recognized by Americans for its brutality. The fact that most Rugby players match the biblical description of Goliath doesn’t help either. Tack forty pounds of solid muscle onto your prototypical well-conditioned soccer player, and have them smash into each other at full speed with no pads. And you thought football was dangerous. According to Deuze, looks can be deceiving. In football, pads provide an illusion of protection which encourages players to do dangerous things. Conversely, the lack of pads in Rugby encourages players to play fundamentally sound with an emphasis on protecting their body. While injuries do occur and it is still quite violent, Rugby isn’t the bloodbath that some make it out to be.

The Rugby World Cup, which started in 1987, takes place every four years and features twenty teams from around the world. Much like the FIFA World Cup, the first round consists of a pool phase. Five teams are assigned to a group (Groups A, B, C, and D), and each team plays every other team in their group once. Two teams with the best record from each group advance to the knockout stage, where the rules shift to single game elimination. The last team standing is awarded the William Webb Ellis Cup, which is popularly known as the Rugby World Cup.

While Harkness shouts for England, Siyabonga Africa, Mark Deuze, and Betsi Grabe all root for South Africa. Unfortunately, over the weekend, England fell to France, and South Africa fell to Australia, effectively ending their world cup dreams.

There is an old saying, “Soccer is a gentlemen’s game played by hooligans, while Rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen.” For Grabe, this saying embodies what makes Rugby so special. Despite the violent nature of the sport, and its potential to turn ugly at any time, Rugby players often possess a commitment to the game, and a level of sportsmanship rarely seen in other major sports. It’s not uncommon to see one player absolutely bury the ball carrier only to help him up a minute later. Team captains aren’t necessarily selected for their athletic prowess, but for their ability to manage a team. Individuals may shine as stars, but the concept of a team, and playing as a team, trumps any kind of individual accomplishment. This type of behavior is reflected in the ways the referees manage the game. According to Deuze and Africa, refs like to keep the game going. Therefore, when penalties are committed, it is not uncommon for the ref to let the play continue and scold the offenders with a line something like “come on guys, you should know better, play like gentlemen.”

Rugby is more than a game. For countries like South Africa, rugby has the power to bring a country torn by racial tension together. Grabe, originally from South Africa, comes from a rugby family. Both her father and her brother played rugby competitively at a very high level. Growing up, sports were largely the territory of race. Cricket was the sport for white Englishmen, soccer the sport for blacks, and rugby the sport of Afrikaners. In 1995 post-apartheid South Africa was welcomed back into the international sporting world, and President Nelson Mandela saw an opportunity to show the world that things had changed. Recruiting François Pienaar, the big blonde captain of the Springbok rugby team, who would represent South Africa on a global stage, Mandela went to work convincing the country that the South African Rugby team was everyone’s team. Mandela sent the Springbok team into the streets to play rugby with black children. The team learned the old song of black resistance, now the new national anthem, Nkosi Sikelele Afrika (God Bless Africa), and belted it out before each of their games. By the time of the final against New Zealand, the entire country was behind the team and after their victory, the entire stadium, regardless of race erupted into furious chant of “Nel-son! Nel-son!” While the racial tensions still exist, for one day, on the platform of the Rugby World Cup, the entire country came together as one. To this day sports in South Africa still serve the same function, providing its citizens an opportunity to experience national pride when the country is at its best. In the words of Grabe, South Africa does a good job rising to the occasion.

For those looking to watch the rest of the Cup, NBC currently owns the broadcast rights, and while it did broadcast USA matches (Yes, America does field a rugby team, and yes it did lose all of its games) on national television, the rest of the games are available in a pay-per-view format, usually for $25. While the pay-per-view option is available, many fans have taken to more dubious methods, usually P2P streaming services, for watching the Cup.

Brown Bag

This week’s brown bag presentation featured Erick Janssen, Senior Scientist and Director of Education and Research Training at The Kinsey Institute.  His presentation provided an overview of The Kinsey Institute’s workings as a research organization with an emphasis on how collaborative efforts with other schools, departments, and scholars can advance sexual health and knowledge. Telecom doctoral student Lelia Samson served as the respondent and talked about how she had benefited from her interactions with Erick and The Kinsey Institute.  She offered thoughts on how Department of Telecommunications and The Kinsey Institute could collaborate for research on issues related to media and sexuality.  For more information about Erick’s research, click here.  You can also visit the Kinsey Institute’s website at

Listen to the full audio of the presentation:

The Kinsey Institute: Erick Janssen and Lelia Samson     


Mike Lang:  October Glory – The Rugby World Cup

Nicky Lewis:  Multi-tasking with Audio Books, Brown Bag

Speers Returns, Brewing with Telecom, Intellectual Circuits, Brown Bags

Guest Feature: Laura Speers Returns from London

It was great to come back and visit Bloomington after leaving 10 months ago. Catching up with friends and professors and attending T600 provided much food for thought for reflecting on my time as an MA student at IU and for drawing comparisons between the Telecom graduate program and my current PhD program at King’s College London.

The T600 seminar given by Harmeet last Friday was very poignant for me in emphasizing the key factors that lead to success in one’s program of study. It is easy to get lost in the demands and pressures of classes and the various responsibilities of being an AI or RA, so much so that you lose sight of the big picture of where you are heading and the crucial thesis/project/dissertation at the end of your program. Instead, we should be aiming for ‘flow’, a current that guides and feeds into the big picture of where we are going and who we want to be. Throughout our time in grad school, it is important to focus on the bigger, over-arching aspects of being a researcher. Questions such as what kind of researcher do I want to be and why? What are my motivations and what type of research do I want to do? This kind of meta-analysing and reflecting some people do naturally with no prompts but others need to be pushed to think about and answer those types of questions.

Professional and personal relationships are an important part of the graduate program. In Harmeet’s presentation, he focused a lot on the role of the committee and the graduate student, but one of the most crucial relationships is with the advisor. Choosing the right advisor in my opinion is the key to success. It is not just about liking a particular professor, because you have to be able to build a rapport and maintain a dialogue with that person, almost like a partnership. An ideal advisor keeps you on track yet provides the flexibility and freedom to pursue what you want to do. Having a committee (unique to the North American graduate system) offers grad students amazing professors, essentially there for your disposal so make use of them. The committee meeting isn’t something to dread, or worse a bureaucratic procedure, but a time and place where some brilliant minds are focusing all their attention on you and your ideas, research and progress. Relish it and make the most of it by being prepared.

Since leaving IU and doing my PhD in London, what I have really missed is the sense of community and collegial spirit of the Telecom department where there are an abundance of opportunities to be involved in different projects and to collaborate with others. As Harmeet demonstrated in his presentation, the ‘action’ of the graduate program is not necessarily in classes or the readings. The ‘aha’ moment or intellectual breakthrough happens in between classes, even outside of school, or at a seminar or conference, in a professor’s office, and talking to fellow students informally at the winery in my case. An openness to the opportunities and conversations around you results in the cross-fertilization of new ideas, new questions and different ways of learning. These tend to always be more enlightening and powerful when student-driven rather than top-down. This shared space cohabited by grad students pushes you intellectually but also provides support.

After experiencing this at IU, I’m working to create this kind of environment in my new department.  British PhD programs have no coursework, so from the outset you have to conduct independent research, which was difficult to adjust to after experiencing the highly structured US system. However, it is wonderful to not have the pressures of classes or teaching as it allows for freedom, reflection and flexibility in research and also time and energy to address the important over-arching questions mentioned above. Perhaps the American system could create more space and time to reflect on what constitutes success and how our goals feed into Harmeet’s idea of ‘flow’.

– Laura Speers

Brewing with Telecom

We’ve got more than just ideas fermenting here at Telecom. Two of our grad students, Nic Matthews and Lindsay Ems, have been trying their hand at brewing beer and making wine. For them, it’s a simple hobby that takes relatively little time and produces rich rewards.

Grad student Nic Matthews pours some of his homebrew.

After receiving a Mr. Beer home brew kit as a Valentine’s Day gift this year, Nic got started right away, choosing a lager mix from the kit for his first trial run. It failed. “Apparently sanitation is a lot more important that I initially thought. An improperly sanitized can opener might have killed my first batch,” he says. Nic recalls leaving the bottles alone for days at a time hoping the batch would get better with age. At first, he thought its unusual flavor might have been planned. “I asked myself, ‘Does this taste like wine, or is it a really sophisticated beer flavor?’ And then I determined that it was just really bad beer,” he explained. Nic’s second batch has been a success, and he hopes to upgrade to a bigger brewing kit in the future. “It’s kind of like brewing with training wheels, and I can’t wait to graduate from that when I’m good enough.”

Lindsay’s first attempt at wine about five years ago met a similar fate. Her grandmother grew Concord grapes, and she borrowed her mother’s juicer to use them for wine making. Her mother, allergic to grape seeds, broke out in a rash while helping with the process. Then Lindsay added too much sugar to the bottles, which made many of them explode. “A few survived, so I gave them away as gifts. I tried some of the wine later, and it was terrible,” she laments.

She purchased a user-friendly wine kit shortly after that, and eventually added a beer kit. “I’ve made about 4 batches in the year-and-a-half since I received it, and it’s turned out really well every time,” she explains. Lindsay’s beer kit is similar to Nic’s, but she’s modified the barrel to say “Ms. Beer” instead. She’s working through the last of the mixes from the kit, and then she plans to upgrade to a more complex system.

For both of them, the appeal of brewing is in the process. “There are steps to follow, and it’s fun. Six weeks later you have free beer,” says Lindsay, who will start brewing a new batch after has she’s worked her way through her last batch. “It’s a good sit-in-your-closet type of thing,” adds Nic. “You just have to check up on it from time to time, and then it rewards you with beer.”

Intellectual Circuits, Part 4: Kinsey and Social Informatics

The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction

Of all the inter-disciplinary links featured in the Intellectual Circuits series, the relationship between Department of Telecommunications and the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction is one that is seeing quantum development.  Its roots were planted with a Ford Foundation study on how sex research is covered in the media, where Professors Bryant Paul and Betsi Grabe served as advisors.  The study resulted in a mini-conference and laid the groundwork for further collaboration between Telecom and Kinsey.

While the relationship lacks true formality, Bryant Paul currently serves as a Kinsey Faculty Fellow and Appointee at the Center for Sexual Health Promotion.  Bryant explains that due to the sensitive nature of the content that Kinsey researches, they have to be extremely careful with whom they associate.  “The Kinsey Institute is an easy target for a lot of groups who are concerned with what they research.  They conducted mostly survey research over the past 10 years and  have steered recently towards experimental research, which opens doors for more criticism.”

In addition to its scientific activities as research center, the Kinsey Institute serves as a information resource.  It boasts an extensive library and art collection.  With regard to course work, the Kinsey Institute offers a minor in Human Sexuality at the undergraduate and graduate level.  Bryant’s Sex and the Media course is one of the courses in the minor. There is considerable potential for further growth in the collaboration between Telecom and Kinsey.  Bryant explains, “The Institute itself only has three faculty members, but it serves as a jumping off point for getting great research ideas.  I have had the opportunity to work with a number of people from different schools and departments.”

Doctor student Lelia Samson came to Kinsey by way of her interest in gender studies.  She took a course called ‘Concepts of Gender’ in the fall of 2008, which was held at the Kinsey Institute.  This opened her awareness to other Kinsey courses and research.  She was intrigued in particular by a course called ‘K690 Sexual Science Research Methods.’  It was this course that truly expanded her thinking about the scientific study of sexuality and useful employment of multidisciplinary research methods.  She saw how beneficial it is to approach a topic from a variety of perspectives and employ a variety of methods. “The KI researchers manage to overcome any tributary allegiances to their maternal field and collaborate across disciplines to better understand their variables of interest.”

Lelia was awarded one of the Kinsey Institute Student Research Grants for 2010 – 2011.  She says this grant had much to do with her ongoing collaboration with Dr. Erick Janssen, which started with a paper she wrote for K690.  Janssen, Lelia’s mentor at the Kinsey Institute, encourages students to think in creative and progressive ways.  He also serves as faculty in Cognitive Science, another program with strong ties to the Department of Telecommunications.  Lelia hopes that these connections with the Kinsey Institute are only the beginning.  “I hope that more and more students will pursue the studies of sexual mediated messages.  The research questions raised appeal to our basic drives as human beings and serve as socialization and information agents in today’s society.”  The Department of Telecommunications is indeed building on this collaboration with the addition of faculty member Prof. Paul Wright in the fall.

See more information about the Kinsey Institute Student Research Grant here.

Social Informatics

Social Informatics is a multi-disciplinary route for those interested in the way people interact with technologies and the ways those technologies interact with them. “The term ‘social informatics’ does not really exist outside of a few schools,” explains PhD candidate Ratan Suri, adding that the late Rob Kling, renowned scholar at the School of Library and Information Science coined the term.

The interdisciplinary nature of Social Informatics is reflected in the range of schools and departments whose courses are included in the PhD Minor in Social Informatics:  School of Library and Information Science, School of Informatics and Computing, Department of Communication and Culture, Kelley School of Business, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, School of Education, Department of Geography, Department of Political Science, and Department of Telecommunications. “Classically, social informatics is the study of the computerization of social structures,” explains PhD candidate Mark Bell. “It’s a school of thought essentially brought about by Rob Kling, who thought people were getting hyperbolic views of technology and said, ‘Whoa. We need to take an empirical look at this.'”

PhD student Lindsay Ems explains that Telecom and SI are intrinsically linked to one another. “It’s really a better question to ask how the two aren’t related,” she says. “Social informatics is the nexus of technology and people, and everything we study in our own department falls under that.” In addition, the two complement each other by allowing a researcher to study the same phenomenon from different angles. “Telecom people might look at technology and media in a broader sense, CMCL (Communication and Culture) might look at technology and lifestyle, and people in Informatics might see technology and work, and by studying social informatics, we get to see all of that,” Lindsay explains. Ratan adds that it’s good to get a sampling of how each department approaches the study of technology.

The Social Informatics courses are good vehicles for extending viewpoints beyond what many Telecom courses offer, but having a background in Telecom classes also helps bring a unique perspective to a Social Informatics class. “I think that in Social Informatics, sometimes the quantitative side of research can get forgotten, and so taking my social science stuff from here helps over there. I also think that we live in our cave of social science too often, and it’s good to get out every now and then,” Mark says.

Recommended courses: S513:  Organizational Informatics, S514: Computerization in Society, S518:  Communication in Electronic Environments, C626: Digital Cultures, I709: Social Informatics, T551: Communication, Technology, and Society

Brown Bags 

Measuring Motivation Activation in a Virtual World: Predicting Individual Differences of Appetitive and Aversive Measures

Mark Bell, PhD Candidate, Department of Telecommunications, Indiana University

Abstract:  This presentation describes research that extends previous work on motivational activation systems linking Approach System Activation (ASA) and Defense System Activation (DSA) levels to media use, gender and age. This study collects individual Motivational Activation Measures of virtual world residents (N= 480), using the Virtual Data Collection Interface (VDCI) developed in the Indiana University Department of Telecommunications, and compares them to previous results. The results show the virtual world residents as higher in both ASA and DSA with larger than normal proportions of co-activating and inactive individuals. This work helps validate the MAM by expanding the pool of participants.

You can access the audio for Mark’s T600 talk here: Mark Bell T600 Audio

Applying a Socio-technical Lens to Study the Influence of GIS  on Historical Research Practices and Outcomes

Ratan Suri, PhD candidate, Department of Telecommunications, Indiana University

Abstract:  The last decade or so has seen the uptake and use of GIS (Geographical Information Systems) by an enterprising group of researchers interested in applying this technology to study historical events. This presentation reports the preliminary results of a two year ethnographic research study of a Community of Practitioners (Lave & Wenger,1991) using GIS for researching historical events from a spatio-temporal perspective. Using two case studies, ‘Ghettoization of Budapest, and ‘Role of railroads in shaping the spatial politics in wheat growing districts in California in 19 Century’, the study showcases how use of GIS is not only transforming how historical research is being done, but also tries to capture through explicit examples, how a spatio-temporal approach sheds new light on historical events.

You can access the audio to Ratan’s T600 talk here: Ratan Suri T600 Audio


Katie Birge:  Brewing with Telecom, Social Informatics Intellectual Circuit, and Brown Bags

Nicky Lewis:  Speer Returns and  Kinsey Intellectual Circuit

Special Thanks

Laura Speers:  Guest Feature

More Cooking with Telecom, Sparks Wins at CMF, FC Telecom Season Opener, Intellectual Circuits: Production, and Brown Bags

Cooking with Telecom, Part 2: Geng Zhang

For grad student Geng Zhang, cooking is part of her identity.  It combines three important aspects of her life: design, photography, and creativity.  “If you have the time and energy, cooking puts you in a good mood.  Happiness is what I get out of cooking.”  Geng’s earliest cooking memories date back to her childhood.  When she would get home from elementary school and her mother was still at work, Geng would sneak into the kitchen and conduct small cooking experiments.  Most of them involved playing with eggs.  Typically Geng “played” with 5 or 6 eggs a day.  And her mother was not very pleased.

When she came to America, she had to learn to cook for herself.  “All of my roommates were American and the funny thing was, I was the worst cook out of all of us.  They sort of made fun of me and I felt bad about giving bad examples of Chinese cooking.”  She learned to take guidance from one of her roommates who cooked great Mediterranean food and made delicious desserts.  Geng is thankful for the time he spent working with her in the kitchen.  As Geng’s culinary skills began to grow, she decided to invite Telecom students over to her apartment for a birthday dinner.  She spent the whole day making bacon-wrapped dates, jumbo pasta, and amaretto chocolate cake.  “When everything turned out well, I was surprised.  But people said I had talent, I just didn’t want to believe it.”

Geng’s cooking philosophy entails making meals with fresh ingredients and working with ethnic recipes.  “When you cook something that’s not originally from your cultural background, you feel less guilty when you make a mistake.”  For Geng, it’s about playing with ingredients.  For example, instead of making regular french toast, she adds different ingredients every time, like shredded coconut, just to see  how it turns out.  This is one reason why her blog is focused on cooking for the “adventurous soul.”

Geng’s blog combines her two passions of cooking and photography.  As an undergrad in Beijing, she would take her camera everywhere.  But her picture taking was put on hold when she got wrapped up in grad school work, seminar papers, and deadlines.  “I got an awesome digital camera from my relatives right before I came to IU, and it was just sitting on the corner of my desk.  One day, I was looking at it and thought, ‘Hey, maybe you and I should do something together.’ So I charged it up and began shooting again.” Her blog brings together her three passions – cooking, photography, and graphic design.  Choosing the plating, utensils, tablecloth color, and incorporating raw ingredients are all important for the final shot.

Check out Geng’s blog by following the link here. Also see Geng’s favorite food blog, TasteSpotting, which aggregates beautiful food photographs and recipes from all over the world here.

Sophie Parkison and other Telecommers Take Top Honors at Campus Movie Fest

Grad student Sophie Parkison and several other students from the Department of Telecommunications have reasonto celebrate.  Their short film, Sparks, won the award for Best Picture at these year’s Campus Movie Fest (CMF).  Developed by Telecom senior Gesi Aho-Rulli, Sparks is about a cyborg who receives a heart and falls in love.
Sophie explains that Sparks demonstrates the power of creative colloboration and pre-production.  It combined the talents of Telecom senior Ed Wu (cinematography and principal editing), Telecom junior Joseph Toth (stereo audio mix), and Billy Van Alstine (original music score).  Sophie served as writer, assistant producer, and extra.   “It’s been rewarding to work with such a talented team and producing something we are proud and excited to watch over and over again.”What happens next?  CMF selects several entries every year to go on to the Cannes Film Festival.  Because IU has had strong entries in the past, the CMF staff saved a spot for one IU film.  Sparks was chosen and has been entered in the Cannes Short Film Corner.”  The movie also won Best Cinematography at the IU Campus level and now moves on to the CMF International Grand Finale June 23-26 in LA.
Several students on the production team plan on attending for workshops and to see the final results of the contest.  Congratulations and good luck to Sophie and all of the Sparks crew!
Watch Sparks here: CMF Movies: Sparks
Photo Courtesy of Campus Movie Fest.
FC Telecom Gears Up for Spring Season
Spring is in the air in Bloomington, and with it comes the sweet smell of a victorious season opener for FC Telecom. The team kicked off its first game of the Spring soccer season with a 6-4 victory.  The preparations in the off-season seemed to have paid off.
Many team members participated in indoor soccer during the winter months. “The buzz is that the indoor thing was kind of our practice gearing up for outdoor domination,” explains Professor Mark Deuze. PhD candidate Matt Falk explained that he and other team members have been bulking up by training with P90X and other fitness videos. “It’s been 5 months of training, and I’m confident that I’m in better shape than last year,” says Matt.
New faces are joining the team this season. MS students Brendan Wood and Siya Africa will be dressing out for many of the games, adding youthfulness and enthusiasm to the roster. FC Telecom, which has been around for aboout 7 years, is usually the only team made of members from an academic department. “There’s people who have played on high school soccer teams and at college, and some people started playing soccer when they joined the league,” Professor Norbert Herber explains. “We don’t have any ringers, but we’ve always had a competitive team, so that bodes well for us.”
Perhaps the biggest change this year will be the debut of new FC Telecom uniforms, bright orange jerseys designed by (Netherlands native) Mark Deuze. “With 2 Dutch players on the team, I think the orange really helps, and other people like the color too,” Mark claims. “I’m pretty sure the jerseys have ‘pure awesome’ woven into them, so it should give us an advantage,” says Matt, who has updated his kit and switched from purple socks to new orange ones for the occasion. “It’s still all about the socks, really,” explains Norbert, who plans to purchase matching orange socks in the near future.
The team doesn’t have a set motto, but many players have thrown out ideas for one this year. “Don’t get hurt,” suggests Norbert. He also adds that their unofficial motto when everyone slows down at the end of a game is “Keep running!”, a battle cry commonly belted out by Mark when the outcome of the game starts looking grim. Mark also adds that age doesn’t really slow down anyone on the team. “I think I’m actually getting faster,” he explains. “In FC Telecom, the older you get, the more ferocious you are.”
The team plays most Thursdays at 8:30 in Karst Farm Park on the west side of town. Grab some orange and head out to support the team in the upcoming weeks.
Intellectual Circuits, Part 3: Design and Production

MS (Design and Production) brings together the theory and practice of making films, games, and creative apps. “It’s all about the creation of media but also the reflections on the process of creating it,” explains 2nd year MS student Jenna Hoffstein.
For 2nd year MS student Mary LaVenture, many Fine Arts courses were a great complement to her production courses in Telecom, as they allowed her to gain new perspectives. “Telecom courses are often designed to create work geared specifically towards commercial projects or jobs, but Fine Art emphasizes art for the sake of art and self-expression. I think we sometimes box ourselves into a way of thinking, and it’s great to get a fresh perspective on content and subject matter,” she says.  Other courses in areas like SLIS (School of Information and Library Sciences) and Informatics can provide design and production students with new approaches to what they already study. “I’m not justdoing game design,” explains Jenna. “I’m learning about media in a larger context.”

MS (Production and Design) students testing out iPhone and iPad games they developed for an independent study course.

By combining Telecom and outside courses, the design and production students can develop programs of study that are tailored for their interests.  “Classes in each department are structured and taught to emphasize and enhance a certain thought process and stepping away from that helps to create a more well rounded, critical thinking student,” Mary explains. First year MS student Dan Schiffman adds that seeking courses wherever they are available helps one stay ahead of the curve. “Our field is changing so drastically and so quickly that it’s important to understand where things are headed. Studying design theory is relevant everywhere because it will remain useful even as technologies change,” he says.
Regardless of the specific path design students choose to take, all current students agree that self-motivation and cooperation are critical for students in this area. There’s a lot of freedom due to the small number of required classes, so you have to create your own degree and start your own projects. “Take advantage of the independent studies and get to know the other minds in the program so you can collaborate,” Jenna advises.
Suggested courses:
I590: Interaction Culture
I544: Experience Design and Criticism
IDP541: Interaction Design Practice
— Fine Arts courses in MAYA design
— SPEA courses in Arts Administration
Brown Bag

Framing Politics in Science Fiction Television: Problem Solving Through Altered Time and Space

Katie Birge, PhD student, Department of Telecommunication, Indiana University, Bloomington

Abstract:  Many scholars of political communication have used framing as an approach to examining the presentation of societal issues and political events. Much of the existing research has relied solely on news content and political coverage to make a case for the ways in which these issues are framed for public consumption. This presentation will argue that framing of political issues occurs beyond the reaches of the news, using science fiction as its subject of inquiry. Through three case studies—Star Trek: The Original Series, Battlestar Galactica, and V—this presentation will explain the framing techniques used in science fiction television to address key political events or issues: the Cold War, post-September 11th terrorism, and the ongoing immigration debate. By highlighting the ways in which each series addresses the issues prevalent in their time, this presentation will also validate science fiction as a unique test space for framing political issues in new ways as a result of distancing from the real world through altered time and space. This research serves as a starting point for extending framing research beyond news coverage and intentionally politics-themed television.

Birge Audio

The Impact of Visual Attention on Sexual Responses to Same- and Opposite-Sex Stimuli in Heterosexual and Homosexual Men

Lelia Samson, PhD candidate, Department of Telecommunications, Indiana University, Bloomington  

Abstract:  This research study investigates how the cognitive and affective mechanisms involved in visual information processing influence men’s sexual responses and preference for same- and opposite-sex erotic stimuli. Barlow’s working model of sexual function and dysfunction (1986) is used to hypothesize that differences in how heterosexual and homosexual men respond to same- versus opposite-sex stimuli may, at least in part, result from differences in affective and attentional reactions to such stimuli. The impact of visual attention on such responses is experimentally tested, using a novel method that allows researchers to simultaneously assess visual attentional selection and experimentally manipulate it while measuring men’s choice-behavior and psychophysiological responses.

Samson’s research was funded by the Kinsey Institute Student Research Grant 2010.

Samson Audio


Nicky Lewis:  Cooking with Telecom and Sophie Parkison

Katie Birge:  FC Telecom, Intellectual Circuits, and Brown Bags

T101 Redux, Steve Krahnke’s Award-Winning Films, Betsi and Lelia in the News, PhD Prep

T101: Highlights from Media Life

It could be pretty easy for Professor Mark Deuze to structure T101: Media Life as your average 100 level introductory course.  With over 400 students enrolled, it presents major challenges in how to keep the students engaged.  With help from his Associate Instructors (AIs), Mark has revamped T101 into a highly participatory and exciting class.  Associate Instructors Peter Blank, Lindsay Ems, Mike Lang, Gayle Marks, Lelia Samson, and Daphna Yeshua-Katz not only lead their respective discussion sections but also help with course development.

Instead of a grading system based on attendance, discussion activities, and written papers, Mark has developed a new method for grading – Social Representative System.  Similar to YouTube star rankings and Ebay seller rankings, students are responsible for building their reputation in the class by participating in lecture and discussion activities and by contributing to the class Twitter feed.  AIs distribute experience points to students based on their performance on written papers and discussion activities.  Students are responsible for keeping track of own their attendance by assigning personal star ratings for themselves.  The in-class attendance exercises are related to the topic discussed in the lecture that day.

As a result, students are more involved in the course.  The T101 twitter feed has been extremely active this semester.  Under the t101medialife tag, both instructors and students openly post content for discussion.  You can check out T101’s twitter feed here: T101 Media Life

Tuesday’s lecture  focused on past technological innovations, current smartphone technology, and predictions of what the next technological innovation will bring.  The attendance exercise required students to get out their cellphones and participate in a massive ringtone display.

Steve Krahnke’s Films Receive Awards

Recently, two of Steve Krahnke’s film productions were named recipients for awards. Blacking Up, a film about race in the hip-hop music industry, was selected as one of the 2011 Notable Videos for Adults by the American Library Association, an honor bestowed on 15 films selected every other year by the organization. Harp Dreams, a documentary about the international harp competition on IU campus, has received a CINE Golden Eagle Award for Fall 2010.

Steve’s work as executive producer for Blacking Up began more than 7 years prior to the film’s completion. “When we started the project, Eminem was a breakout artist,” Steve explains. The  film was also in production during Janet Jackson’s infamous wardrobe malfunction, meaning the footage had to be edited even more to be “cleaned up” for airing on public television stations. Blacking Up was produced with the aid of former CMCL graduate student Robert Clift, who helped craft the narrative. Steve advised him to tell his own story during the process. “I told him, ‘anybody can say anything they want about hip-hop, but you have to own this for yourself and tell the story your own way,'” Steve recalls. The award received from the ALA for Blacking Up means the film will soon be found in most libraries across the country.  Watch the trailer here: Blacking Up

Harp Dreams, a more recent production, was produced with the help of several undergraduate students who spent considerable amount of their time collaborating with executive producer Steve and producer Susanne Schwibs of CMCL and Radio Television Services. More than 100 hours of raw footage were shot for the project, and the editing work was slow-going. “It’s a tedious process,” Steve explains. “In some ways, it’s like making bread by grinding your own flour.” The final product had the honor of airing nationwide on PBS last June and now is a recipient of the Golden Eagle Award.

Betsi and Lelia’s Study Garners Media Attention

A study by Professor Betsi Grabe and PhD student Lelia Samson has hit headlines in a number of news outlets this week. Originally published in a top journal Communications Research, the experiment measured recall and credibility perceptions from audience members viewing neutral or attractive female newscasters. The study found that male viewers were significantly less likely to remember news content when the female news anchor’s appearance was more sexualized, and men found the attractive version of the news anchor to be less credible when covering political and economic news stories.

Of the recent press attention, Lelia notes that it’s rewarding to see their work make an impact outside of the research realm. “It’s impressive to realize that people actually care what we do. It’s good to know that people who aren’t academics are reading it,” she says. “We’re in a little bit of a media frenzy right now,” Betsi adds. The study has received additional attention from the Poynter Institute over the past week.

For Betsi and Lelia, the publicity is nice, but the most important outcome of the recent coverage is that the implications of their findings have gotten to women in the news industry. “This study helps female journalists understand the pressures from their organizations to sexualize themselves on air. If the study provokes debate and attention, it’s doing something,” Betsi says. Lelia explains that it’s likely the study got picked up by media outlets for its social relevance. “It’s surprising to see the comments on the websites discussing the study and the conversations started because of the research,” Lelia adds.

Betsi and Lelia, along with other graduate students, are working on a follow-up study that examines female audience reactions to sexualized and non-sexualized female anchors. From their initial findings, Betsi posits that it’s likely women feel more competition with the sexualized version of the female anchor, and their upcoming work will delve deeper into this issue. For now, Betsi cautions that the findings aren’t meant to solve problems for women in the news industry. “There aren’t solutions in the study. The best advice is to use these tiny insights for empowerment,” she offers.

For more information, check out some of the news coverage of Betsi and Lelia’s study:

Miller-McCune, The Star, Forbes, Politics Daily, IU News Release, Wall Street Journal

Brown Bag Presentation

In a panel discussion moderated by Rob Potter, members of the Search Committee (Nicole Martins, Annie Lang, Barb Cherry, and Ted Castronova) shared insights from the recently concluded search.  Here is the description that was included in the announcement for the brown bag:

Abstract: This colloquium is intended for PhD students who are considering a career in academia. This seminar will offer specific advice for those students who intend to enter the academic job search this year but also to students whose job search resides several years in the future. Members of the recent Department of Telecommunications search committee will be on hand to address questions such as: what makes a candidate a good “fit”; what information should be included in a personal statement; and what a strong CV looks like, to name a few. Students planning to attend this T600 are encouraged to come with questions to ask the search committee.


Nicky Lewis:  T101 Highlights from Media Life

Katie Birge:  Steve Krahnke’s Films Receive Awards, Betsi and Lelia’s Study Garners Media Attention

Special Thanks

Elizabeth Crosbie: Photo Credit for Lelia Samson

Roger Cooper Returns, Lelia’s Transnational Study Routine, and SPR Conference in Portland

Roger Cooper Returns to IU

It’s been 17 years since Roger Cooper has walked on IU’s campus.  After receiving his PhD from the Department of Telecommunications in 1992, Roger Cooper has gone on to become an associate professor and director of the School of Media Arts and Studies at Ohio University.  Last Friday,  he returned to Bloomington to present at the week’s brown bag.  Beforehand, he shared some memories from his time at IU and what it means to come back after all these years.  “It’s kind of odd that I haven’t come back, being that OU is only 300 miles away, but I think it’s because coming back is an emotional experience for me.  It was an important time in my life.”

Roger explained that making the decision to come to Bloomington to pursue his PhD was a big one.  “I was married, with two small children and we both had steady jobs.  On the surface, it didn’t seem like the best decision.”  His parents were particularly unsure about Roger’s decision to pack up his family and go back to grad school.  For him, the decision to come to IU was one of the easiest he ever made.  “I had a gut feeling that this was what I was supposed to do.  If you think too practically about these kind of things, you might not make the best choice.  The heart should lead the head.”  Now, Roger’s father often reminisces that he had it wrong and stands corrected.

While on the faculty of Texas Christian University, he spent a year in Japan as a Fulbright Scholar at Osaka University.  He described it as a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience another culture with his wife and young children.  Now at Ohio University, Roger was reflective about the similarities between Athens and Bloomington.  Both communities have a small town feel, where the university has a large impact on the town’s identity.  Looking back at his time at IU, he knows he made the right choice.  “I was encouraged to explore different methodologies and approaches by the faculty.  The faculty were truly supportive.  It’s the people here that made a difference.”

Roger Cooper’s Brown Bag Presentation

Active within Structures: Conceptualizing Post-Convergent Media Uses

Abstract: Post-convergence implies that media and communication scholars will increasingly need to develop theories and measures that consider uses, effects, gratifications, and structures across media platforms rather than to isolate concepts to a single media.  Today’s media offer video, audio, and text for users to access when, where, and how they want it.  Individuals use media simultaneously, share experiences and content (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, YouTube), and can access the same (or similar) content through a variety of delivery systems.  However, although abundant choices and broad access to content transfer considerable power to the use, individuals continue to function within structures that have important influences on us.

Convergence provides an opportunity for scholars to integrate divergent individual-level active-audience theories with (traditionally) macro-level structural theories.  For example, individuals “actively” structure their preferences (e.g., bookmarks, DVR settings) to self-organize their media and communication experiences in content-abundant environments.  This implies that structure can be, at times, an “active” process.  These choices may,in turn, impose or encourage external structures that further influence access and/or choices.  This presentation proposes an “active within structures” conceptualization of media use in converged media and communication environments, and will discuss measurement opportunities and challenges.  Results will be presented from studies that seek to provide explanations of uses in a convergent media world.

Lelia Samson’s Transnational Study Routine

Everyone has a “best place” for studying. For PhD candidate Lelia Samson, her special study place for her comprehensive exams wasn’t just one location—it was over 30 spots on multiple continents. Lelia, who spent part of the summer abroad after the ICA conference in Singapore, found herself studying for the exams while visiting Malaysia, Germany, London, and her home country of Romania, until finally returning to Bloomington for the final weeks of preparation, where she continued to jump from library to library across IU’s campus.

Lelia’s approach to studying was somewhat unconventional. She studied each topic or subject area in only one place, so she would associate each place with what she learned. And did it all sink in? “Sometimes when I think of Paisley, I think of my friend in Nuremberg when I was babysitting for his daughter. I have associations with most of the readings,” she says.

Successfully preparing for the exams, as other PhD candidates could attest, is bound to be no easy task, but Lelia points out that one comforting aspect is the subject matter. “It’s the stuff that you like. Most of the readings are related to what you’re interested in,” she says. In fact, according to Lelia, even the exams themselves were enjoyable. “The exciting part is when you get there. You’ve been stressing out and reading and all of that, and then you get in the room and the questions are awesome because they’re exactly what your interested in,” she says. “In those hours you realize that you actually know and you’ve actually become a scholar. And that’s why I had fun.”

SPR Conference in Portland, Oregon

Last week, Professors Julia Fox, Annie Lang, and Robert Potter and graduate students Rachel Bailey and Bridget Rubenking attended the Society for Psychophysiological Research’s (SPR) annual conference in Portland, OR.  SPR celebrated it’s 50th Anniversary in the City of Roses.

The conference kicked off with an opening reception at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and the science party never stopped. Days were scheduled with themed panel discussions that linked physiological and psychological aspects of behavior. Evenings offered large poster sessions where researchers, including the IU attendees, presented new data in an interactive format. Here’s a list of posters from the department:
“The devil you know: The effects of screen size, pacing, experience and familiarity on attention and arousal responses to camera changes in television messages” -Di Chen and Julia R. Fox
“The effects of trait motivational activation and personal experiences on processing negative, motivationally relevant television content” -Rachel L. Bailey, Annie Lang, Gayle Marks, Sungkyoung Lee, Bernice Pescosolido, and Jack Martin
“The effects of trait appetitive system reactivity and personal experiences on processing TV messages about mental illness” – Rachel L. Bailey, Bridget Rubenking, Annie Lang, Gayle Marks, Sungkyoung Lee, Bernice Pescosolido, and Jack Martin
“Using HRV to measure variations in PNS and SNS activation during television viewing” -K. Jacob Koruth and Annie Lang
Also see pictures below from the week’s events:

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Random Thought:

“I see how it is.  You give Matt 2 minutes and 40 seconds and I only get a minute 30.  Is there not a time limit on these things?”

– Mike McGregor, in reference to the objects in faculty offices series.  Reproduced with permission.


Nicky Lewis: Roger Cooper’s Return and Brown Bag Presentation

Katie Birge: Lelia’s Study Routine and SPR Conference

Special Thanks:

Bridget Rubenking: guest contributor for SPR Conference

Rob Potter: Photos of SPR Conference