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The Relentless Rain: East Asia's Recent Floods and What Lies Beneath
In just a month's time, East Asia witnessed torrential downpours that would usually span an entire season. Japan, battered by three times its usual monthly rainfall, faced landslides and flooding that claimed over 200 lives. Meanwhile, South Korea grappled with its longest monsoon in seven years, leaving more than 40 individuals dead or missing. But these events, as harrowing as they sound, are more than just weather anomalies. They're telltale signs, symptoms of a larger malaise that has gripped our planet. Diving deep into these rain-soaked mysteries, a recently published paper in the journal Science Advances offers a fresh perspective. Led by a research team at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Korea, the research unpacks the influence of human-induced climate changes on the East Asia Summer Monsoon frontal system. Heavy summer rain has a significant impact on agriculture and industry, and can be said to be one of the greatest threats to human society by causing disasters such as floods and landslides, affecting the local ecosystem. It has been reported from all over the world that the intensity of summer heavy rain has changed over the past few decades. However, summer rain in East Asia is caused by various forms such as typhoons, extratropical cyclones, and fronts, and efforts to study heavy frontal rain, which account for more than 40% of summer rainfall, is still insufficient. In addition, because heavy rain is also influenced by natural fluctuations or coincidences in the climate system, it is not yet known to what extent warming due to human activities affects the intensity of heavy frontal precipitation. An international joint research team consisting of eight institutions from Korea, the United States, and Japan, including KAIST, Tokyo University, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Chonnam National University, GIST, and Utah State University, confirmed the intensity of heavy rain caused by the weather fronts in East Asia using observation data for the past 60 years and found that the coast of southeastern China. It was found that the intensity of heavy rain increased by about 17% across the Korean Peninsula and Japan. To investigate the cause of these changes, the research team used the Earth Metaverse experiment, which simulated Earth with and without greenhouse gas emissions due to human activities, and found that heavy rain intensity was strengthened by about 6% due to greenhouse gas emissions, and the changes discovered were has succeeded for the first time in the world in showing that warming cannot be explained without the effects of human activities. < Figure 1. (Left) Observed difference in frontal rainfall intensity (FRI) from the later (1991–2015) to the earlier periods (1958–1982) (Right) Visualization of the impact of anthropogenic warming on the intensity of heavy frontal rain analyzed using the Earth Metaverse experiment. > "It's not just about connecting the dots," said Moon, the first author of the paper, "it's about seeing the larger pattern. Our data analysis reveals a clear and intensified trend in East Asia's frontal rainfall, one that's intertwined with human actions and increasingly harmful for lives and property." One of the intriguing finds from the study is the mechanics behind this intensification. The team found increased moisture transport due to a warmer climate, which, when coupled with the strengthening of a gigantic weather system called the West North Pacific Subtropical High, results in enhanced frontal rainfall. It’s akin to the climate dialing up the volume on rain events. As the atmosphere warms, it holds more moisture, leading to heavier downpours when conditions are right. Nobuyuki Utsumi, another voice from the team, makes the science accessible for all, saying, "Monsoon rain isn't just rain anymore. The frequency, the intensity, it's changing. And our actions, our carbon footprint, are casting a larger shadow than we anticipated." While the devastating news of floods fills headlines, Professor Simon Wang of Utah State University, reminds us of the underlying importance of their study. "It's like reading a detective novel. To solve the mystery of these floods, one has to trace them back to their roots. This work hints at a future where such intense rain events aren't the exception but might become an everyday reality." Hyungjun Kim, the principal investigator of the team throws in a note of caution, "Understanding this is just the first step. Predicting and preparing for these extremes is the real challenge. Every amplified rainfall event is a message from the future, urging us to adapt." So far, predicting rainfall intensity and locations remains a challenging task for even the most sophisticated weather models. < Figure 2. Comparison of rates of change in Anthropocene fingerprints. The horizontal axis shows the long-term change slope of the Anthropocene fingerprint signal (1958 to 2015). Shows the probability distribution of slopes extracted from the non-warming experiment (blue) and the warming experiment (red). The vertical solid lines are the slope of the Anthropocene fingerprint signal extracted from observational data. > The researchers say, “Facing climate change, the narrative of this new study is more than mere numbers and data. It's a story of our planet, our actions, and the rain-soaked repercussions we're beginning to face. As we mop up the aftermath of another flood, research like Moon's beckons us to look deeper, understand better, and act wiser.” < Figure 3. Comparison of water vapor convergence and rate of change of the western North Pacific high pressure. Shows the gradient of change in water vapor convergence (horizontal axis) and the Northwestern Pacific-East Asia pressure gradient (vertical axis) extracted from warming (red) and non-warming (blue) experiments. Shows the distribution of slope changes of the two indices during the period 1958 to 1982 (P1) and 1991 to 2015 (P2). > The results of this study were published on November 24 in Science Advances. (Paper title: Anthropogenic warming induced intensification of summer monsoon frontal precipitation over East Asia) This research was conducted with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea's Overseas Scientist Attraction Project (BP+) and the Anthropocene Research Center.
Prof. Austin Givens of KAIST Language Center receives Ministerial Commendation
< Professor Austin Givens posing with the Letter of Commendation by the Miniser Hwang-Keun Chung of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs at the Language Center > Professor Austin Givens of our Language Center received a Ministerial Commendation from the Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs dated December 21st, 2022 for his contribution for the development of the Korean Foodservices Industry through his active and prominent media presence. Professor Austin Givens has been working with the KAIST Language Center since 2017, and has shown his passion for Korean food through his YouTube channel "Austin! Eating What is Given", introducing not only the food but also the culture of Korea and KAIST to his international viewers through the videos he shares of his candid reviews of the food and restaurants around town on the popular video streaming platform. < Thumbnail introductions of Professor Givens' videos on his YouTube channel, "Austin! Eating What is Given" > - KAIST Language Center
KAIST and KNUA to Collaborate on Culture Technology
Distinguished Visiting Scholar Soprano Sumi Jo Accompanied by AI pianist ‘VirtuosoNet’ during the Special Concert at KAIST KAIST will expand the convergence of arts education and culture technology research in collaboration with the Korea National University of Arts (KNUA), the nation’s top arts university. KAIST President Kwang Hyung Lee signed an MOU with President Daejin Kim of the Korea National University of Art on January 6 at KAIST’s Daejeon campus for collaborations in arts education and research. KAIST and KNUA will expand educational programs such as student exchanges and co-credit programs. The two universities will team up for cooperation focusing on research centers and academic conferences for the creation of culture technology and convergence arts. Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism Hee Hwang also attended the ceremony. Minister Hwang said that the Ministry will invest 132 billion KRW in R&D for developing metaverse and content technologies. He added that this collaboration will be a very meaningful turning point for creating a new culture combining high-level technologies. President Kim also expressed his expectations saying, “The collaboration of our two universities will generate a huge synergistic impact for nurturing talents and the creation of convergence arts. President Lee said that the collaboration with KNUA will take KAIST another step forward as it aims to foster well-rounded talents. “We look forward to proactive collaborative research that will expand the new chapter of convergence arts and future stage performances.” Right after the signing ceremony, world renowned soprano Sumi Jo, who was named a Distinguished Visiting Scholar, took the KAIST auditorium stage for a special concert. AI pianist ‘VirtuosoNet’, developed by Professor Juhan Nam at the Graduate School of Culture Technology, made its debut at the concert by playing Mozart’s Turkish March arranged by Arcardi Volrodos. VirtuosoNet also accompanied Soprano Jo on one of her songs. The concert by Sumi Jo and AI pianist VirtuosoNet heralds what KAIST is pursuing for education and research in culture technology. The Graduate School of Culture Technology plans to conduct research on future culture industries combined with technologies for the metaverse. The Sumi Jo Performing Arts Research Center will conduct research on performing technologies together with virtual artists. Head of the Graduate School of Culture Technology Woontack Woo said that KAIST will expand the sphere of the culture industry including tourism in collaboration with KNUA by incorporating technology into arts.
Recipe for Success: Reputations Start from Inner Circles
A study on social network data of EDM DJs finds the relationship between social standing and identity building If you would like to succeed in your career, carve out your own distinctiveness, then break your boundaries along with collaborators. This sounds very common. However, a study on social networks has proven that is the recipe for success. A recent research on electric dance music DJs’ music identity and their reputation found that music DJs with a distinct genre identity as well as network positions combining brokerage and cohesion tend to place higher in terms of their social standing. What do Calvin Harris, the star of Electro house, Diplo, the icon of Moombahton & Trap, Sebastian Ingrosso, the master of Progressive House, and Armin Van Buuren, the leader of Trance have in common? One commonality of these star DJs in the electronic music market is that they are the leaders who build their genres with solid musical identities and are artists who constantly try experimental and innovative connections with other genres. Professor Wonjae Lee and Dr. Hyeongseok Wi from the Graduate School of Culture and Technology analyzed the playlist data performed by electronic dance music (EDM) DJs at several EDM festivals that were popular around the world before COVID-19 and the track data that they released during that period. “This study investigates how social standing is attained within a professional group of artists whose members play a key role in evaluating their artistic products in the EDM market,” said Professor Lee. Particularly, the team considered DJs' social standing as an effective means of ensuring the quality of their artwork in emerging music markets such as EDM and identified two important factors, the musical identity and the social position within the professional DJ’s group. They analyzed the data from 3,164 playlists of 815 DJs who performed at nine festivals held from 2013 to 2016 as a sort of citation network among DJs, and transformed it into network data to measure social positions among the DJs. They considered the DJs who received a lot of citations from other DJs as having a high social standing. In addition, the genre, beats per minute (BPM), and key scale data of the songs released during the period were quantified to analyze the association with the musical identity. First, the results of analysis of the released track data demonstrated that focused distinct musical identity is correlated with social standing among EDM DJs. The EDM market is an emerging specialist market that is constantly developing and differentiating new styles and genres. It includes artists who establish value criteria and demarcate categorical space into separate identity positions reflecting the artistic forms of a similar type. Second, this study focuses on the two advantages of two types of social positioning, brokerage and cohesive, which can effectively reduce uncertainty in the market. The results show that DJs with a hybrid position, combining elements of both brokerage and cohesion, have higher social standing. This hybrid position is the most advantageous position for controlling new opportunities and inflows of resources and for utilizing them. Unlike existing studies that divide the merits of the two positions into a dichotomy, this study follows the practice of recent studies that show that the two positions can generate synergy in a complementary manner. The remix culture prominent in EDM provides a convincing explanation for this phenomenon. Because constructing playlist sets represents a DJ’s main specialty, the ability to creatively combine a variety of tracks using one’s own artistic style is crucial. To showcase their remix skills, DJs skillfully select tracks to maximize the displays of their talent. Recognized DJs prefer to select tracks from other genres, borrowing from existing contexts and creating new reinterpretations while drawing upon their own musical backgrounds. “Acquiring social acknowledgement within a professional group is an effective way to ensure the quality of products they produce and a strong reputation,” explained Professor Lee. The research team also pointed out the unique case of Techno DJs, who are showing Galápagos syndrome by avoiding crossover between genres and sticking to their own musical identity, unlike most genres in EDM. This research was reported in PLos ONE on Aug. 25 and funded by KAIST and the BK21 Plus Postgraduate Organization for Content Science. -ProfileProfessor Wonjae LeeGraduate School of Culture TechnologyKAIST -PublicationHyeongseok Wi, Wonjae Lee “Stars inside have reached outside: The effects of electronic dance music DJ’s social standing and musical identity on track success,” Aug.25, 2021 PLosONE (https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0254618)
Rachmaninoff the most innovative of 18th and 19th century composers according to network science
Rachmaninoff, followed by Bach, Brahms and Mendelssohn, was the most innovative of the composers who worked during the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras of music (1700 to 1900) according to a study published in the open access journal EPJ Data Science. A team of researchers from KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology), calculated novelty scores for 900 classical piano compositions written by 19 composers between approximately 1700 and 1900. The scores were based on how musical compositions differed from all prior pieces of piano music and how they differed from previous piano works by the same composer. The authors found that composers from the Romantic era (1820 to 1910) tended to have high novelty scores. The authors from the Graduate School of Culture Technology at KAIST created a computer model which divided each composition into segments called ‘codewords’. Each ‘codeword’ consisted of all of the notes played together at a given time. Sequences of ‘codewords’ were then compared between compositions. The similarities between the sequences were used to create novelty scores for each composer and to determine the extent to which composers influenced each other. Juyong Park, the corresponding author, said: “Our model allows us to calculate the degree of shared melodies and harmonies between past and future works and to observe the evolution of western musical styles by demonstrating how prominent composers may have influenced each other. The period of music we studied is widely credited for having produced many musical styles that are still influential today.” The model distinguished each new musical period from the one before it by the rise of newly dominant and highly influential composers that indicated dramatic shifts in musical styles. The authors found that compositions from the Classical period (1750 to 1820) tended to have the lowest novelty scores. During this period Haydn and Mozart were highly influential but were later overtaken by Beethoven during the Classical-to-Romantic transitional period. The most innovative composer, indicated by the highest combined novelty score, was Rachmaninoff. His work during the Romantic era was novel when compared to the compositions of the other 18 composers included in the study, and his later works were novel compared to his earlier works. Lower novelty did not necessarily correlate with low influence. Beethoven was ranked in the lower half of novelty scores yet was the most influential composer during the Romantic period (1820 to 1910) and is widely considered one of the greatest composers of all time. Dr. Park said: “While novelty is necessary in a creative work it cannot account for all the creative and artistic qualities that go into creating melodies and harmonies that spread to later generations of composers. That may be why being more novel did not necessarily result in composers being more influential.” The authors suggest that their method could be applied to narrative or visual artworks by creating codewords from groups of words or colours and shapes. However, they caution that as only piano compositions were included in their analysis, it is unknown whether including all works by the 19 composers would have resulted in another composer being identified as the most original. Profile: Prof. Juyong Park, PhD email@example.com Graduate School of Culture Technology (CT) Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) https://www.kaist.ac.kr Daejeon 34141, Korea (END)
Image Analysis to Automatically Quantify Gender Bias in Movies
Many commercial films worldwide continue to express womanhood in a stereotypical manner, a recent study using image analysis showed. A KAIST research team developed a novel image analysis method for automatically quantifying the degree of gender bias in films. The ‘Bechdel Test’ has been the most representative and general method of evaluating gender bias in films. This test indicates the degree of gender bias in a film by measuring how active the presence of women is in a film. A film passes the Bechdel Test if the film (1) has at least two female characters, (2) who talk to each other, and (3) their conversation is not related to the male characters. However, the Bechdel Test has fundamental limitations regarding the accuracy and practicality of the evaluation. Firstly, the Bechdel Test requires considerable human resources, as it is performed subjectively by a person. More importantly, the Bechdel Test analyzes only a single aspect of the film, the dialogues between characters in the script, and provides only a dichotomous result of passing the test, neglecting the fact that a film is a visual art form reflecting multi-layered and complicated gender bias phenomena. It is also difficult to fully represent today’s various discourse on gender bias, which is much more diverse than in 1985 when the Bechdel Test was first presented. Inspired by these limitations, a KAIST research team led by Professor Byungjoo Lee from the Graduate School of Culture Technology proposed an advanced system that uses computer vision technology to automatically analyzes the visual information of each frame of the film. This allows the system to more accurately and practically evaluate the degree to which female and male characters are discriminatingly depicted in a film in quantitative terms, and further enables the revealing of gender bias that conventional analysis methods could not yet detect. Professor Lee and his researchers Ji Yoon Jang and Sangyoon Lee analyzed 40 films from Hollywood and South Korea released between 2017 and 2018. They downsampled the films from 24 to 3 frames per second, and used Microsoft’s Face API facial recognition technology and object detection technology YOLO9000 to verify the details of the characters and their surrounding objects in the scenes. Using the new system, the team computed eight quantitative indices that describe the representation of a particular gender in the films. They are: emotional diversity, spatial staticity, spatial occupancy, temporal occupancy, mean age, intellectual image, emphasis on appearance, and type and frequency of surrounding objects. Figure 1. System Diagram Figure 2. 40 Hollywood and Korean Films Analyzed in the Study According to the emotional diversity index, the depicted women were found to be more prone to expressing passive emotions, such as sadness, fear, and surprise. In contrast, male characters in the same films were more likely to demonstrate active emotions, such as anger and hatred. Figure 3. Difference in Emotional Diversity between Female and Male Characters The type and frequency of surrounding objects index revealed that female characters and automobiles were tracked together only 55.7 % as much as that of male characters, while they were more likely to appear with furniture and in a household, with 123.9% probability. In cases of temporal occupancy and mean age, female characters appeared less frequently in films than males at the rate of 56%, and were on average younger in 79.1% of the cases. These two indices were especially conspicuous in Korean films. Professor Lee said, “Our research confirmed that many commercial films depict women from a stereotypical perspective. I hope this result promotes public awareness of the importance of taking prudence when filmmakers create characters in films.” This study was supported by KAIST College of Liberal Arts and Convergence Science as part of the Venture Research Program for Master’s and PhD Students, and will be presented at the 22nd ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW) on November 11 to be held in Austin, Texas. Publication: Ji Yoon Jang, Sangyoon Lee, and Byungjoo Lee. 2019. Quantification of Gender Representation Bias in Commercial Films based on Image Analysis. In Proceedings of the 22nd ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW). ACM, New York, NY, USA, Article 198, 29 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3359300 Link to download the full-text paper: https://files.cargocollective.com/611692/cscw198-jangA--1-.pdf Profile: Prof. Byungjoo Lee, MD, PhD firstname.lastname@example.org http://kiml.org/ Assistant Professor Graduate School of Culture Technology (CT) Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) https://www.kaist.ac.kr Daejeon 34141, Korea Profile: Ji Yoon Jang, M.S. email@example.com Interactive Media Lab Graduate School of Culture Technology (CT) Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) https://www.kaist.ac.kr Daejeon 34141, Korea Profile: Sangyoon Lee, M.S. Candidate firstname.lastname@example.org Interactive Media Lab Graduate School of Culture Technology (CT) Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) https://www.kaist.ac.kr Daejeon 34141, Korea (END)
Professor Ji-Hyun Lee Awarded the Sasada Prize
Professor Ji-Hyun Lee from the Graduate School of Culture Technology was awarded the Sasada Prize during the 24th annual Conference of Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia (CAADRIA) held in Wellington, New Zealand on April 15. The Sasada Award honors the late Professor Tsuyoshi Sasada (1941-2005), the former Professor of Osaka University and co-founder and fellow of CAADRIA. It is given to an individual who has contributed to the next generation of researchers and academics, to the wider profession and practice in computer-aided design and research, and has earned recognition in the academic community. Professor Lee was recognized for her development of CAAD (Computer-Aided Architectural Design) through her research work on the land price precision system using case-based reasoning. Her research team proposed a model for estimating the average apartment price in an administrative district after collecting 40 variables from the six major Korean cities, excluding Seoul and Ulsan. Their follow-up studies showed the possibility of replacing existing experts’ predictions. Professor Lee has been steadily researching for 20 years on case-based reasoning (CBR), a field of artificial intelligence, and has published more than 40 papers in the field of CBR. Meanwhile, the CAAD Future 2019 event will be held at KAIST in June.
A Glance at the 2017 KAIST Literary Awards Ceremony
Since KAIST is a university specializing in science and engineering, people may think that the students rarely engage in literary activities. But KAIST students also excel in writing literature. The 23rd KAIST Literary Award Ceremony was held on December 14 on the KAIST main campus. The award was established in 1995 to encourage students’ creative activities and to promote literary attainment. It is open to all KAIST students from undergraduate to masters and PhD students. This year, 43 students submitted a total of 68 literary works in the genres of poetry, novel, critique, and scenario. KAIST professors Dong Ju Kim, Bong Gwan Jun, and Yunjeong Jo from the School of Humanities & Social Sciences participated as judges for the awards and they were joined by writers from the 8th Endless Road Program who served as invited judges for the novels and scenarios. The Endless Road Program is a KAIST project for supporting artists who are engaged in literary works including scenarios, novels, webtoons, and movies by providing residences and funds. Novelists Jin Young Choi and Hak Chan Kim participated as judges for the novels and a drama scriptwriter, Joo Kim, as a judge of the scenarios. After thorough evaluation, four submissions were chosen as awardees. Section Award Name Poetry Winner Sung Gil Moon (PhD candidate from the College of Business) Runner-up Jong Ik Jeon (Undergraduate student) Novel Winner Joo Hwan Kim (Undergraduate from the Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering) Runner-up - Essay & Critique Winner - Runner-up Jung Joon Park (PhD candidate from the Dept. of Bio and Brain Engineering) Scenario Winner - Runner-up - The literary works as well as a review of the awards will be published in the KAIST Times in 2018.
Professor Woontack Woo Demonstrates an Optical Platform Technology for Augmented Reality at Smart Cloud Show
Professor Woontack Woo of the Graduate School of Culture Technology at KAIST participated in the Smart Cloud Show, a technology exhibition, hosted by the university’s Augmented Human Research Center and presented the latest development of his research, an optical platform system for augmented reality. This event took place on September 16-17, 2015 at Grand Seoul Nine Tree Convention Center in Seoul. At the event, Professor Woo introduced a smart glass with an embedded augmented reality system, which permits remote collaboration between an avatar and the user’s hand. The previous remote collaboration was difficult for ordinary users to employ because of its two-dimensional screen and complicated virtual reality system. However, with the new technology, the camera attached to artificial reality (AR) glasses recognizes the user’s hand and tracks it down to collaborate. The avatar in the virtual space and the user’s hand interact in real space and time. The key to this technology is the stable, real-time hand-tracking technique that allows the detection of the hand’s locations and the recognition of finger movements even in situations of self-occlusion. Through this method, a user can touch and manipulate augmented contents as if they were real-life objects, thereby collaborating remotely with another user who is physically distant by linking his or her movements with an avatar. If this technology is adopted widely, it may bring some economic benefits such as increased productivity due to lower costs for mobility and reduction in social overhead costs from the decrease in the need of traveling long distance. Professor Woo said, “This technology will provide us with a greater opportunity for collaboration, not necessarily restricted to physical travelling, which can be widely used in the fields of medicine, education, entertainment, and tourism.” Professor Woo plans to present his research results on hand-movement tracking and detection at the 12th International Conference on Ubiquitous Robots and Ambient Intelligence (URAI 2015), to be held on October 28-30, 2015, at Kintex in Goyang, Korea. He will also present a research paper on remote collaboration at the ICAT-EGVE 2015 conference, the merger of the 25th International Conference on Artificial Reality and Telexistence (ICAT 2015) and the 20th Eurographics Symposium on Virtual Environments (EGVE 2015), which will take place on October 28-30, 2015 at the Kyoto International Community House, Kyoto, Japan.
Science and Technology Policy Professor Chihyung Jeon Awarded Rachel Carson Fellowship
KAIST Graduate School of Science and Technology Policy Professor Chihyung Jeon has been awarded the Rachel Carson Fellowship 2015-2016. Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society is a research center for environmental humanities and social sciences, supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. It was founded by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, Germany and the Deutsches Museum as a joint initiative in 2009. Rachel Carson Center supports researches in humanities and social sciences on the interactions between the environment and the society, following the footsteps of Rachel Cason, who raised awareness on the chemical environmental damage and started global environmental movement through her published book “Silent Spring” in 1962. The center is awarding Rachel Carson Fellowships to established researchers to fund their writing and promote exchange of research. This year, 31 fellowships were awarded. Professor Jeon will conduct research on "A Dredged Nation: The Four Rivers Restoration Project and the Envirotechnical Transformation of South Korea" and will also hold an additional post of International Curatorial Fellow at the Deutsches Museum.
Professor Jung-Ro Yoon Appointed President of Korean Sociological Association
The Korean Sociological Association (KSA) announced that Professor Jung-Ro Yoon from the Department of Humanities and Social Science at KAIST has been appointed as the president of KSA. KSA has been contributing in the development of sociology and academic exchange among its members as the largest academic association in the field of social science in Korea since 1957. Professor Yoon said, “KSA is trying to contribute to finding new solutions for economic crises, inequality, environmental pollution, and other uncertainties that we have been facing. We will attempt to provide vision and hope for the future of the society with cooperation from both students and researchers under the motto ‘Sociology for Research, Play and Communication.’” Dr. Yoon has been in the Department of Humanities and Social Science at KAIST since 1991 after earning her MA & Ph.D. degree from Harvard University. She introduced Science, Technology and Society (STS) into Korea and served as the leader of the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) Project for the Utilization of Human Genome Information.
Businessweek: How Twitter Could Unleash World Peace, April 11, 2011
A KAIST graduate scholar, Meeyoung Cha, conducted a joint study with international researchers and released a paper on the aspect of twitter as an emerging cyber arena for political and social debates and discussions. An article on the paper from Businessweek follows: Businessweek April 11, 2011, 9:08PM EST text size: TT How Twitter Could Unleash World Peace Researchers from Britain, Korea, and Germany have determined that the amount of fresh information you get on Twitter is less a matter of what you follow than whom—and who follows you By Bobbie Johnson On certain days, Twitter can feel like the world"s biggest, fastest echo chamber. Since we tend to follow people who are similar to us, we often see our own views reflected back—meaning a gloomy cloud of irritation can rapidly swirl into a cyclone of outrage as we hear from other people who feel as we do. A group of computer scientists have discovered that the opposite may also be true. Can Twitter be part of the solution, not merely part of the problem? In a study to be presented at a conference in July, a team of researchers from the U.K."s University of Cambridge, Korea"s Graduate School of cultural Technology-KAIST, and Germany"s Max Planck Institute for Software Systems show how Twitter can provide users greater access to more varied political viewpoints and media sources than they might otherwise get. The paper, called "The Media Landscape in Twitter(http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~jac22/out/twitter-diverse.pdf)," explains how the team made surprising discoveries when they looked into the site"s usage patterns. First they looked at who follows whom and discovered that Twitter is a highly politicized space. Then they examined patterns of tweeting and retweeting to try to understand how people receive information on Twitter—and what they might see. Their conclusion: Although Twitter is a pretty partisan space, it can offer unprecedented opportunities to break down the barriers that plague local, national, and international politics. How? Through retweets and interaction—what the authors call "indirect media exposure." As they put it, this "expands the political diversity of news to which users are exposed to a surprising extent, increasing the range by between 60 percent and 98 percent. These results are valuable because they have not been readily available to traditional media and they can help predict how we will read news and how publishers will interact with us in the future." If you"re interested in the way Twitter works, I recommend reading the paper, which isn"t very long. Meanwhile, let"s boil it down to a few key pieces of data and see what lessons they can teach. Most Twitter users are political. Just over half (50.8 percent) of all Twitter users studied showed a distinct political bias in the media outlets and individuals they followed. Most of those lean to the left of the political spectrum, accounting for 62 percent of users who demonstrated some bias. Thirty-seven percent were doggedly centrist. Just 1 percent of Twitter users who showed a political preference were right-wing. Here are a couple of caveats about reading too much into the sharp divide the authors found. Given that Twitter"s user base is younger and more metropolitan than the societal norm, it"s not surprising that it"s weighted to the left. It"s worth noting that this study was undertaken more than a year ago; since then, Twitter has grown dramatically, while global politics have largely skewed back toward the right. Twitter"s user base today might reflect a more-balanced political picture. Either way, there"s a big split. Twitter has secondary and tertiary benefits. Most organizations comprehend Twitter in simple terms: More followers means more exposure. But the study shows that it"s not just about those you follow, but those your followers follow—essentially the people in your extended network. The network offers a number of routes for information from fresh sources to get to you. According to the study, some 80 percent of users choose to follow at least 10 media sources, but they are exposed to between 6 and 10 times as many media sources through their friends. People outweigh brands. Many of the biggest Twitter accounts are big media brands such as CNN (TWX) and Time, but the study suggests that Twitter"s active users tend to prefer individuals over outlets. So while the average follower of @NYTimes (NYT) has six followers apiece, individual journalists have followers who boast a median following count of around 100. That gives individual journalists—who are, the study says, more likely to link to a multiplicity of sources—a much wider, more influential network of connections. The inference is that the personal touch of a journalist is more important than the lofty, impersonal tone of publications that largely act as promotion channels for their content. It"s a discovery that reminded me of Twitter"s recent blog post on the science of the hashtag, which found that hashtags explode in usage when they are picked up by individuals with the most dedicated—not necessarily the largest—followings. Active users access a wider range of views. The researchers say that indirect exposure expands political diversity by a "significant amount," despite other studies showing a tendency for social networks to do the opposite. "Other studies have found a stronger tendency of homophily; blogs of different political views rarely linked to each other," they point out. "One possible reason is that a Twitter network encompasses several different relationships—from shared interest, to familial ties, friends, and acquaintances—so political similarity doesn"t necessarily exist in all such ties." This is not to say that Twitter"s creators should be preparing a Nobel Prize-winning speech. Far from it: The influence of its diversity is unknown. It could be that many people who see messages they disagree with simply change their behavior to screen out such material in future. But it shows that there is a potential to do something positive at Twitter. It"s clear there"s much work to be done. The researchers say they want to investigate a number of areas they"ve uncovered, having provided important insights at a time when politics seem more fractious and divided than ever.
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