Category: Academia (page 1 of 2)

New paper out! The Immersive VR Self

Very happy to share this new paper written together with Will Steptoe. This paper will appear in “A Networked Self and Human Augmentics, AI, Sentience” but is already available here:


Virtual avatars are a common way to present oneself in online social interactions. From cartoonish emoticons to hyper-realistic humanoids, these online representations help us portray a certain image to our respective audiences. Immersive VR systems like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive track a user’s physical body movement in real-time and utilize this data to drive the corresponding behavior of an avatar. What is then special about avatars in immersive environments and how does this difference play out in the relationship between a user’s physical and virtual sense of presence? In this paper, we summarize academic research in this field, study the conditions that construct self presentation in immersive VR, coin the term “immersive VR self” and detail its unique characteristics.


Our Research at IEEE VR

Very happy to announce my joint work with Ketaki Shriram was accepted to be presented at IEEE VR 2017.  Here is the title and abstract:

All Are Welcome: Using VR Ethnography to Explore Harassment Prevention in Immersive Social Virtual Reality

The growing ubiquity of VR headsets has given rise to questions around harassment in social virtual reality. This paper presents two studies. In the first, a pilot ethnographic study, users were interviewed in immersive social virtual reality about their experiences and behaviors in these spaces. Harassment was occasional, and those in female avatars reported more harassment than those in male avatars. In Study Two, a quantitative survey was conducted to validate ethnographic results. A large percentage of users witness harassment in virtual reality. These studies provide mixed methods insight of user demographics and behaviors in the relatively new social VR space.

Shriram K., Schwartz, R. (2017) All Are Welcome: Using VR Ethnography to Explore Harassment Prevention in Immersive Social Virtual Reality. IEEE VR. Los Angeles, USA, March 2017.

CityBeat at ICWSM 2015

Our paper “Editorial Algorithms: Using Social Media to Discover and Report Local News” was accepted as a full paper presentation at ICWSM 2015 in Oxford, UK.  Here is the abstract:

The role of algorithms in the detection, curation and broadcast of news is becoming increasingly prevalent. To better understand this role we developed CityBeat, a system that implements what we call “editorial algorithms” to find possible news events. This fully functional system collects real-time geo-tagged information from social media, finds key stories, makes an editorial decision whether these events are of interest and eventually visualizes these stories on a big screen display. The system was designed in collaboration with jour- nalists and tested at four New York City newsrooms. Our results show that while journalists were receptive to the idea of machine-generated news stories, the actual results of the system confirmed current concerns among journalists and researchers about the dangers of outsourcing news-finding tasks to machines. This paper, therefore, exemplifies how news sourcing systems based on social media may favor specific types of news events, do not report results quickly enough, and cater to a biased population and range of interests.

CFP When the City Meets the Citizens Workshop at ICWSM 2013

A bunch of great people (and me) are organizing a workshop at the upcoming ICWSM conference. If you are interested in cities and social media, make sure you submit your work! :)

Here is the CFP:

The 2nd When the City Meets the Citizens Workshop:

Big Data and the Study of the Urban Habitat

Boston, July 11th 2013 (WCMCW)

In conjunction with the International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM)

Big News! I am joining the Social Media Information Lab at Rutgers University

I am super excited to announce that I will be joining Mor Naaman‘s team of researchers in the Social Media Information Lab at Rutgers University for a Post-Doc position this year.

I have been following the awesome research they have been doing there for some time now and after meeting the people in person I can full heartedly say I couldn’t have asked for a better place to continue my research in the study of Social Media and Cities.

I am so lucky to join this fabulous group of talented researchers and I can already see this year is going to be absolutely amazing!