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Social computing, sustainability and energy and the environment.


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A short presentation on applications of social computing concepts to sustainable design in the Energy and Environment domains.

Published in: Design, Technology
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Social computing, sustainability and energy and the environment.

  1. 1. Social Computing and Sustainable Design in the Energy and Environment Domains Thomas Erickson [email_address] Social Computing Group IBM T. J. Watson Research Center 2011
  2. 2. Social Computing and Systems Design <ul><li>The dominant approach to large scale system design is technology-focused </li></ul><ul><ul><li>People are seen as passive elements of systems, rather like data on which systems operate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>People are entities that can be modeled, and whose compliance can be taken for granted </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A complementary approach is that of social computing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>People are active elements of systems; their participation can not be taken for granted, and it is important to think about how they are recruited, enlisted, and motivated </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This perspective deserves more attention, and can complement the first one </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Social computing is important because </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It can aid us in designing participatory systems : systems that recruit, engage and motivate people; such systems are more likely to be accepted and seen as legitimate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It can aid us designing socially intelligent systems : systems that are smarter and more resilient because they draw on human and digital intelligence </li></ul></ul>Slide
  3. 3. What is Social Computing? <ul><li>Social computing has to do with designing technical systems that support, encourage and make use of social behavior by their users </li></ul><ul><li>Social computing techniques include </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Collective content creation and sharing – Wikipedia; Flickr </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rating and reputation – Digg;; Ebay </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Collective reporting –; Cyclopath; Ushahidi </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Synthesis of collective activity – prediction markets; Google (page rank) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Serious games – The ESP game (image labeling); Peekaboom; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social network creation and use – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enabling viral spread – YouTube; Facebook ‘25 things about me’ meme </li></ul></ul>Slide
  4. 4. What is Social Computing? <ul><li>Social computing has many applications to the Energy and Environment domain </li></ul><ul><li>Two ways in which social computing may be applied: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Crowdshifting: Supporting large scale voluntary behavioral change </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social Intelligence: Tapping the deep local knowledge people have of their surroundings </li></ul></ul>Slide
  5. 5. Crowdshifting: Large-scale Behavioral Change <ul><li>Many of today’s most pressing goals – energy conservation, resource conservation, recycling and reuse – involve behavioral changes by large numbers of people </li></ul><ul><li>It is unwise to attempt to compel large scale behavioral change </li></ul><ul><ul><li>attempts to compel behavior are prone to failure, gaming, sabotage – and it is prohibitively expensive (consider our experiences with prisons) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>for most purposes, it is also politically untenable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>it does not scale to very large or very distributed systems </li></ul></ul><ul><li>However, there is a repertoire of techniques for crowdshifting : encouraging people to participate in systems that motivate and support voluntary behavior change </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A key point is that people are more willing to change when they see others doing the same. Thus, making sure that crowdshifting interventions are visible (as visible as possible, that is, while respecting privacy), is an important part of successfully carrying out these techniques. </li></ul></ul>Slide
  6. 6. Crowdshifting Techniques (Individual) <ul><li>Feedback </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide feedback about the behavior and its costs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>My smart meter shows me an instantaneous dollars/month reading at my current usage level; I can see the monthly cost of just turning a light off </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Incentives </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide a personal return on the collective payoffs of new behaviors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If I sign up for the automatic demand management program I get 10% off my utility bill </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Assurance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Let people know that their new behavior will still get results they want </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I don’t need to leave the porch light on all evening now that I have the motion sensor </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Facilitation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Make engaging in desirable behavior easier </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>My programmable thermostat has a pre-set program for people who work 9 to 5 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Desirable Defaults </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Make the desired behavior the default so that the user need do nothing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The out-of-the box thermostat setting is 68 for heating and 75 for cooling </li></ul></ul>Slide
  7. 7. Crowdshifting Techniques (Social) <ul><li>Competition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Set up situations where one person can do better than another (or strive for a personal best) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hah! I use 10% less energy than the average of my neighborhood </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Norming </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Show what most people do (or most people in a particular group that the user identifies with) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hmmm. My neighbors (my social network) set their thermostats at about 65 in the winter… </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Secret knowledge + Word of mouth => Viral spread </li></ul><ul><ul><li>People like to be in-the-know, and enjoy sharing their inside knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pssst! There’s a special limited time offer on fluorescent blubs… </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Gifting </li></ul><ul><ul><li>People like to give gifts; provide ways of sharing the benefits of desirable behavior </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I’ve got 50 Kilowatts in my frequent conserver account; I’ll donate them to Great Aunt Jill </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Fun </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Make the desired behavior enjoyable; its effects are enhanced by an audience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ World’s deepest trashcan” -- </li></ul></ul>Slide
  8. 8. Social Intelligence <ul><li>The “smartness” of smarter systems can come from technology and people </li></ul><ul><ul><li>People are superb sources of local knowledge, and can detect and report types of data that sensors cannot; they are also motivated by people and places they care about </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>People are also, of course, subject to errors and biases; effective socially intelligent systems use a variety of techniques (both social and technical) to compensate for this </li></ul></ul>Slide <ul><li>Two existence proofs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Crisis response: Emergent use of Twitter, Blogs, mashups, etc. During the 2007 California wildfires, large numbers of people used social technologies – SMS, Twitter, Google Maps, blogs – to report and aggregate crisis information and to coordinate responses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wikipedia. Studies show that developed articles are of high quality, that increased editing increases article quality, and that vandalism is detected and reverted within minutes </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Social Intelligence <ul><li>In the area of energy and environment, some interesting map-based systems are beginning to emerge </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Place-based problem reporting . allows people to report street problems (pot holes, malfunctioning street lights) on a shared map. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Environmental monitoring . The Green Watch program (Paris) has participants wear ‘watches’ that monitor pollution levels as they walk. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Map making and augmentation . Cyclopath is a street map intended for use by bicyclists. They can add information (bikeability ratings, shortcuts, coffee shops) that the system can then use to compute bicycle-friendly routes. </li></ul></ul>Slide
  10. 10. R&D Issues <ul><li>The environment and energy domain offers many opportunities for exploring crowdshifting techniques and social intelligence in systems design </li></ul><ul><li>Examples include </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Visibility. Providing visible, public comparisons among energy use among different parts of the same building, or different buildings in the same neighborhood </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Incentive mechanisms. Experimenting with different incentive systems, and understanding how to most effectively tune them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Acceptance and accommodation. Studying the reactions of tenants to the monitoring that is part of most control systems, and exploring how to mitigate its negative impacts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mixed initiative control. Providing mechanisms that allow users – and not just sensors – to provide input to the control systems to both better train sensors and models, and to increase the engagement of the tenants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Socially intelligent systems. Creating systems that tap local inhabitants’ knowledge about their neighborhoods, and their resource use patterns. Such systems could also increase public awareness of their local environment and their motivation to participate. </li></ul></ul>Slide