We celebrated the official launch of the Digital Communication Methods Lab with an event in which ASCoR researchers discussed digital communication methods and doing communication research with disruptive technologies.
Claes de Vreese kicked off the meeting laying out the history of the RPA Communication, and its priorities for the 2018-22 period. In this new period, the RPA will expand and accelerate our efforts to address the urgency that disruptive communication technologies pose for our society in general and communication research in particular.
Anne Roos Smink discussed research with Augmented Reality, and in particular her project investigating the antecedents and consequences of consumers’ use of Augmented Reality apps are studied in both informational and entertaining contexts, and with a focus on both positive and negative consumer responses. She also highlighted how fun, but also how challenging research with AR can be, especially considering the extremely fast pace at which the technology is evolving.
Jochen Peter then provided an update on his ERC project focusing on the interactions of social robots and children. He also shared his views on a new set of challenges and potential paradigm changes in communication research now that computers (and embodied robots) are not merely the medium through which humans communicate (Computer-Mediated Communication), but are also partners with whom we communicate. And he was not alone: we could also have a first look at him interacting with the robots that are taking part in his research.
The discussion followed with a presentation by Theo Araujo about communication research with conversational agents, especially chatbots and virtual assistants. He was also not alone in his talk, and was virtually joined by Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant, for some jokes and discussion about what a conversational agent may be. He also highlighted the opportunities and potential challenges in doing research with these types of agents, and provided an update on some of his research projects.
Automated Content Analysis
Damian Trilling wrapped up the pannel presentations with a discussion about INCA, a multi-year project creating infrastructure to allow automated data collection and content analysis for communication research. He covered not only the potential of INCA, but also some of the possibilities for ASCoR researchers in the short term, and the multiple papers that were already presented or published using INCA.