“Social Computing in 2020” Contest Winners

The Transliteracies Project and the UCSB Social Computing Group are pleased to announce the winners of the Bluesky Innovation Competition on “Social Computing in 2020.”

The worldwide contest was designed to engage undergraduate and graduate students in the newly emerging, interdisciplinary field of “social computing.” Participants were encouraged to imagine how society and technology will interact 10 to 20 years from now – far enough in the future to stretch our imagination of technology, yet near enough to be plausible.

Contest entries consisted of a description of the envisioned technology as well as an imaginative realization, embodiment, or illustration of the idea. The entries were judged on the basis of creativity, understanding of technology and society, explanatory clarity and organization of the description, and the quality of the imaginative realization, embodiment, or illustration. (See the original contest announcement.)

The Winners:

First Prize ($3,000): “SENSe” by Karen Tanenbaum and Joshua Tanenbaum, graduate students, School of Interactive Arts and Technology, Simon Fraser University


“The imagined social technology of SENSe (Socialization, Exploration,
Negotiation, and Security) is a natural extension of two current trends in
social networking: social presence and privacy concerns.”

“As we adopt and embrace this technology we are often not made fully aware
of how much of this kind of data is accessible online and how quickly tools
can be developed to aggregate and synthesize it into detailed information about
our personal lives. Seldom do we even pause to contemplate the potential
harmful repercussions of this technology, or to consider how we might mitigate
these risks without sacrificing all of the benefits derived from this new

“Perhaps more importantly than controlling software and hardware, SENSe is a
tool for navigating the murky waters of a world whereanything is a potential
point of data to be gathered: from a simple trip to a grocery store, to a business
meeting, to a visit to the chiropractor. In a world where we leave glowing digital
footprints wherever we go, SENSe allows us to choose when and where to leave
that trail, and when to cover our tracks. If you are going out for a night on the
town, for instance, it knows to not include your boss in the list of people with
access rights to the photos taken in “social mode”. In this way, SENSe
supports the process of negotiating different levels of privacy for different
audiences. It tells you where your information is going, who is looking at it, and for how long: it asserts your rights over your digital identity, and gives you control over how you construct that identity for a given audience.”

“Finally, SENSe extends the discovery functions of social networks into the
physical world. Putting SENSe into different “social discovery” modes invites
connections between people who might otherwise never meet. A lonely
office worker might meet a girl who shares his love of old horror movies on a
train ride home, or a musician looking for an audience might find a group of
teens browsing his songs while sitting in the food court of a mall.”

View the entire “SENSe” submission, including a hypothetical product brochure.

Second Prize ($1,000): “Experiential Skin Diving” by Daniel Luis Kamakura, undergraduate, English major, Duke University


“In this new age of experiential simulation, social “networkers” wear special ultra-thin “recording suits” that digitally record every sensation that they experience. The “experience” is then downloaded to a computer and uploaded to the Internet, where “skin divers” download and relive the experience by hooking up their own full-body “sensation suits” which mimic the experience in minute detail.”

“Through sensation suits (alternately referred to as “skin suits”), users are able to share and express their feelings and experiences in ways that words and video could never do. Utilizing skin suits, divers can literally “get under the skin” of their friends and (for the right price) any celebrities or pop culture personalities willing to participate.”

“Entire niche industries may crop up catering to unique experiences and tastes. Experiential “circles” or experience groups may crop up on the Net or in real life, as people who might’ve shared vacation photos or home videos will instead compare and share real-time, real life experiences.”

“In this way, interpersonal relationships will not only become more intimate and more close, but also more rewarding. An individual who is, for example, unsatisfied with the behavior of their friend, associate, acquaintance, or romantic partner (be they public, social or even erotic behaviors), but is unable to articulate or convey their concerns through traditional means, can share with their partner the experience from another person’s perspective, or even their own.”

“This has far-reaching implications for not just for social awareness programming but also educational initiatives and sensitivity training, as it provides a relatively safe and easy-to-replicate means by which another person can “live a different life,” from that which they normally inhabit.”

“The implications for artistic expression are also impressive, as “experiential artists” can experiment with developing and combining various experiences into new and wholly different overall experiences.”

Third Prize ($500): “Anatomical Analytics” by Chris Castiglione, graduate student, New Media Programme, University of Amsterdam

View the entire “Skin Diving” submission, including an account of a hypothetical Senate hearing on virtual reality and technology.


“My idea for a technology in the year 2020 is to embed RFID chips inside our body in order to monitor health. Connecting
these chips across a global network will allow us to manage health trends and lead to new developments in what I will refer to as Anatomical Analytics.”

“The chips don’t store data, they communicate data. Each tag is a listener that transmits the current condition of the respective body organ to which it monitors. The data is then collected by a server and illustrated graphically by an online software application.”

“On a macro-sociological level the data is aggregated by Anatomical Analytics Trends in order to predict local, national and global health trends. Once the RFID chips are in place it would be fairly easy to monitor an individual’s location by using RFID readers that could be installed in schools, the workplace and stores. Combining locative data we could potentially link an outbreak of E.Coli to a particular fast-food chain; visually segment the population based on nutritional intake data; or detect and track influenza activity in The United States.”

“My theory is that in the future, the idea of monitoring human vital organs with RFID chips won’t seem so ludicrous. The definition of ubiquitous computing will eventually have to be expanded beyond ‘a network that connects everything’ as it will truly be ‘a network that connects everything inside everyone’.”

View the entire “Anatomical Analytics” submission, including illustrations of the hypothetical user interface.

Honorable Mentions:

The contest committee would like to also recognize these outstanding Honorable Mentions:

  • “Mexican Laser Light Extravaganza“ by Justin Andrew Gutierrez, undergraduate, Interdisciplinary Computing in the Arts/Music, UC San Diego. The Mexican Laser Light Extravaganza envisions a scenario in which mutable, laser graffiti systems, such as those employed by Graffiti Research Lab, are used in social activism to project protest messages onto walls near the U.S. / Mexico border. See the entire “Mexican Laser Light Extravaganza” submission, including a short story that envisions a use for the technology.
  • “Continuous Media Mobilities” by Jordan Kraemer, graduate student, Cultural Anthropology, UC Irvine. “Continuous Media Mobilities” imagines “Micro Media Protocol” that connects users with each other as well as their environments in order to “generate opportunities for creative collaboration, media remixing, and community formation.” Though the project does not theorize an end to the “digital divide,” it does project alternative social uses for MMP that challenge social hierarchy. See the entire “Continuous Media Mobilities” submission, including a hypothetical dissertation proposal.
  • “Virtual Health Centers” by Mariano Mora-McGinity, graduate student, Media Arts and Technology, UC Santa Barbara. “Virtual Health Centers” connects doctors around the world with patients in developing nations. A mobile health vehicle pairs patients with doctors via the internet and information is collected to build a database of medical case histories. See the entire “Virtual Health Centers” submission, including a hypothetical slide presentation.

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