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University of Michigan School of Information


UMSI WIRE - Winter 2020

Welcome to UMSI WIRE, a quarterly compendium of news and research from the University of Michigan School of Information for educators and information professionals.

Daniel Atkins named 2019 AAAS fellow

Professor Emeritus Daniel E. Atkins was elected as fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Atkins was recognized for distinguished contributions to computer architecture, collaboratories and digital libraries, and national leadership in computer and computational science policy.

During his time at the University of Michigan School of Information, Atkins has focused on computer architecture including high-speed arithmetic methods now widely used in modern computers, as well as the design and construction of application-specific experimental machines. Read more.

Study shows how online retailers manipulate shoppers

A paper published by Carol MoserSarita Schoenebeck and Paul Resnick analyzed 200 top online retailers to identify tactics used to encourage impulse buying. Discounts and sales, product ratings, and interactive displays are among the more common features used to encourage purchases. Read more.

This research hit the media in a big way in January, with more than 170 media outlets picking up the story.

US News & World Report: Sale Ending Soon? How Online Stores Trick You Into Buying

CBS News: Online retailers' trickiest tactics to stoke impulse buying

New research center focuses on ethical, equitable practices in computing technology

The Center for Ethics, Society and Computing (ESC) launched in January with a half-day event examining the cultural and political dimensions of digital technology.

The new center is co-sponsored by UMSI and led by director Christian Sandvig and associate director Silvia Lindtner. ESC will bring together scholars committed to "feminist, justice-focused, inclusive, and interdisciplinary approaches to computing." Read more.

Related: Sandvig’s MCubed 3.0 Project received a grant from the Institute for Research on Women and Gender to expand ESC Center’s reach to consider how digital technologies intersect with cyberfeminism and disability studies. Read more.

UMSI and LSA collaborate to preserve rare recordings of African music

UMSI’s Paul Conway and LSA’s Kelly Askew led the project to digitize nearly 10,000 tapes containing almost half a century of rare African music and radio broadcasts of popular Voice of America radio program Music Time in Africa.

Conway describes the archive as “essentially a time capsule” that will allow scholars and fans to track cultural and political trends over time and across borders.

The archives are available to the public and can be streamed online, which Conway says was central to the mission of the project.

“Digitizing fragile tapes is not enough,” explains Conway. “Without access, you’re just relegating the digits to the same kind of loss and obscurity that befalls the original tapes to begin with.”

Read more.

Watch the video.

Michigan team competes in Amazon challenge to make AI more engaging

In an effort to push the boundaries of conversational AI, Amazon has opened up their Alexa virtual assistant platform to ten university teams in an effort to make the bot a little more human.

Among the ten schools from around the world selected to compete is a team from U-M co-advised by assistant professor David Jurgens from the School of Information and assistant professor Nikola Banovic in the College of Engineering. Read more.

Florian Schaub receives honorable mention for chapter in forthcoming book

UMSI Assistant Professor Florian Schaub has received an honorable mention from the Future of Privacy Forum’s annual Privacy Papers for Policy Makers for a chapter he co-authored in the forthcoming publication of “Introduction to IT Privacy for Technology Professionals.” 

The chapter Schaub co-authored, “Usable and Useful Privacy Interfaces,” examines the limitations of the current practices that dictate how services communicate privacy policies or settings to users. Most people are used to scrolling to the bottom of long and confusing privacy statements and signing their consent without a second thought, but these statements often fall far short of actually informing users of important information pertaining to their privacy. Read more.