Liao, T.(2023). A Definitive Word on Augmented, Virtual, Mixed, Extended, Cross, and any other X Reality Terminology. Critical Augmented Virtual Reality Researchers Network. https://cavrn.org/defining-x-realities
Anyone who studies or talks about augmented reality and virtual reality technologies will inevitably get asked the question: but how is that augmented/mixed/virtual reality? Isn’t that more AR than VR? How one talks about these technologies is continually evolving. With every application/device that is released a version of this debate gets kicked up again, whether that’s Pokemon GO or Google Glass. These terms can mean something specific, but often get lumped in with umbrella terms like mixed reality, XR, or extended reality. Even across these terms there is significant variance between how companies/marketers/academics/enthusiasts utilize them, and differences between technical definitions and colloquial usage ...
Liao, T. (2021). You Can See All That From Here? A Content Analysis of Location-Based Augmented Reality Tweets. Communication Studies. doi:10.1080/10510974.2021.2011352
As social media continues to evolve, some applications are experimenting with augmented reality (AR) visualizations that can call up posts generated around the user’s precise location and overlaid on top of the physical place. Despite being publicly available, little academic research has looked at AR displays of social media in space. While the location has been studied with regard to social media posts, existing work has primarily examined the location as a collective topic or how to map those geographically at a macrolevel. While research studies into location-based games and neighborhood forums have more explicitly looked at the role of location as the mediator of information, they have not considered the overlay of social media posts or spatial AR displays. This study reports on data from a Layar channel called Tweeps Around, which augmented tweets posted around your physical location. The researchers manually cataloged tweets (N = 277) sent near one fixed location over several months and coded them for key themes. This study helps understand what content is generated from one place as well as some of the content implications of in situ AR tweets. Unlike Twitter feeds that are sorted by who you follow, Tweeps Around can call up strangers’ tweets by proximal location alone, which changes the potential audience of viewers, the risks of that content, and the user experience. Understanding these types of technologies can help build on our understanding of not only communication about places but also communication through places, and what social media may become in the near future.
Iliadis, A., Liao, T., Pedersen, I.,& Han, J. (2021). Learning about metadata and machines: teaching students using a novel structured database activity. Journal of Communication Pedagogy, 4, 152-165. doi: 10.31446/JCP.2021.1.14
Machines produce and operate using complex systems of metadata that need to be catalogued, sorted, and processed. Many students lack the experience with metadata and sufficient knowledge about it to understand it as part of their data literacy skills. This paper describes an educational and interactive database activity designed for teaching undergraduate communication students about the creation, value, and logic of structured data. Through a set of virtual instructional videos and interactive visualizations, the paper describes how students can gain experience with structured data and apply that knowledge to successfully find, curate, and classify a digital archive of media artifacts. The pedagogical activity, teaching materials, and archives are facilitated through and housed in an online resource called Fabric of Digital Life (fabricofdigitallife.com). We end by discussing the activity's relevance for the emerging field of human-machine communication.
Liao, T. & Tyson,O. (2021). “Crystal Is Creepy, but Cool”: Mapping Folk Theories and Responses to Automated Personality Recognition Algorithms. Social Media & Society, 7(2), doi: 20563051211010170
This article examines Crystal Knows, a company that generates automated personality profiles through an algorithm and sells access to their database. These algorithms are the result of a long line of research into computational and predictive algorithms that track social media practices and uses them to infer individual characteristics and make psychometric assessments. Although it is now computationally possible, these algorithms are not widely known or understood by the general public. Little is known about how people would respond to them, particularly when they do not even know their online activities are being assessed by the algorithm. This study examines how people construct “snap” folk theories about the ways personality algorithms operate as well as how they react when shown their outputs. Through qualitative interviews (n = 37) with people after being presented with their own profile, this study identifies a series of folk theories that people came up with to explain the personality algorithm across four dimensions (data source, scope, collection process, and outputs). In addition, this study examined how those folk theories contributed to certain reactions, fears, and justifications people had about the algorithm. This study builds on our theoretical understanding of folk theory literature as well as certain limitations of algorithmic transparency/sovereignty when these types of inferential and predictive algorithms get coupled with people’s hopes and fears about employment, hiring, and promotion.
Liao, T. & Iliadis, A. (2021). A Future So Close – Mapping 10 Years of Promises and Futures Across the Augmented Reality Development Cycle. New Media & Society 23(2). doi: 10.1177/1461444820924623
When the augmented reality (AR) industry was first forming, many hyperbolic futures were imagined. These futures served important functions, whether it was growing the community, motivating investors, or setting priorities for AR companies. Over time, however, futures and collective expectations for the technology can change dramatically. This study analyzes two futures data sets to understand 10 years of futures surrounding AR—one from years of participant observation at AR conferences, the other from a digital archive of media about wearable technologies called FABRIC. By comparing a 10-year period of futures as AR moved across stages of the development cycle, this study identifies specific ways in which flows of discourses worked to shape the conferences, which in turn shaped the collective futures and expectations about AR. This study builds on our empirical and theoretical understanding of futures by comparing futures across multiple levels (macro/micro) and longitudinally mapping the interrelationships between streams of futures.
Liao, T., Yang, H., Lee, S., Xu, K, & Bennett, S.(2020).Augmented Criminality – How In Situ Augmented Reality Crime Information Shapes Perceptions of Place. Mobile Media & Communication, 8(3). doi: 10.1177/2050157919899696
Communication about crime and the places it occurs has been an important area of study for criminology, sociology, public policy, and media scholars. Where incidents used to be communicated through word of mouth, physical evidence, and news outlets, recent advances in crime tracking, mapping, and mobile media have dramatically changed how individuals are informed about crime. Many organizations have adopted mobile text alerts, and recent advances in augmented reality (AR) technologies have made it possible to overlay visuals about crime on top of users’ physical surroundings. How people make sense of this visual, individualized, and location-specific crime information, however, is largely unknown and complicated by the fact that mobile technologies are challenging to study in situ, as people move through and experience urban place. Within the AR literature, while existing research has started to look at the ways that AR can affect people’s experience of place, the precise ways that people perceive and integrate AR displays into their understanding of place are still largely unexplored. This empirical study reports findings from a project utilizing AR as an urban probe, where we took participants (N = 57) around to places in a large metropolitan area in the United States and showed them visual AR crime information overlaid on the physical place where they were moving through. After seeing these urban probes, participants were asked what they noticed, remembered, and thought occurred in that place when shown AR crime information. The analysis draws on Lefebvre’s (1991) spatial triad to explain how people read places through the lens of AR, and also how they extrapolate, speculate, and make associations from AR information. Based on these findings, this study discusses the implications for mobile media scholars and their understanding of visual place-based communication, as well as for designers and policymakers considering the use of AR to communicate crime information.
Xu, K.& Liao, T. (2020) Explicating Cues: A Typology for Understanding Emerging Media Technologies, Journal of Computer Mediated Communication 25(1). 32-43. doi: 10.1093/jcmc/zmz023
Cues have long been an important concept in computer-mediated communication (CMC), as several core theories have utilized cues to explain how they get filtered and interpreted through technologies. As computing technologies evolved, other related fields have also adopted cues as a concept for understanding technological interaction. Given the pervasive nature of cues, this article first explicates the concept and creates a typology of cues based on how different fields have studied them. It then examines key differences in how existing theories approach cues and their assumptions behind cues, and further pulls apart the relationship between different cue categories and their potential effects on social presence. Lastly, we explain how researchers could draw on this typology to understand the increasingly multifaceted ways that emerging media technologies present cues and evoke social presence. A clear typology of cues is necessary both to clarify the term and help guide future evolutions of CMC.
Liao, T. & Xu, K. (2020). A Process Approach to Understanding Multiple Open Source Innovation Contests – Assessing the Contest Structures, Execution, and Participant Responses in the Android Developer Challenges. Information and Organization 30(2). doi:10.1016/j.infoandorg.2020.100300
As organizations recognize the importance of open innovation, understanding emerging mechanisms for soliciting outside participation is a growing area of academic interest. Strategies can be as diverse as hosting innovation contests, sponsoring open source software (OSS) communities, or engaging in bilateral partnerships. While these have been studied as distinct strategies, more recent work has identified the possibility for combining these approaches, or deploying different methods at different times. Because each of these open innovation strategies are characterized by different incentive systems as well as different work and social practices, the combination of these can reveal unexpected participant responses (e.g., collaboration in innovation contests, competitive behavior in OSS communities). This study examines an explicit attempt to combine these strategies, to host an open source innovation contest. Through the case of Google's Android Developer Challenge, a series of multi-million dollar innovation contests used to launch an OSS community over several years, this study utilized a process approach to understanding open source innovation contests to understand how participants responded and also how the contest conditions changed over time. We found several practices of competition and collaboration that worked around the short term and long term incentives and constraints posed by the contest. We also followed the contest through various transition phases and found that participants reacted strongly to changes in structure, execution, and shifting conditions over time. Through this case, we extend our understanding of innovation contests as a process and specifically the promises and pitfalls of open source innovation contests.
Liao, T., Chang, P.F., & Lee, S. (2020). Augmented Reality in Health and Medicine: A Review and Extension of AR for medical training, procedures, and behavioral intervention. In Kim. J. & Song, H. (eds) Technology and Health: Promoting Attitude and Behavior Change. (pp. 109-128). Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-816958-2.00006-X
As augmented reality (AR) technologies have become increasingly accessible, there are a range of industries that are interested in adopting and implementing AR. One field in particular that is actively interested in AR is for health and medicine. While there have been several studies about AR and health, the ways in which these studies conceptualize AR and the contexts in which they apply AR vary greatly. This chapter reviews the different areas of literature that have utilized AR, to see where there are commonalities and differences. Furthermore, this chapter illuminates how AR in particular could influence health outcomes based on its unique technical features and affordances. Based on this review, this chapter discusses several promising areas for AR and health and medicine, as well as important gaps and directions for future research.
Liao, T., Jennings, N., Dell, L., & Collins, C. (2019). Could the Virtual Dinosaur See You? Understanding Children’s Perceptions of Presence and Reality Distinction in Virtual Reality Environments. Journal of Virtual Worlds Research12(2). doi: 10.4101/jvwr.v12i2.7361
Despite the growing interest and use of virtual reality (VR) in American homes, there is a notable gap in empirical studies that examine VR and children. This study identifies two important research concepts in children’s research that have been studied across many types of media 1) reality distinction and 2) presence, and applies them to studying VR experiences. Taking a qualitative approach, 6 to 8-year-old children (N=29) participated in a VR experience as an extension of the children’s televisions how called Dino Dana. During the child’s VR experience where they swam in a pool with dinosaurs, we recorded a computer capture of what the child sees within the VR experience; and a video recording of the child in the VR headset and their behaviors during the VR experience. In addition, children responded to questions before and after their VR experience. We observed several behaviors of how children attempted to test and assess the reality of VR (e.g. holding their breath). Through interviews, we also found that children had certain presence experiences within VR that challenged their understanding of reality, where the dinosaurs were treated as real and evoked social presence. This study builds on our understanding of how VR might impact on young children and their perception of VR experiences, which have important implications for VR researchers, designers, and consumers
Liao, T. (2019). Standards and their (Recurring) Stories: How Augmented Reality Markup Language was Built on Stories of Past Standards. Science, Technology, & Human Values. 1-26. doi: 10.1177/0162243919867417
This article focuses on the role of past standards stories and how they are deployed strategically in ways that shape the process of standards creation. It draws upon an ethnographic study over multiple years of standards meetings, discussions, and online activity. Building on existing work that examines how standards are shaped by stories, this study follows the development of Augmented Reality Markup Language and maps how the story of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) became the key story that actors utilized and debated to push for participation, agreement, and material development of the standard. The authors present several different ways the recurring HTML story was effective at various points in the process as a diagnostic tool, promissory future, empirical evidence, and confidence building measure. Understanding these strategic deployments serves as an empirical example of how recurring stories of the past can shape standards development. These mappings illustrate how standards can be built on past standards sociologically as well as technologically and also broadens our theoretical tools for understanding the importance of stories in the sociology of standards.
Liao, T. (2019) Future Directions for Mobile Augmented Reality Research: Understanding Relationships Between Augmented Reality Users, Non-Users, Content, Devices, and Industry. Mobile Media & Communication. 7(1). 131-149. doi: 10.1177/2050157918792438
As the field of mobile media studies continues to grow, researchers are focusing on new developments and trends in mobile technologies. One of these areas that has been garnering interest is mobile augmented reality (AR) technologies. While much of the earliest research in AR was primarily focused on answering computer science and engineering related questions, social science and humanities scholars have started taking note of AR as perhaps the next major development in mobile media. Given that much of this research has been distributed across interdisciplinary lines and from many different theoretical perspectives, this piece identifies some early lines of media, communication, and social science research into AR and identifies key themes and areas of focus: AR users/nonusers, AR devices, AR content, and AR industry. By organizing these lines of research, this manuscript serves as a call for specific future areas of research, suggests new approaches that researchers could take to explore interrelationships between these areas, and advocates for the necessity of research that examines different levels (micro/meso/macro) of analysis within AR. The goal of this piece is to advance a framework that informs and motivates mobile scholars to consider and integrate AR into their research areas, at a moment where it is in the process of moving from science fiction to material reality, from blueprint to prototype, and from laboratory to homes, cars, workplaces, and pockets.
Liao, T. (2018). Mobile versus Headworn Augmented Reality: How Visions of the Future Shape, Contest, and Stabilize an Emerging Technology. New Media & Society, 20(2), 796-814. doi: 10.1177/1461444816672019
This study examines the development of augmented reality (AR) technologies, utilizing theories like social construction of technology (SCOT) and from the sociology of futures literature. While some have criticized SCOT for over-privileging certain social groups, drawing rigid boundaries between groups, and overlooking the role of power between them, this study addresses those critiques by conducting an ongoing mapping of the discussion surrounding AR. Through in-depth interviews and participant observation analyzing the discourse and development taking place at industry, standards, and academic conferences, this study explores a contestation emerging between two coalitions (mobile vs headworn) and how they are using future visions to negotiate the material design of the technology, the policies surrounding the technology, and stakeholder perceptions of the technology. The tactics these coalitions engage in reveal new components of stabilization, specifically deploying a “pre-stabilized ideal” to frame technological development. This case represents an instance where applying SCOT to an emerging technology helps us understand the technology itself while also building on and extending the SCOT model.
Liao, T. (2016). Is it ‘Augmented Reality’? Contesting Boundary Work over the Definitions and Organizing Visions for an Emerging Technology Across Field-Configuring Events. Information and Organization. 26(3). p. 45-62. doi: 10.1016/j.infoandorg.2016.05.001
In recent years there has been growing recognition that Field-Configuring Events (FCEs) play an important role in connecting stakeholders, conferring authority to certain members, and shaping the organizing visions surrounding emerging technologies. While much of this work has examined the features of FCEs, the implications and outcomes of FCEs, and the coalescence of FCEs, this study contributes to our understanding of fields that are not converging, rather different stakeholders are actively creating and summoning new FCEs to assert authority. This case also examines the relationship between definitions and organizing visions, as the discursive and social contexts in which these boundaries are being contested. This study follows the emerging interorganizational augmented reality (AR) community, as a group that unites under the term AR but has been continually negotiating its meaning for decades. Through extensive participant observation at numerous global conferences and in-depth interviews, this study shows how various definitions originated and evolved, how new emerging artifacts have challenged definitions, how specific groups have coalesced around definitions, and the various ways that they are organizing at and across FCEs to contest these definitions. These findings of how discourse flows across FCEs contribute to our empirical understanding of the tactics that various actors engage in to draw symbolic, social, and material boundaries around a field, as well as how these debates and commitments ultimately shape the participants in the community and subsequent work that comes out of the community.
Liao, T. (2015). Augmented or Admented Reality? The Influence of Marketing on Augmented Reality Technologies. Information, Communication, & Society. 18(3). p. 310-326. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2014.989252
As mobile and wearable devices that enable digital content to be displayed over physical surroundings continue to develop, scholars are increasingly interested in these ‘augmented reality’ (AR) technologies. While much of the focus has either been on the technological development of these devices and their potential for changing user perception, there has been less attention paid to the stakeholders and companies developing these technologies. This study examines developments in the industry itself, where companies are finding resources and structuring their businesses, and how this has created a momentum toward marketing and advertising. The intricate link between marketing and AR is one that has implications for how the technology is developing, what experiences are possible through the technology, and the future contexts in which AR is deployed.
Liao, T. (2015). One Day Will have to Wait a Little Longer: Google Glass Still Means Business. Culture Digitally. January 28, http://culturedigitally.org/2015/01/one-day-will-have-to-wait-a-little-longer-google-glass-still-means-business
Last week, Google announced that it would be ending the Glass Explorer project for the public to purchase. The reaction on the internet was a combination of anger from people who bought the device, pundits declaring ‘I knew it all along,’ and a healthy dose of Schadenfreude. Some provided commentary on the many reasons it was poorly received, others lumped it in in with other high profile Google missteps, and still others analyzed it from a PR perspective, i.e. what a disaster the project was for Google...
Tse, J., Schrader, D. E., Ghosh, D., Liao, T., & Lundie, D. (2015). A Bibliometric Analysis of Privacy Ethics in IEEE Security Privacy. Ethics and Information Technology. 17(2). p. 153-163. doi: 10.1007/s10676-015-9369-6
The increasingly ubiquitous use of technology has led to the concomitant rise of intensified data collection and the ethical issues associated with the privacy and security of that data. In order to address the question of how these ethical concerns are discussed in the literature surrounding the subject, we examined articles published in IEEE Security and Privacy, a magazine targeted towards a general, technically-oriented readership spanning both academia and industry. Our investigation of the intersection between the ethical and technological dimensions of privacy and security is structured as a bibliometric analysis. Our dataset covers all articles published in IEEE Security and Privacy since its inception in 2003 to February 06, 2014 . This venue was chosen not only because of its target readership, but also because a preliminary search of keywords related to ethics, privacy, and security topics in the ISI Web of Knowledge and IEEE Xplore indicated that IEEE Security and Privacy has published a preponderance of articles matching those topics. In fact, our search returned two-fold more articles for IEEE Security and Privacy than the next most prolific venue. These reasons, coupled with the fact that both academia and industry are well-represented in the authorship of articles makes IEEE Security and Privacy an excellent candidate for bibliometric analysis. Our analysis examines the ways articles in IEEE Security and Privacy relate ethics to information technology. Such articles can influence the development of law, policy and the future of information technology ethics. We employed thematic and JK-biplot analyses of content relating privacy and ethics and found eight dominant themes as well as the inter-theme relationships. Authors and institutional affiliations were examined to discern whether centers of research activity and/or authors dominated the overall field or thematic areas. Results suggest avenues for future work in critical areas, especially for closing present gaps in the coverage of ethics and information technology privacy and security themes particularly in the areas of ethics and privacy awareness.
Liao, T. & Humphreys, L. (2015). Layar-ed places: Using Mobile Augmented Reality to Tactically Reengage, Reproduce, and Reappropriate Public Space. New Media & Society, 17(9), 1418-1435. doi: 10.1177/1461444814527734
As augmented reality (AR) is becoming technologically possible and publicly available through mobile smartphone and tablet devices, there has been relatively little empirical research studying how people are utilizing mobile AR technologies and forming social practices around mobile AR. This study looks at how mobile AR can potentially mediate the everyday practices of urban life. Through qualitative interviews with users of Layar, a mobile AR browser, we found several emerging uses. First, users are creating content on Layar in ways that communicate about and through place, which shapes their relationship and interpretations of places around them. Second, we found a growing segment of users creating augmented content that historicizes and challenges the meanings of place, while inserting their own narratives of place. Studying emerging uses of AR deepens our understanding of how emerging media may complicate practices, experiences, and relationships in the spatial landscape.
Humphreys, L. & Liao, T. (2013). Foursquare and the Parochialization of Public Space. First Monday. 18(11). doi: 10.5210/fm.v18i11.4966
The mobile social network Foursquare has gained popularity in the last few years among both users and businesses. This article explores how the use of Foursquare changes and impacts people’s sense of place. Drawing on the work of Lofland (1998) on the social production of space, we argue that as new socio–spatial information (i.e., who checks in where) is introduced via the mobile social network, it can change the way people experience a place. Based on qualitative in–depth interviews with active Foursquare users, we explore person–to–person and person–to–place connections and argue that Foursquare promotes parochialization of public space.
Baumer, E. P., Adams, P., Khovanskaya, V. D., Liao, T. C., Smith, M. E., Schwanda Sosik, V., & Williams, K. (2013, April). Limiting, Leaving, and (Re) Lapsing: An Exploration of Facebook Non-use Practices and Experiences. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 3257-3266). ACM. doi: 10.1145/2470654.2466446
Despite the abundance of research on social networking sites, relatively little research has studied those who choose not to use such sites. This paper presents results from a questionnaire of over 400 Internet users, focusing specifically on Facebook and those users who have left the service. Results show the lack of a clear, binary distinction between use and non-use, that various practices enable diverse ways and degrees of engagement with and disengagement from Facebook. Furthermore, qualitative analysis reveals numerous complex and interrelated motivations and justifications, both for leaving and for maintaining some type of connection. These motivations include: privacy, data misuse, productivity, banality, addiction, and external pressures. These results not only contribute to our understanding of online sociality by examining this under-explored area, but they also build on previous work to help advance how we conceptually account for the sociological processes of non-use.
Liao, T. (2012, November). A Framework for Debating Augmented Futures: Classifying the Visions, Promises and Ideographs Advanced about Augmented Reality. In IEEE International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality (ISMAR-AMH) (pp. 3-12). IEEE. doi: 10.1109/ISMAR-AMH.2012.6483982
While AR is slowly becoming reality, projections about the technology are divided. The direction that AR will take, the form AR will come in, how it should be used and the societal impact it will have are all being contested. With emerging technologies such as AR, these debates occur in a mostly rhetorical space, as positions and visions of the future are advanced. Some of these are also negative visions, arguing against the technology. These communications, arguments, and positions are how the technology is made persuasive to those in and outside the AR community, but have yet to be empirically studied or understood. This study seeks to map out the rhetorical promises that are being made about AR. Through qualitative interviews with a variety of actors in the AR community, this study advances a taxonomy of technological promises, higher order principles that those promises appeal to, and finally the contested characteristic that can change the valence of the vision. This framework will help make the debate about AR clearer, and help people frame their discussions and debates about AR in a more productive way.
Humphreys, L. & Liao, T.(2011). Mobile Geotagging: Reexamining Our Interaction with Urban Space. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication. 16(3),p. 407-423. doi: 10.1111/j.1083-6101.2011.01548.x
Mobile geotagging services offer people new ways to interact with and through urban space. In this paper, we focus on a mobile geotagging service called Socialight and the social practices associated with it. In-depth interviews and participant observation were conducted in order to explore how Socialight's virtual “sticky notes” were used in everyday life. Findings indicated how users communicate about place to help build social familiarity with urban places and communicate through place to allow users to create place-based narratives and engage in identity management. Such findings deepen our understanding of the social production of space and have implications for future location-based mobile services.