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By John Markoff, 2013.

The Obama administration is planning a decade-long scientific effort to examine the workings of the human brain and build a comprehensive map of its activity, seeking to do for the brain what the Human Genome Project did for genetics.

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University of Siegen, 2010
Study commissioned by the European Commission, DG Information Society & Media, 

The effect of ICT on networking and social capital, it is obvious that the networking capabilities of the Internet and ICTs enable collective endeavours which would have been unimaginable before. New ICT-based practices were often expected to replace established forms of practice, thereby revolutionizing the way people live, work, consume information and learn. In reality, however, practices based on ICT have often turned out to have a complementary effect, enhancing and subtly changing societal patterns and trends. 

Internet has greatly improved people’s access to information which is of relevance and/or interest to them, which implies that they – if endowed with the necessary skills – have benefited from  greater transparency, e.g. in the domains of consumption, education, creation and community, and family. 

The Internet and, maybe even more important in the near future, mobile telephony, have opened up a range of new possibilities for organizations which seek data on customers, citizens, potential friends and competitors. This clearly represents a rationalization opportunity in the field of control, as the costs of screening individual behaviour have decreased dramatically thanks to more and more human activity taking place online and / or with the help of a mobile computing device.

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Scott W. Campbell, Yong Jin Park, 2008
University of Michigan

Like the television in the 1950s and the Internet in the 1990s, mobile telephony has emerged as one of the defining communication technologies of our time (Castells et al. 2007). Mobile subscriptions are well into the billions worldwide and growing. Not surprisingly, the burgeoning adoption and use of mobile communication technology contributes to a host of social consequences, including new representations of the self, new forms of social connection, and private use of public space.

The age of personal communication technologies, exemplified by the widespread adoption and use of mobile telephony, is a nuance and accession of the network society of the 1990s. Personal communication technologies are distinctive from other network technologies (e.g. the computer) in that they are often worn on body, highly individualized, and regarded as extensions of the self.

The proliferation of mobile phones and other wearable media has challenged traditional conceptualizations of the relationship between communication technology and the body. Mobile phones are unique from most other interactive media because they can be worn on the body. Laptops are portable, as are mobile phones, but there is an important distinction to be made between portability and wearability. Both offer increased flexibility in where and when one can connect with others; however, the latter affords communication while physically in motion, which contributes to the personalization of the mobile telephony.

Internet and other technologies have played an important role in the shifting meaning of space and time, as have other changes in social life such as urbanization, suburbanization, etc. However, mobile communication has taken the personalization of space and time to new levels as individuals exploit the flexibility afforded by the technology through micro-coordination.

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Romina Cachia, 2008
Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, Joint Research Centre, European Commission

A social networking phenomenon has emerged over  the past five years.  In that time, social networking sites (SNS) have grown from a niche to a mass online activity, in which tens of millions of internet users are engaged, both in their leisure time, and at work. SNS, at a basic technological level, combine social networking, a list of contacts and a profile.  Though SNS can appear to be similar, many of them  are, in fact, quite different in terms of their purpose and the types of users they attract.

The dynamic ways in which users present themselves on SNS suggest that these sites allow a process of self exploration, identity redefinition and negotiation of social structures. Notions of anonymity and pseudonimity previously associated with online communication are being replaced by information about the seemingly real self.  For many adolescents, SNS and other online applications become the first locations where they can hover alone without their parents Profiles act like hyperlinked avatars, creating intricate narratives according to the interactions and movement of the users.  Always-on usage, the blurring of the distinction between the virtual and the real and disclosure of private data are other aspects which emerge as a result of increased usage of SNS.  For some people - especially young people - the distinction between the virtual and the real may already be purely semantic.

Facebook, with its 600 million active members, is still one of the most successful SNS. Facebook was founded in 2004 as a private network for Harvard students. Following its initial success, it rapidly expanded to other university students. A major attribute of Facebook's success is arguably its simple and ordered profiles.  As opposed to MySpace, Facebook restricts profile design through the provision of a uniform interface to all members.  As a result, their interfaces are clear and simple. The vast number of plug-ins and platforms which add a fun aspect to Facebook are seemingly other important attributes. 

As with any other new technology, the future of SNS remains unclear.  Experts in the field suggest that SNS will develop or merge with other online applications, so as to provide an enhanced service. The current interest is expected to decline when the novelty wears off.  The phenomenon of social networking seems to be the one component of SNS that will definitely stay.  SNS highlight the need for contact and relationships, and therefore the basic notions of community will continue to be explored by technologies.  New applications will probably put a new kind of emphasis on what social networking might be.  The movement seems to be heading towards portability, compatibility and interoperability

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Hans Geser, July 2011
Institute of Sociology, University of Zurich

By minimizing costs of encoding and decoding and by combining functionalities of the Internet and the Mobile phone, Twitter is disposed to play a crucial dual role within the sphere of digitial communication. On the one side, Twitter helps to expand such communication to the microscopic level of current events, thoughts and observations; on the other hand, it contributes to a better orientation in the ever growing “Cyberjungle” by propagating signals about new information sources on which users should concentrate their attention. By focusing on current processes and devlopments and by adding a “push” element based on info (bottom-up) opinion leadership, Twitter is highly complementary to conventional Social network Sites (like Facebook) which specialize more on horizontal networks and stable patterns of social relationships and social structure.

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Kenichi Ishii, Journal of Communication, 2006
School of Systems & Information Engineering, University of Tsukuba, Japan

Since their rapid growth in popularity in the late 1990s, mobile phones have become an almost essential part of daily life. Currently, mobile phones are also used for purposes other than voice communication. In some countries, there has been a trend for young people to create their own unique subcultures in which they communicate predominantly through SMS (short message service), or by e-mail over their mobile phones.

This study indicated some unique characteristics specific to mobile communication media use in comparison to landline phones and PC e-mails. First, compared to other media, landline phones were more closely associated with family interactions. The average age of mobile phone users was also quite different from that of landline phone users. Older people tended to use landline phones, whereas younger people tended to use mobile phones.

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