Natural user interfaces, movement, and emotion (Google Talk)

A Purdue ENE student posted this video on Facebook, and after watching, I had to curate it here. The idea is so simple, and so brilliant – after seeing the video, all I can say is “duh! – it makes perfect sense!”

Here’s the brief summary:

  • we have the technology to interface with computers using movement – aka Natural User Interfaces (NUI) – like Xbox Kinect.
  • movement of the body is related to emotion – something yogis have known for a long time, and modern research is confirming. For example, an open, expansive, body posture will make you feel happy and powerful (see, for example, this research study). Also, body posture and movement have social implications – for example, moving in sync creates liking & trust.
  • Therefore, we should create interfaces that invite open, expansive, fluid body movements, in order to increase positive affect (put people in a good mood).
  • Possible applications: Gmail TaiChi – Using TaiChi movements to sort through your Inbox in the morning; OR: A serious game for learning math that requires open, expansive movement is likely to reduce math anxiety.
  • DUH! Brilliant!

Watch Katherine Isbister‘s Google Talk to grasp the details of this argument, and to see applications and interesting research projects:

Another take on attention

Attention is one of the main themes of this blog, something I like to think and teach about – and what I see as the scarcest, and therefore most precious resource in our connected lifestyle.

I came across a view of attention in a book about Ayurveda, a system of traditional medicine from India:

“Ayurveda says that attention happens when prana goes out and carries the vibration of awareness toward the object. Thus, attention is awareness plus prana, movement.”

Prana is the essential life energy, also known as qi/chi or ki in Chinese and Japanese traditions, respectively.

It’s interesting to think of attention as more than focusing the mind on something, but also directing, or giving of your own energy to the object of attention. If you think about it that way, attention becomes even more precious – it’s almost a giving of the self.

The view that includes energy in attention might also explain why people “feel” someone’s gaze and all of a sudden turn around to meet it. Do they feel the energy, the prana? Could it be that even us Westerners who have not developed our potential to feel and work with energy (like Yoga, Tai Chi, and other traditions do) – feel it anyway, even though we don’t quite have a name for it?

Does it change anything for you, to think of attention as giving of yourself, directing your energy towards someone/something else?

New Research Project – Help, Please!

Update 2/26/2010: Thank you to all who have participated in this research. The survey is now closed.

I’m working on a new research project about how people manage identities across social networks, and I need your help!

If you are over 18, live & work in the U.S. and use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter on a weekly basis, could you please take my survey? It should take you about 10-25 minutes to fill it out.

Participation is voluntary, but if you complete the survey, you have a 1 in 50 chance of winning a $15 gift certificate.

I’d much appreciate it if you pass on the link to this post to your contacts!

Please read the information sheet before you proceed to the survey:



Managing Identities Online

Mihaela Vorvoreanu, Ph.D.

Purdue University

Computer Graphics Technology

Purpose of Research

This research project aims to understand how people manage their identities and relationships with various groups across social networks.

Specific Procedures

To participate in this research, please fill out this online survey.

Duration of Participation

Participation should take between 10-25 minutes.


All research carries risk. The risks associated with completing this research are minimal risks which are found in everyday life.


There are no direct benefits to you from participating in this research. The questionnaire may help you reflect on your participation in online social networks. The research results may benefit society at large, because we need to understand cultural trends and practices.


You may opt to participate in a random drawing for a $15 gift certificate. To be eligible for the drawing, you must answer all the questions on the survey. One in 50 participants will win a $15 gift certificate.


The survey does not ask for any personally identifiable information. All research reports will present aggregate data, or quotations without any context that makes it possible to identify the source. The survey results will be stored in a locked cabinet within a locked office at Purdue University for 5 years, after which, they will be destroyed. The project results will be disseminated at research conferences and in specialty research journals. The project’s research records may be reviewed by departments at Purdue University responsible for regulatory and research oversight.

Voluntary Nature of Participation

You do not have to participate in this research project.  If you agree to participate you can withdraw your participation at any time.

Contact Information:

If you have any questions about this research project, you can contact Dr. Mihaela Vorvoreanu, 765-496-7709, mihaela at purdue dot edu. If you have concerns about the treatment of research participants, you can contact the Institutional Review Board at Purdue University, Ernest C. Young Hall, Room 1032, 155 S. Grant St., West Lafayette, IN 47907-2114. The phone number for the Board is (765) 494-5942.  The email address is

Documentation of Informed Consent

By clicking the link to proceed to the survey, I certify that I have had the opportunity to read this consent form and have the research study explained.  I have had the opportunity to ask questions about the research project and my questions have been answered.  I am prepared to participate in the research project described above.  I can print out a copy of this information sheet for my records.


The survey is now closed. Thank you for your interest!

Thank you!!!

Mihaela / Dr. V

Research Focus: The Social Internet

This is the course I’ll be teaching at Purdue this Fall. I’m so excited, I can’t wait for the semester to start already! It is a Ph.D. level seminar, open to Master’s students too, open to all departments.

If you’re a Purdue graduate student interested in taking the course and have any questions, feel free to contact me (my Purdue username is my first name, Mihaela. You can figure out the rest).

Thank you, dear friend Rashee of Pulchitrude Graphic Design for the flier!


Things I’ll miss

As we get ready to move out of S.C., I’m making mental lists of things I’ll miss, and hey, why not share the good stuff with you?

First, foremost and most badly I’ll miss practicing yoga at North Main Yoga, and specifically, my teacher, Liz. I am hopelessly addicted to her teaching style, kind energy, and the complete bliss I experience after practicing under her guidance.

Second, I’ll miss working with Clemson students. They’re bright, honest, nice people; excellent writers; and once you figure them out, it’s SO easy to help them succeed. I’ve never worked with students who have made me so proud in such a short time!

The Village Baker, Pendleton S.C.

Then, there’s eating. The Village Baker in Pendleton is a little European piece of heaven: pastries, cookies, sandwiches, more pastries. I’ll miss our late Saturday lunches there, and in Greenville: the pecan pie at High Cotton, the chef’s creativity at Lazy Goat, the Thai food at Sweet Basil on Pelham, and of course, the gelato at Luna Rosa.

I’ll miss my hair stylist, kind and attentive Maggy – now at Tangles in Clemson.

I’ll miss the colorful flowers, and the scent of gardenias on warm summer nights.


To all the things and people I won’t miss (y’all know who you are): I wish you’ll find confidence and peace, so you can open your minds and hearts, and maybe experience kindness now and again. Namaste!

Leaving Clemson

I broke the news on Twitter last week, but here is a more detailed account of the events in my life. In the past 10 days, I:

– accepted a job offer at Purdue University
– resigned from my position at Clemson University
– looked for a house in West Lafayette, Indiana
– found a house in West Lafayette, Indiana
– put an offer, negotiated, etc., etc. – and now my husband and I are this close to being home owners.

It’s been a whirlwind: Things are happening much faster than my bewildered mind can process. So maybe writing will help.

As I write this, I think of my Clemson PR students, who I will miss dearly. They’ve been the best students I’ve ever worked with, and my heart is breaking knowing I’m leaving them. They’re bright, quick learners, amazing writers. If you haven’t hired them already, there might be a couple left. 🙂

So, why am I leaving? (actually, both my husband and I are leaving).

Many of you know that during the past 3 years it has become clear to both Krishna and me that Clemson (and Seneca), South Carolina cannot ever feel like home for us. We both come from large, crowded cities, and the quiet, rural lifestyle is … killing us (softly).

We’ll both be tenure-track faculty at Purdue, Krishna in Engineering Education, and I have a joint appointment in the College of Technology, shared between two departments: Computer Graphics Technology and Organizational Leadership & Supervision.

There will be some changes in my research and teaching focus: less PR (possibly no PR), a lot more technology – and its impact on culture, society, and communication. I will be teaching mostly graduate courses, at the Master’s and Ph.D. level.

This move is a bit sideways and up, and although I am very sad to step away from teaching PR (it will still be part of my research agenda), I am excited to tackle some research projects I’ve had in mind for a while now, that didn’t quite fit in with my PR-oriented research agenda.

I’ve done my best to make sure my PR students at Clemson are well taken care of. Dr. Denham has agreed to take over as PRSSA adviser, and I am so grateful and relieved that he’s stepping in!

Next semester, two wonderful instructors will be teaching a section each of the PR Principles class – and one of them might already be your twitter friend!

Dr. Hawkins, the CU Communication Studies Department Chair, has expressed a strong commitment in maintaining the momentum we have built here in PR @ CU, and I will do whatever I can to help her – and you.

If you were my student, I want you to know that I will always think of you as my student – and possibly friend. I will always be happy to hear from you and to be in touch. Follow me on twitter (@prprof_mv – should I change my user name?), friend me on LinkedIn – stay in touch.

To all of my wonderful PR friends from Greenville (you know who you are) – with twitter, facebook, linkedin, and whatever comes up next, we have no excuse for not keeping in touch! So, let’s.

To all my blog readers (both of you 🙂 – I don’t know which way this blog will go, but it’ll keep going, with some break while my life settles down into a routine after the move.

Like all big life changes, this one is bitter-sweet, exciting, exhausting, exhilarating… send me good thoughts, and you know you’ll get them back 🙂

Mantras for Strategic Public Relations

Stimulated by Shel Holtz’ post about the 4-step strategic planning process, I want to share with you some “mantras” (PR principles) about strategic public relations that I (try to) drill into my students:

– Strategic PR begins and ends with research (from Dr. Carl Botan, George Mason University)

– Strategic PR is goal-oriented

– Strategic PR has data or theory-based reasons for all decisions (decisions are never random)

– Good research takes the guesswork out of PR

Do you practice these? What do they mean to you? Do you have your own mantras to add?