Film Screening and Q&A

Published: November 6, 2013

WHAT: A screening and Q&A with the creators of Friends you Haven’t Met Yet, a documentary short film exploring issues of ethics and online privacy by introducing bloggers to the scientists who  – unbeknownst to them – have been analyzing their posts as part of research projects looking at how people tell stories.

WHO: ICT researchers Andrew Gordon and Christopher Weinberg and film’s creators, Jesse Virgil (director) and Asa Shumskas-Tait (producer)

WHEN: 2:00 pm, Wednesday, November 6

WHERE: Theater – USC Institute for Creative Technologies
12015 Waterfront Drive
Playa Vista, CA 90094-2536

MORE: Millions of people post their thoughts to the web every day, creating new opportunities for researchers to study language, opinion, and people’s lives on a massive scale by analyzing social media data. The use of this data in scientific research raises new questions about the ethical obligations that researchers have to their research subjects, challenging traditional concerns about informed consent, identifiable private information, and minimal risk.

In the Spring of 2013, USC Ph.D. student Christopher Wienberg explored these issues through face-to-face interviews with extremely prolific bloggers – people who post enormous amounts of information about their lives to their public weblogs – and whose blogs were being analyzed by Weinberg and his advisor Andrew Gordon. This documentary chronicles Weinberg’s encounters with a diverse group of authors, each with a unique perspective on the changing nature of privacy on the web.

About Andrew Gordon
Andrew S. Gordon is a Research Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. He leads interdisciplinary research on storytelling and the human mind, exploring how people experience, interpret, and narrate the events in their lives. A central focus of his research is on the abstract knowledge that enables interpretation of experiences, including the expectations that people have of everyday activity contexts and the commonsense theories that people have of their own psychology. In support of his research goals, he has pioneered methods for collecting and analyzing personal storytelling on a massive scale, identifying tens of millions of narratives posted to Internet weblogs. He has used this collection in a variety of innovative applications using novel information retrieval and natural language processing techniques, particularly in the areas of commonsense causal reasoning, story-based learning environments, and comparative analyses of health-related personal experiences. He is the author of the 2004 book, Strategy Representation: An Analysis of Planning Knowledge. He received his Ph.D. in 1999 from Northwestern University.

About the USC Institute for Creative Technologies
At the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) leaders in artificial intelligence, graphics, virtual reality and narrative advance low-cost immersive techniques and technologies to solve problems facing service members, students and society.  Established in 1999, ICT is a DoD-sponsored University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) working in collaboration with the U.S Army Research Laboratory. ICT brings film and game industry artists together with computer and social scientists to study and develop immersive media for military training, health therapies, education and more.

About Psychic Bunny
In 2005, four former college buddies set out on an Odyssean quest to create the world’s finest cream soda.  They failed, and instead created a very fine company called Psychic Bunny.  There, they combined their unique talents in writing, film production, editing, interactive design, motion graphics, visual effects, and sorcery to create a hybrid production studio capable of taking on all kinds of work.

Eight years later, that studio has gone on to complete projects as varied as feature films, television commercials, video games, training systems, simulations, corporate promos, infographics, card games, and more. Clients run the gamut from entertainment to tech to government, and each brings to us unique challenges that we approach from a ground-up, big-picture perspective.