Feb 142011
An example of a social network diagram.
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Computer scientists at the University of Southampton are using social networking tools to explore if individuals can enhance their personal and social wellbeing over time if they quickly share how they feel about issues such as their busyness, enjoyment, health and stress via these networks.

Dr Monica Schraefel (lower case intentional) at the University’s School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS), who is passionate about ‘geek fitness’[Notes to Editors – item 4] and keeps kettlebells in her office to run fitness classes for academics at lunchtimes, has set up healthii, an application to examine new ways for individuals in groups to communicate with one another. She is working with ECS PhD student Paul André on the project.

‘We want to find out if we made it easy to convey richer status in say, Twitter, first will people use it, and second, will they find value in it? For instance, if I can tell people “I am reading an interesting paper” and add a compressed version of my wellbeing at that time, with a code like “#healthii(3321)”, then I am not only saying what I am doing, but adding a rich context around that activity. In this case, the code says I am busy, enjoying what I am doing, not too stressed, but feeling under the weather. In our test application we have mechanisms to make selections easily rather than having to remember numbers,’ said dr schraefel. ‘We are interested in understanding what dimensions and how best to convey them are most effective.’

A study of the healthii prototype will run until the end of August. It can be used via Facebook or desktop application, both of which can input from and output to Twitter.

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