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Monday, June 16, 2003

  • Human meets digital in new centre
  • Introducing one CCAT project
  • Life on a Monday morning
  • Chef's tart draws compliments
Chris Redmond

Woman in space, 40 years ago today

Human meets digital in new centre

UW's senate will be asked to give approval tonight to a Canadian Centre of Arts and Technology, based in the faculty of arts, to do research on "how people interact with digital technologies".

Tonight's senate meeting

The senate will meet at 4:30 in Needles Hall room 3001, with an agenda that includes the usual reports from the president and the vice-presidents, this month's faculty appointments, and committee positions.

A proposal for the expected Institute for Health Informatics Research is coming forward from the graduate and research councils.

Curriculum changes include a "digital arts communication" specialization in the arts faculty, linked with the proposed CCAT.

Funding agencies and business have already given $1.6 million for CCAT research, the proposal coming to senate says, and the arts faculty has built labs and offices for it on the first floor of the Modern Languages building. Two Canada Research Chairs are expected to provide additional support, and the project is listed as a priority in Campaign Waterloo.

The centre is to be headed by Heather MacDougall, history professor and associate dean (graduate studies and research) in arts, and includes faculty from such fields as drama and speech communication, English, fine arts, and Germanic and Slavic.

Says the proposal: "CCAT brings together researchers to study the digital creation, storage, processing, and dissemination of modes central to the Arts -- text image, sound, and video -- as well as to use digital technologies to study how people interact with each other, both in face-to-face and in technologically mediated environments.

"Throughout this process, CCAT is committed to developing a paradigm of research that involves four basic steps: conception, design, evaluation, and dissemination. Taken together, these four steps provide a common set of practices that puts people -- and therefore, the humanities -- at the centre of digital design and research. . . .

"CCAT provides a physical and virtual space for bringing together people who share a common interest in the digital design of sound, text, hypertext, images, and video.

"Physically, ML 104 provides offices for two CRCs, an Avid video-editing suite, data logging equipment, digitizing equipment, video conferencing, etc. Having people and equipment in one space, CCAT allows for the free flow of ideas and the development of joint projects.

"Virtually, through its Click-to-Meet technology, CCAT can link up with researchers, in real time, anywhere in the world, sharing applications, project information, and resources.

"Based in the Arts Faculty, CCAT believes in a central tenet of the humanities and social sciences: namely, that design should enhance the human experience and provide expression for the human spirit CCAT's mission is to create connection: among researchers around the world, and between these researchers and the people who use -- and interact with -- digital technologies.

"CCAT reflects the Arts Faculty's commitment to excellence -- to bringing together people who share research interests, resources, and mandates. By doing so, CCAT will help attract and retain the best faculty and students. It will invite participation from public and private sector organizations. And it will help UW maintain its reputation as Canada's most innovative university."


Introducing one CCAT project -- from the UW media relations office

Diana Denton (right) of the UW department of drama and speech communication uses videotaping technology and video conferencing to investigate spoken and gestural communication in the contexts of leadership, interpersonal communication, conflict management and theatrical production. This is to determine the impact of communication technologies on human knowledge, understanding and experience.

The challenges of technology can distance people from face-to-face interpersonal interaction and create barriers and misunderstandings.

As a professor of interpersonal communication, Denton studies how to humanize the technologies in order to enhance human communication and performance. She said there is a clear imperative to study the impact of communication technologies on knowledge, understanding and experience.

Based in the new Canadian Centre of Arts and Technology laboratory, the primary research focus is on people-to-people interactions and people-to-technology interactions. This includes how people make meaning in a variety of modes, how these meanings are consequential in a variety of contexts -- such as how they affect attitudes, behaviours, beliefs and actions, and how designers might improve the experience of interactive communication.

Current research projects include "Witnessing Conflict: An Analysis of Participant Behaviour" that studies the behaviours adopted in situations that hold the potential for conflict.

With drama colleagues, there is research into significant issues facing theatre scholars in a project titled "Conflict Management in Theatre Production." This involves observing and gathering data from all aspects of the production process from the readings, discussions or improvisations at the start of a rehearsal to the first public performance.

People-to-technology interactions, including the reassessment of some of the most significant theoretical assumptions in communication and theatre studies regarding spontaneity of interaction, immediacy of reception and ephemerality of experience are also being studied.


  • "Collaboration Technology Vision", a day of events in the Tatham Centre sponsored by Open Text Corporation.

  • The annual reception for members of the faculty and staff 25-Year Club, starting at 6 p.. in the Physical Activities Complex.


  • The Keystone Campaign "beach event", with a campus parade and "food and drink, games, music, entertainment" between Math and Computer and the Biology buildings, 11:30 to 1:30.
  • Life on a Monday morning

    Corrections first, as usual: And a follow-up note to the recent publicity about the Commuter Challenge: comprehensive results should be available tomorrow, I'm told. That wold include how many people at UW abandoned the car to make the trip to campus in other, environmentally friendly ways, and how well Waterloo did in competition with Wilfrid Laurier University.

    Imprint, UW's central student newspaper, has reached its 25th anniversary, and published a 16-page special section on Friday to mark the occasion. It included tributes to the staff past and present, historical information about its founding, blast-from-the-past reprints, and other good stuff. An Imprint reunion is scheduled this weekend.

    Noticed in the Student Life Centre on Friday: Ground Zero restaurant is closed for the spring term, and there's been no announcement from the Federation of Students about plans for this fall. . . . A poster says "worship and fellowship" (under the rubric "Soulafide") are scheduled on Wednesdays at 7:30 in Math and Computer room 4040. . . . Aussies convenience store is selling cans of Pepsi and kindred soft drinks for 50 cents all this summer. . . .

    Summer's here, and the stores of UW retail services are changing their hours accordingly. Today through August 16, the bookstore, UW Shop, computer store, and TechWorx will be open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, with no Saturday openings (except July 26 for Student Life 101). Hey, did you know SL 101 was scheduled for July 26? Me either.

    Co-op students looking for fall term jobs can pick up ranking forms at 10:00 today in the Tatham Centre, and should return them by 4 p.m. . . . A Touring Players production of "Charlotte's Web" is scheduled for 10:00, 11:45 and 1:30 today (and again tomorrow) in the Humanities Theatre. . . . The video "Smart Kids, Safe Streets", about child abduction and "streetproofing", will be shown at 12 noon today in the multipurpose room of the Student Life Centre. . . .

    The teaching resource office holds a workshop on "Teaching Problem-Solving Skills" tomorrow at 12 noon: "The focus will be on engineering, math and science problems. . . . We will identify the major roadblocks encountered by students and instructors when solving problems in and outside the classroom." Registration is through the department's web site.

    Chef's tart draws compliments

    The mouth waters as the eyes read about Roland Lynn (pictured below) and his cuisine. Lynn is the latest staff member to be featured in a Keystone Campaign "Profile", run as a free ad in the UW Gazette.

    [Lynn] "Lynn," it says, "knows how to create food sensations that dance on your taste buds -- both at Brubakers in the Student Life Centre and at international culinary competitions. He's extremely proud of the six national and international awards he has received along with UW's Food Services including a first place American Culinary Federation medal for a lemon curd tart with a hazelnut shortbread crust and a fieldberry coulis.

    "At Brubakers, Roland focuses on bringing a creative flair and interesting menu selections to UW's multicultural staff and student population."

    What do you like best about your job? "I enjoy meeting the students who have come to UW from all over the world and seeing them develop from their first days at the University until they graduate. It's rewarding when they come by on convocation day to have their picture taken with me. It shows me that I have made a small impact on their everyday life at UW."

    And then about the Keystone Campaign, which is seeking to raise $4.5 million for the university from faculty, staff and retirees: What motivated you personally to give to Waterloo? "The University has enriched my life and the community as a whole. I feel proud that I am able to make a contribution to the highest priority projects of such a prestigious institution in my hometown, while benefitting the students of today who are our future stars."

    Can you tell us about your background? "I realized my love for food at an early age growing up in the family restaurant business in Kitchener. I believe learning is life-long, and my life has been filled with amazing culinary journeys and teaching from places around the world and from famous chefs. So the fragrances and flavours of my dishes include multicultural fusion and innovative combinations. One of my specialties is desserts and pastries for which I have won awards specifically for my chocolate designs and plated dessert creations."


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