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Intel Corp. to Fund Social Computing Research Center

L-R: Scott Mainwaring, Bill Maurer, and Paul Dourish (Brad Whalen, Intel Labs)

L-R: Scott Mainwaring, Bill Maurer, and Paul Dourish (Brad Whalen, Intel Labs)

Intel Corporation in Santa Clara, California will support a new research center on social computing, hosted by University of California at Irvine. The $12.5 million project is the seventh of the company’s Intel Science and Technology Centers (ISTCs) and includes partnerships with researchers at Cornell University, Georgia Tech, Indiana University, and New York University.

ISTC-Social as the new center is called, will explore information technology and digital media as social and cultural phenomena. Studies are expected to cover the intersection of people’s digital and social lives, including new opportunities brought about by the use of networked, mobile, and cloud computing.

University of California at Irvine will host ISTC-Social. UC-Irvine informatics professor Paul Dourish and Scott Mainwaring of Intel Labs have been named to lead the center, with anthropology and law professor Bill Maurer (pictured right). Dourish notes that many questions are raised by the entanglement of technology with everyday lives. “As researchers, we can’t get a handle on what’s going on by looking at technical factors alone,” Dourish says. “We have to study them in concert with human, social, and cultural aspects.”

Intel researchers, including Mainwaring, will work side by side with academics in UC-Irvine’s labs. The research is not expected to be proprietary and will be public, open intellectual property.

UC-Irvine will receive $5 million over a five-year period, with another $7.5 million split among the other universities. Cornell, Georgia Tech, Indiana, and NYU are expected to provide experts in anthropology, media studies, digital humanities, philosophy, and computer science. Plans for the collaboration include virtual five-campus seminars and creation of product prototypes.

The ISTCs are part of Intel’s research collaborations between the company and the academic community. ISTC-Social is the first of these partnerships to focus on specifically on user experience design. The other ISTCs deal with big data, cloud computing, embedded computing, visual computing, secure computing and pervasive computing.

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