Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Digital Painting Using a Virtual Social Network

How many people do you know on Facebook? No, I mean really know. Would they be willing to meet you if you randomly called them up and asked them to? Would they give you a memento of the meeting? How would you get past the awkwardness?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Is a Kiss Ever Just a Kiss? Decoding the Art of Flirtation

Are there universals to flirting strategies? Does a lingering glance mean the same in all social-sexual encounters? So much of flirting is dependent on non-verbal cues: a glance, a touch, a seemingly casual movement—can these actions really be interpreted differently across cultures and contexts?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Threads of Language and Identify

I can identify a New Yorker in conversation in a heartbeat. And it's likely that the rest of the country can as well. Residents of New York City and western Long Island (or Lung Guylan as I am apt to pronounce it—a good friend of mine from the Midwest once told me that I was the only person she knew who could produce such a hard /g/ in front of an /i/) speak a distinct dialect. The elements of the dialect contained within these statements are fairly recognizable thanks to the likes of Robert De Niro and Bugs Bunny. It is often parodied and often in the vein of the extremes apparent in the examples above, even though relatively few New Yorkers have such a hard stereotypical accent. It is also interpreted as aggressive and confrontational. Still, whether these elements are subtle and make appearances in moments of passionate debate or inebriation, or so pronounced as to make the speaker almost unintelligible, the New York dialect is a readily identifiable marker.

New Yorkers aren't forced to speak the way they do. But what if they were? What if New Yorkers had to drop their /r/s so that others could recognize them? How would their relationship to language change?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Social Functions of Blushing

It's happened to all of us. The poorly timed remark, tripping over an uneven sidewalk, a torn seam or an open button or zipper, or even the dreaded toilet paper stuck to the bottom of a shoe—embarrassment can strike at any time.