Archiv für ‘backstage’

iScience @ Introduction Week of the Department of Psychology, University of Konstanz

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.” – That’s not just an inspirational quote of Plato, but also true when it comes to starting your first day as a freshman at a university. To make this most important part of the work more comfortable for you, iScience participated in the Introduction Week of the Department of Psychology, University of Konstanz. On Friday, October 18, we presented our group’s classes, research topics, and ways to contact us and discussed organizational questions with the excited student crowd.

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Visit from California at our VR research exploration workshop

Today, at our iScience Virtual Reality research exploration workshop, we had a visit of friends from California: Jen Mulcaster, Abby Porter and Ken Porter. Ken is a Palo Alto native, Berliner, and long term Silicon Valley insider; Jen was the former Netscape international manager and is an Apple fan today. Abby Porter is 15 years old and goes to school. They are living in Mountain View, California. Take a look at the impressions of our whole iScience team discovering new software at our VR workshop and find out in the interview with Jen, Abby, and Ken about the things that changed in Silicon Valley during the past ten years.


Hello, nice to have you here! Is it your first visit to Konstanz? What are your first impressions of Konstanz?

Jen: Yes, this is my first visit. So my impression is that it’s beautiful and very green. It’s a lovely town.

Ken: Yes, my first visit. It seems very bike-friendly! I noticed many bike paths.

What do you think, what‘s the most significant difference between California and Southern Germany?

Jen: Well, we haven’t been here very long. It’s only been a day, not even. Almost a day. So I don’t have a great amount of data for assessment. But I think, for one thing, it’s hot! The lake is very nice; we went swimming yesterday. It was beautiful! People are relaxed and enjoying themselves, and it feels like summer. Also, very casual, California sometimes can be a little bit faster-paced, where we are from.

Ken: The pace of life seems a lot faster in Silicon Valley versus here. Just on the surface. That’s a big difference.

What did change in Silicon Valley in the past decade?

Jen: Wow, so much. A lot! More traffic, more people interested in working long hours. But the curiosity is always still there, the interest in technology, everyone is doing their best to create the best ideas. Everything just a little more competitive than it was ten years ago.

Ken: I think the pace has gotten faster. There is also the social-economic differences; there is a more significant gap between lower-income and higher income. That gap has gotten wider in the last ten years. People in service-related jobs, it’s difficult for them to find a living space for them in the area. Ten years ago, it was easier.

Jen: Yeah, the cost of living – both rent and buying home – has doubled. In ten years! Also, a difference, we have more ethnic diversity in California than here!

Is this your first time using VR applications? 

Ken: No, but my VR experiences are limited. Mostly to using those cardboard “goggles” designed for use with iPhones.

Abby: I have used VR a few times before, when I was 12 we used it in school to do a virtual heart dissection, and my friend has a VR video game at his house that I’ve used. I think VR is an incredible tool that can be applied in so many ways. It’s a very useful resource that allows you to immerse yourself in an alternate reality, it’s amazing.

What do you think about VR?

Ken: I think it’s great! I think there’s a great opportunity to use VR for educational and training purposes as well as fun. One concern is with violence in VR video games. I believe this is something, overtime, that can impact people’s behavior in a negative way. Our world is already a violent place, we don’t need applications that continue to reinforce and expand violence in societies.

What do you expect from VR and digital applications in general for the future?

Ken: I don’t really know what to expect in the future, I suspect the graphics and experiences will continue to become more and more realistic.

Abby: I think that I expect to see more VR in everyday life, I’ve already used it a few times, but I think that as it develops and technology becomes more affordable, it will be easier to spread VR technology throughout our world.

Do you see any advantages of VR when it comes to research?

Ken: I see tremendous advantages in research. One example might be around understanding how people interact with others from different backgrounds, cultures and races. Imagine police using VR to learn and improve their ability to deal with complex interactions in dangerous situations. I think VR could be used to improve the outcomes of many of these situations.

Who would win a fight between Spiderman and Batman?

Jen: Spiderman.
Ken: Spiderman.

Do you put the ketchup on the fries or next to the fries?

Jen: Next to the fries.
Ken: Next to the fries.

Ketchup, mayonnaise, or both?

Jen: Ketchup.
Ken: Both.


Thanks so much for visiting us! 🙂

Visit by Tom Cartmill (University of Melbourne) at iScience research colloquium

Yesterday, at our iScience research colloquium, we had a great, young junior scientist from Melbourne. Tom Cartmill is a Clinical Psychologist and undertaking his Ph.D. at the University of Melbourne, Australia in Monica Whitty’s group. Yesterday, he introduced us to key insights into his dissertation on radicalization.

Abstract of his Ph.D. thesis:

Radicalisation is a complex phenomenon that creates, sustains and amplifies internal, interpersonal, group and political chaos. The pointy end of radicalisation, terrorism, has been described as a form of communicative violence. Cyberspace as a relatively modern and rapidly evolving communicative and cultural medium appears to play a role in intensifying salience of extreme views. This presentation will explore the problem of radicalisation and how it may manifest in cyberspace. It is possible that radicalisation constitutes a ‘wicked problem’, i.e. one that is indeterminate, non-definitive in solution and unfortunately insoluble. Scholars have considered cyber-radicalisation through a variety of lenses including identity theory, communication and network theory and narrative theory. Despite these insights, effective solutions are yet to, and may never, emerge. Partial, linear explorative research methods have limited opportunity for success in investigation of complexity. This presents the necessity of a creative approach and recognition of the extent of the challenge.


After the research colloquium, we were with Tom Cartmill at a local Italian restaurant (Tom’s favorite food), where he told us, among other things, his preferences between Batman and Spiderman. Check out the short interview with Tom below:


Do you put the ketchup on the fries or next to the fries?

Definitely on the side. Cause you don’t want to get soggy potatoes.

Ketchup, mayonnaise, or both?

I wouldn’t be mayonnaise, and I would take ketchup if I had to choose.

Is it your first visit to Konstanz? What are your first impressions of Konstanz?

It’s the first visit, yes. Everybody is really friendly! And it’s beautiful. I really like the water! And the university is really pretty which I know not everybody agrees with, but I thought it was great architecture!

Who would win a fight between Spiderman and Batman?

Spiderman. But only because I actually haven’t watched the Batman movie.

Related to your theory and topic and talking about Spiderman and Batman, who do you think radicalizes more easily?

I don’t know Batman, so well. I know that Batman has a dark side, so maybe he polarizes more. Spiderman has better ethics, and he thinks about “with great power comes great responsibility.”

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be an astronaut.


Thanks for visiting us, Tom!

By the way: It’s only four days left for our Early bird registration of our 3rd Summer School on Internet-based Data Collection and Analysis in Decision Making on September 09-13, 2019 at the University of Konstanz. Apply until August 15 (for Early bird fee by July 15) here.