Various enterprises and personal interests, such as Man-Machine Interaction (MMI), gesture studies, signs, language, social robotics, healthcare, innovation, music, publications, etc.

Month: October 2008

Nonviolent Gestures

Thanks to JL for these nice links to four strange gesture videos:

‘Nonviolent Gestures’ (comments are in Dutch)

As you can see in the fifth and last video these ‘gestures’ are part of a kind of hippie cult around the concept of nonviolent communication. Some people even created a Hyve for it (which is a Dutch version of Facebook).

Almost needless to say, I believe that our perceptual sensitivity to insults prevents this initiative to avoid ‘violent communication’ from succeeding. An insult is in the eye of the beholder and not in the message as such. If a non-violent communicator speaks hippie-talk to me, I will still be on the look-out for any disrespectful or derogatory undertones, and possibly end up feeling insulted anyway. Vice versa, I would much rather get a cheery finger from a card buddy if I just beat him in a game, then a solemn statement about his feelings. For all its good intentions, this nonviolent communication seems born out of frustration with humanity and a certain arrogance in thinking human nature could be improved with a few easy guidelines.

So, mister Rosenberg, please take your touchy-feely, softspoken message, stuff it where the sun doesn’t shine, and go **** yourself. Or should I say, I understand you have problems with fairly normal human communication, I see that you think you have found a better way for us, but I do not share your problem nor do I believe in your solution.

Ah well, perhaps I shouldn’t have written anything about it. If he reads my opinion he will probably be insulted anyway, no matter how I phrase it. Or he just thinks I am too dense to understand him. Or worse still, I am ‘part of the problem, not of the solution’.

In Memoriam: Edward S. Klima

Edward S. Klima was a linguist who, together with his wife Ursula Bellugi, wrote ‘The Signs of Language‘ (1979). He was one of the first scholars to pay serious attention to sign languages, ASL grammar in particular, and helped to get them recognized as proper languages. He died on Sept. 25 in the La Jolla section of San Diego, at age 77.

Her is his obituary by the NY Times.

I never met Edward Klima, but I greatly enjoyed reading The Signs of Language, which, I think, presaged much of what has been done in sign language research since.

Gesture and Emotion

Let us broaden our horizon.
Let me turn your gesture perspective to new topics (well, revisited actually, see here).
Let us ponder emotion.

Pieter Desmet created the PrEmo method and interface (source)

Several colleagues here are studying ‘design and emotion’. One of the methods developed to evaluate people’s emotional response to product is PrEmo. It shows a little guy in different pictures that represent different emotions. The trick is, however, that they are not pictures but animations with sounds. So, the little guy makes facial expressions, gestures, and some exclamations. Of course, the question immediately comes up how reliably these gestures represent the intended emotions. Does everyone see it the same way? Apparently, Gael showed me some results, people do see it the same way for most of the pictures. Yet, some of them, such as surprise, are not see reliably perceived.

Sadly, the animations, which are in flash, are not available publicly. I understood there is licensing involved, and you have to see them to be able to really evaluate the gestures.

If you want to read more about emotion and how it can be measured: The Design & Emotion Society is quite a useful resource. You can register as a member for free and then they provide a good knowledge base. Another site is the HUMAINE Portal. With them you have to pay a small amount.

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