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Augmenting Compassion Using Intimate Digital Media to Parallel Traditional Developmental Approaches
Augmenting Compassion Using Intimate Digital Media
to Parallel Traditional Developmental Approaches
ABSTRACT “think as no human brain has ever thought and process data in a
This paper describes a framework for augmenting human way not approached by the information-handling machines we
compassion and the possible directions for research in this area know today”. Engelbart believed technology could augment
with a focus on using inimate digital media with ambient human intellect by developing “an integrated hierarchy of
intelligence. cooperative mancomputer process capabilities.” This would
“step-up” the mental abilities of a person level by level to be
able to handle more complex thought processes. He also
Categories and Subject Descriptors explains, “We refer to a way of life in an integrated domain
H.5.1 [Multimedia Information Systems]: Evaluation and where hunches, cut-and-try, intangibles, and the human ‘feel for
methodology. a situation’ usefully coexist with powerful concepts, streamlined
technologies and notation, sophisticated methods, and high-
General Terms powered electronic aids”.
Measurement, Documentation, Design, Experimentation, While some research and development in this field has
Human Factors, Standardization, Theory. discovered methods for augmenting human intelligence as per
the recommendation and work of these scientists and engineers,
Keywords another facet of our potential has been less closely researched
Compassion augmentation, intimate digital media, due to a lack of a clear and concise quantifiable representation.
interconnectivity, ambient intelligence. This particular facet comes in the form of developing
compassion. In fact, to some extent, technology is causing a
disintegration within the empathic continuum.
One unfortunate consequence of the increasing sophistication As technology improves and we find ourselves more capable of
and ubiquity of technology has been the general reduction of complex problem solving when working in conjunction with
empathy and compassion in everyday life. Due partly to the these technologies, the emotional components of our
distracting effect of mobile computing, the average individual development must also be addressed. Along with amplifying
disconnects from his or her immediate environment and the intelligence, our cognitive hemispheres must become a more
people within it in favor of communication with a small network balanced. Luckily, the plasticity of our mental architecture
of nonadjacent friends, either through phone, text, chat or e- makes this a distinct, if not also necessary, possibility in human
mail. They are not necessarily engaged with the space and evolution.
people around them and do not actively pay attention to, While it was historically seen as the realm of parents and family
empathize with, or feel compassion for others in the immediate (in society at large) to instill compassion and empathy, several
vicinity [Nass]. proponents have come to the fore regarding compassion
augmentation based in the realm of science, including the Dalai
In order to reverse the trend of empathic fragmentation that Lama, Lappé, and Ekman .
leads to lower levels of everyday compassion, the neural
mechanisms behind compassion development must be revealed In starting the search for methods that augment human
and methods for augmenting compassion must be designed and compassion using digital means, many avenues present
researched based on those functions. This would then allow us to themselves. One useful place to begin is with the traditional
introduce a new level of social awareness into our technological methods developed by cultures around the world.
dynamic by way of an ambient intelligence that leverages
intimate media to effect both the level of concern and intimacy 2.DEVELOPING A FRAMEWORK
felt by an individual towards others.
To fully develop human potential, all resources available must Using the precedents set by Emotional Design, as it has begun to
be utilized to that end, including digital media. Licklider, see an upswing as a mainstream approach by realizing that
Ashby, and Engelbart have all written on the subject of emotion does play a role in interaction, and Value-sensitive
augmenting or amplifying human intellect [1,2]. Licklider Design, which also adds weight to the implications of interface
(1960) defined a concept called “man-computer symbiosis”, a design, a Grounded Theory Approach with selective coding is
system whereby humans and computers work in conjunction to
suggested for the initial development of this research b. The cohesion of relationships might also be revealed
framework. during the studied, and linked to effectiveness.
Following the format for research performed to augment human c. Neural integration represents the amount of the reflective
intellect, the objective of this study, which includes the previous component included. This is directly related to the amount
suppositions and conjectures, is to discover the factors that of reflection facilitated by the interface design.
determine a given individual’s level of compassion and to
develop methods that would act to augment human compassion d. A “natural” interface (ambient intelligence) is also
by paralleling traditional approaches. important for optimal effectiveness. Obvious glitches cause
the participant to disconnect from the experience itself.
In this specific case, the use of intimate digital media provides a
basis for further study and parelleling the Buddhist compassion III. Change to level of compassion (as a temperament, includes
practice of Metta provides a sample structure for research the change to the activation energy required to enter a
design. With this approach we can use observational analysis to compassionate state)
create conceptual categories to define types of interaction with
intimate digital media as a first step to gradually refine and IV. Resultant action (prosocial behavior, including degree of
reevaluate these connections in a more formalized research spontaneity and unbiasedness, or measures from fMRI)
The elements of engagement with this media can be placed into 3.LITERATURE REVIEW
the following categories: In researching methods for the development of empathic
concern, we find that the syncretic nature of visceral, affective,
1) perceptual/cognitive somatic, and cognitive interactions creates a complex system of
2) physiological emergent emotional phenomena. Accounting for these
intricacies within a research design becomes problematic
3) conscious or reflective coherence
without first determining the proper vocabulary to accurately
4) emergent/transcendent represent the nature of this system. Drawing from the realm of
With these categories of engagement in place, testing the level mathematics provides one source for descriptors. Daniel Siegel,
of interaction versus the level of change or augmentation in in his book The Mindful Brain, using complexity theory
compassion becomes a matter of defining sound methodologies specifically, explains the logic of our human systems by writing
for measuring this state or temperament in a quantifiable that “an integrated state enables the most flexible, adaptive, and
manner. stable states to be created within a dynamical, complex
The definition of compassion in our modern lexicon remains
nebulous within the context of social interaction. Whether it is
an emotion, sentiment, temperament, or feeling has not yet been
concretely determined. Compassion requires a more stringent
classification to include elements of behavior that compose
compassion, empathic concern, and kindness as well as
determining the scientific methods for measurement.
In order to fully encompass the nature and magnitude of these
possibilities, we may borrow from the lexicon of quantum
physics, the fields of mathematics, specifically complex
dynamics, and chemistry to allow for a more robust set of terms
to describe intelligence and compassion augmentation. The
Figure 1. Compassion as the result of concern and intimacy initial step of determining terminology is key because any
Even with this grounding, there is still a gulf between science further study would require a sound grounding in what factors
and the humanities in terms of determining which components effect compassion levels and how they do so. Within the
of a human’s behavior, specifically those relating to compassion context of interactive and intimate digital media, these factors
development, can be effected by technology. However, the may be counterintuitive or may include non-trivial emergent
overall process under review would be the following: properties. Having a more exact vocabulary would undermine
semantic ambiguity and allow for a cross-communication
I. Exposure to intimate media stimulus (classified by valence between fields.
and type of interaction, i.e. pictures of friends at a social Some of the difficulty in soundly defining the concepts relevant
gathering), with the interspersion of different types of pictures to compassion augmentation stems from the family-only
II. Cognitive processing (conscious, subconscious, unconscious) approach normally taken for the development of compassion in
a child’s life. It is often seen as the responsibility of parents and
a. Within the research design, we must check for initial families to engender this value. Beyond childhood, only
attunement prior to an attempt for protracting, expanding, or societal norms act to regulate compassion. The exact nature of
proliferating the feeling of compassion towards others (also compassion is also nebulous enough within our society as a
known as secure attachment). whole to defy easy definition. Definitions for compassion
describe a semantic range of possibilities including awareness
(purely knowledge), an emotion, or a feeling. Examples where
the ambiguous language is most obvious include the chapter on Also of great relevance is the concept of arousal as it pertains to
The Nature of Compassion in the book Emotional Awareness, the effectiveness of a given interface to cause change within the
which is a conversation between the Dalai Lama and Paul participant.
As Ekman and the Dalai Lama discuss how compassion may or
may not be considered an emotion, the Dalai Lama explains, 3.2General Approaches for Measurement
“Once the person experiences this heightened compassion, his or
her compassion retains that kind of tone throughout the day...” Only when this “emergent” mode of thinking is combined with
Ekman argues against this by explaining that moods are the constantly growing lexicon provided by evolutionary biology
transitory and, therefore, compassion cannot explained with the and advancements in brain research can we begin to express the
definitions of mood or emotion. However, taking the interconnected nature of neurological development.
neurological definition of mood and emotion into account, one
could argue for the term temperament as a desciptor for the The development of empathic concern itself involves several
long-term nature of this change. facets of interaction that build upon each other, an evolution that
is cognitive, emotional, and physical. In addition to initial
The word nature itself is used colloquially. However, nature has instances of secure attachment, later stages of life include the
the connotation of being unchangeable and fixed. For now, the development of a self-regulating equilibrium.
term temperament will be used in this paper to describe
compassion, in that it is a sustained perceptual filter that Siegel later describes a triad of mental well-being as including
governs the overall level of compassion of an individual as well “coherence of mind, empathy of relationships, and neural
as the level of spontaneity and unbiasedness related to prosocial integration,” with implications arising from the possible
actions (kindness, sympathy, etc.). This definition is further interplay between these traits. If one apex of this triangle is
explained in section 3.1.3. In a similar lexical vein, creating a actively modulted, do the others follow suit to a certain degree
long-term temperament involves lowering the activation energy or not?
for a compassionate state.
Key ideas for further development include the following: Reviewing current research into related topics, including
developing empathy in children, compassion meditation studies,
Defining compassion as a temperament that can be altered and
studies into nociceptive capacity, and compassion fatigue
psychometric testing, has revealed three general approaches to
Creation thereof lowers the activation energy required for testing for elements of the temperament of compassion, as well
prosocial behavior Using this terminology from chemiastry as related elements of psychological development.
Emergent phenomena reveals multiple sources of influence for
Brave and Nass have indicated that the level of activity in the
limbic and cortical regions of the brain relate to an individual’s
Intimate media (of varying valence) may be used to modulate empathic responses . In their work, Brave and Nass reveal the
the neural networks associated with compassion development. underlying mechanisms of emotion that stem from the
Specifically, Tucker, Luu and Derryberry have demonstrated connections between the thalamus, the cortex, and the limbic
how “intimacy modulates the neural response of empathy for system. The thalamic-limbic pathway is responsible for the
pain.” primary emotions, while secondary emotions “result from
Reflective coherence is a necessary component of compassion activation of the limbic system by processing in the cortex.”
development [Tucker, Luu and Derryberry, Rueda, Kabat-Zinn, They then go on to cover the debate over whether or not emotion
Ackerman]. This allows for neural integration of what is is innate or learned. Regarding this debate, Brave and Nass
experienced as it changes middle prefrontal function. Siegel describe the middle of the two extremes where “the limbic
explains that reflection included the three following facets to system is prewired to recognize the basic categories of emotion,
function: ”receptivity, self-observation, and reflexivity.” but social learning and higher cortical processes still play a
The inclusion of these components of development in an significant role in differentiation.”. In short, between the realm
ambient intelligence would allow for a more consistent exposure of pure emotion and pure cognition lies the key for compassion
to the stimuli, which may lead to faster and more prolonged development. Name that more evolved neural structures “did not
changes. replace the hindbrain, but rather modulated its function, largely
through inhibitory control.” In accordance with our
Additionally, compassion augmentation represents a form of neuroplasticity, certain neural structures developed during early
“cognitive hybridization.” As defined by Andy Clark, “Some childhood can be altered [Lutz, et al.].
technologies constitute a cascade of mindware upgrades -
cognitive upheavals in which the effective architecture on the The experiment in the article entitled Regulation of the Neural
human mind is altered and transformed” . This is similar to Circuitry of Emotion by Compassion Meditation: Effects of
the concept of encephalization as presented by Tucker, Luu, and Meditative Expertise used functional magnetic resonance
Derryberry . “Encephalization is a concept that is imaging (fMRI) to measure differences in brain activity between
complimentary to the construct of terminal additions. It novice and experienced meditators, those having 10,000 plus
describes how functions of more primitive neural structures hours of Buddhist compassion mediation practice . This paper
were elaborated with more recently evolved terminal identifies activity in the limbic region associated with increased
additions.” levels of compassion in buddhist monks with over 10,000 hours
of compassion meditation practice. They were asked two
alternate between actively generating a condition of compassion The dimensional theories using arousal and valence were also
mediation and refraining from the practice. used during the Compassion Mediation study and with
In this case: correlational results. This would support that for further
research, where any self-reporting is necessary, compassion
“The meditative practice studied here involves the should be tested as a temperament emergent from a two-
generation of a state in which an “unconditional feeling of dimensional space of “conscious emotional experience” . The
loving-kindness and compassion pervades the whole mind as a key lies in consistent intention and progression.
way of being, with no other consideration, or discursive
thoughts” ... According to the tradition, as a result of this How much we relate to someone else or engage with them
practice, feelings and actions for the benefit of others arise correlates to the amount of intimacy we feel when interacting
more readily when relevant situations arise. Our main with or thinking of that person. We are more intimate with
hypothesis was thus that the concern for others cultivated loved ones than with strangers and this translates into how much
during this meditation would enhance the affective responses to empathy we feels towards them and how much compassion we
emotional human vocalizations, in particular to negative ones, can generate for that person. Cheng, et al. in their article
and that this affective response would be modulated by the “Love hurts: An fMRI study” describe the mechanism of
degree of meditation training.” intimacy “as including the other in the self...” They specifically
studied empathy of pain, looking at the neural network involved
They analyzed the areas of the brain associated with empathy in the “pain matrix”.
including the insula cortex and the somatosensory cortex. The
data support their main hypothesis, namely that “the brain They discovered that not only does imagining a love one in pain
regions underlying emotions and feelings are modulated in cause greater activity in the pain matrix, but it also causes less
response to emotional sounds as a function of the state of activation in those regions associated with distinguishing self
compassion, the valence of the emotional sounds and the degree from the other, such as the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC)
of expertise”. which is involved with an individual’s Theory of Mind,
One interesting way to see these results is to acknowledge that “allowing overlap between self and the other”.
the meditation itself, over time, changes the neurology of the From the direction of compassion development, one obstacle to
practitioner in such a way that the empathy and compassion empathic growth towards strangers rests in difficulty of evoking
become more automatic and spontaneous. In the section on another’s perspective. Specifically, as those portions of our
Effects of Affect: Attention, Brave and Nass state, “people also neural network are dampened in activity when we think of
often consciously regulate mood, selecting and attending to strangers, how can we overcome that in a productive way that
stimuli that sustain desired moods or, alternatively, counteract fosters compassion development without interrupting necessary
undesired moods” . This might prove to be insightful for thought processes?
informing experimental design by suggesting the role of
intention and prolonged exposure to compassion-based stimuli. Siegel also suggests “that a developmental psychopathology
approach to problems such as empathy may be facilitated by an
Compassion meditation would then put people in a more evolutionary-developmental analysis of neuropsychological
sustained compassionate temperament. The definition of mood mechanisms of attachment and self-regulation.” The
also defines some of the elements of compassion. “Moods...are combination of these two elements leads to compassion
nonintentional; they are not directed at any object in particular augmentation and having one without the other does not allow
and are thus experienced as more diffuse, global, and general.” for optimal development. Precursors to empathic expansion
This would seem to be the case with long-term practitioners of would then include both an initial attunement or secure
compassion mediation. It becomes a “way of being.” attachment and the development of cognitive skills associated
Brave and Nass support this by saying, “Intense or repetitive with reflective thought. Siegel explains, “The evolution of the
emotional experiences tend to prolong themselves into neural mechanisms that integrate pain/distress motive with
moods”. The Lutz, Johnstone and Davidson study used fMRI vocalization lays the foundation for understanding the vertical
results to measure affect, but Brave and Nass also suggest other integration of attachment and regulation for parent/infant bonds
methods for doing so, including electroencephalogram (EEG) to that can then be extended to more general social bonds. ”
test neurological responses, autonomic activity, facial Without an initial bond with a parent, other caretaker, or friend
expression, voice, self-report measures, and affect recognition later interpersonal attunement becomes more difficult, and
by users. would remain outside the scope of this study.
Depending on the conditions of the study, these methods for
testing affect differ in efficacy. The Compassion Mediation
study did not use behavioral analysis during the testing because
the meditators informed them that this would interfere with the
meditation process itself. So they has to rely on the fMRI
measurements and a certain amount of self-reporting. Self-
report measures, in particular, suffer from a problem with
temporal relevance. Brave and Nass point out that
“questionnaires are capable of measuring only the conscious
experience of emotion and mood. Much of affective processing,
however, resides in the limbic system and in nonconscious
3.2.3Psychometric (Self-reporting) Measures
In developing a test for compassion so that quantitative results
can verify any changes over time, several parallel types of
testing present themselves as possibilities. To first determine the
level of intial secure attachment, the Adult Attachment Interview
(AAI) can be used as it is “akin to an assessment of the
reflective aspects of midfulness.” Similarly, the Positive and
Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) as a test for mood could
provide the basis for determining the type of affect that the
digital intimate media has on the subject while an additional
compassion test would be necessary to correlate that affect with
a change in temperament equivalent to compassion development
However, the most direct method of testing would involve the
participants' changing of tags as related to changed levels of
compassion felt toward the pictured subject.
Additionally, one method used to discover compassion in nurses
is a compassion fatigue test developed for caregivers. This
might prove useful as a before and after test to determine change
in overall mentality.
Figure 2. Steps for Change in Neural Architecture
4.PROPOSED RESEARCH DESIGN
The generation of a compassionate mood rests in two
dimensions: concern and intimacy. Concern can also be called After a participant is exposed to an initial stimulus of a picture
caring or more specifically empathic concern. Intimacy can also of a “loved one” or their closest associate (mother, best friend,
be understood as the level of connectedness one person feels etc.), they are then asked to perpetuate the feeling of
with another or with the process itself of compassion compassion (at the same intensity/valence) while viewing
development. Therefore, it must be taken into account that pictures of friends, strangers, and “enemies”. The fact that we
intimacy in this case refers to both the nature of the media can develop a sense of connection with someone we have never
presented for constructive reflection and the space or met has been well established in the literature (Lombard and
environment in which it is presented. Both have implications for Ditton, Rafaeli, Parks and Floyd, etc.). As this type of
research design. connection is created primarily during a cognitive process, it can
be called sociomental (Chayko and Zerubarel, 1993).
Neurologically, it is interesting to note that the very mechanism
which allows us to function in everyday life by allowing us to
realize that others can hold views contradictory to our own, 4.1Research Design
called the Theory of Mind, keeps human beings from fully being
able to see another as self. This separation, key to social In order for this system to have the greatest efficacy, the
development and lacking in autistic individuals, provides a pictures must be drawn from the participant’s life. The creation
boundary that cannot be overcome. Complete autonomous of an interface that leverages readily available intimate digital
functioning would then be the other extreme of the media, such as pictures stored online, combined with
connectedness spectrum. categorization methods, such as tagging and grouping, is the
Several studies have tested subjects by utilizing behavioral first step.
analysis to reveal the presence and levels of compassion. The
question of whether or not empathy is, as related to compassion,
hard-wired into the brain has been tested. Frans de Waal also
writes about kindness from the evolutionary perspective .
Another experiment with more direct human relevance
discovered that when participants were given money to use,
giving the money away to another person made them
feel more satisfied and happy than using it for their own
personal consumption. Whether or not altruism directly
relates to compassion or can be seen as a resultant action of a
compassionate state would also have to be further studied.
Testing within a school setting has also provided some concrete
evidence of the effectiveness of teaching children empathy and
compassion. The Second Step Program by the Committee for
Children in Seattle teaches children empathy and measure
success with lower reported incidents of bullying and school
track the participants’ progress, as pictures change in level of
compassion felt. A more rigid study can be performed using
fMRI readings to quantify the change in neural activity of those
regions of the brain associated with compassion. This also
follows from Siegel's summation, “But disrupting the usual
forms of personal identity within awareness may involve large-
scale assembly alterations on a larger and more diffuse level that
perhaps could be detected with careful computer assisted
electrical measurements of whole system integration.”
5.GOALS AND FURTHER RESEARCH
As technology becomes more advanced, allowing for actual
intellectual “amplification”, we must counter this with the
augmentation of compassion in order to balance out the human
equation. As it is now understood that certain emergent
phenomena occur within the brain as well as effecting the
outside world, we may expect to find a terrific potential for
growth and mental evolution at the intersection of intellect and
One specific arena for further research involves the
incorporation of additional types of digital media into the
compassion augmentation process, as well as the incorporation
of these methods with ambient intelligence, perhaps having
something akin to a compassion light or signifier. The nexus of
science and art has always been a fascinating space for
conjecture, but, as the sphere of science grows to include room
for what once seemed to be purely metaphysical concerns, the
research is finding ways to ground the effects of arts in a
scientifically meaningful vocabulary. The process, however,
has just begun.
5.1Ambient Intelligence and Intimacy
Setting: Initial studies are to be performed in a lab setting, with Whether in an interactive digital environment such as Second
the ultimate goal being integration into the home environment Life, in an at-home setting, or in an immersive “real-world”
through a computer interface or digital photo frames. environment such as a multimedia museum exhibit, the exact
nature of an ambient interaction may prove vital to compassion
Steps: Participants are asked to go through their photostream, augmentation and this should also be taken into account during
tagging each photo containing a person with the level of the framework development process.
compassion they feel towards that person. In order to avoid
complex interference, only those pictures with one person One of the more direct forms that this interaction could take is
should be used. Level One would represent those closest to the with a digital photo frame located somewhere in the participant's
participant (center point in the diagram, see diagram). Level living environment. With photographs cycling through from
Two represents friends. Level Three are strangers (which are “loved ones” to include friends and then strangers, the
pulled from random pictures, not from the participant’s participant can use active reflection to perpetuate feelings of
photostream). Level Four are “enemies”, those people to whom compassion to the unknown people in their streaming
the participant shows an aversion. photographs. This can then be correlated to a compassion light
The tags will allow the application to show the participant Level or signifier/indicator with the local environment that reminds
One pictures first. It is important to have the participant reflect the participant of that temperament experienced during the
on the feelings that are aroused by the picture, specifically that exercises.
of compassion. This allows for intrapersonal attunment, one There are several communities in Second Life already devoted
aspect of which is the alteration of self-other perspectives. to teaching in new ways specifically designed for an immersive
After a preset period of time, the Level Two pictures will be online experience that would also constitute an ambient
shown and the participants will be asked to perpetuate that intelligence. The London Knowledge Lab, Institute of
initial level of compassion to these pictures, as well as they can. Education, University of London, ran a research project entitled
In order to most closely parallel traditional techniques, the first Learning from Online Worlds; Teaching In Second Life where
sessions should only include Level One and Two pictures. they taught sessions within that context . The viability of
Once the intensity of compassion for Level Two draws near that such an approach is increasingly proven by such experiments,
of Level One, then Level Three pictures should be introduced especially as matters such as presence, trust, reciprocity,
and so on to Level Four. intimacy and goal-oriented learning are imbued within the
As computing becomes more ubiquitous, questions regarding
propriety and intimacy come to the fore. Exactly how does one
For initial assessments, self-reporting measures will be used to
distinguish between private and public information displayed in
a public space? As social networking continues to grow to Additionally, if a disconnect from a common humanity lessens
include more personal sharing, what defines publicly available compassion or hinders its development, then key to developing
information anyway? In Daniel Russell’s paper “Appropriate compassion in others would be creating a palpable connection to
Expressions of Intimacy: Lessons of Digital Jewelry and Large others and, thereby, to humanity in general. With interactive
Displays” he draws conclusions related to these issues from two digital media, the user changes from passive receptor of
ends of the ubiquitous computing spectrum. information to co-creator, completing a cycle of connection and
At the USER Lab at the IBM Almaden Research Center, his creating a subsequent positive association.
team created “e-rings” with LEDs that display information Several additional terms can be introduced at this point:
based on one’s “personal state.” This could include a wide range
of inputs from receiving an e-mail from a certain person to stock The amount someone can interact with a piece is agency.
prices. A digital jewelry box serves as the device interface for Affordance is the quality that allows someone to perform an
changing display behavior. E-rings display information in a action.
public way, but the definition of the display (what a certain
color means to the user) remains private. This is one way of 5.3Extending the Framework
creating a boundary between public and private information as Additional elements and reference questions can be added in
opposed to a pager, which provides public information only order to develop a more robust version of compassion
when the user acknowledges it (beeping, flashing, etc.) and augmentation. One last component that may increase the range
hides the exact message in the display. of research possibilities involves questions from the ABE
Before entering into the discussion of large displays, Russell (Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence) as this approach may
shares one interesting insight regarding the social signals also prove relevant to the investigation . In their research,
provided by pagers (which could easily include smart phones). Peterson and Seligman find ways to measure if a “person feeling
Russell writes that looking at a pager “connotes a sense of oneness with the universe, a sense of truth, an inability to
importance about an information feed into the wearer’s life that express experience in mere words, and a vividness and clarity of
exceeds the need to pay complete and active attention to live, sensations and perceptions.”
face-to-face interaction.” Of course, this can also be related to
One of the personality characteristics that correspond with an
someone’s perceived ability to multitask effectively.
appreciation of beauty includes an openness to new experiences.
To test the manner in which users interact with a large display,
This also provides another direction for continuing research.
Russell and his team created IM Here. While instant messaging
is normally considered private, this method of display clearly With our current approach we will use observational analysis to
draws these conversations into a public space. In the case of IM create conceptual categories to define types of interaction with
Here, in order to create a sense of intimacy, the chat sessions are digital intimate media as a first step to gradually refine and
allocated a small portion of the overall display space. reevaluate these connections in a more formalized research
Russell determined that positioning, scale, physical design, and setting. Future research includes testing the change in levels of
societal norms defined the “public vs. intimate characteristic.” compassion of those exposed to interactive digital media over
Implications from this can inform design for ambient time (designed with the results from this research in mind). We
information systems as well. will also be able to research whether or not having a reflective
component is necessary and whether or not affect is an issue of
Questions for further research that directly effects the ability to intensity versus duration.
integrate intimate media within a public environment include:
To what extent are public spaces capable of intimacy? 6.CONCLUSION
For which experiences is intimacy required and to what extent? While compassion may or may not be our “natural” attitude
towards others according to differing traditions, it can be noted
5.2Interactive Digital Media as Co-creation that societal constructs, on the whole, do not necessarily support
The theory that art can effect the human mind has long been compassionate behavior, favoring instead a market/perceived
held by artists. The connection between digital interactive art, worth-based social structure. Compassion, however, can be
improving a user’s level of empathy, and reducing stress has promoted and developed within an individual’s mental
been made by artists such as Barbara Buckner in her article architecture through various means, including those involving
“Healing Interactions and Interactive Digital Art” . intimate media and ambient intelligence.
In combination with the standard forms of creative expression,
current technology allows for the addition of interactivity and In regards to certain academic traditions, these particular means
may lead to a feeling of interconnectivity with the artist or can go by other names such as “facts”, in the context of Lewin’s
others as represented by the project. In the words of Barbara field theory. Those “facts” which are capable of changing a
Buckner, “the user becomes cause in the scenario...The user person’s mental state towards a more stable temperament of
builds an iterative cycle of aesthetic relationships, and through compassion have not yet been fully explored.
this cycle of perception and co-creation, fulfills the meaning of
the work.” It is this aspect of interactive digital art that would Within the realm of developing technologies and interactive
parallel the intentional facet of compassion augmentation by digital media specifically, those factors regarding interaction,
other means, including meditation. “The user is accepting user experience design, content, context, intimacy, and empathy
responsibility for co-creating unity through cause and effect.” are of special interest. The complex nature of multi-faceted
interaction towards compassion augmentation provides an
As opposed to passive forms of artistic exposure, having the
exciting milieu for further exploration and study.
user become participant introduces them to the themes inherent
in the artwork, such as harmony and integration, from the
It is the responsibility of artists/engineers/scientists to develop
standpoint of a creator.
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to the plastic nature of our mental architecture. classification of strength. Retrieved November 5, 2009,
Regarding the ability to develop compassion by entering from http://www.ppc.sas.upenn.edu/viamanualintro.pdf
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Meditation: Effects of Meditative Expertise used functional
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the design of compassion augmentation systems. the social competence program SECOND STEP in
The time has arrived for compassion augmentation and, in this Norwegian elementary schools. School Psychology
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aspiration has itself been itself further augmented to suggest that and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS): Construct validity,
all facets of society must come together and work towards a measurement properties and normative data in a large non-
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sound lexicon for development and concrete designs for (ProQOL). http://www.isu.edu/~bhstamm
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My thanks Professors Nathan Freier, Jim Zappen for their
support and review. Also, thanks to Christina Engelbart for her
eye-opening correspondence. Thanks to Clifford Nass.  Fledman Barrett, L. & Russell. 1999. The structure of
current affect: Controversies and emerging consensus.
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