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ScreenLife Capture: A privacy-respecting, open-source, and user-friendly framework for collecting screenome data (on the top paper panel of the Mobile Communication Interest Group)

As our interactions with each other become increasingly digitally mediated, there is growing interest in the study of people’s digital experiences. To better understand digital experiences, some researchers have proposed the use of screenomes. This involves the collection of sequential high-frequency screenshots to provide detailed objective records of individuals’ interaction with screen devices over time. Despite its usefulness, there remains no readily available tool which researchers can use to run their own screenome studies. To fill this gap, we introduce ScreenLife Capture, a user-friendly and open-source software to collect screenomes from Android smartphones. Using this tool, researchers can set up smartphone screenome studies even with limited programming knowledge and resources. We piloted the tool in an exploratory mixed-method study of 20 college students, collecting over 740,000 screenshots over a two-week period. We found smartphone use to be highly heterogeneous, characterized by threads of experiences. Using in-depth interviews, we also explored the impact that constant background surveillance of smartphone use had on participants. Participants generally had slight psychological discomfort which fades after a few days, would suspend screen recording for activity perceived to be extremely private, and recounted slight changes in behavior. Implications for future research is discussed in the paper.

The paper will be presented on 29th May 2022 in Paris, France.

Animal Crossing and Covid-19: A qualitative study of how a video game offered psychological sanctuary during the pandemic (top paper at the Game Studies Division)

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the way many people live their lives. The increasing amount of time spent indoors and isolated during periods of lockdown has been accompanied by an increase in the time people spend playing video games. One such game which soared in popularity during the early stages of the pandemic was Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Through semi-structured interviews with players, and using a theory-informed qualitative analysis, this paper provides an understanding of players’ motivations and experiences playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons during the pandemic. Findings suggest that playing the game helped satisfy various psychological needs—autonomy, relatedness, and competence—as described by Self-Determination Theory. Conversely, players stopped playing the game when they found that their psychological needs were thwarted or better met through other activities. Our findings offer support that video games can offer psychological relief in stressful contexts by providing opportunities for people to satisfy key psychological needs. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed in the paper.

The papers will be presented on 27th May 2022 in Paris, France.

Dr Nilanjan Raghunath will be Visiting Academic at the department of sociology at Cambridge University

Dr Nilanjan Raghunath will be Visiting Academic at the department of sociology at Cambridge University

Dr Nilanjan Raghunath will be a Visiting Academic at the department of sociology at Cambridge University from June to July 2022. She will conduct research on the future of work and in particular the role of women in shaping sociological debates on automation.

HASS congratulates Dr Jin Murakami on the publication of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report as Lead Author of Chapter 8

HASS congratulates Dr Jin Murakami on the publication of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report as Lead Author of Chapter 8

On 4 April 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest Climate Report (AR6 WGIII) for our evidence-based action. Dr. Jin Murakami, as Lead Author, contributed to Chapter 8: “Urban Systems and Other Settlements” by assessing the potential and challenges of cities worldwide in reducing GHG emissions through deep decarbonization and systemic transformation by 2050. A few of the key messages to the urban sector are:

  • “Integrated spatial planning and resource-efficient urban growth could reduce GHG emissions between 23-26% by 2050”
  • “Urban green and blue infrastructure can mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration, avoided emissions, and reduced energy use while offering multiple co-benefits”
  • “Achieving transformational changes in cities will require mobilizing global finance resources for urban infrastructure projects and spatial planning programs beyond sectoral approaches”

Please read the full report and chapter:

Dr Andrew Yee to lead research team in a $244,000 NIE Office of Education Research Funding Programme Tier 2 Study

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Working with Head of HASS Professor Lim Sun Sun and Associate Professor Nie Youyan at the National Institute of Education (NIE), Dr Andrew Yee will lead a research team in a $244,000 NIE Office of Education Research Education Research Funding Programme Tier 2 study titled “Assessing and measuring the quality of screen time for Singaporean preschoolers: A mixed-method study”. The project aims to understand the motivations behind digital media use by preschoolers and seeks to disentangle what constitutes high- versus low-quality screen use.

Dr Nilanjan Raghunath publishes book titled ‘Shaping the Futures of Work: Proactive Governance and Millennials’

“An important and wise book with clear lessons for managing the fourth industrial revolution that is blurring the boundaries between digital, physical, social, and biological worlds. With a focus on the increasing precarity of well-educated, highly skilled white-collar workers facing insecure employment, Nilanjan Raghunath proves it is no longer responsible to sit back and treat this flux society as ungovernable, natural, or necessary. From this elegantly written book’s examples we learn how to respond with collaboration, foresight, and planning to make smart cities that are technologically resilient, innovative, and safe.” Susan S. Silbey, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“Shaping the Futures of Work challenges popular misconceptions of tech-savvy young professionals riding the wave of digital disruption by detailing the realities of economic insecurity and precarious careers. I would recommend this book for all those interested in the lived experience of millennials in the new world of work.” Phillip Brown, Cardiff University

Available here:

Dr Sandeep Ray publishes book titled ‘Celluloid Colony: Locating History and Ethnography in Early Dutch Colonial Films of Indonesia’

How should colonial film archives be read? How can historians and ethnographers use colonial film as a complement to conventional written sources? Sandeep Ray uses the case of Dutch colonial film in Indonesia to show how a critically-, historically- and cinematically-informed reading of colonial film in the archive can be a powerful and unexpected source, and one more easily accessible today via digitisation.

The language of film and the conventions and forms of non-fiction film were still in formation in the first two decades of the 20th century.

Colonialism was one of the drivers of this development, as the picturing of the native “other” in film was seen as an important tool to build support for missionary and colonial efforts. While social histories of photography in non-European contexts have been an area of great interest in recent years; Celluloid Colony brings moving images into the same scope of study.

“This is a strikingly original approach to history, not least in Southeast Asian Studies…. The book skilfully navigates problems of ‘objectivity’ by illuminating how the intentions of colonial administrators, corporations, and missionaries produced visual documents of power in operation. Ray’s is a passionate defence of how we might glimpse the lives of ordinary Indonesians through the moving colonial image.”
– Adrian Vickers, University of Sydney

Available from the publisher here:
In the Americas here:

‘Virulent Zones’ – New book published by Dr Lyle Fearnley


From the back of the book: Scientists have identified southern China as a likely epicenter for viral pandemics, a place where new viruses emerge out of intensively farmed landscapes and human–animal interactions. In Virulent Zones, Lyle Fearnley documents the global plans to stop the next influenza pandemic at its source, accompanying virologists and veterinarians as they track lethal viruses to China’s largest freshwater lake, Poyang Lake. Revealing how scientific research and expert agency operate outside the laboratory, he shows that the search for origins is less a linear process of discovery than a constant displacement toward new questions about cause and context. As scientists strive to understand the environments from which the influenza virus emerges, the unexpected scale of duck farming systems and unusual practices such as breeding wild geese unsettle research objects, push scientific inquiry in new directions, and throw expert authority into question. Drawing on fieldwork with global health scientists, state-employed veterinarians, and poultry farmers in Beijing and at Poyang Lake, Fearnley situates the production of ecological facts about disease emergence inside the shifting cultural landscapes of agrarian change and the geopolitics of global health.


‘Virulent Zones’ is now available for sale here at Duke University Press at 50% off with the coupon code: FALL2020


Dr Jeffrey Chan publishes book titled ‘Sharing with Design’

This book aims to recast sharing as a category of design. Many animals share resources. But no known animal is able to approach the scale and complexity that characterize human sharing. Furthermore, Homo Sapiens may be the only species that is uniquely capable of synchronous sharing and designing: we are the only species capable of creating new sharing configurations or systems when they cease to work for us; we are able to deliberate among ourselves and then design a better configuration that entails more effective or efficient sharing, or else, where sharing is practiced in more equitable or beautiful ways.

Sharing may appear intuitive. But designing social configurations and systems for the sustained sharing of knowledge and resources is hardly intuitive at all: it is a cognitively complex and socially challenging task, often subjected to internal tensions and external threats. This book attempts to demonstrate how to design sharing from a systems design perspective in the face of complexity and challenges.

Present research on sharing tends to focus on the Sharing Economy. This focus is justifiable considering that in an important pre-Covid-19 report, the Sharing Economy was anticipated to grow to an estimated global revenue of nearly $335 billion (US Dollar) by 2025. But the Covid-19 pandemic has changed many things, including once unassailable drivers of global economic growth. Major bulwarks of the growing Sharing Economy—shared housing, shared workspaces, and shared mobility—have all suffered major setbacks. While these sharing practices have been shunned because of the pandemic, people have yet to abandon the idea of sharing. Despite great odds, individuals and communities continue to share knowledge and resources for fighting the pandemic. Cities continue to learn from other cities in order to create shared standards that can improve public health everywhere. This book argues for the substantive idea of sharing against the contingent formulation of sharing as the Sharing Economy. The time for engaging with this substantive idea of sharing has come, and it begins by thinking on how to design even more robust sharing configurations in a milieu likely to be threatened by scarcity and isolationism.

This book comprises of seven chapters. After connecting sharing and design in the introduction, the authors provide a critical assessment of sharing in the Sharing Economy. The third chapter introduces the idea of sharing by design by offering two concise case studies on the co-living and co-housing sharing models respectively. The next chapter explicates the process of designing a sharing system. Key components of a sharing system are identified through Systems Theory and are then contextualized within a sharing system. Subsequently, the following chapter dissects the idea of sharing ethics. No account of systems theory is also ever complete without a discussion of how a system could be perpetuated. For this reason, the sixth chapter shows how to communicate ideas of sharing to a next generation of students through demonstrating the ways that sharing could be taught in an architectural and urban design studio setting. Finally, in the conclusion, existing knowledge gaps and future research directions on the important subject of sharing are discussed.


‘Sharing by Design’ is available at the publisher’s website, and on Amazon. A limited preview is also available on Google Books.

Rewriting Buddhism – Dr Alastair Gornall publishes book on Pali Literature and Monastic Reform in Sri Lanka

Rewriting Buddhism is the first intellectual history of premodern Sri Lanka’s most culturally productive period. This era of reform (1157–1270) shaped the nature of Theravada Buddhism both in Sri Lanka and also Southeast Asia and
even today continues to define monastic intellectual life in the region.

Alastair Gornall argues that the long century’s literary productivity was not born of political stability, as is often thought, but rather of the social, economic and political chaos brought about by invasions and civil wars. Faced with unprecedented uncertainty, the monastic community sought greater political autonomy, styled itself as royal court, and undertook a series of reforms, most notably, a purification and unification in 1165 during the reign of Parakramabahu I. He describes how central to the process of reform was the production of new forms of Pali literature, which helped create a new conceptual and social coherence within the reformed community; one that served to preserve and protect their religious tradition while also expanding its reach among the more fragmented and localized elites of the period.


Praise for the book

‘This original and learned work not only constitutes a major intervention in Buddhist studies but also “rewrites” the history of Sri Lanka, offering a major rethink of a pivotal period in the island’s history and of the Theravada tradition more generally. It deserves to be widely read.’ – Alan Strathern, University of Oxford

The book is available free from:


About the Author
Alastair Gornall is Assistant Professor in the Humanities at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, Research Associate in the Department of the Languages and Cultures of South Asia at SOAS, University of London, and was 2018 Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Research Fellow in Buddhist Studies.