South Hall
Berkeley, California 94720

Part of the UC Berkeley School of Information's Distinguished Lecture series.

Much of what we want to know about other people is not directly perceivable. Are you a nice person? Did you really like the cake I baked? If we got married, would you be a good parent to our children? Instead, we rely on signals, which are perceivable features or actions that indicate the presence of those hidden qualities.

Yet not all signals are reliable. It is beneficial for the con-man to seem nice, for the guest to seem to like the burnt cake, for the unsuitable suitor to seem as attractive as possible. While these deceptions benefit the deceiver, they may be quite costly for the recipient. What keeps signals honest — and why are some signals more reliable than others?

Signaling theory provides a framework for understanding these dynamics. Among other things, it shows how the cost of many seemingly extravagant displays is not wasteful expenditure, but useful for ensuring the reliability of the display as a signal.

In this talk I will show how signaling theory can be used for the design and analysis of social technologies. It is especially well suited for this domain, for in mediated interactions there are few qualities that can be directly observed: everything is signal.

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Added by k7lim on September 15, 2006



in NYC