Digital media technologies have evolved into a major factor in shaping today’s societies. The advent of the digital society raises important questions about potential stabilizing or destabilizing effects. Do these phenomena benefit or harm communities and individuals? How do they relate to the ‘well-being’ of consumers, employees, citizens – and society at large? Providing accurate answers to these questions is the more important as society often meets digital media technologies with exaggerated utopian and dystopian views.
In the context of digital media technologies, societal resilience in SIM lab research rests on successful utilizations of positive, healthy, functional media effects, and effective interventions against potential negative, unhealthy, detrimental media effects. When research is carried out in an early stage, effective interventions aimed at diminishing potential dysfunctional effects of digital media technologies can be established before mass adoption. It can also identify beneficial effects of new media technology that enhance a society’s stability and welfare: social robots combating loneliness, VR-applications helping people understand the perspective of others, computational methods providing novel insights to improve organizational efficiency, public health, or economic prosperity, and social media applications that help overcome gaps of knowledge and understanding between individuals.
The SIM lab studies and explains the societal and social impact of this digital revolution, currently focusing on five domains:
- Digital Traces (Big Data and Computational Methods)
- The Internet and Social Media
- Social Robotics and Artificial Intelligence
- Virtual and Mixed Reality Applications
- Communication as Experience
The SIM-lab is organized as an expertise lab within the ISR, Faculty of Social Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. With this expertise lab, we hope to bring together interested partners, from both within and outside academia, to scientifically investigate social issues that are relevant to the theme of new media and technology. To this end, we hope to deepen existing collaborations and set up new ones, focusing on the many societal questions and challenges related to the introduction of new media technologies that demand scientific scrutiny.
Open science and responsible scholarship
The SIM-lab supports the principles of open science and responsible scholarship not only in spirit, but also very much in practice. Pre-registration of study designs, development of data management plans, open access publishing, and sharing of anonymized data sets, computer code, analyses files (“syntax”), and stimulus materials on publicly accessible research platforms, have all become routine elements of the research flow.
In addition, members of SIM-lab contribute to the continued improvement of research practices by focusing on multi-lab study replication, fair participant recruitment, privacy issues, method development, and general promotion of open science and responsible scholarship both in their own research and in the numerous managerial, organizational, and editorial roles they fulfill.