January Research Picks Extra

Libraries in the mix

What can librarians and other information scientists learning from music DJs? Dan Norton, Mel Woods and Shaleph O’Neill Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, at the University of Dundee, UK think they have the answer. The team suggests that the computer interface and interaction skills used by a top DJ (disc jokecy) include curation of digital collections (music archives), categorisation of entries (individual tracks), selection and dissemination to an audience (mixing) and archiving of new material are closely related to their counterpart in more conventional information science. They believe that librarians and others in charge of digital collections might learn useful techniques from such DJs, for instance, allowing informative, educational and entertaining links and threads within an archive to be exposed and played out for the audience of readers and researchers.

Norton, D., Woods, M. and O’Neill, S. (2014) ‘Mixing the library – information interaction and the disc jockey’, Int. J. Arts and Technology, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp.391–396


Research in concert

In playing music non-verbal communication is a critical component allowing performers to respond to each other and in the case of an orchestra to take cues and guidance from the conductor. As an example of a social group that has adopted non-verbal communication at a high level, the orchestra is thus a perfect example of a hierarchical social system in which to test theories of this type of communication. A collaboration between Swiss and Italian researchers has focused on the conductor, and two parts of a standard concert orchestra the first and second violin sections and investigated head movements among the individuals. The team suggests that head movements can act as an indicator of just how attentive the instrumentalists are to the conductor depending on the particular piece or movement that is being played. With the basics in place, the team hopes that devices such as “Google Glass”, worn like spectacles by the performers, might allow them to glean even more information. Such research might build up a bigger picture of non-verbal communication in this orchestral environment that may then translate to other arenas, such as a stockmarket trading floor, the classroom or a political rally or demonstration, forinstance.

Gnecco, G., Glowinski, D., Camurri, A. and Sanguineti, M. (2014) `On the detection of  the level of attention in an orchestra through head movements´, Int. J. Arts and  Technology, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp.316-338.


What a drag

In a car, aerodynamic drag causes various problems, increased noise and discomfort for driver and passenger, instability and a greater risk of having an accident, and, of course, greater fuel consumption. But, what about having all the side windows open, does that make a big difference to fuel consumption. Researchers at the International Islamic University Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur have used a 3D simulation and a scale model vehicle in a wind tunnel to test a property of moving cars with all windows closed and all windows open. They have found that the simulation and the test data marry well for a car travelling at a typical speed of 60 kilometres per hour and show a big difference in aerodynamic drag. For the car with all of its windows closed, the drag coefficient is 0.1754. If all of the windows are open, the drag is more than 6% higher at 0.1865. If drag correlates directly with fuel efficiency, then one might expect efficiency to fall by more than 6% if all the windows are open. The effect is more marked at higher speeds. For modern air-conditioning systems the effect on fuel efficiency is very small once the interior of the car is at the desired temperature when driving at higher speeds. The choice is obvious if you want to drive further for less money…

Mohamed Ali, J.S., Kashif, S.M., Shaik Dawood, M.S.I. and Omar, A.A. (2014) ‘Study on the effect of window opening on the drag characteristics of a car’, Int. J. Vehicle Systems Modelling and Testing, Vol. 9, Nos. 3/4, pp.311–320


You’re having a laugh

Online advertising is ubiquitous, a source of profit for some and a source of annoyance for others. Now, researchers in the US have investigated the effects of humour in banner advertising on websites and how this alters consumer perception of brands and their tendency to buy the product being advertised even if they were not actively shopping at the time they saw the advertisement. Consumers form preliminary attitudes toward the banner and the advertised brand based on the favourability of peripheral cues when exposed to banner ads involuntarily, says Igor Makienko of the Department of Managerial Sciences at the University of Nevada Reno. “Humour represents a strong executional cue and is the perfect attention-grabbing tool with a low-involved audience, in general, humourous banner advertising is likely to be more effective in an online environment than non-humourous banner advertising,” his study suggests.

Makienko I., (2014) ‘Perception of humour banner advertising: a conceptual framework‘, Int. J. of Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 8, No.3, pp.181-198

Author: David Bradley

Award-winning, freelance science writer based in Cambridge, England.