I am one of the lucky recipients of this year’s Beta Beurs scholarships granted by the Center for Creation, Content and Technology at the University of Amsterdam. The scholarship will enable me to do research in the field of neuroeconomics for my Bachelor’s thesis.
The Internet has been hailed as an enabling technology for greater, larger, better – and indeed new – cooperation. ‘Here comes everybody’, Clay Shirky wrote some years ago, and he meant: here comes everybody, engaging in new forms of cooperation that will change the world. My shift of interest towards the fields of behavioural and neuroeconomics is rooted in a good dose of skepticism towards these claims. Can we really be better cooperators with new technology, given the biological constraints of our neurology?
The study I have proposed to conduct with the help of my Beta Beurs scholarship would investigate one part of this puzzle. How does trust develop when people communicate via computers or mobile phones, instead of face to face? From behavioural studies we already know that trust initially tends to be lower, but equalizes over time. What is going on in the brain while this happens?
I am still looking for a lab at which to conduct my research, and my research question might still undergo some changes – it’s not to easy to find research opportunities as an undergraduate, in particular in Europe (sidenote: if you’re working at a neuroeconomics lab, or know somebody who does, I’d be happy about a mail). The fundamental question, however, remains: can we be better cooperators with the help of the Internet?
In unrelated news, I have two new publications out this month in a volume edited by Ndubuisi Ekekwe and Nazrul Islam, “Disruptive Technologies, Innovation and Global Redesign: Emerging Implications“. In my paper, I ask the question “is the mobile phone a disruptive technology?” In a second article authored with Bruce Mutsvairo and Louis Klamroth, we investigate whether traditional media theories are still applicable in the Internet era.