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On the 9th September 2015 we held a workshop in Leeds, UK, where postgraduate (Master’s and PhD) and senior  researchers were brought together to discuss their work and prevailing research issues on the relationships between empathy, trust and technology. This website now acts as an archive of the event, which includes a brief report on what happened on the day of the workshop as well as some brief reflections from the postgraduate researchers that were invited to and contributed to the rich discussions held on the day.

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The ways in which empathy is manifest and trust developed in social situations, and interrelated issues such as credibility, rapport, and sense of identity, are established areas of enquiry in a variety of disciplines. However, less research has addressed the specific ways in which these appear within, and subsequently shape, online communities and environments. Social media spaces are increasingly being used by all sorts of local, national and global actors, including friendship groups, charities, small businesses, local communities, communities of interest and practice, university alumni associations, criminal networks and multinational corporations. Furthermore, a generation of young people is growing to adulthood in a world in which digital interactions and transactions are normal, ubiquitous and mundane. Digital forms of empathy may be key to translating across, and transcending, national, geographic, cultural, linguistic and other conventionally-assumed barriers to community building.

The EMoTICON Network invited postgraduate researchers to participate in a one-day workshop exploring issues such as those above as well as related challenges to do with empathy and trust and digital technologies. The workshop was held as part of a two-day event for the EMoTICON (Empathy and Trust in Communications Online) and Digital Personhood Networks. The aim of the workshop was three-fold:

  1. To provide an opportunity for postgraduate researchers who are early in their career to meet with more senior members of the UK research community who have a shared interest in empathy, trust and technology.
  2. To promote interdisciplinary discussion, dialogue and collaborative exploration around future challenges related to empathy and trust for individuals and societies.
  3. To allow postgraduates to share their research with other researchers – be this the findings of their research, early insights coming from their work, or the questions, challenges and problems that motivate their work.

Our call for applicants was open to researchers from any disciplinary background – the only requirement being that applicants were registered as a postgraduate student and actively conducting research that is broadly relevant to issues of empathy and/or trust and digital technology.