As expected, the "Virtually Naked: Virtual environment reveals sex-dependent nature of skin disclosure" paper published in PLoS ONE got a lot of media coverage. Some comments were really nice, some less ... but that is due I think to the provocative subject of the paper. However, if people actually READ the paper itself (and not just the press resume), they can see that we were extremely cautious with what we said. Still, a question coming often is : And ? What does that mean ? Well, two answers to that I guess : 1) virtual spaces allowed us to study human behavior without the external (environmental) constraints (and the "social" constraints, even if arguable, but in the paper you can see we did an experiment on this aspect); and 2) it does have important practical implications too. When we will want to design efficient medical virtual spaces, we will need to control for all the parameters of the avatars. Including, how they are named (Guitton MJ (2010) Cross-modal compensation between name and visual aspect in socially active avatars. Computers in Human Behavior, 26:1772-1776), how they look like (Giard F, Guitton MJ (2010) Beauty or realism: The dimensions of skin from cognitive sciences to computer graphics. Computers in Human Behavior, 26:1748-1752), how they create group according to their appearance (Lortie CL, Guitton MJ (2011) Social organization in virtual settings depends on proximity to human visual aspect. Computers in Human Behavior, 27:1258-1261 or Lortie CL, MJ Guitton (2012) Looking similar promotes group stability in a game-based virtual community. Games for Health Journal, 1:274-278), how they relate to a community (Guitton MJ (2012) The immersive impact of meta-media in a virtual world. Computers in Human Behavior, 28 : 450-455 or Guitton MJ (2012) Living in the Hutt Space: Immersive Process in the Star Wars Role-Play community of Second Life. Computers in Human Behavior, 28:1681-1691), or how they dress (this new paper in PLoS ONE). Yes, taken individually, those papers may seems strange, but we need to get the "bigger picture", which is, understanding the multimodal reality of an avatar.
Second nice point : the Encyclopedia of Cyber Behavior (edited by Prof. Zheng Yan, in which I wrote the Chapter on Cyber Behaviors in Canada) got nominated for the Outstanding Reference Sources Award by the American Library Association ! This award recognizes and recommends "the most outstanding reference publications of the year for small and medium-sized libraries". Well, the Outstanding Reference Sources Committee still has to do the final review of each title nominated, but still, it is a very positive outcome for this fascinating project. This Encyclopedia also got a really nice review published in Choice Magazine (from the Association for College and Research Libraries, which is a division of the American Library Association).