May 21, 2019

Trinity Scientists to Debate Social Media With The Public

The Heliosphere, a new digital forum run by researchers in Trinity, aims to gather information about how people use social media.

Donal MacNameeDeputy Editor
Kevin Boyle, a yoga teacher and podcaster based in Dublin, participating in a one-to-one conversation with Heliosphere lead researcher Dr Kevin Loidl.

Trinity scientists are asking members of the public to debate their hopes and fears about social media in one-on-one, recorded conversations, as part of a project – Helios – aimed at “revolutionising” social media.

The Heliosphere, a digital forum set up to gather information about how people use social media, is inspired by Helios, a €5 million EU-funded project, and aims to identify the social media needs of the public in order to push social media policymakers and developers to focus more on the needs of the consumer.

As well as the one-to-one conversations with social media researchers – which will be published on the project’s website – the Heliosphere will run streamed debates with European social media experts and host live “think-ins” where people can participate online or in person in discussions about social media.


In March, the Heliosphere held its round-table first think-in in the Science Gallery. The discussion was then uploaded to the project’s YouTube page.

The Heliosphere’s lead researcher, Dr Kevin Koidl from Trinity’s ADAPT Centre, is also the principal investigator of the Helios project, leading a research consortium made up of 15 universities from around Europe.

In a press statement, Koidl said the Heliosphere was a “novel concept” due to the “three different communication platforms” – one-on-one conversations, streamed debates with experts and think-ins – that it offers the public.

Koidl said the Heliosphere is “the perfect platform” to start a dialogue around social media.

“This new public space”, he said, “has the ability to transcend demographics, culture and status to inspire an open conversation with people who have an interest in the future direction of social media”.

“Social media has become too important for society to leave its design solely to private corporations. Its future concerns everyone, and every stakeholder should have a say in how it should unfold”, he added.

To participate in a one-on-one conversation, members of the public are required to book a slot with a researcher using the Heliosphere’s website.

As well as Koidl, the forum is being co-ordinated by Arthur Paris, a master’s student at French business school Grenoble Ecole de Management.

As part of the Helios project, the ADAPT centre is receiving almost €500,000 worth of funding from the EU.

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